The mobile phone camera: a determining factor
Mobile phones have become an indispensable companion in our daily lives. Spain is precisely one of the countries with the highest percentage of use of these devices. Our dependence on them is such that it is estimated that 81% of Spaniards use a smartphone, according to the Google Consumer Barometer Report.
We use mobile phones basically to stay connected to our friends and family and to access the Internet, although there is one feature that is becoming increasingly important and to which manufacturers are putting more and more effort: the use of the camera.
A few years ago it seemed impossible to go on a trip or to attend an event without a camera. Nowadays, however, if you have a phone with a good camera, you can get almost the same result.
But there is an infinite number of options available in the mobile phone sector and there are many variables and factors to consider when determining whether or not a mobile phone camera is a good one. Although there are many more, there are two determining variables that must be taken into account when analyzing the camera of a mobile phone: the sensor and the lens.
More megapixels doesn’t always mean more picture quality
As for the sensor, we have to examine both the number of megapixels and their size. We have always considered megapixels as the determining factor in the quality of our photographs: the more pixels, the better the image. In fact, the pixels do not necessarily refer to quality, but rather to the resolution of the image. In mobiles with a small sensor, this may be important, as the more pixels there are, the smaller they are and the less light they capture, so the quality of the picture will end up being worse even if it has a higher resolution.
That’s why many manufacturers like Samsung are working not on increasing the number of pixels, but on expanding their size. An example of this is the reduction that the Galaxy S7 (12Mpx) has experienced compared to the 16Mpx of the previous model, the S6. However, in return, larger pixels of 1.55 microns have been achieved.
The size and number of pixels are closely related to the size of the mobile phone sensor, another aspect that should be taken into account. The larger the sensor, the more light-tapping it will have, so the image quality will be improved. However, the implementation of larger sensors means higher battery consumption and is limited by the size of the terminal, so the pros and cons need to be analyzed.
A good lens will capture more light from the camera
The second main element is optics, which is also a very influential variable, as it will determine how much light will be able to reach the sensor and therefore affect the quality of the resulting image, especially if the lighting conditions of the scene are not the best. Most smartphones today have several lenses that aim to eliminate any distortion, the problem is that the optics take up a lot of space and are often expensive, so we should expect further improvements in this regard.
Other characteristics to be taken into account
The approach is another variable to which we must pay attention. A fast autofocus can be a great advantage, especially in situations where you need to shoot fast or moving actions. Considerable investment has been made in this area in recent years. For example, the LG G6 has opted for laser-assisted focusing, while the Galaxy S7 has incorporated a system that uses the entire sensor surface area for instant focusing even in low-light conditions.
The image stabilizer is another of the features that have been included in many phones in recent years and really is a factor to consider if you want to record video.
All of the above will be especially relevant if our mobile phone allows manual configuration of elements such as ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed. The iPhones 6 and 7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge+ and S7, the Huawei P10 or the Lumia 950 are some of the terminals that allow you to manually modify some of these factors.
Finally, we cannot forget the importance of mobile phone software, which will be responsible for taking care of all the aspects we have talked about. It is the one that determines the image processing but also the one that allows different ways of shooting and expands the creative possibilities, so it is ultimately the most important thing.