Best phone camera in 2017
Jim Martin tests the best cameras, so you don’t have to
First, we should explain that this is not the kind of scientific test where we put phones on tripods in ‘lab’ conditions. No. The aim here was simple: to use the phone cameras exactly as people do in the real world, and present the photos and video so you can see them all side by side.
Some people will only be concerned by photo quality, others video. For some the selfie camera is the most important. Comparing cameras is a tricky business at the best of times, but we hope that the slideshows below help you to decide which you like best and offer the chance to see how they perform in real-world conditions.
If your priority is video, it is worth going for a phone with good stabilisation as this make a big difference to the footage.
How we tested
So we went out into the real world, took real photos of people and places, holding the phones in our hands. We think this is the most useful way to test a phone’s camera, and we took all the photos in each location with a minute or two of each other in order to keep lighting conditions consistent.
For each phone, we made sure it was set to use the full sensor resolution. Some are set to this out of the box, while others default to a lower resolution so they shoot at 16:9. We also did this for the front cameras, and turned off any ‘beauty’ modes where we could.
For video, we again set the cameras to the highest resolution – 4K – and where this wasn’t available, we used the next highest resolution, typically 1920x1080, at the highest available frame rate. We enabled video stabilisation, again, where available. Not all phones offer stabilisation at their highest resolution (or frame rate), especially those which use electronic rather than optical stabilisation. You can see our results at tinyurl.com/zynggn6.
We took a few photos on each phone at each location, using the stock camera app, then chose the best to present here. We didn’t use special modes which are unique to only that phone, since it’s not possible to compare them with other phones, and that’s the whole point here: apples-to-apples comparisons.