How to take better photos with your Android phone

Many Android phones come with a high-quality camera designed to capture your subject's tiniest details and features, and while they're not technically on the same level as a DSLR camera, you can still take the perfect picture with just your phone if you know how to use it. Even if you're a beginner, you can quickly learn how to capture amazing photos with your Android phone (and if you actually are a beginner, be sure to check out our top 10 Android photography tips for beginners!)

Here are some helpful tricks to help you take better photos with your Android device!

Explore your camera settings

Get acquainted with your phone and all the camera settings before you start shooting, and you'll feel a lot more comfortable capturing your shots!

While shooting from your phone's stock camera is great for 99.9% of pictures — especially if you've got a recent Samsung, LG or HTC phone — playing around with the various modes and settings can really allow you to experiment and get creative.

Make sure your lens is clean

While this may seem like an obvious one, cleaning your phone lens can be a lot harder to remember than cleaning your DSLR lens. After all, there's no lens cap protecting your Android phone's camera from dirt and scratches like professional cameras have.

Carrying around a small lens cleaning cloth, or even having small micro fiber lens cleaning patches (opens in new tab) stitched to the inside of your purse or your jacket are simple ways to remind you to clean your phone lens and screen, so you're always ready to take the clearest shots with your phone.

Or just use your shirt.

Don't forget to clean your front lens, too! We break down how important cleaning your lenses can be in our top 8 tips to make you an Android photography expert.

Forget the flash: use external lighting

When it's dark outside, it's a knee-jerk reaction to turn on the flash to light up your photos, but it's not always the best for picture quality. In fact, we'll go one further: Don't bother using your flash. Nearly ever.

Always try to find a natural light source when you're shooting your photos. If you're at a restaurant and want to snap a picture of your meal, try to get a seat by a window, so you can capture all the meal's details with the perfect lighting. If you're looking to take a selfie, try posing in front of a big window. This won't only make your face and features light up – even on a cloudy day – but it will darken the background and make you the center of attention.

If it's absolutely impossible to capture your picture without natural lighting (and sometimes that's the case), try your best to find another external light source, like a lamp or even a candle. While it may seem silly, almost any other lighting will look better than the flash, especially since you then have more control of what you choose to light and highlight in your photographs.

Crop, don't zoom

Just like your Android phone's flash, zoom is another readily available option for phoneographers that should be avoided like the photographic plague.

Zoom can lower the quality of your pictures, and you might actually be cutting out something you didn't notice in the photo that you may find amazing when you glance at the picture during editing.

It's hard to remember when you're shooting, but your Android device is not the same as a DSLR camera: you can't just zoom in on something and have the quality stay virtually the same. A lot of professional photographers avoid the zoom altogether and prefer to crop strategically in the editing process afterwards, so they don't miss out on anything they captured in the picture.

If you really need to get in close with your subject, pick yourself up and physically move closer to it rather than using your zoom. This is the best way to get creative control over your photo subject without using zoom to mess up the picture's overall quality.

Burst first, ask questions later

Bursting may seem like a lazy way to take pictures, but it's probably the most efficient way to capture your perfect shot!

Whether it be selfies, landscapes, or a masterpiece of a meal, using burst is a great way to take a bunch of photos without stress: just hold down the shutter button and your phone will take rapid-fire shots that you can browse through later to find the perfect one.

While a bunch of the pictures you take with burst will be terrible and totally unusable, there are bound to be a few gems hiding in there. Take the time to go through your burst shots and pick out the best ones, and always remember to delete the bad burst photos so they don't take up space on your phone.

Find a favorite photography editing app

After you're done shooting, you're going to want to up your photo game by editing your pictures with your favorite editing app.

There are plenty of photo editing apps to choose from out there, and all of them do their own unique things like overlay certain filters, allow you to edit brightness and contrast, and even add text or stickers to your photos.

Photo editing apps are also a great tool to have if you're not confident with the photos you've taken. You can even salvage some photographs through a little bit of editing and tweaking if you're worried about quality.

Follow your favorite photographers on social media

Sometimes taking the best pictures with your Android phone doesn't start with your camera app; it starts with a quick visit to social media to get motivated from Android phone photographers who are already taking beautiful pictures!

Following some of your favorite photographers on social media is an amazing way to get ideas, see what kind of art other people are creating, and get motivated to go out and start shooting. Some may even respond in the comments if you ask them how they shot a certain subject in a certain style or how they managed to edit a specific photograph to look a certain way.

Creep around the discover page on Instagram and see what other Android phone photographers have shot. Start by mimicking a style you're fond of, and it will eventually evolve into your own.

Some photographers on social media even share their own tips and tricks for shooting, so be sure to check out a bunch of different profiles for inspiration.

Your turn

Are there any tips and tricks for shooting amazing photos with your Android phone that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Cella Lao Rousseau
  • Also one can use camera lenses for phone...... Like DSLRs, lenses too are available for phones which add if not much but a little bit of flair to pics. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They don't improve the quality of the photos like a DSLR. With a DSLR you are replacing the lens, with the camera lenses you are mounting a new lens on top of the existing lens. They can add a cool effect, but it's not the same thing.
  • No, just no. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Let's step off the judgey express for a second and recognize that some pretty badass photos have been taken with wide angle lens mounts for mobile phones. Smh
  • They can only decrease the quality since you are mounting one on top of another and its not even designed for that. With DSLRs those lenses cost like a used car
  • Tip I use for flash situations. Tap your screen at the subject and the flash will typically go off then hit the shutter button.
    LG g3. But I'm guessing this will work with most any of them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Using the rule of thirds is always another good practice. Also, using manual mode on your camera if available is always a plus. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This, the first thing I do is enable the grid lines as well.
  • I use a small table top tripod for my night shots..I have effectively captured some nice lightning shots and clear starscapes playing with Raw and a tripod Posted via the Android Central App
  • I regret not having my tripod or monopod, last night. I was out on a date and there was a beautiful lightning show in a huge anvil-head cloud miles away. You can only hold it so steady in a parking lot! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I hope it was a date with your wife or girlfriend if you're busting out a tripod to take pics. Probably won't be a second lol. Yes, you should definitely take dating advice from tech sites! Carry on Posted via the Android Central App
  • It was my wife this time, and she's sat patiently previous times while I was doing some telephoto moon shots with my Nikon on a tripod. She probably would have been fine, but I doubt I would have used a tripod if I was out with someone else. There's one girl I hang out with who's a certifiable genius, and she probably would have set the tripod up FOR me and done the video in full manual mode!
  • Got a link to the starscapes? I'd love to see them
  • I'm no photographer, nor do I pretend to be. I just enjoy taking casual pictures when I'm out and about. I always try to get the best lighting when possible, or at least when I have the time to take a nice picture and not just rush it. Also it's always worth tapping to focus for different exposures in auto mode. Just by utilizing tap to focus, I've gotten many better shots vs just pointing the camera and shooting. That's if you're not into tinkering with manual mode. I think it's just always fun to try getting the best photo you can possible. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The best photo you can is preferred, but sometimes you just have to take multiples at the instant and hope one is good and still captured the moment.
  • I've tried using burst mode on my Nexus 6P but the camera app and Photos app only seems to let you keep one photo (or all or none). I can't find a way to pick a few multiple pictures to keep. Anyone know if there is a way?
  • I will double check on my 6p when I get home, but I do believe you can. I just did a burst shot on the oneplus 3 and went to google photos, and it let me delete individual ones, if that's what you mean. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm referring to take a set of burst photos and then keeping a few of the set but not all. Then after I have the ones I want to keep, I want to separate them into individual pictures. When I go to the app, it keeps the pictures grouped in a set. At least going to Photos on the Web show the remaining pictures separated.
  • Brace yourselves for the DSLR dildos Rodeo time, time to get er on down the road.
  • I've never seen THAT particular attachment, but whatever floats your boat! Care to clarify? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think you may be confused about what the D in DSLR stands for.
  • Lots of great tips here! If I could add, one app I would recommend is the Learn Photo365 app. It's full of photo tips and great inspiration.
    I was able to complete a Photo365 using the iPhone version before I swtiched to droid, and am happy to see it's now available now for Android! Agree with the other commentors, turn on the grids to use the thirds rule! Improves most compositions by doing that!
  • When i *need* to use the flash, i usually get a small piece of paper and hold it up to the flash so it diffuses it. or even better, tape a piece over it
  • Learn how to use ISO functions, also the rule of thirds. Posted via the Android Central App
  • TIP for taking pics of lightning or any other unpredictable quick event: use an app like Lightning Camera.
    It basically buffers video frames in memory kinda' like Burst mode but it's a continuous ring buffer keeping only the last 10 seconds or so of frames. Point your camera at where you think the lightning will be (camera mount recommended). Then shortly after you see a lightning flash, press the camera button. The app will then display each frame of the last 10 seconds of video. You then select the frame(s) you want to keep. Two or three of them should have captured the lightning at different stages. The app will discard the unselected frames.
  • I think, because of the small lens and tiny sensor on mobile phones, the most important thing about mobile photography is light. The more you can get, the better. If you're able to, move the subject to the brightest part of the room or next to the strongest light.
    If you're outside, take photos with the sun at your back.
  • The sport mode that must phones have, once auto is turned off, is useful for indoors or darker environments. It pushes the shutter speed up a bit and prevents (in theory) blurry shots. The will turn out darker, but Snapseed (or similar apps) can remedy that.
  • 1) Know the limitations of the camera in your phone and deal with them accordingly.
  • What's the rule of thirds?
    Left Middle Right.
    Foreground Subject Background What? :p
  • Posted via my Moto X Pure Edition using the Android Central App
  • Thank you for the article, it saved me the search time....had no clue what the rule of thirds is.
  • I really want the camera case for the Note 7 but it's so expensive
  • I'm impressed, no just buy a Samsung comment.
  • That would be rich. The cameras on both my Note phones have been pretty bad compared to my old and older Nokia phones. It's sad - I used to take so many images because they all came out so crisp and sharp. These Samsung images don't compare.
  • Interesting
  • Ninety percent of the time it's not even the quality of the photo but the memory. We all get caught up in which phone takes better pics. Relax, just enjoy the moment forever. I'm forty-seven and I always compare cell phone cameras to the old instant cameras with the big flash bulbs you had to buy. You have no idea how great you have it. Get off my lawn!
  • Dude thank you. I'm a Desert Storm Vet and I used to take pics with one of those cameras that look like an ice cream sandwich. Yeah the smartphone cameras that have been out for the last few years are way better then the stuff we had back then.
  • I have note 3 neo and not a big fan of camera on this. Pics are usually blurry if you zoom. However, buddy of mine got s6 edge and the pictures quality are far superior. The cameras have come long way.
  • Go into the manual settings if your phone has one and spend some time playing around with it. Also, don't be afraid to shoot some RAW photos. Their larger size gives you much more editing flexibility in apps like Snapseed and Lightroom (I use Lightroom, personally). Also, if possible, don't use HDR too often if you want a natural look as Android HDR usually ends up being more of a shadow-brightening mode, where shadows become brighter but highlights either stay the same or get worse. There are some exceptions, however, like HDR+ on the Nexus and Sony's HDR.
  • Holy crap! I did not know about holding the shutter button to burst! Thanks for the article!
  • Oh god.... PLEASE don't turn into Buzzfeed with animated GIFs for each part of your posts! No, no, no!
  • Here is a good tip. I work in a restaurant and the biggest culprit for bad photos is leaving the candle in the table. Try a photo with the candle out of frame, most of the time it will be 100% better. Same goes for any dinner setting. Lose the candle light. It might look great in person, but if there isn't enough, it'll darken everything except the candle.
  • That zoom GIF lol.