We have selected smartphones by two criteria. First of them is the price. All smartphones can be found at stores for $250, although some models in some stores can cost a bit more.
The second and most important criteria is the camera quality. And here we come to the hardest part. Although, there are over a hundred models of smartphones on the market that range from $200 to $250, they offer more or less the same features in their camera specs. By that, we do not mean on resolution (MP), as this is one of the least important things. We mostly think about focus types, video capture, face or motion recognition and high dynamic range (HDR).
So we are in the sea of smartphones that offer same things. But we've found five devices that stand out from the rest of the competition with their camera capabilities.
Motorola Moto G4
The Motorola Moto G4 started selling just a year ago, so it still has the finest specs including the octa-core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch screen in full HD Resolution, a 3000 mAh battery, and an Android Nougat upgrade.
As far as the camera is concerned, this Moto G4 is not standing behind, especially because it is the only one in our choice that has the built-in HDR auto-tuning feature in both cameras, which we praise.
If you are shooting by default, your photos will still be pretty good. The colors are brighter than on other listed devices, and the noise is not too big. Some will not even notice it. When capturing in good conditions with lots of light, the colors are perfectly affected, the details are clear, without noise. At less light, there is noise, but it wouldn't destroy the details, and the colors remain full. The recording of a video can be reduced to the same comment, with the addition that at less light the noise comes to the fore.
Main: 13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, dual LED flash, geotagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, auto HDR, 1080@30p video recording.
Front: 5 MP, f/2.2, automatic HDR.
Price: $99.99 - $252.
Nokia Lumia 930
The Lumia has always been a name for a photographic phone. The 930 model goes along with this track, and with a good 5-inch screen, a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a solid battery, offers an excellent rear camera with Carl Zeiss optics, image stabilization and Pure View, which corrects errors.
It is even possible to record video at 4K resolution, albeit with system upgrade, but this is a great thing for a smartphone that was introduced three years ago. Unfortunately, the front camera does not follow this trend, and shoots in classic, but forgotten HD (720p).
Lumia, without adjusting the settings, gives pretty dimmed and blurry photos, and black is not entirely black but dark gray. However, the thing changes with the pruning of the settings, when the colors are full, and the lines clear. Video is almost the same thing.
Main: 20 MP, f/2.4, 26mm zoom, optics, Carl Zeiss, OIS, autofocus, dual LED flash, 1/2.5" sensor, PureView technology, geotagging, face detection, panorama, HDR, video recording at 2160@30p (with WP8 Denim upgrade) or 1080@30p, recording stereo sound.
Front: 1.2 MP, video recording at 720@30p.
Price: $239 - $295.
Samsung Galaxy A5
The Samsung Galaxy A5, also came in this competition. Although it's last year's model, that does not mean it's not worth anything. More to say, its system can be upgraded to Android 7.0, it has an excellent 5.2-inch screen, octa-core processors, numerous connectivity options and a 2900 mAh battery that feeds all of this.
As the camera is concerned, this device is distinguished by something rare in this price range - an optical image stabilization and the ability to capture video in full HD resolution (1080@30p) on the front camera.
The pictures on this device, without adjusting the settings do not look bad, but they are dark and the colors are washed out. Adjusting the settings gives clear and detailed photos with balanced colors. If you take photos in a low light conditions, you lose the sharpness and get pastel colors.
As the video is concerned, if you do not set the settings you will get a clear shot with crisp colors. In good light conditions, the details are clearly visible, the colors are persistent and not too bright. In low light conditions, the video has a lot of noise, and colors are washed out.
Main: 13 MP, f/1.9, 28mm zoom, OIS, autofocus, LED flash, geotagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR, 1080@30p video recording.
Front: 5 MP, f/1.9, 24 mm, video recording at 1080@30p.
Asus ZenFone Max
We are surprised by the Asus ZenFone Max quality in the optics segment. Specifically, its other specifications are not so convincing, and they're really a reflection of the price range it belongs to (quad-core chipset, upgradable to Android 6, 5.5-inch HD screen). The only bright spot is battery capacity of 5000 mAh.
Cameras are highlighted by laser autofocus and dual LED flash. As the photo quality is concerned, the camera gives a rather dark picture, but with no noise or discoloration without adjusting the options. In good light conditions, the colors are clear and vibrant, but there is some noise, while in the dark situation, it is further aggravated and the pasteliness, or the divergence of colors appear with much noise.
Without adjusting video settings you'll get dark colors and if you're capturing a dense line pattern, their counter-reflection will appear, which is not ideal. But in good light, things are improving - the colors are alive, and the details are clear. With a small amount of light the colors are worn, and sometimes there is a noise.
Main: 13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, dual LED flash, geotagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR, video recording at 1080@30p.
Front: 5 MP, f/2.0.
Price: $208.55 - $240.
This is also an older but still solid smartphone with 5-inch HD resolution screen, quad-core processor, solid battery... As the camera is concerned, its front camera with an 8 MP resolution caught our attention. It's is more than on the other smartphones, but it does not necessarily mean anything. By the way, the pictures taken with the S90 are dark, and there's quite a lot of noise, if you do not adjust the settings.
In good light conditions, the colors become clearer, although details are still unconvincing. With the lack of light, the thing gets worse; everything becomes pastel, and with a lot of noise. Exactly the same thing occurs on video.
Main: 13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, LED flash, 1/3.2" sensor, 1.4um pixel size, geotagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, video recording at 1080@30p.
Front: 8 MP, autofocus, LED flash.
Price: $249 - $330
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