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Why More Megapixels Don’t Always Mean Your Smartphone’s Camera Is Better


Of the many specifications associated with a smartphone camera, the megapixels count often finds itself in the spotlight. By the numbers alone, you can’t blame people buying a 20-megapixel camera over a 4-megapixel shooter. But do more megapixels really mean the camera is inherently better than the others? Not necessarily.

In truth, smartphone cameras can be considered of good quality if they feature a good proportion of pixel count to their sensor size. Increasing the pixel count, while keeping the size of the sensor the same, introduces noise to the resulting image. In contrast, increasing the sensor size produces better quality photos, especially in low-light environment. This is because larger pixels are capable of capturing more light—the very reason why the HTC One’s UltraPixel camera takes great pictures despite only having a 4 megapixel resolution.

Granted, there are still high-profile smartphones with cameras whose main selling point is still a high megapixel count. Leading examples are the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Sony Xperia Z2, with their respective 41 megapixel and 20.7 megapixel counts. But once again, the quality of their photos isn’t just because of the greater number of megapixels. Other factors also play a huge role, such as the lenses used, optical zoom, image processing, and more.

To further enhance the quality of their shots, some smartphone cameras also boast unique features. These include optical image stabilization (OIS), sensors with backside illumination, and True Tone flash. This year’s LG G3 smartphone, for instance, offers a 13-megapixel with a laser autofocus and enhanced OIS for an incredibly fast shutter speed and accurate, clear photos.

The best tip we can give when we’re talking about camera performance is looking into sample images. Don’t simply depend on the specifications as stated by the manufacturer; make an effort into comparing the quality of shots between smartphones.

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