Smartphone cameras explained: everything you need to know about the snapper in your smartphone

Smartphone cameras explained: the basics

Every smartphone camera is different, but they all have the same things in common. They all have a lens, which enables them to see things; they all have a sensor, which takes what the lens sees and turns it into digital data; and they all have software, which analyzes the data and turns it into an image file that you can do something with.

It’s the combination of those things that decides how good (or bad!) your image will be, and the following terms are used to give you an idea of what the camera can do.

Sony Lens

Megapixels

Megapixels, or MP for short, are the measurements of how many pixels a camera’s image will contain. One megapixel is one million pixels – 1,000 x 1,000 – so a 20 MP image will have 20 million pixels.

Generally speaking, the more pixels you have the better. You can zoom in or crop the image without worrying it’ll get all blocky. However, there’s more to the quality of the photos than mere numbers, and it’s perfectly possible to get a better photo from a 12 MP phone camera than from a 20 MP one.

sony xperia z5 date sortie prix actualites caracteristiques 23 megapixels

Sensor size

The bigger the sensor, the more it can see and the better the photos it should take. The size of a typical smartphone sensor is around one-third of an inch, but, in some phones, the sensor can be as big as an inch.

The bigger the sensor the bigger the pixels, so in theory at least if you have two phones with the same megapixel count but one has a bigger sensor, that one will produce the better shots.

CCD and CMOS

Smartphone sensors usually come in one of two forms: CCD (Charge Coupled Device) and CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor). Early smartphones used CCD sensors, but most modern phones use the more complex, and until recently more expensive, CMOS sensors.

There are differences between the sensors in different devices, however, so it’s important to read reviews and check out device comparisons to discover how well each firm’s sensors perform.

s7 kamera sensor

Aperture

Aperture is how much light a lens lets in, and it’s expressed in f-stops: f/2.0, f/2.8 and so on. The smaller the number the bigger the aperture and the more light gets in, so if you want really great low-light performance without a flash, for example, you want the lowest aperture you can.

Smaller aperture numbers also indicate that you’ll get interesting depth of field effects, where the foreground is clear but the background is blurry.

CameraAperture

ISO and shutter speed

Aperture is part of a trio that affect your photos, and the other two parts are ISO and shutter speed. Shutter speed is how long the camera keeps the lens open to take a picture, and ISO is how sensitive your camera is to the available light. Many camera apps allow you to adjust both of these things.

The bigger the ISO number the more sensitive your camera is to light, so for example, if you’re shooting at ISO 100 the camera needs one second to capture the image, while at ISO 800 it only needs 0.125 seconds. That extra sensitivity comes at a cost, though, and that’s noise: if you’re shooting at really high ISOs you’ll see a lot of noise, which manifests itself as a grainy effect. Different cameras handle noise in different ways, but as a rule of thumb, if you’re using big numbers noise is inevitable, so you really want to use the lowest ISO possible.

The other thing you can often change is the shutter speed. The longer your shutter is open the more light it’ll capture, but it’ll also make your camera more vulnerable to shakes and blurred movement. For action shots you want fast shutter speeds; for shooting in low light or trying to take pictures of lightning or fireworks, a long shutter will produce the best results.

ISO

Image stabilization

There are two kinds of image stabilization: digital image stabilization, which uses software to compensate for slight shakes and to keep the image stable, and optical image stabilization, which uses mechanical means to keep the lens still.

Optical is usually better than digital stabilization, especially in low light. Unless the software is really, really good – and it often isn’t – it can’t compete with the shake-free footage you get from a lens that moves when the camera does

HD and 4K

HD and 4K are measurements of resolution, just like megapixels, but they’re used to describe video. HD means high definition, which is 1,920 pixels x 1,080 lines, and 4K or UltraHD is double that: 3,840 x 2,160 lines. Eventually, we’ll get 8K, which is twice the resolution of 4K.

The main advantage of 4K is that you can zoom in dramatically and still be left with an HD recording, which keeps your creative options open. The downside is that 4K recording takes up twice the space of HD, so it’s not great for smartphones with limited storage.

Androidpit Xperia Z5 Premium 12

RAW format

Most smartphone images are saved as JPEG image formats, but some high-end devices can also record in RAW. RAW is better for professional photographers because it records nothing other than what the camera sensor saw; JPEG images are optimized and compressed to save space. RAW also understands more levels of brightness, and it’s easier to correct a RAW image than a JPEG.

androidpit google camera app

Software and apps

The lens is great, the image is stabilized and the sensor is enormous, but bad software can snatch digital defeat from the jaws of victory. Poor JPEG optimization, bad image processing algorithms and overzealous color correction can make a huge horse’s arse of your carefully considered photos.

The good news is that you can try an alternative camera app – we quite like Google Camera, and there are stacks of really good third-party camera apps in the Play Store too. But prevention is better than cure, so we’d definitely recommend checking out the camera sections of our in-depth smartphone reviews to help you avoid the duffers.

OnePlus to narrowly miss India smartphone sales target

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will miss its target of selling 1 million handsets in India in 2015 – its first year in the country – but not by much, a company executive said.

OnePlus’s high-spec mid-range phones have proven to be a hit, but supply chain issues have limited the company’s ability to take a bigger share of one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.

Even so, India accounts for more than a third of the company’s annual sales.

“In the initial two months, we weren’t able to get stock, due to which we lost almost 6-8 weeks of sales,” Vikas Agarwal, general manager of the company’s India operations, told Reuters.

The company, which sells premium phones at less than half the price of top-end handsets by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), launched OnePlus 2 in July and received 5 million registrations globally.

To smooth supply channels and cut production costs, OnePlus entered into an agreement with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (2354.TW) in October to manufacture phones in India, joining the likes of Gionee and Xiaomi.

But OnePlus’ plans to start selling made-in-India phones by the end of this year will be pushed back slightly due to delays in receiving required certification.

Phones made at the Foxconn facility in SriCity, a special economic zone near the southern Indian city of Chennai, are now expected to go on sale by mid-to-late January, Agarwal said.

Manufacturing in India will help OnePlus and its rivals avoid import taxes and plays into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to reboot manufacturing in the country.

The Foxconn agreement allows for a peak production capacity of 500,000 phones per month.

Agarwal declined to forecast a sales target for India for 2016 but said it would certainly exceed one million.

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Pete Lau, a former vice president at smartphone maker Oppo, OnePlus started selling phones in India in December last year.

AMAZON TO OLA

Agarwal, sporting a white T-shirt emblazoned with the OnePlus tagline “Never Settle”, spoke extensively about the company’s marketing plans in India.

OnePlus ran a unique one-day marketing blitz on Tuesday that allowed people to order phones through Indian cab-hailing app Ola.

The company plans to roll out more such marketing initiatives, said Agarwal, who joined OnePlus in October last year.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Agarwal previously worked at Ivanhoé Cambridge India, a unit of Quebec’s public pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.

The OnePlus office in Bengaluru occupies half the floor of a building that overlooks a park and boasts a corner office with a great view.

The corner office isn’t Agarwal’s.

It is used by all 20 employees in the office, and by the office puppy – a three-month-old golden retriever called Laila.

World’s first washable smartphone to debut in Japan

Japanese telecom giant KDDI's washable smartphone "Digno rafre"

A Japanese firm says it has the solution with what it describes the world’s first smartphone that can be washed with soap and water.

Waterproof smartphones have been on the market for a while. But telecom company KDDI says its new “Digno rafre” phone—to be launched in Japan next week—is the only one that can withstand a soapy bath.

“Our development team washed the smartphone more than 700 times to test its durability,” a company spokesman told AFP.

An online commercial aimed at proving its credentials features a child dropping the phone onto a plate of food topped with ketchup.

His mother assures her shocked family that those red globs are nothing to worry about as she soaps up the phone under a running tap.

The 21,600 yen ($175) gadget is mainly aimed at parents who want to keep their smartphones clean for their small children, a KDDI spokesman said.

But he also cautioned that only certain types of foamy soap could be used on the device, which will only be sold in Japan for now.

LG Magna mid-range Lollipop smartphone lands in India

The LG Magna is the second device from the company’s new affordable smartphone series to reach India and the phone carries a price of Rs 16500. For that amount, you’d expect a top-tier mid-range phone which is exactly what the handset in question is not and that’s a big concern.

 The LG Magna offers basic hardware, but it does have a couple of upsides. Firstly, the phone is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop and is also accompanied by many enhancements exclusive from the company. Then there’s a 2540mAh battery onboard too, which should be more than capable of delivering an entire day’s worth of heavy usage.

LG Magna

The LG smartphone is also decently designed as it flaunts the same premium form factor as last year’s flagship. Also, the company has added a gentle curve to the phone’s body for a more unique look. On the front, there’s a 5MP selfie shooter and a 5-inch 720p HD IPS LCD touchscreen. The rear, on the other hand, has the volume keys and an 8MP camera with an LED flash.

The Magna isn’t all that impressive on the inside. It has a 1.3GHz quad core processor delivering the steam and memory needs are taken care of by 1GB RAM and 8GB of expandable storage. The phone skips on dual SIM support, but offers HSPA+ connectivity. It’s bundled with a Quick Circle Cover for free.

LG Magna specs at a glance:

– 1GB RAM, 8GB storage
– Android 5.0 Lollipop
– 1.3GHz quad core processor
– 5-inch 720p HD display
– Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS, HSPA+
– 2540mAh battery
– 5MP selfie camera, 8MP main shooter

The LG Magna is so far listed on the company’s website with no word of availability.

Lenovo A5000 smartphone with 4000mAh battery reaches India

Lenovo has launched yet another affordable smartphone in India under the A5000 moniker and what’s unique about this device is that it comes with a huge battery onboard. The phone is officially available for purchase through the company’s online store at Rs 9999.

 As mentioned above, the main highlight of the Lenovo A5000 is its battery which is rated at a whopping 4000mAh. Even flagship devices like the Galaxy S6 and the LG G4 don’t have such huge batteries despite packing high-end hardware and power-hungry 2K displays. The benefits such a high capacity cell introduces are much needed in the affordable market.

Lenovo A5000

According to Lenovo, a single charge of the smartphone can render an impressive 35 hours of talk time or 32 days of standby on 2G. And on 3G, the estimates stand at 17 hours and 33.5 days respectively. The handset also has quick charging support where having it plugged in for just 15 minutes will deliver around 4 hours of talk time.

Additionally, it takes a total of 3 hours for the battery to get fully charged. The A5000 phone is a mid-range release carrying a 5-inch HD display. It gains steam from a 1.3GHz quad core Cortex A7 processor and runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with the Vibe UI on top. What’s more, the company has thrown in dual SIM card slots, HSPA+ connectivity and dual cameras.

Here’s an overview of the main Lenovo A5000 specs:

– OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
– Display: 5-inch 720p HD LCD panel
– Chipset: 1.3GHz quad core MediaTek processor
– Camera: 2MP front, 8MP rear
– Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB expandable storage
– Connectivity: Dual SIM, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS
– Battery: 4000mAh

The Lenovo A5000 smartphone can be purchased through TheDoStore in black and white.

BlackBerry Leap smartphone officially comes to India

BlackBerry fans in India waiting to get their hands on the new Leap smartphone will not have to wait much longer as the smartphone has been officially launched in the country. The phone still doesn’t have a price tag, but we do know that it will go on sale from next week.

 Unlike the last two devices from the Canadian company that offered physical QWERTY keyboards, the BlackBerry Leap is an all-touch release or a typical smartphone, if we may say. The phone is the successor to the Z3 handset from last year and presents itself as a decent upgrade. The main highlight is that it has the newest BB10.3.1 OS out of the box.

BlackBerry Leap

With this, you get access to Android apps via the Amazon Appstore and even the BlackBerry Assistant which is a virtual personal assistant much like Cortana and Siri. The Leap has a dual core processor delivering the steam, while visuals are in the hands of a 5-inch HD LCD touchscreen. There’s also 4G LTE and HSPA+ connectivity onboard.

While some of the specs are a bit disappointing, the BlackBerry phone does offer great battery life. A 2800mAh battery is onboard and is estimated to deliver up to 25 hours of mixed usage. For better approximation, you can expect around 17 hours of talk time or 16.5 days of standby.

BlackBerry Leap key specifications:

– BB10.3.1 OS
– 2GB RAM
– 16GB storage, 128GB expandable
– 4G LTE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0
– 5-inch HD display
– 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor
– 2800mAh battery
– 2MP front imager, 8MP rear camera

The BlackBerry Leap is selling for $275 in the US which means that it could be made available at around Rs 17000 in India.

Wiio WI3 smartphone offers 4000mAh battery

There’s a new big battery smartphone in town and it’s called the Wiio WI3. The handset recently went on sale in India through ecommerce website Snapdeal and it offers a 4000mAh battery at a price of Rs 6499. This puts it amongst the cheapest options on the market to carry such huge power packs.

 A battery so large for the said amount is clearly a great deal, but the Wiio WI3 does have a lot of competition to face. The Spice Stellar 518 was recently reintroduced into the market with a discounted retail tag of Rs 4999. This phone also offers a 4000mAh battery along with other features that are quite similar to the ones found on the handset in question.

Wiio WI3

The Wiio phone is the third launch from the company in the Indian market. It runs on Android 4.4 KitKat and it doesn’t look like the OEM has done much to modify the UI. So, it’ll basically deliver a near stock experience. Additionally, the handset is an entry-level option and isn’t the most attractive release we’ve seen in this range.

It features a 5-inch qHD IPS touchscreen on the front along with a 2MP camera, while the rear has an 8MP shooter with an LED flash. Coming to the innards, the WI3 smartphone gains steam from a 1.3GHz quad core MediaTek processor and offers 1GB RAM with 8GB of storage. The 4000mAh battery is estimated to deliver around 9 hours of 3G talk time or up to 800 hours of standby.

Wiio WI3 specs:

– 1GB RAM, 8GB expandable storage
– Android 4.4 KitKat
– 5-inch qHD IPS LCD panel
– 1.3GHz quad core processor
– 4000mAh battery
– Dual SIM w/ HSPA+
– 2MP front camera, 8MP rear shooter

Snapdeal holds exclusivity over the Wiio WI3 smartphone and is offering it in black only.

Coolpad Dazen X7 smartphone with premium design and features launched

The Coolpad Dazen X7 is one of the two new smartphones the Chinese OEM has chosen to release as part of its entry into India. This device is an affordable option which aims to deliver a top-quality design and features without breaking the bank.

 The Coolpad Dazen X7 is an upper mid-range release and it will compete against other premium options such as the Honor 6 and Nubia Z9 mini. Design-wise, the phone is very attractive and it’s also rugged to a certain extent. According to the company, the body is made from aircraft grade aluminum. And it looks like there will be glass coatings for the front and back panels, both under the protection of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Coolpad Dazen X7

Overall, the handset looks quite similar to the Gionee Elife S7 which is 5.5mm think. The Coolpad phone, on the other hand, has waistline of 6.5mm. It offers visual at 1080p resolution through a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display. And powering it up is a 1.7GHz octa core MediaTek processor.

Additionally, Android 4.4 KitKat runs the show with the Cool UI 6 layered on the top. The Dazen X7 is dual SIM enabled and supports HSPA+ as well as 4G LTE networks. It also offers 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. Other features include an 8MP front camera, a 13MP rear shooter and a 2700mAh battery.

Coolpad Dazen X7 specs:

– Android 4.4 KitKat
– 2GB RAM, 16GB storage
– 1.7GHz octa core processor
– 5.2-inch 1080p FHD Super AMOLED panel
– Dual SIM w/ 4G LTE
– 8MP front camera
– 13MP rear shooter
– 2700mAh battery

The Coolpad Dazen X7 will go on sale from June 9 exclusively through Snapdeal with a price tag of Rs 17999.

Micromax Canvas Fire 3 smartphone launched with front speakers

Out for purchase right now is the new Micromax Canvas Fire 3 smartphone which is distinguished by the fact that it comes equipped with dual front-facing speakers. While this reduces the chances of sound getting muffled, it also enhances the overall experience while watching videos and playing games, since the sound is reaching you without any barriers.

 The Micromax Canvas Fire 3 has been priced pretty reasonably at Rs 6499. It’s listed on the company’s site, and is even available for purchase through Saholic in the form of a black colored model. This dual SIM 3G phone runs the Android 4.4 KitKat OS which gives it a disadvantage in the Indian market that’s fast being infiltrated by Lollipop-running devices.

Micromax Canvas Fire 3

The new Canvas Fire 3 features a 4.5-inch IPS panel that’s covered with Gorilla Glass 3 and possesses a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A 1.3GHz quad core Mediatek MT6582 processor fuels its operations from within, while 1GB worth of RAM provides it with some assistance in this department.

A neat look at the specs of the new Micromax Canvas Fire 3:

– Display: 4.5-inch IPS with Gorilla Glass 3, 960 x 540 pixels
– OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
– CPU: 1.3GHz quad core Mediatek MT6582
– GPU: Mali 400
– Battery: 1850mAh
– Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB storage (expandable till 32GB)
– Cameras: 5MP rear, 2MP front

Micromax Canvas Fire 3 Speakers

Micromax has blessed the device with a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP selfie unit. Furthermore, there’s a 1850mAh battery pack present inside it as well, providing it with 7 hours of talktime and 180 hours of standby time.

Interested parties can head over to Saholic now in order to place their orders for the new Micromax Canvas Fire 3 handset.

New smartphone 2016: the best new phones coming next year from Apple, Samsung and more

2015 has been a bonanza year for smartphones, but there’s plenty more to come over the next 12 months: handsets are getting more powerful, designs are getting more innovative, and if you’re in the market for a new mobile next year you’re going to be spoilt for choice.

To give you an idea of what’s coming over the hill in smartphone terms, we’ve rounded up everything we know and everything we think we know about the greatest handsets of 2016: a lot of manufacturers like to play their cards close to their chests, however, so not all of this information is set in stone just yet.

iPhone 7

The world’s most recognisable and well-known smartphone is a good a place to start as any, and Apple is almost definitely going to release another iPhone in September, as it does every year. After the ‘s’ updates of 2015 we should see the number tick up to 7, and it’s likely that the company will stick with the pattern of releasing a smaller (4.7-inch) and larger (5.5-inch) model for consumers to choose from.

iPhone 6s

Apple isn’t leaking much about the upcoming handsets but the rumours are the new phones could be more rugged and waterproof than the existing ones. The screen resolution is due for an upgrade this year, while insider sources suggestApple wants to ditch the headphone socket in favour of the Lightning port. We should get some more hints when iOS 10 is announced at WWDC in the summer.

  • iPhone 6S review
  • iPhone 6S Plus review

Sony Xperia Z6

Sony has had a patchy 2015 as far as smartphone launches go, but the Xperia Z6 might well be enough to help the company’s smartphone division get back on track. While it might not set the world on fire in terms of sales numbers, Sony’s Xperia range represents some of the best-looking and most powerful handsets on the market.

Sony Xperia Z5

So what can we expect in 2016? The early hints are that there are going to be no fewer than five different variations of the Xperia Z6, and the handsets are set to offer Sony’s version of the 3D Touch technology currently available in the newest iPhones. The traditional Xperia look should be in evidence again, while the usual dust and waterproofing are likely to be in place too. The indications are thatSony’s taking its time with its next flagship, so expect something significant in the next year.

  • Xperia Z5 Premium review
  • Xperia Z5 review
  • Xperia Z5 Compact review

Samsung Galaxy S7

All eyes will be on Apple’s biggest challenger in 2016 – Samsung has had a respectable level of success with its 2015 line-up, including those innovative Edge models, and it will want to capitalise on that momentum with whatever it’s planning next. A late February launch is a good bet, as Samsung often shows off its new handsets at Mobile World Congress around that time, but some rumours suggest the Galaxy S7 might appear even earlier in the year.

Samsung Galaxy S6

While the design changes from the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are expected to be minimal, the internal specs will get the usual bump and it’s possible thatnew kinds of extra-tough materials will be introduced too. Some reports indicate that Samsung could follow Apple’s lead by offering the Galaxy S7 in two separate sizes. It should be one of the first phones to break cover in 2016, setting the standard for the others to follow.

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 review
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review

LG G5

We were rather impressed with the LG G4 that launched in 2015, so LG has some high standards to stick to when 2016 rolls around. While there’s been no official confirmation, we would expect the South Korean company to unveil a brand new flagship phone during the next 12 months, which is likely to be called the LG G5 – the outfit might also continue to help Google with its Nexus initiative.

LG G4

Like the Galaxy S7, it’s highly probable that the LG G5 is going to appear in February or March, and whispers from the supply chain suggest it’s going to feature a premium, all-metal body. Apparently a big spec upgrade is on the cards and the integrated camera is another area where LG is tipped to make some big improvements. It might even feature an iris scanner so you can unlock your phone just by looking at it.

  • LG G4 review

HTC One M10

HTC has made its future intentions pretty clear with the One A9 handset it recently launched: the company is prepared to ape the design and approach of other handset makers if it means getting a foot back in the door of the market. The HTC One M9 had a lot to commend it, but it failed to capture the imagination of the public, and the manufacturer is going to want to make sure that its 2016 flagship ticks all the right boxes.

HTC One M9

Details of what we can expect to see from the HTC One M10 are pretty thin on the ground – unless you count the aforementioned One A9 as being a significant signpost – but as with the forthcoming handsets from Samsung and LG we think it’s going to appear in the first third of the year. Wireless charging could be in the mix, and it’s a safe bet that the phone will feature significantly improved internal specifications – we should also see a bump for the 1080 x 1920 screen resolution HTC has stuck with in recent years.