5 Smartphone Cameras that Guarantee DSLR Like Pictures

Smartphone cameras are the subject of debate everywhere you find smartphones. Majority of Pakistanis that own a smartphone think that the iPhone 6s has the best camera out there while some think Samsung’s Note series comes out on top.

To settle the debate, we put the bring you this detailed comparison of the best cameras on phones and their respective pros and cons.

The lineup

We selected the phones based on popular opinion and availability in Pakistan

Here’s the list of phones used in this comparison

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Apple iPhone 6s plus
  • Google Nexus 6p
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
  • Huawei P9

Other phones such as the HTC 10 and LG G5 were not added to the list due to not being officially available in Pakistan.

For an in depth comparison, photo samples comparing the phones in the list are linked at the end of this comparison.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

15-samsung-galaxy-s7-edge

The S7 edge offers the best in terms of camera performance for the layman. The detail preservation of the shots taken by the S7 edge are the best in the category and is good even in low light conditions.

It offers the best autofocus compared with all the other phones in this comparison and is the fastest and the most accurate.

Pros:

  • Low noise in every condition for both photos and videos
  • Detail preservation is best in class in bright conditions with good detail preservation in low light conditions for photos. Good detail preservation in videos.
  • Autofocus very fast and accurate for both photos and video with great tracking and convergence while recording a video.
  • Flash offers good color and detail preservation and works really well without additional light source.
  • Exposure and color rendering is good but not the best

Cons

  • A warm/yellowish cast visible in tungsten light sources (older tungsten filament bulbs)
  • In very high dynamic range photos the brightest parts lose details.
  • Loss of detail is viewable in low light video captures.
  • Jitter artifacts in low light conditions while recording videos.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus

iphone6s-camera-explode-press

One of the best on the list, the iphones have been paraded for having the best cameras compared to other smartphones. This comparison aims to verify the opinion about whether its actually the best or not.

Pros

  • Good Exposure overall with good white balance in photos and videos both
  • Fast and accurate autofocus which also happens to be really smooth
  • Detail and preservation is good in bright conditions while the white balance is good in almost all conditions
  • Good stabilization while recording video in every condition

Cons

  • Rare artifacts like the blue sky saturation and others
  • Luminance noise is visible especially in low light conditions. Noise in general also visible in the corners while recording a video
  • Color inaccuracies in indoor conditions

Google Nexus 6P

nexus-6p-9

Huawei really outdid themselves when they revealed the new Nexus 6P last year. The camera was the same as in the Nexus 5X but it offered more in terms of performance and experience compared with its less expensive sibling. That doesn’t mean that its bad in any way, far from it. It was one of the best cameras on a phone in 2015.

Pros

  • The best detail preservation in low light conditions, among all the phones tested in photos
  • White balance and color rendering are good in video and still shots
  • Autofocus is accurate and fast
  • With flash the color rendering and white balance are good with good detail preservation
  • Low noise in videos in all conditions

Cons

  • HDR+ mode activation causes irregularities in low light conditions with noise, exposure, color and texture
  • Strong jello effect (causes everything to appear to move in jelly like waves) due to electronic image stabilisation during motion in videos
  • The finer details are absent while recording videos in low light conditions
  • Some shots are taken before the autofoucs has converged completely
  • Refocusing is visible in changing light conditions and loses focus while tracking a moving object

Microsoft Lumia 950XL

ms_lumia_950_xl_review_07

Although Windows phones are generally presumed dead in the market, Microsoft is still trying to offer better phones with a more refined OS which still lacks some must have features. The cameras were the one thing that the company boasted about in its latest offerings, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL both of which offer the same camera with all the bells and whistles such as Optical Image stabilisation and triple LED RGB flash.

Pros

  • Good detail levels across different light conditions with low noise level in stills
  • Good sharpness overall
  • Allows shooting in DNG Raw format to allow for better control over image processing
  • Efficient image stabilisation
  • Triple LED flash allows for low ISOs while using flash in photography

Cons

  • Oversaturation in some scenes while taking pictures with too high contrast
  • Messes up skin tones while using flash for pictures
  • Rich Capture HDR doesnt trigger often and cannot be manually turned on
  • Softer details and slower autofocus in low lighting conditions with occassional jittering

Huawei P9

huawei-p9-leica-dual-lens-camera-flash-back-side-fingerprint-scanner-1024x683

With its success with the Nexus 6P Huawei sought to add more accolades for itself in the camera department with the Huawei P9.

It features custom made dual 12 MP Leica lenses. One of the lenses is an ordinary 12MP lens while the other captures in just black and white. This is to capture upto 3 times more light for better low light photography and video recording.

You can also capture in just black and white, which results in true monochrome pictures unlike other smartphones which just remove the colors and with it the detail from the images.

Pros

  • Images have a good amount of exposure
  • Flash exposure is also good with low noise particularly in the center of the images
  • Autofocus is good in bright lighting conditions
  • White balance is good as well in outdoor lighting conditions
  • Low noise in low light conditions while recording videos
  • Detail preservation is also good in videos in outdoor conditions

Cons

  • Luminance noise in low light conditions
  • Autofocus failure when in trigger mode in all lighting conditions
  • A slight halo is visible in HDR pictures
  • Slight pink tint in videos while recording outdoors
  • Autofocus does not repeat in low light conditions in videos
  • Color shading in all conditions in videos

Honorable Mentions

HTC 10 and the LG G5 were omitted from this list, but that does not mean they are behind any of these phones in terms of image and video recording capabilities. HTC 10 even tops the list in the famous dxomark camera benchmarking website which ranks smartphones according to their cameras.

The LG G5 is also the best among these phones in capturing better detail in HDR images and is close to the sharpness and the level of detail offered by the Nexus 6P in terms of low light conditions.

The Verdict

For our final verdict, the Galaxy S7 edge wins in comparison with the smartphones in the list. This is because the level of detail it captures is unrivaled in most lighting conditions. The autofocus speed and the focus tracking is also the best in the category.

The other phones on the list are no losers and offer a level of quality and speed close to the Galaxy S7 edge.

For a more detailed comparison with photo samples from all the phones in the list, you can head to this website for a gallery of photos in different scenes and lighting conditions which put the cameras through every possible lighting/scene possible.

The images in the above mentioned website should be enough to prove which smartphone is the best.

Do you agree with the results? Are their other phones which deserved a mention? Share in the comments

A techie, Overwatch and Street Fighter enthusiast, and Sub Editor at ProPakistani.


  • Muhammad Saeed

    LG G5 is clearly superior to P9 in the camera department.

    • Nawaz Arshad

      Not really. Go watch review of P9 on pocketnow! P9 takes amazing images and even beats S7 in image qulaity!

  • There are some Android Apps offer DSLR like feature. Should be consider that apps ?

    • Wolverine

      No. First thing is Mobile’s Camera sensor then any app can do something. You can’t take DSLR like pics with an app (that is claiming DSLR like results) installed in Nokia X2 android or Qmobile A2 or a third class GFive phone.

  • Saif

    LG G4/V10/G5 have the most feature rich and best specs cameras amongst all of the above phones so this review is practically rubbish since it doesn’t include any of these LG phones. The details preserved by LG phone cams is outstanding and personally tested and compared by myself.

    • Zafar Abbas Rizvi

      Meri jaan 1st read the article with open eyes than comment. They said only those phones are mentioning here which are officially available in Pakistan and HTC 10 and Full range of LG is not available in Pakistan.

      • Saif

        I bought mine (LG G4) from Blue Area Islamabad, brand new and with 10 months local supplier’s warranty. I do not understand why it matters if the mobile is not officially launched in Pakistan since it is available at select shops across our country for buying. Moreover, do you really believe that Apple IPhone 6s Plus as been “officially” launched in Pakistan? No, not at all dear.

        • Zafar Abbas Rizvi

          LG G4 that you bought from market is grey sale and have local supplier un official warranty. And Iphone 6s is officially launched and can be bought by any telecome company or official apple retailers.

          • Saif

            The official launch you are referring to is a misnomer, since the warranty given by these companies is essentially the same as the one given to me for LG. The company takes the phone from you locally and sends it abroad to claim it. When a product is officially launched, it requires presence of local service centers, maintenance facilities and official sale centers.

            Apple has never officially launched anything in Pakistan recently ( locate. apple. com/country). Anyone who claims official sale point of Apple in Pakistan is simply lying.

          • Saif

            The official launch you are referring to is a misnomer, since the warranty given by these companies is essentially the same as the one given to me for LG. The company takes the phone from you locally and sends it abroad to claim it. When a product is officially launched, it requires presence of local service centers, maintenance facilities and official sale centers.

            Apple has never officially launched anything in Pakistan recently ( locate. apple. com/country). Anyone who claims official sale point of Apple in Pakistan is simply lying.

            • Bilal Iqbal

              you took every thing in wrong direction… Apple is not directly present instead it is being offered through official channel partners which are Telecos.. and they are also offering Accidental Insurance which was not available and all the stocks were brought from Hong Kong or Dubai… and this is called Gray in terms of mobile sales…

        • Sajjad

          If you don’t mind, when and for how much did you get the LG G4 for?

    • Potato

      Reading the article wouldn’t hurt.
      The writer clearly mentions that both G5 and HTC 10 are one of the best performers, but they didn’t make it to the list due to their unavailability (official) in Pakistan.

    • Yasir Mahmood

      Agreed !

  • Aamir Shoaib

    Is the camera in simple s7 differs from s7 edge? As the heading is clearly mention S7 edge only in the article..

    • Potato

      No. Both S7 and S7 Edge offer same camera experience as they share same camera sensors and everything.

  • Potato

    If I had to choose, I’d take HTC 10. I can’t stand with Samsung proprietary software – Touchwiz.

  • Yasir Mahmood

    You ignored LG G4

  • King’s Landing

    مینوفیکچررز جو مرضی کر لیں DSLR اپنی ان گنت خوبیوں بلخصوص بڑے لینز سائز کے باعث ہمشہ برسر پیکار رہے گا تاوقت کہ کوئی بہتر ٹیکنولوجی یا میٹیریل نہ مل جائے (ویسے ریسرچ زور و شور سے چل رہی ہے)۔

    • Bilal Iqbal

      waisy sachi bat hy ka DSLR k 13 Mega Pixels bhi Smart Phones k 20 Mega Pixels sy kahin bahtr hain… We Have 16 mega Pixel Canon EOS 1200 D in office and it really changes every thing into fantasy…Out standing results even in compressed formats..

  • Mirza Moazzam Baig

    A YouTuber ‘Krystel Key’ does very interesting Mobile camera showdowns on her channel. Anyone who wants to know real life camera performance of these phones should definitely check her channel

    • Shameel Faraz

      Thanks.

  • Hikmat Baber

    If LG isn’t officially available in Pakistan, that doesn’t mean Pakistanis can’t buy it. It should be included in comparison list and I am sure LG’s camera department would have won the game. Not any mobile manufacturer provide that much functions in a cell phone camera that LG do provide in G4, G5 and V10. It provides ISO, shutter speed, manual focus and white balance adjustments, both in video and image mode (except G4), as well as an option to capture images in RAW format for professional editing. Here is a snap of LG V10.

    • Hikmat Baber

      Snap of LG V10 camera manual mode.

    • Haamiz Ahmed

      All these modes are available in the Lumia 950Xl as well as in the G5 which got an honorable mention. If you follow the link i have mentioned at the end of the article you’ll see the G5 wins the competition followed by S7 edge and iphone 6s plus

  • Sumeet Kumar

    LG G5 has a good camera too. And Moto G4 Plus if you consider mid range phones too.

  • Muhammad Yasir

    G5 is better and yet not mentioned …

    • Haamiz Ahmed

      It was mentioned in the honorable mentions. Not included in the list due to not being officially available in Pakistan. The link at the end compares all of these phones including the G5 and HTC 10, with the G5 winning the competition

      • Muhammad Yasir

        i meant not mentioned in the original list with intricate details

  • Zohaib khan

    What about droid Tubo it surely has 21mp camera

  • zain

    plz do the same comparison for front cameras

  • Abdullah

    Galaxy s7 and lumia 950xl almost near in pic quality and in low light both have great camaras iphone 6s camara in low light no where near the s7 and lumia

  • Usman Arif

    xperia z5 / x performance is absent

  • Shahzaib Tariq

    Ahan nice article. But how can you forgot the boss. ya Lumia 1020. still unbeaten.

  • Najam

    Now to find a friend who own any of these 5 phones.

  • Kamran Malik

    which is best for battery life

  • Ali

    I Think Lg V10 and LG G5 more superior camera quality than All other phone in list except Samsung S7

  • Zulfqar Ali

    and best among all is LG G4 with manual controls.

  • Askarian

    Guarantee is a strong word. More like something close to DSLR quality. A fair and to be honest a rather more interesting comparison could have been between all these smartphones mentioned in this article.

  • M.Irfan Basharat

    what’s the difference P9 v/s P8 cam……???

  • Wolverine

    Why LG is not officially available in Pakistan? If they launch people will buy their phones more than Samsung. They were officially available in Pakistan in past. I remember the TVC….Abrar ul Haq saying Mera LG KG 195 :D, so what happened then?

    Is’nt it a shame for Pakistani mobile market that brands like LG, Motorola, Xiaomi are not (officially) available for us? :/

  • Jay

    There’s good tutorial for giving a DSLR effect to a picture

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzOK2p0gKi0

  • Avion

    LG4 IQ is the closest to DSLR I shoot with Canon MarkIII also w the 100mm macro I can say the LG4 is the one w true IQ to be the most natural from all the above smartphones .