Photo Finish: What’s the Best Smartphone Camera on the Market?

When brands first began embracing social media as a marketing tool, the bar for photography was almost nonexistent—just having a presence on the networks was enough to get people to follow your feed.

Fast-forward a few years, and the bar for photographic quality is sky-high. Brands hitting it big on social media are almost exclusively posting professional-quality photographs.

Thankfully, technology is on the side of the small retailer/brand in this arena.

The cameras embedded in many of the latest mobile phones rival, or even surpass, the photographic quality found in high-end point-and-shoot cameras—and in good lighting can even be as effective as traditional DSLR cameras (the kind pros use) in producing sharp, beautiful images.

After polling a few professional photographers, and poring over ­reviews from trusted technology outlets, we’ve rounded up the latest phones that feature the best cameras. Upgrade to one of these and kiss your photo-quality issues goodbye!

iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus

Apple is very proud of the camera in its newest iPhones—and it should be. It produces ultra-crisp, well-lit images, even in low lighting, thanks to a large aperture that allows for lots of light—and a proprietary sensor that helps the lens counteract even the tiniest movement, so there’s less blur. Micah Baird, a lifestyle photographer in Los Angeles, says the portrait mode “is an effective tool for shooting jewelry, due to its longer focal length, which provides less wide-angle distortion.” L.A.-based pro photographer Raquel Olivo calls it “without a doubt the best phone camera.” ($649–$769)

Huawei P9

This Chinese-designed and -manufactured phone features two camera lenses sitting side by side on the phone’s back side—both engineered by German camera maker Leica. One of the cameras features a full-color RGB lens, while the other works in conjunction with the main lens, pulling precious extra light into the dual sensors with every snap. The advanced system can result in stunningly detailed, vividly hued images. ($472.99)

Samsung ­Galaxy S7 & Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Tech/gadget reporters routinely crown the camera in these Samsung phones the best on the market. For good reason: The 12-megapixel camera performs incredibly in underlit environments, perhaps because it features the widest aperture of any smartphone. The device also boasts a dual-pixel sensor—technology originally built for DSLR cameras. “The amount of detail pulled in from the phone’s camera is truly stunning,” says Colorado-based photographer John De Bord. ($429.99–$479.99)

Google Pixel & Google Pixel XL

The first Google-branded smartphone features one of the best phone cameras—make that two cameras—on the market. The Android phone’s camera boasts an 8-megapixel “front” camera (for selfies and such) and a 12.3-megapixel “main” camera for everything else. Users laud its speedy shutter, naturalistic rendering, and ability to capture an enormous amount of detail in dim light—perfect for shooting at trade shows and evening events. ($649.99–$749.99) 

(Top: Digihelion/Getty)

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