If you ask the average buyer what feature he is most interested in in a smartphone , then with a high degree of probability he will name a battery or a camera. Moreover, when it comes to the quality of photos and videos, many of us fall for the marketing tricks of the manufacturer, who tells us either about the number of megapixels or about the presence of optical stabilization, which is not able to correct the situation if other aspects of the device have not been given sufficient attention. Today, I’m going to take it upon myself to break things down, debunking camera myths along the way and giving helpful tips for choosing the right smartphone.

Camera – how many megapixels

Let’s be honest, you already know without me telling you that the number of megapixels is by no means the main characteristic of a camera that affects the quality of shooting, right? Therefore, I propose not to focus on comparing sensors with a resolution of 12 megapixels and 108 megapixels, but go straight to the main indicator, which determines the detail of the image. This is the physical size of the matrix, and it may differ in isolation from the number of megapixels.

Here’s a simple example for you. Before us are two flagship smartphones: Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro . Both are released by the same manufacturer, both run on the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor , and in both cases, the main camera is 50 MP with optical stabilization. Does this mean that they shoot at the same level? Not!

The smaller sensor size does not allow Xiaomi 12 to take detailed signs in the photo

As a rule, pictures on the main camera of Xiaomi 12 Pro are better (especially in difficult conditions), and this is the merit of the smartphone sensor. Yes, in both cases a 50-megapixel matrix is ​​used. However, the sensor size of Xiaomi 12 is 1/1.56″ (Sony IMX766) and Xiaomi 12 Pro is 1/1.28″ (Sony IMX707). That is, the firmware camera captures more details, and therefore the photos taken on Xiaomi 12 Pro are clearer and weightier in terms of size.

However, sometimes megapixels matter, but only if the cameras differ not only in resolution, but also in the physical size of the sensor. For example, a conditional Redmi Note 10 Pro with a 108 MP (1/1.52″) sensor will take better pictures than the POCO X3 NFC with a 64-megapixel Sony IMX682 (1/1.73″) camera, despite the fact that both models are powered by the Snapdragon 732G chipset.

Due to the smaller size of the sensor, there is more noise in the night photo with POCO X3 NFC

Smartphone camera specifications

Well, we figured out the megapixels and remembered that when choosing a phone with a good camera , you need to look not at the resolution, but at the physical size of the matrix. But does it only affect the quality of the photo? Of course not. Here is another set of characteristics that you need to pay attention to:

  • Optical stabilization . Other things being equal, OIS allows you to take sharper pictures in motion, as well as shoot smooth videos without EIS algorithms. But it is also different. Somewhere OIS is four-axis, and somewhere it is five-axis. The more axes, the smoother the picture.
  • Lenses . Alas, the manufacturer rarely focuses on lenses that refract light to hit the matrix. Therefore, one has to either look for detailed test data, or focus solely on the price of the device, believing that a budget phone will never be equipped with good optics. If there is information, then it would be better to shoot a device with a large number of lenses.
  • Additional lenses . As with the number of megapixels, you understand perfectly well that a wide-angle module is needed to get more objects into the frame, and a telephoto lens is needed for optical zoom without losing quality. However, sometimes the digital zoom from the main camera is better than a mediocre telephoto lens with x2 zoom.

This also includes the presence or absence of laser autofocus, flash brightness and other parameters that affect the quality of photos a little less. But the main parameter that determines the capabilities of the camera is still the hardware of the smartphone.

Smartphone specifications – what it should be

Even if you buy a phone with a good camera , great lenses and a bunch of extra lenses, you may be disappointed in the purchase if the smartphone is running on a bad processor. You can verify this by looking at how Redmi Note 10 Pro, Redmi Note 11S and Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G shoot against each other . The devices feature the same 108MP Samsung S5KHM2 main camera, but have different processors under the hood. The 10th generation got the Snapdragon 732G, the Note 11S is powered by the Helio G96 , and the Note 11 Pro 5G is powered by the Snapdragon 695. Which smartphone do you think takes better photos?

This is how Redmi Note 10 Pro shoots

And this photo was taken on the camera of the newer Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G

And this is the result that Redmi Note 11S produces

Obviously, Redmi Note 10 Pro is ahead of the competition on all fronts. The problem with the eleventh series smartphones is a mediocre graphics chip, which not only prevents the night mode from opening up, but also limits the work of electronic stabilization, as well as the ability to record video in 4K.

What phone to buy with a good camera

So it turns out that the search for an inexpensive phone with a good camera turns into a real quest, the passage of which takes more than one hour. To simplify the choice, I will highlight the top five models from different price categories:

  • Redmi Note 10 Pro ;
  • realme 9 Pro Plus 5G ;
  • realme GT Neo 3 ;
  • One Plus 9 Pro ;
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra .

If you are willing to take the time to study the features of cameras , then look towards phones with large photomatrices and do not forget about the influence of the processor on photo and video processing. Finally, remember that a lot depends on the software, and it can differ not only from manufacturer to manufacturer, but also from model to model within the same brand.