Cameras have become an essential unit of smartphone hardware. So much so, that at times, it has been the deal breaker when deciding between two smartphones. Plenty has been written and spoken on how smartphones today could compete with dedicated DSLRs. Hands on heart, that is not true. Apart from maybe the Nokia Lumia 1020 or Nokia 808, the cameras on smartphones are at best great substitutes for point and shoots, with DSLRs still a bit of a distant dream that is without a doubt going to be a reality in not so distant future.
Given the popularity of Android as an ecosystem on smartphones, ‘which is the best Android camera smartphone’ has been an often debated question. While obviously, this is a tough question to have a single right answer to, given how different devices perform differently in different scenarios, we will try to do it here. It is true that obviously bigger or more is not always better and hence the Megapixel count is not the be all and the all of everything, and even with slightly lower count like on the HTC One, it is possible to snap very decent shot, yet for those who like details and like to reproduce pictures on bigger and pixel dense displays, we will keep this discussion around Pixel size and maybe, do the Camera Quality post soon too.
If Camera is the only major consideration for you and 12 MP definitely seems to be a big enough pixel count to tickle the fancy of most, here are our pick of 5 Android phones that you could pick up and satisfy the photographer within you.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The latest and greatest from the world of Samsung, the Galaxy S5 features a 16 MP rear camera that is plain amazing. Samsung has usually done very well when it comes to picture-taking ability of their smartphones and the S5 is no different. The camera produces rich, vibrant photos in most conditions. Given, you know your way around the camera, you can definitely get really good crisp shots. With a pixel size of 1.12 µm, the camera produces substantial details in even challenging lighting conditions. You have a very exhaustive camera app on the Samsung Galaxy S5 just like any other Samsung device and that definitely helps you tailor your shot according to your conditions.
Sony Xperia Z1
The Sony Xperia Z1 is our personal pick as the best Android smartphone in the list, but it may not necessarily be for you if you like simple and uncomplicated stuff. The reason for this is, the 20.1 MP shooter on the Xperia Z1 is capable of absolutely stunning shots, but only and only if you know the right settings on the device. While the Superior Auto Mode on the Camera does a great job, 8 out of 10 times, there are always shots that the phone is capable of taking better given you set the right settings especially when shooting night portraits or landscapes. The Camera app on the device has several modes and if set right, definitely is on par with the iPhone 5s as the best camera smartphone (not considering the Lumia 1020). With 20.1 MP and 1/2.3″ sensor size, the details will never be an issue with the Xperia Z1 given you know your device. Add in that it is perhaps the only high-end Android phone with a dedicated shutter button, and you know you have a winner. FWIW, the Sony Xperia Z2 was not taken into consideration given it is not available across the globe and we have not had any experience with the device despite the claims it has the same module as the Z1.
Gionee Elife E7
Gionee might not be the most fancy name in the world of personal technology, not yet at least as it continues to try to shed the dreaded ‘Chinese’ stereotypical label from its backside, but for a large part they are definitely on their way to becoming a household name. The Gionee Elife E7 features a 16 MP rear camera with a pixel size of 1.34 µm. Not just this, the Gionee Elife E7 has an 8 MP front facing A/F Camera making it perhaps the best selfie capable phone too. There is a dedicated DSLR mode ion the device too for those who like to frame shots by themselves, and with plenty of shooting modes including burst mode, auto beauty etc, the Gionee Elife E7 is easily one of the best and most complete camera smartphones running Android out there.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Note III is the second Samsung phone on this list, reiterating our stance that Samsung consistently does a good job with the camera on its smartphone. Given the popularity of phablets in the market, the Note 3 is without a doubt the best Android phablet with camera. The device comes with a 13 MP rear Camera and a single LED flash. While the camera may not produce as rich and vibrant results as the newly announced Galaxy S5, the Note III does a great job especially when compared to other phablets. It has pretty much all the software features like the Galaxy S5 in the Camera application, giving you a very thorough hands on experience with your pictures.
The Oppo N1 makes our list of top 5 Camera smartphones more for its unique design than the pure quality of the shots it takes. In all honesty, it was a straight toss between the N1 and LG’s G2 for the final spot in the list with the G2 probably edging out in terms of pure photography skills. However, given the N1 dared to do something different with the module, sorts we had never seen before, it took the spot. Make no mistake, the 13 MP swivelling unit on the N1 takes a really mean shot and gives you very interesting options in terms of angles that you shoot your subject from thanks to the movable unit. The Color OS on the device provides you with various scenic options just like the other devices on our list. The performance of the device indoors as well as in averagely lit conditions is applause worthy and produces accurate exposures and rich colors. It may not reach the levels of the S5 or the Z1 when you use a zoomed in 1:1 crop of a shot, but definitely is one of the interesting choices out there for you to pick if you are looking to focus just on the camera of a smartphone.
So, those were our picks of five Android smartphones which have a 12 MP camera or more. Do you agree with us? Or you have a favorite that we have not mentioned here. Do let us know in the section below or on our Social Networking profiles.