What's the best cameraphone?
January 26, 2010 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I'd really like a great camera phone. Is there such a thing? Oh, and can I have an affordable calling plan too? I'm flexible on some aspects of this.

I own a Nikon DSLR with a few lenses. I don't expect SLR results from a camera phone, but I find that I only lug around my Nikon when I'm specifically headed out to take pictures. Recently, I've been considering buying a new point and shoot, but I can't help thinking I'd get more use out of a camera phone simply because I'd always have it with me when I'm out. A point and shoot becomes just another thing to carry around, and odds are I'd leave it at home too often.

I should note that I prefer clamshell type flip phones simply because they're small enough to keep in a jeans pocket (I specify jeans because pants pockets tend to be deeper)... but then again, I've been considering an iPhone 3Gs because I've seen people do some decent stuff with its camera. Still, I don't like the thought of paying $100 a month for service that isn't unlimited. It's not that I talk on the phone that much. I just hate the feeling of paying by the minute. Does an iPhone fit in a guy's jeans pocket, or is it a bit too big for that?

My current phone service is through Cricket: $45 a month, everything unlimited. I'm actually really pleased with the service, but I'd consider switching if the price were similar and I could get a better camera phone. I really don't want to pay more than $100 a month. I'd like to stay under $50 if possible.

I work from home and do the vast majority of my calling there. I don't have a land line, but I do have broadband, so wifi and magicjack are options for cutting costs, I suppose.

What's the best camera phone?
Should I consider an iPhone 3Gs?
Are there options for using my wifi instead of burning through minutes?
posted by 2oh1 to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The best camera phone is considered to be the Sony Ericsson c905a, which is available on AT&T and isn't a smartphone, so doesn't require their insane smartphone fees. On the other hand, it isn't a smartphone, which means you can't download cool apps and such, and the keypad may ride up against the screen for you, so you should check it out at the store. (Call your local AT&T store to see if they have one.)

The iPhone shoots relatively respectable photos, but it does so at 3MP. There's some talk of a refresh to the product line on Wednesday as part of Apple's big announcement, but it sounds like it'll just be v4.0 of the OS, and not the hardware refresh that usually comes in June.

Flickr is your friend here. It organizes photos by camera taken, including cameraphones so that link there is all c905 photos, but you can also see iphone photos, etc. Naturally, it matters a lot who's behind the lens, but looking through these in bulk will help you make an overall judgment call on quality.

And yes, the iPhone fits in your pocket.

Personally, I'm a Nexus One guy, but that's because I can't stand AT&T, and I use my phone for things other than shooting.
posted by disillusioned at 1:29 PM on January 26, 2010

I have a 3G iphone. The photos are fine; great for facebook, not great for 8x10s. I'm a guy, carry it in my pocket all the time. Added bonus is the fact that the big screen means that showing your friends photos on your phone isn't an exercise in futility. Re: the non-unlimited plan, I have a glut of minutes, especially with the rollover, and I don't come close to using them all, but YMMV.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:40 PM on January 26, 2010

I have the 3GS and the photos look ok. It does a great job with macro shots which almost no other phone camera does. Video is ok too. Personally, I do carry around a small P&S too though I suspect it is out of affection for the little Fuji FinePix more than necessity.
posted by chairface at 1:57 PM on January 26, 2010

I also have a 3GS. Although the photos are not as good as my point and shoot or my Flip, it has basically replaced both of those for me 90% of the time. I love the fact that I can use aps to edit my photos in-phone (I spent the money on ReelDirector and its great fun to make movies with it without having to transfer everything over to the laptop first.

In short: the not-perfect photo you take with the iPhone is better than the photo you missed because you were still digging out and powering up your camera.
posted by anastasiav at 3:39 PM on January 26, 2010

The Sony Ericsson mentioned top-of -the-post. This is a point of pride for Sony. Very high quality images that rival prosumer digital high res images. My ex-brother in law is an engineer and always sports Sony-Ericssons latest. I was wowed by the images; my brother-in-laws hoped for effect.
posted by Muirwylde at 11:33 PM on January 26, 2010

Actually most camera phones take excellent macro shots because of the small sensor size.

And talking of which, i don't really think you will see much difference in image quality on most phones. They all have the fairly same size tiny sensor and most differences are in any extras, such as flash (Xenon definitely is better than LED for this) and other fancy options such as panorama, effects etc. I use an Samsung Omnia HD myself, which runs with 8 MP and HD video recording, and it takes pictures that can rival most point and shoots. I can PM you a link to my gallery if you wish.

I can see you have an DSLR already, so im guessing you have some experience in photography, and you'll probably be able to get quite good images with most camera phones..in the end it's more about your own experience and skill than the camera itself (especially when camera phones are so alike)
posted by kampken at 1:27 AM on January 27, 2010

Best answer: If your main use for the phone is photos and calling, don't waste the money on an iphone, which takes only decent pictures.
I'd say the phones that come nearest to point and shoot replacement are the Nokia cameraphones, especially the N82 and the N86.
As far as i'm aware, no US carrier carries these phones, but there seems to be a NAM (North American 3G Bands) Version of the N82. see here
I don't know if any GSM Carrier offers any good sim only plans, but you will enjoy the freedom if you get one.
I'd say if you're looking for a stable and great cameraphone you'd be best of with the N82.

Here are some other Phones that have fairly good Picture Quality:
Sony Ericsson C905 (mentioned above, personally don't like it but great pictures)
Samsung Omnia HD (also mentioned above, it's a super high spec touchscreen phone, so if that is your thing)
Sony Ericsson Satio (similar to the Omnia HD but more recent)
Samsung INNOV8 (great camera, otherwise not so great phone)
Nokia N95 (fairly old, but easy to find, still great camera)
Samsung Pixon (never personally tried it, but it's supposed to have good picture quality)

So if you can find any of those phones on a US Carrier, you could pick that up if you don't want to import.
posted by kall at 5:55 AM on January 27, 2010

Response by poster: Six months after asking this question, I finally got around to buying a cameraphone, and I couldn't possibly be more pleased with the decision I made. I'm glad I waited. I love the phone I bought.

I bought an iPhone 4. It has a 5 megapixel camera. While I realize there are cameraphones with more megapixels, I can't imagine a cameraphone that's more fun to use.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:31 PM on July 18, 2010

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