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Top 10 Best Camera Phones For Photography 2016

Top 10 Best Camera Phones For Photography 2016 - If you're looking for a camera phone to capture better quality images with, have a look at our 10 top camera phone recommendations.

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Category : Camera Phones
Product : Samsung Galaxy S7
Price : BUY NOW£409
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Cameras in smartphones have come a long way over the last few years, with a number of features that have greatly improved the quality of images produced by smartphones, including optical image stabilisation (OIS), larger sensors, bright lenses, and even optical zoom making them even better for photography. The photographic capabilities of smartphones has become such a massive selling feature, that many premium smartphones now support shooting "raw" images, so you can take complete control over image processing.

Here we highlight some of the best camera phones we've reviewed, up until now, and what makes them unique so you can make a more informed purchase next time you upgrade / buy a new smartphone. You'll also find more in-depth comments on each of the smartphones featured in our top ten over in reviews, plus take a look at our technique and feature sections where you'll find a range of articles, including our 8 DIY smartphone photography tricks you must try feature and our food photography basics, that'll have you snapping top smartphones shots in no-time. 

1. Samsung Galaxy S7 

Samsung Galaxy S7 Underwater
Samsung Galaxy S7 Underwater

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 12 megapixel rear camera with dual pixel technology and a bright f/1.7 aperture. It has a quad HD screen, for crystal clear viewing and can capture 4K video as well as 9 megapixel stills when in video mode. It's also dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the screen and back on the phone, it's ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. 

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: 

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2. Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony XPERIA Z5 Compact (3)

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact features a 23-megapixel f/2.0 camera on the back and a 5-megapixel front 'selfie' camera, plus the Z5 is also capable of capturing 4K video (at UHD resolution) which makes it ideal for those who are interested in video as well as photography. In terms of size, the phone is 5 inches tall and 2.55 inches across from edge-to-edge and it's waterproof as well as dustproof. Battery life lasts up to 2 days and overall, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is a great choice for someone passionate about phoneography but conscious about phone size, thanks to the smaller 4.6inch screen. The smartphone has an ISO range up to ISO12800, manual controls, plus a dedicated shutter release button.

Camera features at a glance: 23mp, f/2.0 lens, 24mm equivalent, 4K video recording, MicroSD slot.

Overall Score: 

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3. Moto X Play

Motorola Moto X Play XT1562 Product Shot1 Front

The Moto X Play is positioned between the Moto G and Moto X Style as a mid-range model in Motorola’s current smartphone range. The X Play has a 21Mp rear f/2.0 camera and 5Mp front-facing camera and is fronted by a large 5.5-inch display. Images from the X Play’s 21Mp sensor are vibrant, well-exposed and have plenty of dynamic range. If the camera detects a high contrast scene, the automatic HDR mode makes a noticeable difference to highlight and shadow intensity, whilst also boosting colour vibrancy. The effect is very noticeable, although in some instances it can look a little too intense. Things are less impressive in low light, where noise becomes more obvious as the camera requires higher ISO sensitivities to compensate for the lack of image stabilisation, and the lack of control over ISO settings disappoints. Storage can be expanded with the MicroSD card slot.

Camera features at a glance: 21mp, f/2.0 lens, 27mm equivalent, FullHD video recording, MicroSD slot.

Overall Score: 

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4. Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6 White (2)

The Samsung Galaxy S6 features a 16.0Mp camera with true optical image stabilisation and a maximum aperture of f/1.9. There's a front-facing 5Mp camera and the S6 can record Ultra HD video at 3840 x 2160. In good light, the Galaxy S6’s image quality is nothing short of miraculous. Colour reproduction and exposure metering are also first class and the camera produces beautifully vibrant and accurately exposed results. Low light performance is less convincing, with an ISO range of ISO100 to ISO800, but there is an excellent auto HDR feature built-in. The Galaxy S6 is not waterproof, like the S5, and it doesn't feature a MicroSD card slot, so storage can't be expanded.

Camera features at a glance: 16mp, f/1.9 lens, 28mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, raw (with update).

Overall Score: 

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5. Moto G (3rd Generation)

Motorola Moto G3 Product Shot1 Front

The third generation of the Moto G features a 13Mp 1/3-inch back-illuminated image sensor, 28mm-equivalent lens, f/2.0 with 4x digital zoom and a 5.0-inch IPS LCD screen. The fixed focal length, 28mm equivalent lens produces distortion-free images, while corner sharpness is almost a match for the centre of frame, although there are limited controls with the built-in camera app. The front-facing selfie camera generates good enough image quality for social media sharing or 6x4 prints, but when viewed any larger, the lack of fine detail is clear to see. Panoramas are a little disappointing but video, captured at 1920x1080, is well detailed, vibrant and well exposed. The Moto G is one of the cheapest waterproof smartphones available, and storage can be expanded with a MicroSD card.

Camera features at a glance: 13mp, f/2.0 lens, 28mm equivalent, FullHD video recording, MicroSD slot.

Overall Score: 

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6. Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus

Apple Iphone 7 Matt Black (13)sRGB

The iPhone 7 is Apple's latest smartphone, and features a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, 4K video recording, a bright f/1.8 lens and optical image stabilisation. There's a 4.7inch screen, which makes the smartphone more compact than most, and the screen, as well as photos are now wide-colour gamut, meaning colour has been improved. The front camera has been improved, and is now a 7 megapixel camera. You can shoot raw images, as long as you use a third party app, and Adobe offer Lightroom Mobile, which gives you plenty of manual controls. Detail and colour reproduction in shots is good, although detail doesn't quite match cameras with higher resolution sensors, and the ISO range starts at around ISO20, going up to around ISO1600. There is no MicroSD card slot, and you can choose from 32GB, 128GB or 256GB models, although they are quite pricey.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.8 lens, 28mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, raw.

Iphone7 Plus Cameras

The iPhone 7 Plus features 2x 12 megapixel cameras, with one wide-angle lens, and one telephoto lens, for 2x optical zoom, along with other shooting features, designed to give DSLR-like performance and blurred backgrounds.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp x2, 28mm f/1.8 (OIS) and 56mm f/2.8 equivalent, 4K video recording, raw.

    Overall Score: 

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7. HTC 10


Sporting a 12Mp camera and 4K video, the HTC 10 sits at the top of the range in the HTC smartphone lineup. On the front you'll find a 5.2-inch screen with a QuadHD resolution. Designed to have better than usual low-light performance, the camera has a 12Mp sensor for better low light performance, as well as a bright f/1.8 lens with optical image stabilisation, and an ISO range of ISO100 to ISO3200. Even the front selfie camera has optical image stabilisation! The app itself is as clear, responsive and easy to use. Plenty of manual control is provided in Pro mode which is accessed via the mode icon located alongside the shutter release icon. Detail and colour reproduction in shots are good and overall, it's capable of producing natural-looking images. HDR capture does a decent job of boosting dynamic range and even its low light performance is commendable. A MicroSD card slot gives expansion options to store more photos and video.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.8 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

    Overall Score: 

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8. Huawei P9 - Co-engineered with Leica

Huawei P9 Front

The standout feature on the Huawei P9 is most definitely its cameras as it features 2x camera with f/2.2 Leica lenses, one camera is colour and the other black and white. The phone also has a 5.2inch screen and is capable of recording FullHD video. The P9 looks great and for the most part, performs really well. The camera produces great results and it's actually bursting with features (once you find them). Those who use their smartphones for taking photos regularly, particularly selfies, will find the auto mode really easy to use and will be more than happy with the shots it produces. Plus, if you do want to dabble with a bit of manual photography, there are the options to do so, including an ISO range from ISO100 to ISO3200. You can expand the storage with a MicroSD card.  

Camera features at a glance: 2x 12mp (Colour, Black and White), f/2.2 Leica lens, 28mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), FullHD video, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: 

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9. Huawei P8

Huawei P8 (1)

The Huawei P8 features a slim metal body, large 5.2inch fullHD screen and a 13-megapixel camera with a bright f/2.0 lens. The phone also has a number of advanced photography features including a light painting mode and optical image stabilisation. Image quality is reasonably good, but not as sharp or as detailed as competitor phones but for those who don't want to spend as much money, but still want a premium smartphone camera, then P8 is well suited. The camera has a Sony sensor designed for better low light performance, and an ISO range from ISO64 to ISO1600, and the storage can be expanded with a MicroSD card.

Camera features at a glance: 13mp, f/2.0 lens, 28mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), FullHD video, MicroSD slot.

Overall Score: 

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10. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 White (1)

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will shoot at an impressive six frames-per-second for a 30-second burst and it’s got enough oomph to record 4K, Ultra HD video. The S5 is also certified dustproof as well as waterproof to a 1-meter depth and is available with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a MicroSD card. As for its picture-taking capabilities, the S5 sports a fixed, 31mm-equivalent f/2.2 lens and features digital image stabilisation. The Galaxy S5 captures good levels of detail from both close range and distant subjects at ISO400 and below, with the maximum ISO speed ISO800. It also maintains impressively low levels of detail smoothing and image noise at higher sensitivities. Colour reproduction is accurate and matrix metering reliably produces well-exposed shots with decent dynamic range.

Camera features at a glance: 16mp, f/2.2 lens, 31mm equivalent, 4K video recording, MicroSD slot.

Overall Score: 

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For more options, have a look at the Best Budget Camera Phones for Photography. Have a look at our complete guide to memory cards to find the right MicroSD card for your smartphone, or have a look at more camera phones reviews.

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29 Apr 2016 1:32PM
I find this list to be a little off. The HTC One m8 by far has one of the best cameras on a smart phone. The camera may only be 4MP, but resolution has little to do with image quality which iPhone has proven with its 8MP camera,baking better images then alot of the 20-40MP cameras found on Android. HTC's use of larger pixels and a duo sensor camera takes better low light images then any other camera phone due to its pixels being twice the size of that which is used in most camera phones. The duo sensor allows you to get closer to objects then any other phone would allow, for great macro shots. The ONLY time the m8's low resolution camera is noticeable is when zooming in all the way, or blowing images up to a much larger size. Due to the duo camera sensors the m8's images look more lively and have slot more depth then most cameras, with its images looking almost 3 dimensional compared to the flat lifeless photos produced by other camera phones. The m8 has a second sensor which takes in more information and can differentiate distance of objects better allowing you to do alot more with the images after the photo is taken, such as blurring out the background or focusing on a particular object. While most phones would require you to do this before taking the photo the m8 can make these changes afterwards. The m8's duo camera also allows you to to view your images in different angles after taking them all thanks to the second sensor. I Have not used a camera that takes better images. The m8 takes crisp detailed images, as long as you don't zoom in far. My wife actually preferred my camera on my m8 over the 16MP camera on her Galaxy s5. When comparing images between the 2 the m8 looked just as detailed as the s5 but with better lighting and more lively images. The m8 revolutionized the camera phone, as today slot of company's have opted for lower resolution Cameras, with larger pixels , and some have even taken HTC's idea and feature a duo camera.... I have yet to find a camera phone that can take the same quality of images, along with the capabilities of the m8's camera... the m8 was the first of its kind and in a class of its own.. if HTC had featured the duo camera on the new m10 it would be hands down the best camera phone to date easily...

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lemmy 9 2.7k United Kingdom
9 May 2016 3:18PM
It's a bi strange to include two older Samsung phones, the S5 and S6 when the current one is S7! The S7 has a much improved camera, too.
ChrisV Plus
10 1.6k 26 United Kingdom
9 May 2016 3:36PM
The iPhones are notable by their absence from this list, but perhaps moreso the Panasonic CM1. That's quite old now, but sporting as it does a 1" type sensor, even with a [on paper] slower f2.8 lens designed by Leica, it's going to let in a lot more light and offer at least something resembling DoF control. I would be utterly shocked if it didn't trounce all the phones mentioned here in less than absolutely ideal lighting conditions [ie anything not outdoors on a reasonably bright day].

There's no detail at all with these listed devices aside from resolution and aperture - both of which are pretty meaningless in isolation. It may be that this is a very fair and balanced assessment of the image quality merits across the phone market, but with so little in terms of objective information presented, it's hard to value or trust this article as a guide.

This is disappointing coming from you guys, sorry...
JackAllTog Plus
8 4.6k 58 United Kingdom
9 May 2016 4:42PM
The only one that seems to have good low light performance is the hTC one - Would be nice to see some ISO SPECs in this list too.
Perhaps focus speed as another comparative guide, and if you are really going to use it for photography then a comment about external storage cards possible/capacity.
StrayCat Plus
13 18.2k 3 Canada
9 May 2016 10:20PM
Do any of them have a zoom lens?
themak 3 929 Scotland
10 May 2016 12:34AM
Mine does.

joshwa Plus
6 811 United Kingdom
10 May 2016 8:19AM
Hi, the list is based on our reviews of the phones, for more information, we have linked to the reviews.

We will also be updating this when we review additional smart phones, thanks

We've reviewed the CM1 here:
ChrisV Plus
10 1.6k 26 United Kingdom
10 May 2016 2:16PM
Sorry Johwa, but it looks like this listing is just based on the aggregated scores of individual and quite subjective reviews, rather than being any sort of side-by-side comparison [which might assess their merits in a more in a rather more objective way.

The detailed reviews I looked at were your CM1 review, which as might be expected looked at it from a photographers' perspective and had the sort of specification and testing we've come to expect from the site; and the Sony Xperia review which didn't, seemed to please the tester not least for its price and compact dimensions and just had his/her 'opinion' on things like noise and IQ. The fact the user also suffers from VVS is also rather concerning from an image-takers viewpoint.

I assume you marked the CM1 down on its launch price [like a lot of Panasonic's launch RRPs it was over the top], that has now predictably plummeted. I've no iron in the fire here [well I would put my hand up, I'm an Apple user] - I wouldn't really consider buying a phone principally as a photographic tool.

If that's what I was after [and I'd assume that is the purpose of this roundup], it's hard to see how any of the listed devices here could hope to compete with the Panasonic on those terms. It isn't without flaws - especially if you're more concerned about the smartphone end of business, but the fact it isn't even in a top ten of smartphone cameras just seems completely bizarre.
AlexandraSD 5 702 United Kingdom
14 Jul 2016 11:14AM
I no longer own a mobile phone, i ditched my iphone earlier this year and have not bothered to replace it, and i do not wish to replace it, and guess what? Life goes on Smile

Not being a Luddite, i just got sick of constant interruptions when away from home, silly text messages from friends, notifications from social media, PPI companies constantly barraging me with crap, and neck ache from looking down so much, and now i am not so immersed in that false reality, i cannot help but smile when i see streams and streams of people just glued to their phones as if it is all that matters and missing out on whats really in front of them. Sure, the iphone was handy for a while, but i am one of those who really do take their camera everywhere with them, so the iphone as a secondary camera is not applicable to me anymore, however, my mum now has my old iphone and she uses the camera all the time now, more than the canon compact i bought for her in 2014, and she has even learned how to post to facebook, which is all she really does with images, so she is happy and i can see why many folk feel they need a smart phone with a good camera, i thought that too once but i don't miss it at all!
mannypr 5 9 Puerto Rico
6 Nov 2016 11:53PM
The size of a sensor vs the amount of pixels has a big impact on image quality . Smartphone sensors are very small . If you cramp alot of pixels on such a sized sensor image quality will take a hit , they have gotten better . So a camera phone sensor can give you better image quality with less pixels .

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