Put to the test: smartphones v point-and-shoot cameras

Against the Canon we pitted the conformist’s smartphone, the iPhone, the new Samsung Galaxy S III and the new Sony Xperia P, both Android phones, and the HTC Titan, a Windows phone.


The display quality is important to the phone camera experience, so we rated that and found all phones optimise photos for viewing on the phone screen, so to make proper comparisons we transferred the photos to a computer to check resolution, noise, noise reduction, sharpness, exposure and colour.

For absolute image quality, the winner is the Canon Ixus 500HS. but for photos to be instantly shared phone-to-phone or through the web, the phones do a surprisingly good job.

The Samsung Galaxy S III has the biggest, brightest and best display. it really does repel fingerprints (better than the iPhone). The Samsung has the advantage of Android 4, the best portable operating system.

Photos are bright and punchy but oversharpened and with the most noticeable noise reduction (blurring) of all the cameras tested. The large size and slippery body materials make it the least pleasant to hold. however, in spite of the caveats, the Samsung comes closest to making a compact camera redundant. it is the one we would buy.

We would also look carefully at the HTC one X, an Android phone with a 720 x 1280 screen and an 8mp camera.

New Windows phones are on the horizon, predicted to have high-resolution screens, and the iPhone update is due within months. Microsoft has released details of the next generation and the bad news is there is no upgrade path from Windows 7.8, the current OS, to Windows 8, so Windows phones bought between now and the release of hardware running the new system will be immediate orphans.

November is looking like a good month to buy.

Put to the test: smartphones v point-and-shoot cameras

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