Dinc 4G camera

A few weeks back we asked everyone about dedicated cameras that run Android, like the Samsung Galaxy Camera or the Nikon CoolPix S800c. This time, we're going back to basics and talking about the camera included on the phone we carry every day.

When you're out and about, with your Android phone in your pocket, and see something you want to capture forever you pull out the phone and take a quick picture. We all do it, and I don't think any of us expect the same quality of picture we would get from a thousand dollar DSLR or even a $400 point and shoot. The pictures you do get, are they good enough?

Manufacturers have been scrambling to put better optics in our phones, and some of the phones released this year do capture some very nice pictures. Is this something they should be focusing on? Hit the poll in the sidebar or after the break and let us know how your current Android phone is doing in the camera department.

Before we go, let's have a look at last weeks poll:

What's your browser of choice?

  • Chrome -- 51-percent
  • Dolphin -- 17.4-percent
  • Default Android -- 17.31-percent
  • Firefox -- 7.24-percent
  • Opera -- 4.28-percent
  • Other -- 2.78-percent

We can take two things away from this. The first is that over half of the people who voted are running Android 4 or higher, as they're using the Chrome Browser. The second is that as usual, is great that we're offered choices, as every major player is well represented.


Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Are Android smartphone cameras good enough?


Plus one.

Cameras are good enough for now. Let's plow that development budge into batteries and radios for a few cycles and see what we can come up with.

Effing co-sign on this!

I'd be surprised if this actually happened, though. Unfortunately, there isn't much glamour in improved radios and battery life.

I have a point and shoot and DSLR for when real pictures need to be taken.

This. Phone camera is used when you don't have real camera with you, and for those purposes it's good enough.

LOL. I just realized that I never zoom when I take pictures with my phone, I just move the phone closer/farther to get it right.

It's not that black and white. . . . Some smartphone cameras are now acceptable but not good enough to replace a good pocket point and shoot with zoom capabilities!

This is a kinda loaded question. There is only so much you can do with a tiny sensor and a tiny lens with the technology at hand. Any REAL, immediate improvement requires both to be much bigger and that is at odds with a small, thin, lightweight cellphone; and without some knob hanging off it.

All we can do is wait for better sensors (more light sensitive, less noise, etc) and perhaps some magic with tiny optics. That is where all the improvements have been coming from over the years. And there really have been lots of improvements.

For what I want to use a CELL PHONE to do with photos, I think the high-end devices like the Evo LTE, OneX and Galaxy S3 are all more than adequate. No phone is going to come close to my several pound, multi-thousand-dollar DSLT camera setup.... but I don't expect it to, either.

I agree that there are trade offs, and I would usually rather be taking pictures with my DSLR, but that doesn't mean they are good enough. I don't even think my DSLR is good enough. Given a limited budget, there will always be a better camera for those that can afford one. Even then, next years model will be better and it will sell to those who have this years model, so apparently this years model isn't good enough either.

No. They need a flash and a lens that are at least as good as the flash and lens in my (2 or 3 year old) point-and-shoot (which happens to be just about the same size as my phone). And they need faster processing, to give Time to First Image capture somewhere at least close to my pocket point-and-shoot.

honestly, this is the first phone that i can say yes (bionic) for most uses.

the pictures actually look a little better than the pictures taken with a few year old point and shoot that was great when new. even the videos are great.

of course there are always going to be certian times when you will still prefer using a good DSLR (maybe, a lot of people will never need to)but nobody want to lug one of those around all the time. my pockets are already too full to carry crap i dont have to carry if it is really not needed.

Need better low-light and a 2-4x optical zoom. If they can do that without adding more than 5mm to the existing thickness of phones, I'll be one happy camper.

I've had some great pictures with my Galaxy Nexus (yes, I just said that) but I think there is still room for improvement. I also don't believe that the argument that 'it's just a phone' is valid. These have become far more than that and something we often can't leave home without. Why can't the camera's come up to par with what the rest of the device can do?

I think the camera on my S3 does pretty well. My point and shoot broke and I replaced it with a DSLR. Of course, I'm not going to lug that thing around in my purse everywhere I go. My S3 has been a good substitute for when I need to take a picture and I don't have my DSLR with me. Yes, it doesn't perform nearly we well under low light conditions. The flash is sufficient and I feel is powerful enough but it always washes out the images, just like my old point and shoot. I'm just not a flash type of person. I don't take many casual spontaneous pictures but sometimes I do and I think my camera phone has performed just a good as my old point and shoot (under the right conditions).

My Rezound takes excellent pictures.Of course when you have to use the digital zoom picture quality drops.But the newer HTC One series, SGS3, and Sony Xperias have more than acceptable P&S camera software. I still can't figure out why Motorola can't get their camera quality better.

I have MyTouch4G and I voted "No" for this poll just for the fact that it was Android phones in general. When you look at the quality the Iphone 4S had compared to phones at that time, Apple was head above shoulders. It seems the only phones that sound like they do well is the One series by HTC and the SIII from Samsung. HTC and Samsung figured out that you can't fool people by putting the number "8" next to "megapixels" and expect people to believe that the camera quality is great especially when their pics look bad next to an Iphone 4S.

I am not an Apple fan but the camera quality on that phone is great compared to 90% of Android phones. I really hope the next Nexus will have a great camera like the SIII or One X so I can be really happy when I buy it.

Manufacturers don't seem to bother with camera quality anymore. They're just going to keep slapping 8 megapixel, crap sensor combinations in every phone (or higher megapixels, but same old sensor).

I think Samsung did it deliberately with the S3 because they had the camera coming, but the joke's on them because the dedicated camera is terrible, probably no better than the S3's.

Nope. I want I good point and shoot quality camera with 5 - 10x optical zoom. And a "real" flash. I don't care about thickness, go ahead and an inch. (Yes, 25mm extra is fine with me!)

But the question wasn't about a dedicated camera with optical zoom where an inch of thickness is no problem.

The question was about if SMARTPHONE cameras are good enough. You seem to suggest that smartphones need to get thicker, and have 10x optical zoom.

I doubt you will find many people that want to carry an inch thick smartphone with a bulging lens.

I'm saying that I want a point and shoot quality SMARTPHONE camera with 5x - 10x optical zoom even if it makes my phone an inch thicker.

I think you'd be surprised how many people would be interested. If they included a phone dialer and cell connection on that new Samsung camera I think it would be a much bigger hit. I'd buy it.

My only complaint about the camera on my SGS3 is I still have problems with blurriness in motion shots... although it's not nearly as bad as my phone.

For me, yes 90%-95% of the time they are good enough. Most of the time they are quick snaps, or "hey that looks cool" so yeah even the camera on my Galaxy Nexus (which apparently "sucks") works great for me!

I noticed on my Motorola RAZR the default on the camera was 6MP and video was 720.
Had to manually change it to 8 mp and 1080p video.

I wonder how many users dont even noticed this and are not using the full features of their built in cameras.

I think for most shots and more yes. Of course it will never compare to the $1,500 Nikon but then never say never. Only back then when camera started to be on phones everyone said it will would never be as good as a point and shoot. Now days the HTC & Samsung phones images are on par with some point and shoot. I've taken some pretty awesome pictures on my Phone.

As for Moto, that is another story. Most of the Droid line has the crappiest camera that my 1990 Sony feature phone could take better pictures.

Personally, I'm not into photography that much & 95% the pictures I take are Cars-Related (I happened to live near Bugatti \ McLaren \ Bentley \ Lamborghini dealership , Wiesmann \ Spyker \ Koenigsegg dealership & a Ferrari \ Maserati dealership), the other 5% are usually Documents & stuff like that.
Currently, My Atrix's camera is good enough for me , but with my next phone (most likely HTC 8X) , I plan on using it more often than now ! Especially if the camera & the ImageSense chip is good as they say

Two things needs to be taken more seriously by OEMs :

- Macro shots for one.
The SGS II supposed to have a good camera & everyone kept talking on how good it is compared to the rest ! I tired to take some Macro shots with my father's SGS II & they turned out to be absolutely #%#%

- Low light situations for two.
Sony is already fixing this & kudos to them for that

I'd wouldnt like to see the whole focus on the camera stop, just a lot less focus on it. I still think there can be improvements and stuff but I dont wanna see anything radical happen because that means taking time away from more important things like battery life, phone design, etc.

There's a saying: "the best camera you have is the one you have with you" We have our phones almost 100% of the time. I believe we should expect more from them as they could be MUCH improved.

I have, but only when I planned ahead for the zoom capability the point and shoot offered. My SLRs are collecting dust.

Another interesting thing:
Ever notice how when EVERYBODY and their brother started walking around with a camera in their pocket 24/7 that Big Foot and Sasquatch and UFO's all disappeared at the same time?

I'm actually looking at photo-quality as one of the major concerns for my next purchase.
I'd be happier if they'd make a camera that had just 3 high quality megapixels rather than jamming 8+mp on that tiny sensor. With 3mp, we could take much better low light photos, too.
Ever seen the Nikon D1x 2.1 mp photos? Incredible. Megapixels aren't everything.

The camera on my Captivate Glide is really good, but requires me to have a surgeon's hand in order to take good pictures.

Ideally, I want my SmartPhone to be able to replace any device for which it has similar functions. I want it to replace my GPS, my Camera, my PC, etc.

I understand the technology restrictions... today. I am not expecting a solution... today. But I am hoping that these technologies will continue to improve.

It REALLY depends on the phone and camera. The Thunderbolt's camera was pretty good, but the GNex is inconsistent at best. It's great in bright outdoor light, but crappy in low light. I admit to being tempted by the iPhone 5 camera.

I remember tnkgrl at Engadget saying on a podcast years ago that having a great camera on your phone is a joy you can't appreciate until you actually experience it.

I'm pretty disappointed, but I don't have a super high end phone. I have a Droid X, and not only is the picture quality sub par, but it takes an infuriating amount of time for the camera application to even come up. I read AC so I know it's better on other devices, but if I was just some random person, I think I'd have soured on another Android Camera.

As it is, I'm curious to see what the quality on the next (non-Samsung) Nexus phone will be. My contract is up in a month and I don't want something with a skin.

It depends. I didn't think I missed having a good camera until I was afflicted with a BlackBerry 9900 (which has an awful one, especially for close work). I do notice the difference between the Galaxy Nexus (which is okay, but comes unglued in low light and when dealing with detail) and the S2 (which is generally excellent) but I found the zero-shutter-lag too useful, and the S2's software too clunky, to trade off.

I think it matters for flagship phones. There's no excuse for, eg, the Galaxy Nexus to have as poor a camera as it had when the contemporary S2 had an excellent one, as does the iPhone. It seems like OEMs (and this isn't just an Android thing; the Lumia 900's camera isn't great) are counting megapixels rather than focusing on good hardware and software, and in the process ceding ground to Apple.

And then there's the Nokia 808... Wow...

I've had some pretty good luck with the camera on my Bionic running ICS but only outdoors with good lighting. I've taken some pictures that are on par with my point and shoot (or better) but the sensor just doesn't work well in low light.

I do have a DSLR for those "special" pictures that really require that type of quality. That being said, I believe the cameras in our smartphones could be much better with the technology we have available. I used to say the same thing, "it's just a cellphone, not a camera;" but I find myself (and others) using them more and more as a camera or media social device, and therefore I want better pictures from my smartphone. I was at the Pittsburgh Aviary on Sunday and for every DSLR camera (yes, I took mine) there were 100 people taking pictures with their smartphones. It is easier to carry one device and much easier to share pictures via email, Facebook, Twitter, text, etc.. So, just as I was content with a cellphone until smartphones came along to "raise the bar," I WAS content with the earlier cameras, but now I expect more.


DSLR for the shots you really want to stand out, but cell phones are just too ubiquitous to force people to carry ANOTHER device to take the regular pictures. I want to take spur of the moment pictures of my kids, and don't want to deal with poor quality. The newest crop of flagship phones have shown that it's possible to take good shots with a cell phone. Since I pair my phone with Dropbox and Google Plus, I want good shots.

They are called smartphones for a reason. The technology is here. So like all the other 'specs' I want the latest and greatest. I don't want to carry around a laptop or a camera anymore. Give me a phablet with a great camera and a 1080p screen. :-) P.S. Make it a Nexus please.

The SG3 and the HTC One X/S are good enough.

My Sensation 4G is horrible. I mean it's OK - under prefect conditions it takes a decent photo. But any adversity results in a crap shot - 70% of my snaps are unusable.

By comparison my old TM506 clamshell five years ago was a more reliable shooter - brighter, faster, better focused, etc. Lower resolution yes, but at least most shots were keepers.

While we're on the subject, smartphones also need to have a physical shutter button, and it should really be hard-wired to shoot regardless of what's going on in the OS.

Of course they're good enough. It's a smartPHONE/mini computer first and foremost, NOT a camera. When I do use the smartphone camera, the quality of the pix are fine. For the rare occasion where I'd really want the best pix, I'd use my DSLR (which reminds me, where is it? Somewhere here in the house probably with a dead battery). :::gasp:::

I know the camera in my Samsung Captivate isn't the best camera available, but it is the one I have with me all the time and it does pretty well for the pictures I take.

I know it sucks to bring it up - but iPhone cameras kill pretty much everything android over here on the Verizon network anyways.

I know the S3 is supposed to have the same specs, but it truly doesn't compare. I don't know what it is (the app or what have you), but the iPhone camera is truly impressive to me - even though I am totally against the communists of software (aka. fanboys, aka fruitloops, aka Apple).

Even though I am an android enthusiast - as a cell phone rep I couldn't with good conscience tell someone who is after the best camera that they should go into anything but an iphone (especially the 5, which is unfortunately terrifyingly awesome).

I hear the One X is the bees knees, though I haven't seen one.

basically ya canna break the laws of physics.

some people might remember the Nokia N93
which was an attempt to overcome the sensor and lens size problems by putting the camera across the body and using a rotating screen so it looked a bit like the Flip cameras of recent times. it was terribly unreliable but did take good pictures.

for casual photos my HTC Doubleshot aka T-Mo MyTouch4G Slide is fine, but for proper photos I get out my Panasonic G5 "DSLR"