Technology scholars will probably define 2013 as year of the
great console wars, or the unleashing of Google Glass. But for
me, I think of 2013 as the battle of the smartphone cameras. The
phone wars used to be waged in numbers of processors or
screen size, but lately it?s all been about megapixels and
I?m Donald Bell, and in this Top 5 I?ll be counting down the best
smartphone cameras, ranked by CNET Senior Editor Jessica
Dolcourt. Cameras so good, you?ll want to smudge them just a
little just to keep your selfies from frightening people.
Starting off at #5: the iPhone 5. Apple was one of the first
companies to really put a lot of effort into photo quality. And they
didn?t do it with a lot of BS about megapixels -- no, they let the
photos do the talking. Before everyone else caught up to Apple?s
image processing, you used to be able to pick out the photo
taken on an iPhone just by looking at it.
Now, the iPhone still has a great camera, but the phone itself is
the oldest one on this list. They have some catching up to do, but
if the rumors around the next iPhone are any indication, camera
improvements are at the top of the list.
At #4: the HTC One. One of my personal favorite phones of the
year, and definitely a phone that puts its camera features up
front. You want megapixels, how about Ultra Pixels? How about
an image sensor that drinks up light like David Hasslehoff drinks
Plus there are a bunch of extra shooting modes. You can stitch
together action shots, shoot in a paparazzi burst mode, and even
shoot video and photos simultaneously. Great phone, great
camera, and one of the only reasons anyone is still talking about
Next up at #3: the Samsung Galaxy S4. Now if we were just here
talking about the best overall smartphones, the list would end
here. This is our favorite phone of the moment, an Editor?s
Choice, and an unqualified recommendation to anyone who just
wants a great phone.
But it also happens to have a beautiful 13-megapixel camera on
board, along with a suite of photo features and modes that rival
the HTC One. And let?s not forget the screen. One reason people
like shooting on smartphones so much is because these big
screens make it so easy to show off your pictures. The 5-inch
HD AMOLED screen on the S4 can add pop to even the most
boring brunch photo.
So how do you improve on that? Well at #2: the Nokia Lumia
1020. Now here?s a camera that is truly reaching out to stab the
point and shoot camera in the back. This beautiful freak has a
giant sensor capable of shooting up to 41-megapixels.
Now this isn?t just another meaningless battle of pixels. Nokia is
smart. They take all those extra pixels and use that information
to intelligently process it down to a more manageable 5-
megapixel image that will knock your socks off. And did I
mention that it?s a Windows Phone? Seriously, if you want
something that?s as quirky as your Tumblr blog, the Lumia 1020
is your phone.
But our #1 smartphone camera goes to the newest kid on the
block: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Not to be confused with
the Galaxy S4 Mini or the Galaxy S4 Active, or the S4 Google
Edition, the S4 Zoom slaps a real point and shoot camera
system on the back of your phone with a 10x Optical Zoom.
Is it skinny? No! But you?ve got a 16-megapixel backside
illuminated CMOS sensor on the back and the optics -- and
settings -- of a real camera. The rest of it is an Android 4.2 love
fest. You are looking at the successful mating of phone and
camera. It?s not the prettiest thing, but good enough to keep it
out of the freak show.
So there you go, five smartphones that are spelling the end for
the pocket camera. For more information on any of these
phones, head over to phones.cnet.com. And for more Top 5
videos, including the Top 5 phones NOT to buy, check out
I?m Donald Bell, thanks for watching.
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