Best Smartphone Cameras
2016 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
Welcome to our annual Holiday Gift Guide. For 2016, we've decided to segue from wholly budget-based recommendations and instead focus on different camera categories.
There's no bigger camera category today than smartphones. More pictures are taken with smartphones than all other types of digicams combined. It's easy to see why, of course. You always have your phone with you. These phones are instantly connected to your friends and family online. And they actually take pretty good pictures, especially when compared to phones from even a few years ago. Now the downside to any smartphone is image sensor size and the lack of optical zoom lenses, but these little pocket-sized supercomputers make up for that with processing and connectivity.
Without further ado, here are our favorite Smartphone Cameras for 2016!
iPhone 7 Plus - Dual iSight Camera
The iPhone 7 Plus Dual iSight Camera is the best iPhone camera ever made. Hands down. With not one, but two 12MP sensors behind dual f1.8 aperture lenses -- one 28mm, one 56mm -- the 7 Plus is the first Apple product to offer an optical zoom option. The 28mm lens is designed for wide-angle photography while the 56mm lens is for portraits. Optical Image Stabilization keeps 4K/30p videos smooth and low-light still images sharp. Wide Color Gamut image capture offers more dramatic and vivid colors. There's even a Depth Effect option to improve portrait bokeh. Lastly, the TrueTone flash is better and brighter than ever, and you can finally capture RAW images inside Apple's Camera app. Tuck all of this into a water-resistant housing and it's a very attractive package. Pick up the iPhone 7 Plus for $769 to $969 with 32GB to 256GB hard drives.
While this one isn't waterproof and doesn't have optical image stabilization (it utilizes the phone's gyroscope), Google is already impressing folks with its first smartphone / first camera phones, the Pixel and Pixel XL. The app itself is easy to use and offers a lot of control over how you capture images as well as 4K/30p videos. The larger Pixel XL boasts a 5.5" QHD AMOLED display with 534ppi as well as a 12.3MP rear (main) camera with an f2.0 28mm equivalent lens. Google utilizes larger 1.55?m to combat noise along with Phase and Laser Detection Autofocus (PDAF + LDAF) to lock in focus. In addition to 4K UHD video, you can also record Full HD at up to 120 frames-per-second for 4x slow motion. Lastly, the Pixel XL has a dual-LED flash system for even and neutral tone coverage. Pick up the Pixel XL for $744, which includes a 32GB hard drive.
The LG V20 smartphone blends a larger 5.7" IPS Quantum touchscreen with a dual main camera system. The 16MP Standard-Angle camera boasts a 1/2.8" image sensor, f1.8 aperture, and 75-degree field of view. The 8MP Wide-Angle camera boasts 1/4" image sensor, f2.4 aperture, and a 135-degree field of view. Both cameras are able to record 4K Ultra HD videos with 24bit high-resolution stereo audio at up to 135dB, making the V20 perfect for anyone who frequently attends concerts. And, in addition to the 64GB internal hard drive, the V20 is capable of expanding to 2TB with microSD (*even though there aren't any 2TB mSD cards just yet). Pick up the LG V20 now for less than $800.
Okay, we haven't even gotten to see this one in person yet and don't know exactly when it's going to be available outside of "sometime later this year" and "in Europe", but Kodak has gone and built itself a new camera system that also happens to be an Android Smartphone with a 5" 1080p display. Kodak's camera-first design elements and feature set have us itching to try one ASAP.
The Kodak EKTRA will boast a 21MP image sensor with an f2.0 26.6mm equivalent lens, Phase Detection Autofocus, Optical Image Stabilization, a fast charging system, and a Dual LED flash. Like most smartphones today, it's capable of shooting 4K Ultra HD video, shooting HDR and Panoramas. But what we're most excited to try is the camera interface itself. Kodak promises its Manual mode to be of the advanced variety with control over all the settings along with different modes like Sports, Portrait, and Bokeh. There's also an integrated printing app as well as a video recording mode that mimics the Super 8 format. The estimated USD price on this is in the $550-600 range and includes a 32GB hard drive, expandable with MicroSD. Sorry, we don't have a link to where you can purchase the EKTRA, but we'll update this page once we do.