Google reckons its new Pixel range have the best cameras in the business. And with a DxOMark score of 89 — the highest that's ever been awarded to a smartphone — they might just be right. Unfortunately, the Pixel is expensive to buy outright and locked to Telstra when it comes to contract plans. Fortunately, you can get camera phones that are almost as good for much less money. Here are some of the best.
Google unveiled the new Pixel phones this month and they went straight to the top of the DxOMark rankings of best smartphone cameras that money can buy. And in this case it is a lot of money – up there with the Samsung S7 and the Apple iPhone 7.
The diminishing Aussie dollar has pushed the least expensive flagship phones over the $1000 mark, but do not despair. Have a look at the DxO ranking table on its website. If you don't need the latest and best for bragging rights, then there are bargains to be had.
Google's Pixels start at over $1000 but the superseded Google Nexus 5X phones can be had for about $400 with a bit of assiduous bargain hunting. DxO rates the Nexus 5X and 6P (which have the same camera) the same as the iPhone 6s Plus and above the iPhone 6s.
The still available Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge gets the same camera rating as the new iPhone 7, but costs roughly half the price. And the Sony Xperia Z5 also rates with the iPhone at half the price. (The prices suggested here are for outright purchase from online discounters, not from telco shops or on plans.)
Many different phone makers use Sony camera components so the differences in performance will be the result of different internal processing.
Right now we have a Google Nexus 5P and an iPhone 6s side by side, and they both produce exceptionally fine photographs and videos. They both shoot 4K ultra high definition video, but they have different default camera apps and the iPhone's is better because it has exposure compensation adjustment with the slide of a finger.
There are third party camera apps for Android, but none is as elegant as the iPhone default. On such small differences the deal may be done or broken.
You may have noticed an Apple TV advertisement that is called The Human Family and is a montage of photos and videos taken with an iPhone 6s, but you might have missed the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen: "Additional software and equipment used".
They don't say what. But it is a warning that the advertisements are as much about the skill of the professionals who take the photos as about the qualities of the cameras. That is where DxOMark, the industry reference, is so helpful in making a choice.