The mobile phone camera: a determining factor

The mobile phone camera: a determining factor

The mobile phones have become an indispensable companion in our daily lives. Spain is precisely one of the countries with the highest percentage of use of these devices. Such is our dependence on them, that an estimated 81% of Spaniards use a smartphone , according to the report “Google Consumer Barometer Report”.

We use mobiles basically to be connected with our friends and family and to access the Internet, although there is a functionality that is progressively gaining importance and in which manufacturers are putting more and more effort: the use of the photo camera.

A few years ago it seemed impossible to go on a trip or attend an event without a camera. Nowadays, on the other hand, if you have a phone with a good camera, you can achieve practically the same result.

But there is an infinite supply in the mobile phone sector and there are many variables and factors that we must take into account to determine if the camera of a mobile phone is good or not . Although there are many more, there are two determining variables that we must take into account when analyzing the camera of a mobile phone: the sensor and the lens.

More megapixels does not always equate to better photo quality

As for the sensor , we have to examine both the number of megapixels and their size. We have always considered megapixels as the determining factor in the quality of our photographs: the greater the number of pixels, the better the image. And the truth is that, in reality, pixels do not necessarily refer to quality , but rather refer to the resolution of the image . In mobiles with a small sensor, this aspect can be important, since the more pixels there are, the smaller these will be and the less light they will capture, so the quality of the photography will end up being worse even if it has more resolution.

For this reason, many manufacturers such as Samsung are working not to increase the number of pixels, but to expand their size . An example of this is the reduction that the Galaxy S7 (12Mpx) has experienced compared to the 16Mpx of the previous model, the S6. Of course, in return, larger pixels have been achieved, 1.55 microns.

The size and number of pixels are closely related to the size of the sensor of mobile phones, another aspect that should be kept in mind. The bigger the sensor, the more light gathering capacity it will have , so the image quality will be favored . However, the implementation of larger sensors means greater battery consumption and is limited by the size of the terminal, so it is necessary to analyze the pros and cons.

A good lens will capture more light from the camera

The second main element is optics , a variable that is also very influential, since it will determine how much light will be able to reach the sensor and, therefore, will affect the quality of the resulting image , especially if the lighting conditions of the scene they are not the best. Most smartphones today have various lenses that aim to eliminate any distortion; the problem is that the optics take up a lot of space and are usually expensive, so we should expect further improvements in this regard.

Other characteristics to consider

The approach is one of the variables to which we should pay attention. A fast autofocus can be a huge advantage , especially in situations where we have to shoot fast or moving actions. Much has been invested in this area in recent years. For example, the LG G6 has opted for laser-assisted focusing, while the Galaxy S7 has incorporated a system that uses the entire surface of the sensor to achieve instant focus also in low-light conditions.

The image stabilizer is another feature that has been included in many phones in recent years, and it really is a factor to consider if what we want is to record video .

Everything discussed will be especially relevant if our mobile phone allows manual configuration of elements such as ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed … iPhones 6 and 7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge + and S7, Huawei P10 or the Lumnia 950 are some of the terminals that allow you to manually modify some of these factors.

Finally, we cannot forget the importance of mobile phone software , which will be in charge of taking care of all the aspects that we have discussed. It is the one that determines the image processing but also the one that allows different ways of shooting and expands the creative possibilities, making it, ultimately, the most important thing.

The innovation of dual cameras

The last Mobile World Congress recorded the main current trends in the world of mobile telephony. And it seems that one of them, in which many companies are investing, is the incorporation of a dual camera . Terminals such as the Huawei P10 or the LG G6 have integrated it with a clear objective: to capture the best photography. For this, instead of a sensor, these phones have double cameras, which work with independent sensors but work together. With this, it is possible to open the field of vision while having a faster focus and capturing a greater amount of light.

The top 5 of the phones that make better photographs

  • Pixel and Pixel XL: more pixels and bigger

Image taken with Google Pixel

The camera on Google’s new phone is one of the best on the market. It has 12.3 megapixels , each of them has a size of 1.55 microns , higher than that of most mobiles, so the quality of your photos is optimal. As a counterpoint, unlike the nexus 6, it does not have an image stabilizer , a feature that can be important when recording video. However, Google has argued that this is not necessary due to the large pixel size and its new HDR + processing system. Furthermore, the quality in video recording is also very good as it can record in 4K.


  • Galaxy S7 and S8: dual focus for better precision

Image taken with the Samsung Galaxy S8 +

Both versions have a resolution of 12.2 megapixels with a size of 1.4 microns each. One of the main innovations introduced by these terminals is the dual focus technology , which allows to obtain a speed and precision in the autofocus that is very useful when taking photos. In addition, both have an image stabilizer . But if there is a peculiarity that differentiates the S7 from the S8, it is the improvements made in the software. These allow the latest version of Samsung to capture three photos in each shot, offering the user the best of them.

  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: the best camera for selfies

Image taken with the Iphone 7+

We can not fail to include in this list the latest versions of the iPhone , both with 12 megapixels . One of the main advantages is that they both have one of the highest quality front cameras on the market (7 MP). In addition, both have a digital zoom of up to 5x , so the result of photographs, both landscapes and selfies is impressive. Another of the improvements of the latest Apple models is the opening of the sensor , which now allows a lower ISO to be used, which translates into an increase in brightness. Like most of its competitors, Apple has also invested in the dual camera, although, for now, it is only present in the 7+ model.

  • Huawei P10: your photos will look like studio

Image taken with the Huawei P10

Many consider the Huawei P10 camera to be the best in the current mobile market. One of the peculiarities of this model, which the previous versions already had: the P9 and Mate 9, is the incorporation of two sensors. On the one hand, it has a 12 MP sensor with optical image stabilization to capture color , while the second sensor, monochrome , has a resolution of 20 MP and does not have optical stabilization. The main objective is that in the end this camera achieves, especially in portrait mode, photographs that are close to studio photographs .

  • LG G6: it has two lenses and a wide angle

Image taken with the LG G6

The LG G6 is also a terminal with a large camera. Like its predecessor, the G5, it still opts for the dual camera system . It has two lenses with 13 megapixels each and a 125-degree wide angle . In addition, in the front the LG G6 incorporates a camera with a 5 MP sensor, so the quality is also very good. Another feature to highlight is the autofocus system , which has increased its speed by integrating a phase detection mechanism, characteristic of professional SLR cameras.

In short, there is a wide range of mobile phones with which to achieve a high quality of photography, which can be equal to or superior to that of a professional camera. It will depend on our needs and the budget that we have set ourselves to choose between one or the other . What is clear is that in the telephony market the competition is maximum and manufacturers increasingly invest more in improvements, so that in the coming years the quality of the cameras of all devices will continue to increase.

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