One of the biggest disappointments that many people have after purchasing a cell phone is the poor quality of its camera. Though a camera the can take pictures that are less than five megapixels is fine for quick snapshots, people who buy a smart-phone with the hope of using it to take decent pictures (so that they can leave their camera at home) may be disappointed by the overall quality of their shots if they are not careful about which phone they purchase. Some phones are standouts that can produce great images. Yes, phone cameras are limited by their size and lack of interchangeable lenses…pro quality pictures are just not possible on any phone camera. But you can take some great pictures that won’t disappoint in terms of overall quality. The best phone cameras are great stand-ins for any point-and-shoot pocket cameras.
At the absolute top of the price and quality spectrum is the Nokia 808 PureView. This phone is sold unlocked. Without carrier subsidies, it carries a high price tag (over $700). However, real photo enthusiasts will be astonished by the 41 megapixel camera that can take photos worthy of being blown up to poster size. Yes, if you want great images, this is the ultimate camera phone, but it lacks a lot of the features that other smart-phones have (because of its little-used Symbian operating system). Yes, your images will be clear, but the lack of controls and interchangeable lenses might mean that photo enthusiasts would be better off buying a comparably priced DSLR camera instead of getting this phone. That said, the 808 PureView is an impressive camera-phone that may become more useful in the future if it gets a new OS.
The iPhone 5 has received a lot of buzz. It has a 8 megapixel camera, good enough for most photo-taking tasks. You can certainly leave your compact point and shoot camera at home if you have an iPhone 5 in your pocket. Of course, all the awesome effects and photo sharing apps make this a great choice for people who want to use the phone’s camera to take snaps that they can then upload to social media sites or send to friends. An updated lens makes it easier to take decent pictures in low-light situations as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of the iPhone’s biggest competitors. People are first drawn to its large screen and muscular operating system. However, this phone also takes decent pictures. Like the iPhone, it has a solid 8 megapixel camera that can take pictures and perform all the photo-related tasks that the iPhone can. Reviewers generally gave the iPhone slightly higher marks for overall picture quality (sharpness and white balance was better on the iPhone), but the Galaxy certainly did better than other Android phones when it came to taking pics. In short, if you want access to the Android marketplace and want a phone that can take great snapshots, then the Galaxy S III is your best option overall.
Nokia Lumina 920 has the same PureView photo system as the 808 PureView. It has a much less powerful camera, with only 8.7 megapixels. But its Carl Zeiss lens and a great image processor make it one of the best camera-phones available. Unlike the 808, the Lumina runs on a Windows operating system, so it does have better features and offers access to a greater range of tools and apps. This phone is a little bit more photo-specialized than the Galaxy or iPhone, so it might appeal better to the people who buy a phone to make calls and take pictures and aren’t that interested in having access to millions of apps.