Smartphone Camera Buying Guide: Important things to look for when comparing smartphones
In one of our articles, we discussed how smartphones are posing a serious challenge to the point and shoot camera.
There is no doubt that smartphones are becoming more and more powerful, and are now seen as a replacement, even to laptops. They can definitely take good pictures and come with several photo related apps. Besides, you can easily share them on the internet.
Phones have gotten so good at taking photos that many users rarely bring along a stand-alone camera anymore.
Of course, a phone is never going to replace a full-bodied, single-lens reflex camera, otherwise known as an SLR. There’s just no way to squeeze a powerful, SLR-type lens into the small body of a phone. But many smartphones now match and even outperform point-and-shoot cameras. You’ll get good pictures with any high-end phone, but a few phones go beyond just good.
So if you’ve been thinking of buying a smartphone, here are some more things that you should ideally consider.
There is no doubt that several choices exist due to competition, but then it can also make selecting the right one more difficult, especially if it’s going to be your first Smartphone.
Do you want only a good built-in camera, or would you also like to have features that help you organize your daily life and tasks?
If you want it to have a good camera, then ideally you also need a large screen and better graphics quality.
Nowadays, you get many more features such as music, videos, web browsing, file transferring, Wi-Fi, GPS, and more. And the best ones can perform these functions much faster and are good at multitasking as well.
So make a list of what you would want in the smartphone.
Is It Easy to Use?
There are products that offer features that are easy to use; then there are some products that provide lots of features but then they need to be customized.
You should ideally choose one depending on how tech-savvy you are.
Then there are other things that you need to consider such as:
In general, small is good when it comes to smartphones, but it should ideally not be at the cost of usability.
Do Your Homework
Best way to get familiar with the features is to visit shops and check them out personally. Touch them and get a first-hand experience.
Talk to the sales people there and ask which are the bestselling ones and the advantages / disadvantages of the several models they have. Most of them are quite willing to give an honest opinion of the ones they have.
Most products offer good warranty coverage, but since these gadgets can be expensive its best to confirm that you’re getting an excellent warranty coverage.
Check if the accessories that come with the phone, are covered too.
Research Carrier Plans
There are numerous plan options available with all of the major carriers.
Some offer family plans, business plans, and individual plans. There are also data plan and unlimited messaging options available for heavy users.
So look for the deal that works the best for you.
Look for Best Deals
Most important thing when looking for a smartphone is to know why you’re buying it, which includes knowing the key features and benefits. Then you need to decide what functions you would like but are not necessities.
Based on this, you can look for the best prices available. Here are some more tips that can help you land a good bargain:
Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
Last year, I declared the iPhone 5S to be the best camera phone overall. This year’s 6 and 6 Plus models are even better, particularly with faster and more accurate focusing. The iPhone can even make moving toddlers look still and sharp.
For indoor and night shots, the iPhone often manages to avoid the image blur that many other cameras produce when shutters stay open longer to let in more light. The 6 Plus model also has anti-shake technology to help reduce blur. I noticed increased sharpness in some shots of statues inside a museum and the city skyline at night, compared with shots taken with the regular iPhone 6. For most shots, though, the iPhone 6 performs just as well. Go for the Plus only if you want the larger viewing screen — not for the camera.
That’s not to say the iPhone always takes the best shot, particularly with its resolution on the lower end at 8 megapixels. For any given condition, you might find another phone that does better. But that other phone might perform poorly in other circumstances. The iPhone shines in a wide range of settings, making it an overall great choice for capturing impromptu moments.
Best Smartphone Cameras
I took more than 10,000 still images with more than 20 phones. I used the rear cameras and refrained from using the flash so that I could test the phones’ low-light capabilities. That’s an area where an otherwise good phone can be great.
Here are some popular options when looking to buy some good phones with cameras:
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge
Images taken on the Note phones are rich in colour. Friends say ‘wow’ when they see the shots. The Note’s AMOLED screen technology contributes to that, but the colours are still rich when viewing on a standard LCD laptop.
The problem is the colours sometimes look too rich, as though they’ve been adjusted using software. Faces, for instance, often look overly orange, especially for indoor shots (the yellow glow from artificial lighting contributes to that). The iPhone doesn’t win on colours, but images look more natural. With the Note, you wind up with many images that look better but others that look worse. The colour can typically be fixed with editing software, but that takes time.
The Note camera’s 16 megapixels is among the highest in smartphones. Although having more megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean better pictures, I can make out smaller text on Note images. The Note also excels with zoom. With most phones, quality degrades as you zoom in because the lens itself doesn’t move. Zooming is essentially cropping. The Note compensates for that with anti-shake technology, similar to the 6 Plus, and with the merger of pixels from multiple exposures taken in succession.
Low-light shots come out well, something that wasn’t so with older Samsung phones. However, shots aren’t free of distortion. In some skyline shots, for instance, the dark sky wasn’t entirely dark, and purple spots could be seen when blown up. There’s less of that with iPhone shots. But these are subtle differences that most people won’t notice.
Microsoft’s Lumia Icon
Like other Lumia phones using the standard Nokia Pro Cam app, the Icon camera is slow to snap and save the shot. Forget about moving babies. Forget about multiple images in bursts, as iPhones and Note phones allow.
Even as Lumia phones are known for their low-light performance, rivals have caught up. And the Icon’s ability to take images of up to 19 megapixels no longer is impressive.
Yet the manual controls in Lumia phones are unmatched. You can control shutter speed, light sensitivity, white balance and other settings you typically only get with an SLR. It’s the camera for taking professional-looking photos.
Most people, though, are going to be happy with snapshots taken with other phones under auto settings. The Icon requires patience to set up and take the shot, and some of the manual options you need at night won’t be useful without a tripod. When I need that kind of shot, I’ll grab my SLR. But having that level of control in a phone is impressive.
Doesn’t matter if this is going to be your first smartphone, or if you’ve already owned one before and want to upgrade or try out a different manufacturer, the suggestions offered here can save your time, hassle, and money when buying a Smartphone.