It is safe to say that the year 2016 will be written in the history books as a year proved to be a pivotal point for the evolution of the smartphone camera. Although many would argue that there was little innovation in terms of design, but in the camera department, we have seen great innovations whether be it in terms of advanced technology or the number of features that was once considered to be a domain of full-fledged professional cameras being added into smartphone cameras.
We saw the introduction of dual-camera setup, with brands like Apple, Huawei, LG banking heavily on the latest technology. Then there were brands like Samsung which introduced a whole new dual-pixel sensor in its 2016 flagship lineup. Simply put: the smartphone cameras was the hot topic for 2016. But which are the best in terms of camera performance? Based on our intense debate and in-depth analysis, we present you the best camera smartphones of 2016.
Samsung Galaxy S7 can be considered as the best smartphone of the year. The device not only comes with some insane specifications but is probably the best smartphone shooter available in the market. This is due to the dual-pixel sensor, which is a first in smartphones, helps make it autofocus super fast as compared to its competitors. Although many were baffled by the fact that Samsung dropped megapixel count from 16-megapixel (as seen in Galaxy S6) to 12-megapixel, but the increased pixel size coupled with the larger sensor improved the camera performance immensely. With f/1.7 aperture and 1.4-micron pixels, one is able to click some sharper, brighter and detailed photos even in low-light conditions. Other features like Optical Image Stabilisation, Phase Detection autofocus, LED flash and dual pixel technology, is the perfect icing on the cake.
Apple made some gargantuan waves in the tech town when it introduced its first smartphone with a dual camera setup, the iPhone 7 Plus. The device comes with a combination of wide-angle and telephoto lens gives you the joy of true 2x optical zoom coupled with a digital zoom of 10x, meaning that you can zoom all the way in without compromising on the quality. The company also increased the pixel size and large f/1.8 aperture, makes it a better performer than its predecessors. And with the recent introduction of the Portrait Mode, which uses both the rear lenses to create a blurred background ( bokeh) effect, which makes the photos look like they were shot with some professional camera. And with some top-of-line specs and performance, it is truly a smartphone to fulfil your photography passion.
Google Pixel/ Pixel XL
It is already touted as one of the best Android smartphone available in the market right now. And same can be said for its camera as well. Google claims that the camera used in its Pixel lineup has the highest DxOmark rating for any smartphone, and it certainly lives up to company’s claims. With 12.3-megapixel rear camera coupled with large 1.5-micron pixels and large f/2.0 aperture, the camera does deliver some amazing and sharp images in the daylight, coupled with the new and improved HDR+ mode, makes even more interesting to use for photography. Although many would argue that it lacks OIS, but the cameras does come with electronic image stabilisation to help keep images clear. The camera is fast, gives crisp details and is one of the best cameras available in the market. Period.
Huawei just antes up the camera game, when it launched the P9 with a dual-camera setup. To make it even more interesting, the company partnered with Leica, a renowned German camera-maker. The camera comes with a two 12-megapixel sensors with one shooting full-colour (RGB) sensor with 27mm equivalent f/2.2 lens and one monochrome sensor for capturing black and white detail. It is safe to say that the device is one of the best camera to shoot monochrome photos. The dual camera also creates a bokeh effect and one can artificially change the depth of field, similar to what we have seen in a DSLR. And on top of it, the device comes with some sleek design, powerful hardware and respectable price tag, making one of the best camera phones for every photo enthusiast.
Optical zoom has always been the territory of compact and professional cameras, but it never was a successful experiment in the smartphones. We saw some past experiments in Samsung K Zoom, but it was Asus that implemented with such ease. The Asus ZenFone Zoom may look like a normal smartphone but it is a 13-megapixel rear camera with 10-element Hoya lens and a 3x optical zoom, makes it a special entry. The 3x optical zoom helps you get closer to the subject without compromising on the image quality. This due to the fact that the lens used in the smartphone can mechanically zoom in and out just like a normal compact camera does and manages to deliver some sharp and good images. Other than this, the device comes with Laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation (OIS), 12X magnification, PixelMaster technology and a super-resolution mode in which you can capture 52x resolution photos. The device also sports some good internals which includes, a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3590 processor and 4GB RAM coupled with 64GB and 128GB of internal storage.
LG latest flagship, the V20, is another good smartphone available in the market that comes with some respectable camera. The V20 comes with a dual camera setup, just like the G5, with a 16-megapixel main sensor with a f/1.8 aperture and OIS, coupled with an 8-megapixel wide-angle secondary sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. This makes it a perfect combination if you want to click landscapes images or big group photos. But due to its late entry in the Indian market and with the competition offering much more effective cameras, LG V20 misses out to be the best smartphone camera in 2016.
OnePlus 3 is probably the best smartphone that carries all the ingredients of a high-end device at an affordable price tag. The smartphone does come with some insane specifications and also manages to deliver a good camera performance. Though it does not make it to the top 5, but still it is one of the best smartphone available in the market.