Smartphones manufacturers are progressively mounting bigger and better cameras on their flagship devices making the competition for camera phones go a notch higher with each release. With excellent sensors and an array of powerful camera settings, smartphones are gradually wiping out the conventional cameras since users can easily access equivalent services and features with their devices.

This post analyzes the top 5 best camera smartphones to watch in 2016. These are excellent devices that have shown an overall amazing imaging performance in terms of both the video quality and picture sharpness.

Best smartphone camera 2016: Samsung Galaxy S6

This is perhaps the best camera smartphone to date that has even unseated the great iPhone 6 Plus on this front. Samsung Galaxy S6 retains the 16MP sensor that its predecessor Galaxy S5 includes although Samsung has added several other features to enhance its image quality. For example, the addition of infrared sensor enables the camera to gauge various types of light conditions which in turn gives a better white balance. This results in increasingly accurate image colors both in bright and low-light situations.

Samsung Galaxy S6 also comes with an optical image stabilization capability to enhance image sharpness, especially when shooting in dimly lit environments. Another key addition to this smartphone is the focus tracking feature that is particularly valuable when taking pictures in burst mode and thus assisting users capture sharper images. The device includes a new auto-HDR (high dynamic range) feature that automatically improves certain scenes such as landscapes even while in motion.

Samsung has also installed an impressive 5-megapixel front-facing camera that can shoot wide-angle selfies even in low-light conditions. Other notable camera features of this phone include the tracking auto-focus capability and voice control.

Best smartphone camera 2016: iPhone 6

iPhone 6 is another great camera phone that is predicted to make it big in 2016. Its powerful 8-megapixel iSight camera is backed by a next generation sensor that includes a unique detection technology better referred to as Focus Pixels. This technology enhances the camera’s ability to focus easily especially on moving objects. It also enables the camera to take panoramas as large as 43-megapixels.

The device also incorporates a digital image stabilization feature and can record 1080p video at either 30-fps or 60-fps. Additionally, it can also stretch to record videos on slow motion of up to 240-fps. The FaceTime HD front-facing camera has also been upgraded by over 80 percent and thus allows more light than its predecessor, iPhone 5. This allows users to enjoy burst mode while using the secondary camera.

Best smartphone camera 2016: iPhone 6 Plus

One of the best feature of iPhone 6 Plus as far as camera quality is concerned is the superfast phase-detection autofocus (focus pixel). This also encompasses other features such as an excellent face-detection capability even in low-light conditions. The 8-megapixel camera includes an advanced feature known as optical image stabilization that is an improvement of the digital stabilization feature found in its predecessors including iPhone 6. This allows the device to comfortably shoot videos up to 240 frames per second which is valuable especially when creating super slow motion shots.

Best smartphone camera 2016: HTC Desire Eye

best smartphone camera 2016 htc desire eye camera
A distinct feature of HTC Desire Eye is its 13-megapixel front-facing camera that is as sharp as its rear camera which also has the same specifications. This is arguably the best selfie camera phone and will perfectly suit anyone looking to snap bigger and better selfie portraits. In fact, the front camera is considered to be as good enough to serve as the rear primary camera.

HTC Desire Eye comes with a physical shutter button that makes it stand out since this is quite a rare inclusion today. Its camera app is by default also very easy to use while still including several great settings and features such as a 360-degree panoramas and the Split Capture mode. Besides, the HDR mode works with both the primary and secondary cameras for this device.

Despite slowing down the phone, HDR mode in HTC Desire Eye enhances the brightness and sharpness of pictures, especially when shooting them in dim-light conditions. This feature is particularly valuable when using the front camera as it helps to reduce blemishes and other spots from the face. The front flash is mild enough not to cause blinding although it doesn’t offer optimal results when relied upon in low lighting conditions.

The rear camera offers excellent shots as well as decent full HD (1080p) videos with its powerful 13-megapixel camera.

Best smartphone camera 2016: Samsung S6 Active

Which smartphone has the best camera 2016This is another excellent camera phone whose camera is closely similar to that of the standard Samsung Galaxy S6. As such, it has a 16MP rear sensor that is supported by a newly simplified software and OIS to guarantee very sharp photos in a variety of lighting conditions. Besides, it snaps larger pictures with its improved 2988 x 5312 pixels.

Samsung S6 Active has a quick camera launch method that entails double tapping the home button that subsequently presents users with the default camera app interface. The camera’s autofocus is quite fast and accurate and has an auto mode that is on virtually all the time. Besides, users can choose to use the Pro Mode which offers more control over the light exposure, white balance, color tone, focal length and ISO. Other modes from which users can select include the 3D-like Virtual Shot mode, Select Focus mode and the Panorama mode.

The 5MP front-facing camera is decent enough to shoot sharp and large selfies. A unique feature of the Galaxy S6 Active, however, is its Aqua Mode that allow the users to use the device underwater for photography functions. The videos taken using this phone are also impressive resulting in 2160p footage at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and even 720p slow motion at 120fps. Besides, a fast-motion video mode is also available for anyone looking to achieve hyperlapse-like results by speeding up the footage.

Verdict: so, which is the best camera smartphone 2016?

Having looked at the five contenders of the best camera smartphone 2016 in terms of image and video quality, it is pretty difficult to tell exactly which among them makes it to the top. This is because each has its own top strengths and weaknesses thereby leaving the ground quite open for contention. However, a close scrutiny of the features and the respective scores on various aspects shows that iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 offer better camera qualities than all others in this list. These are the two main camera smartphones to watch even as more advanced devices are set for release in 2016.