Best Android Smartphone Camera


Right then, so I’m in the process of switching from Windows 10 Mobile to Android…

I decided to opt for the Sony Xperia XZ1, which I really like as a phone. Unfortunately, the camera on the Xperia XZ1 doesn’t come close to the camera on my Lumia 950. Seriously, the Lumia picture quality, especially in low light, is so superior it’s unreal. I’ve compared both side by side, so I know for sure that the Lumia is significantly better.

So, my question is, if I want an Android smartphone with a camera as good as (or better than) the one in the Lumia 950, what would you recommend?

Alternatively, are there any apps which can improve the image quality on the Xperia, saving me the hassle of switching to something else?

Comments (28)

28 responses to “Best Android Smartphone Camera”

  1. Bats

    Wow... The Lumia phone has a superior camera? I find that very hard to believe. I guess it's true when they say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

    In Android there are only two superior camera phones. The Samsung Galaxy ( S and Note) and the Google Pixels. Both seesaw when it comes to highest ratings in the industry.

    However, my niece is wanting that Moto Z phone where you can attach a number of components to the back. One of which is a camera. I don't know if it's any good, but that's another option.

    • WP7Mango

      In reply to Bats:

      It's not about beauty - it's about the image quality. Don't get me wrong, the Xperia is a nicer phone.

      However, the Lumia camera is comfortably better, especially in low light. Even in slightly lower light there is a noticeable difference, with the Xperia producing much grainier pictures. You can't really tell unless you zoom into the image and start to look at the details, but the difference is there.

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to Bats:

      I still have a 950XL and the image quality is surprisingly good. People who have iPhone 7s and Galaxy 7&8 comment that it takes better pictures than their phones. I am not sure I agree that it is better, but certainly in the ballpark. What it does have is the ability to zoom deep into the photo without losing any appreciable quality.

      I have taken the same photo with a decent point and shoot and the 950, and while the images look largely the same when viewed full, as one zooms in, the extra megapixels of the 950 stand out. It is a 20MP while the point and shoot is 16MP.

      That and the dedicated camera button make it a nice choice for photos of opportunity.

    • illuminated

      In reply to Bats:

      Moto Z camera attachment is disappointing. Optical zoom is nice but sensor is still small and noisy.

  2. WP7Mango

    So, in case anyone is curious (which I very much doubt), I did eventually go for the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It was either that, or the Galaxy S8, S8+ or Note 8.

    I have to say, I'm delighted with the phone. Yes the camera is good enough for the phone to replace my Lumia 950. But I really like the phone anyway - it's like having a Galaxy S8+ only better. Comes with 6GB RAM, 128GB, and a fantastic screen and camera, IR detector and blaster, etc, and is significantly cheaper than the normal Galaxy S8, let alone the S8+ or Note 8. It's a high-end phone without the high-end price.

    Do I miss Windows 10 Mobile? Yes I do, especially the Live Tiles. However, I can live with that. But I can safely say that Android is definitely the way forward for me, especially coming from Windows 10 Mobile. iOS is simply too restrictive for my needs.

    Anyway, I'll probably write a review at some point, because some of the advanced features are awesome :-)

    • wright_is

      In reply to WP7Mango:

      I'm still very happy with my Mate 10 Pro and the low-light photos I made were definitely much better than my old Nexus 5X. That said, I rarely use the camera on the phone.

      The M10P is a great device though. I hope you will be happy with it.

      There are a few Windows Phone type skins, but I use the Microsoft Launcher - I tried using the default, but it won't let you resize some of the widgets, which meant they were either too small or too big and I couldn't customize it the way I wanted.

      • WP7Mango

        In reply to wright_is:

        I'm really enjoying using the M10P - very happy with it. Such a powerful device for the price. I can see it lasting a few years. I just wish it had a dedicated camera button like the Lumia 950 and the Sony Xperia, and I preferred the Xperia's fingerprint reader which was integrated with the power button on the side, but these are minor quibbles to be honest.

        I know what you mean about the default launcher which is why I also use the MS Launcher now. I'm surprised just how flexible it is. Very impressed :-)

    • arunphilip

      In reply to WP7Mango:

      Congratulations on the phone - Huawei's offerings definitely seem great value compared to the dominant Apples and Samsungs.

      IR detector

      What's the IR detector used for?

      Do I miss Windows 10 Mobile? Yes I do, especially the Live Tiles. However, I can live with that. But I can safely say that Android is definitely the way forward for me

      Yeah, this does take some getting used to. Do explore the widgets that are offered, as they can be pinned to the home screen to bring back some of the functionality of Live Tiles (e.g. peeking at your calendar, text messages, etc.).

      • WP7Mango

        In reply to arunphilip:

        The IR detector allows you to program bespoke remote controls for TVs etc into the phone.

        Normally, you just select the device from a list and the phone will just work as the correct IR remote for that device (a short wizard confirms the correct selection). But if it's not in the list, you just point the old remote at the phone and press the buttons, and the IR signals transfer from your old remote to the phone, allowing you to program the phone as a bespoke IR remote.

        Basically, the Mate 10 Pro can replace all the IR remotes in your house, which is very convenient.

        Yeah, I've been playing with the widgets and various launchers. My favourite so far is the Microsoft Launcher.

        • arunphilip

          In reply to WP7Mango:

          Ah, that's really nice. What is the app used for IR blasting? I had picked up a used S6 some time ago just to play around with it (it had an IR transmitter), and noticed that Samsung bundled it with Peel Smart Remote - the annoying thing was that it had ads.

          • WP7Mango

            In reply to arunphilip:

            The app is called Smart Controller (by Huawei) but I can't see it in the Play store. It comes bundled with the phone.

            • arunphilip

              In reply to WP7Mango:

              It is really good that Huawei have written and bundled their own app. It demonstrates their commitment to the user experience. That was the annoyance I had with the Samsung S6's IR app, they chose to bundle a third-party app, and worse, one that was adware, instead of giving a Samsung app, or the paid-for version of the third-party app.

  3. WP7Mango

    Having done some further research, it looks like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro would be a good enough option, and great value too.


  4. Tony Barrett

    Pixel/Pixel 2 are widely regarded in having the best/fastest cameras on Android. The Galaxy S8 also has a great camera that's really good in low light.

    Thing is, if you're even remotely serious about digital photography, you wouldn't use *any* phone full stop - you'd have a proper digital SLR. Mobile phone camera's are getting way better, and are fine for most people for casual use, but not if you're serious about it!

  5. arunphilip

    Take a look at this spec comparison:

    A key feature of the Galaxy flagships and the Pixel 2 is that they have larger pixels and a brighter aperture, so that will defintely contribute to low-light photography.

    Check out GSM Arena - they have a nice photo comparison tool that lets you compare photos clicked on different phones, you can judge for yourself what makes the cut.

  6. wunderbar

    any high end android phone will have a better camera than the 950. That's not a knock on the 950, just a fact that it's a few years old now and things have changed.

    • illuminated

      In reply to wunderbar:

      Define high end. I played with Moto Z and was not impressed. Slow startup, slow focus and quality just OK. 950 camera still starts faster and image quality is marginally better.

  7. GT Tecolotecreek

    Consumer Reports just came out with their ratings. Pigel 2 XL didn't even make the top ten. Apple dominated with Sammy being the #2 vendor. Paul forgets the Dxomark rating ("best camera period") actually had iPhone X as a better still camera then the Pigel 2 XL. Looks like Sammy is the way to go for the Android side.

  8. Paul Thurrott

    The Pixel 2 XL has the best camera period, and it is absolutely superior to that of the 950. That said, it has other issues, of course. But the normal Pixel 2 has the same camera, so there you go. (The Nexus 5X, 6P, and original Pixel/Pixel XL are all better than the 950 too.)

    All of the modern Samsungs are up there too.

    • illuminated

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      How fast is Pixel's camera? The one thing that I like about 950 is the startup speed from locked phone to the first shot.

      • Nicholas Kathrein

        In reply to illuminated:

        The fastest. Google optimized it and as anyone who has a pixel will tell you the speed that apps launch are if nothing else seems faster than anyone else. My pixel 2xl has been great. As I understand stand it and correct me if I'm wrong Paul real issue has been the screen on the Pixel 2XL outside in sun mainly and his audio issues has been a bad dongle and not the phone. I may have missed his article where he says after all the complaining and saying how bad google was at hardware this year that his Pixel wasn't as bad as he made it out to be.

        ** Also the new ones released now are way better than the first batch released that Paul got. Mainly LG isn't putting bad displays in phones and shipping them**. A more valid complaint Paul could of / should have made maybe was to get a new pixel 2 xl made recently and compared them. He would have had a better argument that poor quality control was the real problem on release which now seems to have been fixed.

    • WP7Mango

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      So basically, Pixel 2 or Galaxy S8 would be the way to go, in your opinion?

      • Paul Thurrott

        In reply to WP7Mango:

        Given the recent news, it looks like the best cameras now, in order, are Galaxy S9+, Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL, and iPhone X.

        • WP7Mango

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          Agreed, but the S9+ costs way more than I want to spend, and the iPhone X is iOS.

          The Pixel 2 would have been an option, but in the end I decided to go for the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Given that DxOMark puts the Mate 10 Pro at the same score as the iPhone X (97), I figured it was a great value proposition - the Mate 10 Pro is half the price of the iPhone X.

          Appreciate your input.

  9. arunphilip

    What Bats said - on the Android side, the Samsung Galaxy S/Note phones (S7, S8, S9, Note 8), and Google's Pixel (1, 2) phones have great cameras (and the associated image processing software).

    Camera apps are closely tied to the underlying hardware, so the best app is usually the one shipped by your phone's manufacturer.