What really makes a good smartphone camera?

Smartphones have been improving upon their previous iteration of yesteryear for quite some time now. Especially in the components department. Sure, display panels are becoming more gorgeous, and the processors are becoming more efficient. But, what really makes me as giddy as a schoolboy are the improvements in camera technology. Man, the pictures you can take with a smartphone nowadays are so good that they are on the verge of replacing regular ol’ point and shoots.

Fun fact: global shipments of digital cameras were down by 42% during the first 5 months of 2013.

You can probably see where this is going. The camera has become such an important element of newer smartphones, that people consider it a serious criteria for choosing their next handset. MWC 2016 just ended a few days ago (at the time of writing) and you could already see Samsung and LG clawing at each other’s throats over which of their flagships had the better camera. 

For some context, here’s a list of the bestselling smartphones from Amazon right now (always current):

So how do you choose a good smartphone camera?

The inevitable question then arises. So, how do you know whether a smartphone camera is good or not? The most obvious answer that would come to a person’s mind is the number of megapixels a camera has. The more the merrier, right?


Wait, what?!

Exactly. The number of megapixels a camera accommodates is a really inefficient way to see how good it is. Why? That, ladies and gentlemen, provides a convenient little segue into our next topic.

Busting the megapixel myth

Let’s start this off with what a megapixel actually is. According to Professor Google: a megapixel (MP) is a million pixels; the term is used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays.

In layman’s terms, 1 megapixel is a million pixels. So, if a camera can capture pictures with a resolution of say, 5 megapixels, then the resulting image will be made up of 5 million pixels. A megapixel is commonly used to measure the resolution of a camera, so, it was not long before people started using it as a standard for all cameras, everywhere.

And companies know this. They’ve been leeching off from you ever since ...

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