The best camera phones money can buy – October 2016 edition

Smartphones these days have cameras that can put most entry-level DSLRs to shame. With an ever-increasing pixel count and better sensors, smartphones are slowly gaining traction in clicking impressive pictures and videos across all situations, including low-light environments. With the ability to shoot 4k and slow-mo videos finally landing onto smartphones, it might just be the time to bid farewell to those bulky cameras. Here we list the top smartphones with the best cameras currently in the market.

Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 edge


A list of the best camera phones wouldn’t be complete without the mention of a Samsung flagship. Off late, Samsung’s flagship smartphones have been the benchmark for superior smartphone photography. From upgrading battery capacity to using the new 12MP Dual Pixel camera sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S7 (review) and S7 edge (review) have all the right features for being called the best camera phones in the world.

The phones are also waterproof and dustproof, as they come with IP68 rating. With 4GB of RAM and Exynos processors, the S7 duo is a beast in terms of performance. With the upgrade, Samsung has made all the right changes for the customers. Even though the pair borrows design elements from its predecessors, the S6 and S6 edge (review), the devices sport much more refined glass and metal bodies with newer colour variants including black and blue. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is priced around Rs 44,000, whereas its bigger sibling is available at a price of around Rs 55,000 from most retailers.

Related read: Samsung Galaxy S7 camera review

OnePlus 3

Rocking a 16MP camera sensor with features like Phase Detection Auto Focus, OIS and a bigger pixel count for low-light photos, the OnePlus 3 (review) is, by all means, one of the best camera phones out there. The OnePlus 3 has been one of the most anticipated smartphone launches since the company conceived its first product – the OnePlus One (review). This hype is justified as the device rightfully earns its title of a flagship killer. 
Apart from all the internals, it also has a completely revamped design. With a sleek metal unibody and colours like grey or gold, it exudes premiumness. If specs are all that matters, then the OnePlus 3 won’t disappoint you as it rocks the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and is among the very few phones offering 6 gigs of RAM.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus


The latest and greatest from the Cupertino giant, the iPhone 7 Plus (first impressions), brings in a slew of new features and updates. On one hand, the company has done away with the 3.5mm headphone interface while on the other, it has a dual camera setup at the back. The arrangement comprise a wide angle lens to capture more area, as well as a telephoto lens to help in offering up to 2x optical zoom. It also provides an enhanced depth of field, especially with the Portrait mode that is currently in beta. And there’s something new for the selfie lovers as well, as the company has decided to bump the resolution of the front camera to 7MP.

As expected, the iPhone 7 Plus is powered by some of the most powerful hardware from Apple – a quad-core A10 fusion chip, 3GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage and what not. The brand has bid adieu to the Space Grey hue, and has replaced it two new colour options… a glossy Jet Black, and a matte black hue. Its smaller sibling, the iPhone 7 comes with a single rear camera, yet ranks as one of the best smartphone cameras.

The iPhone 7 Plus has been launched in India starting at a price tag of Rs 72,000, while you can pick up an iPhone 7 starting at Rs 60,000.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus


The iPhone 6s Plus (review) is Apple’s previous-gen iPhone, which seems like an even sweeter deal after its recent share of price cuts. Sporting a 12MP camera sensor, the iPhone 6s Plus has loads of features like OIS and 4k recording to make it one of the best smartphone cameras that the market can currently offer. While the design and feel of the device are extremely similar to the previous iPhone 6 Plus (apart from weight and thickness), the biggest difference is the new camera.
The phone has everything that you would require in a flagship, despite being a year old. From great hardware performance to brilliant software optimisation and superb camera optics, the iPhone 6s Plus has most of these things packed into a sleek metal unibody design. 
Currently, the iPhone 6s Plus is selling on eCommerce websites somewhere around the Rs 50,000 mark.

Google Pixel / Pixel XL


Putting the long list of leaks and rumours to rest, Google recently released the much-awaited Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones (first impressions). The new devices depict a change in tactics for the search giant, which is now looking to compete head on with the likes of Apple and Samsung. The Pixel and Pixel XL reportedly offer amazing camera performance, and Google didn’t wait to reveal the DxOMark rating of the two smartphones, which at 89, is the highest any smartphone has achieved till now. The optics are taken care of by a 12.3MP rear camera with 1.55 micron pixels, Electronic image stabilisation (EIS) and PDAF.

When it comes to hardware, the new handsets are second to none. Qualcomm’s all-powerful Snapdragon 821 SoCs, 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB of storage and AMOLED displays… you name it, and the Pixel devices have it. That said, the key highlight of the devices is the Google Assistant integration in Android 7.1 Nougat. 

Google has priced the smartphones in India starting at Rs 57,000, going all the way up to Rs 76,000. They are available for pre-orders across most e-tailers.


While the HTCs and the Samsungs of the mobile world are offering minor upgrades to their flagship smartphones, LG Electronics went a step ahead and revamped the entire idea of smartphone design. Aiming to make modular smartphones a mainstream concept, the LG G5 (review) is a step towards the future, in terms of how hardware parts and internals will be used or modified. The camera module on the LG G5 comes with a 16MP rear camera sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and laser autofocus for better aim. It also has a 3-axis OIS for still images and videography.
The G5 also adopts a metal unibody design that has a removable slot for access to the replaceable battery and a port for different modules that allow users to expand the phone’s capabilities by adding a camera grip and other proprietary accessories. In terms of specifications, the smartphone has the standard features to expect from a flagship – a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM and a QHD display.
The LG G5 is priced at around Rs 50,000 on most leading retailers. 
Related read: LG G5 camera review

Sony Xperia XZ


Sony is the company that makes camera sensors which most smartphone OEMs use in their products. So, it is but natural to include an offering from the Japanese brand in this list. 
Its latest flagship, the Xperia XZ comes with the Snapdragon 820 chipset, 3GB RAM and a beefy 64GB internal memory. The smartphone features a 23MP primary camera with laser autofocus, a combo that can capture some stunning visuals. Giving company to that is a 13MP front snapper, something hardly seen on smartphones. One thing that many shutterbugs will love about this smartphone is that Sony has also included a two-stage shutter button in the design. 
Featuring a metal unibody design and a fingerprint scanner, the smartphone is a decent offering for camera enthusiasts. Sony has priced the smartphone at Rs 49,990 in India.

Huawei P9
Huawei P9_11

Huawei is a smartphone OEM that has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years. The Chinese smartphone maker recently launched some great phones in the international markets. Huawei also surprised everyone by becoming the first Chinese manufacturer to make a Nexus for Google in 2015. In 2016, the company has launched something unique in the form of the P9. Sporting a dual-lens camera setup, the Huawei P9 (review) has 12MP sensors, which features a Leica SUMMARIT lens and a 1.25-micron pixel size for better low-light photography. The dual-camera mechanism promises impressive photos since the P9 combines the RGB shots from one sensor and greyscale photos from the other into one.
The Huawei P9 has been launched in India at a price of Rs 39,999. If you’re looking for a more affordable option with dual cameras, then you can look at the Honor 8 (review), which also comes with dual 12MP rear cameras, and is available at a price of Rs 29,999.
Related reads: Huawei P9 camera review | Honor 8 camera review

Google Nexus 6P

Another Huawei-made smartphone, the Nexus 6P (review) is a smartphone that was launched late last year. Probably one of the last Nexus devices to have ever existed, it surely deserves a place in the best camera phones of 2016 because it has the specs to prove so. In fact, its specs and features can easily put any flagship of 2016 to shame. It has a 12.3-meg Exmor sensor at the back featuring laser autofocus to offer crisp shots. 
With powerful Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB RAM and stock Android, the 6P offers an unparalleled experience in terms of fluidity. Apart from hardware and software goodness, the phablet is also known for great build quality by donning an aluminum chassis, which makes it look premium.
The Nexus 6P is available at a price of around Rs. 37,000 in India through most leading retailers.

That brings us to the end of the list. The best camera phones of 2016 are pretty much summed in the list above. Which is your favourite pick out of the lot? Or do you have one apart from these? Let us know in the comment section below.
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