Technology

Monday 14 July 2014

Tech Gift Guide - Best camera phones

Published 06/12/2013|21:30

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Price: from free on operator contract

Rating: HHHH

If megapixels are a metric by which to measure the prowess of camera phones, Nokia's 41-megapixel Lumia would appear to have the game wrapped up.

However, it's not quite so straightforward.

Megapixels achieve one main goal: detail. Thus, photographs taken on the 4.5-inch Lumia 1020 (in Procam mode only) reveal an extraordinary degree of detail when the photo is blown up. By this measure, and by the generous 32GB of onboard storage, the 1020 blows the competition away.

But there is more to a (non-blown-up) photo than simply detail and, here, I found that the 1020 performed more closely in line with its rivals.

The mega-megapixel shots typically measure over 10 megabytes per photo, meaning that only lower-resolution backup shots are really suitable for sharing online.

The camera is also a little slow, being slightly underpowered by its dual-core chip. Still, having an external camera button is good, even if it defaults to the lower-resolution format.

SONY XPERIA Z1

Price: from free on contract or €600

Rating: HHHHH

Although little compares to the detail of Nokia's Lumia 1020 photos, I found that Sony's Xperia Z1 may shade it for being the best camera phone on offer, overall.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, with a 20-megapixel camera, its clarity and resolution are higher than any other camera phone on the market (bar the Lumia). And on anything smaller than an 8-inch device (or similarly-sized photo) the detail matches the Lumia.

Sony has also put in a better camera sensor than most of its rivals, which helps with low-light detail and depth of field.

An external camera button wakes the camera up from a locked position, while the gadget's bright, clear 5-inch screen is a superb viewing display for shots. Its 2.2Ghz quadcore chip and 2GB of Ram make it much faster than the Lumia, while its Android operating system gives it access to lots more photo-editing apps. With a little bugginess, it's not perfect, but it's probably the best all-round camera phone right now.

APPLE IPHONE 5S

Price: from free on contract or €600

Rating: HHHH

Other than a more powerful chip and a fingerprint reader, the only main upgrade that Apple put into its new high-end iPhone was to beef up the camera. It has done this in two ways.

First, it has increased the size of the pixels (by 15pc) that the camera's 8-megapixel lens allows in. This gives the phone better photo ability in low-light situations.

Apple also introduced a new slow-motion video capture facility. This basically makes the camera shoot 120 frames per second, about four times the normal rate. This means you can slow the footage down to a quarter of its speed and still retain smooth video.

There's also a new burst mode to capture up to 10 shots per second and an enhanced panorama photo feature.

It's an enduring shame that the screen remains a miniature four inches, but it's an impressive camera phone nonetheless.

HTC ONE

Price: from free on contract or €575

Rating: HHHH

It says a lot about how the phone market has raced into large screens when HTC's One, with its 4.7-inch screen, feels relatively compact. The handset has a couple of noticeable strong points. The main one is its physical design: this is the best-looking phone on the market.

It also has a relatively generous storage allocation, at 32GB. The camera, courtesy of its extra-large pixels (which let in more light) is very good, too, despite its headline 4 megapixels. This is a similar trick to what Apple has done with its iPhone 5S.

It works. As is now standard across the big smartphone beasts, the One has a quadcore (1.7Ghz) processor and 2GB of Ram. The battery life could be a little better, but this is a strong handset.

Irish Independent

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