10 Features to Look for in a Good Mobile Phone Camera

How do you select a mobile phone that has a great built-in camera? The average person just knows that what you want to look for in a digital camera is a high number of megapixels. That’s why 10 and 12 megapixel camera phones are all the rage. While it’s true that megapixels matter, it’s important to know that this isn’t the only thing that you want to look for if you’re trying to find a mobile phone camera that takes stunning pictures.

Here are ten features to look for when reviewing mobile phone cameras, starting with the issue of megapixels.

Megapixels: What’s the Deal? The number of megapixels that your digital camera uses generally determines how the images that you capture will look when they are printed in large sizes. If you don’t have enough megapixels then your large printed images will appear out of focus. Think about that; how often do you try to make large-print pictures from your mobile phone camera? Most people use these cameras to snap pictures that will be going online or printed in 4X6 format for photo albums. Unless you happen to be a photographer who is using a mobile phone camera to capture images that will later be hung in a gallery, you probably don’t need a lot of megapixels. In fact, 5-6 megapixels is generally considered fine for the average person. The only other issue to consider is whether you do a lot of cropping when you edit your camera phone pictures; extensive cropping on low-megapixel photos can also make the picture fuzzy. Again, unless you’re a professional photographer, this is unlikely to be an issue for you.

Camera Sensor Size. What starts to matter more when you begin to get into the higher megapixel range of camera is the size of the camera sensor. A larger size sensor is going to produce higher-quality pictures on your mobile phone camera. The main benefit of a large camera sensor is that it takes better photos in low light than a camera with a smaller sensor size will. Since people often use mobile phone cameras indoors and in low-light areas, a larger sensor size is a good choice.

Flash. A great image sensor is important to capturing high-quality images in low light using your mobile phone camera. However, you’re also going to want to supplement this with a great flash. These days it’s imperative to have a flash on your mobile phone. Most people say that there are only two types of flashes that you want to look for; Xenon or Dual LED. If you have a standard LED flash then you’re not going to get the best pictures. The benefit of a Xenon flash is that it’s the brightest option; however it can drain battery power. The benefit of a Dual LED is that it’s good for both video and photos.

Optical Zoom. You have two choices when it comes to your camera’s zoom function. You can get a camera with a digital zoom or you can get a camera with an optical zoom. An optical zoom lens actually moves inside the camera to get a closer look at the subject of your photo; a digital zoom lens guesses at the detailed image without moving. The picture quality is better with an optical zoom lens. In fact, many camera phone users say that a high-quality optical zoom is the most important feature for them.

Quick autofocus. Users also say that they want a camera that is going to be able to give them a fast focus on their subjects. Mobile phone cameras are often whipped out at the last second to get a great photo caught “on film”. You don’t want to lose the shot while you’re waiting for your camera to focus in on the subject of the image. And it should go without saying that you need an autofocus because pictures will be blurry without one.

Extra Features. A fast autofocus isn’t the only feature that you want to look for when trying to find a decent camera phone. You also want to look for added features that will make photo-taking even easier. For example, many cameras come with face detection, smile detection and image stabilization to make sure that you always get the best portraits on your mobile phone. The new Sony Ericsson Vivaz is a good example of a camera phone that offers a number of different features.

Storage. Many people want to make sure that their cameras are capable of holding a lot of photos. They don’t want to have to frequently delete photos in order to free up storage space. This is true whether you use a stand-alone digital camera or one that is built into a mobile phone. Look for a mobile phone camera that is capable of storing extra GB on a memory card.

Online Sharing Capabilities. People who are using mobile phone cameras want to be able to take their pictures from the phone and send them directly to the web. They don’t want to have to download the pictures to a PC or email the photos to themselves before they can send them to their blogs and social networking sites. As the mobile web grows, this is becoming an increasingly crucial feature of a good mobile phone camera.

Built-in Effects. If you want to share your mobile phone photos directly from the device then it makes sense that you would also want to be capable of doing photo editing on your device. A good mobile phone camera is going to come with on-board editing features.

A Good Phone. Finally, people want a mobile phone camera that comes attached to a high-quality mobile phone. If they just wanted a good camera, they’d get a separate device. Instead, they want one gadget that can do it all. They don’t want to have to compromise their call quality or smartphone functions in order to have a good camera on their phones. For example, when the announcement came out that Samsung was releasing the Pixon12, it wasn’t so much the 12 megapixels on the camera that made people happy but rather that the phone had Wi-Fi and GPS, which the previous phone in the same line had lacked. You shouldn’t have to choose one over the other.

If you’re interested in learning what some of the best camera phones are, take a look at our previous article.

Alternatively, simply click on any of the camera phones below to find out more.

2 thoughts on “10 Features to Look for in a Good Mobile Phone Camera

  1. This is something I have been thinking about – however, I wouldn’t mind having to download the photos to a pc. What would be most important to me would be always having the ability to take good quality photos – the convenience of downloading/printing would be secondary!

  2. I’ve got another to add to the list. Check the time that it takes for your prospective new phone to get a lock on satelittes if it has GPS. The reason I say this? My Nokia 5800 (a great phone in most respects) takes about 3 days, 27 minutes to get a GPS signal in the middle of a city (perversely where I need it most). I’ve now gone bald waiting!

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