Smartphones with great cameras are mushrooming up all over the market, delighting phone owners everywhere. Who doesn't want a fantastic smartphone camera that could replace a point-and-shoot? Easier said than done. Megapixel math is incomplete if you're not accounting for variables like light sensors, auto-focus, flash, and the camera's own rendering software.
Plus, photos are more likely to look terrific on a smaller smartphone display than on a larger laptop or TV screen. That's why we periodically grab up the best camera phones we have on us at the time and shoot a couple of indoor and outdoor shots for comparison. I limited it to four shots on four cameras to keep the length of this post manageable, but you can look here for an additional gallery of the Galaxy Nexus' shots.
This time, I took several indoor and outdoor shots with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and the HTC Vivid. I know what you're thinking: this is hardly fair, since the Galaxy Nexus has a 5-megapixel camera and the rest have 8-megapixel lenses. True, but Samsung has also made some really high-performing 5-megapixel shooters. When the phone was first launched, we all wondered how the camera would stack up against the other greats. Well, here it is. At any rate, view this comparison as a guide rather than as the final word on camera phones.
One note on process: I transferred photos to my computer and resized each image so it will fit in your browser, but otherwise I left the photos untouched.
Flowers: These pretty petals were taken outdoors in even lighting.
Bamboo: I shot this bamboo thicket outdoors in even lighting.
Emily: The lovely Emily Dreyfuss of CNET's Rumor Has It podcast rocks her stylin' grampa glasses. The picture was shot indoors.
Toys: This tricky scene was taken indoors in artificial lighting.
Article updated at 7:25pm PT to correctly state that the Galaxy Nexus has a 5-megapixel camera.