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Tuesday Poll: How Important is It That Your Phone has a Great Camera?

moto x camera

The camera in your phone, oh how it has changed over the years. Cameras in phones used to be there as a last minute, only-shooter-you-had-on-you option for snapping a rare picture. The quality of that picture was never any good, until recent years. Now, we test the heck out of phone cameras, compare them from one phone to the next, and often times find ourselves considering passing on phones if their cameras aren’t up to par with the competition.

Samsung, LG, and Apple seem to have taken a sizable lead in terms of quality smartphone cameras, while Sony is hanging around, trying from phone-to-phone to join them. HTC is there as well, but they decided two years ago to ditch a traditional camera setup in favor of the ultimate gimmick that can’t really be taken seriously. Then you have Motorola, a company that continues to innovate with software and hardware, yet hasn’t put a good camera in a phone since, well, we can’t even remember the last time.

We know that DL readers buy phones from all of the manufacturers just mentioned, so it’s clear that some of you are fine buying phones that don’t offer the best camera experience. And that leads us to today’s poll question – how important is it that your phone has a great camera?

How important is it that your phone has a great camera?

View Results

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  • Vanquishgc

    I’m going to catch some heat here I realize, but I’ve so far found that my M8 has done a perfectly good job at picture taking. Certainly better than my moto X, which wasn’t horrible, but even after updates was disappointing. The biggest difference was shutter speed. Click, boom, there. I do have a kid like many of us on here, so I get the need for bigger and better cameras. No doubt the S4 and 5 have great cameras, can’t deny that. But for me, the rest of those phones did themselves in, in my opinion. My thought process was “OK, the rest of this phone rocks in every way. The camera lacks in zoom quality, and such but is great in low light. And shutter speed is stupid fast. I know I’m going to be happy with everything else with this thing, and I’m sure the camera can at least do what I want for the most part”. Well I’ve had it for almost 3 months, have yet to be proven wrong yet. It came down to pros and cons, and while the camera was a bit of a con, it wasn’t nearly enough to outweigh all the pros. I do wish I could zoom in farther than 2x on the thing before it turned to crap though.

  • Nick Klenchik

    Battery Life > Screen > Camera


  • bob

    Just bought last year’s Moto X to hold me over. Hoping my next phone will have:

    *Some degree of aperture variability
    *Decent sensor
    *Decent processor (or better yet, just let me keep the RAW, I’ll do a better job of lightrooming it)
    *Could care less about optical/digital zoom (having the most fun with fixed lenses)

    Yes, I know the MotoX camera sucks, but compared to my previous (GNex) is a Lycra.

    Yes, yes, carry the dSLR around 100% yada yada. I’d like to; heck I’ve got a 40 mm pancake (which is capable of taking freakin awesome pics for 80% of the circumstances) and it is about as portable as a large camera can get, but get real.

    Everyone saying you should carry around an SLR, let me ask you: is your SLR within reach right now? Mine is 18 miles away, but my phone is right here.

  • OneForTheGoodDays

    My job and having two little ones requires me to have a capable camera at all times…. that’s the main reason I love my G2. The OIS and the large aperture lend themselves to quality shots most of the time. This one I took and is straight out of the camera. My only issue usually is that the G2 camera takes “cool” pictures and is a bit over-saturated. I use Snapseed to add back some warmth and use the ambiance and saturation settings to balance out the field.

  • A major reason for my choosing the S5. Wherever I go, I have a camera with me. I can’t say that about my DSLR.

  • I used to say it wasn’t that important, but then I suffered through nearly 3 years of absolutely terrible camera performance with the GNex. Replaced it with an S5 and haven’t looked back.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    I switch phones so often that it doesn’t really matter, but going from moto x to Note 3 was eye opening. Like many are saying, it doesn’t need to be DSLR quality but sharp, vibrant results are expected.

  • thunder

    Water proof>camera

  • cornflahkes

    Camera is one of the top decision makers for me. Selling off the G3 I used my upgrade on before Verizon nipped that loophole shut, ended up with another Nokia. 😛

  • interstellarmind

    My top priorities: battery, GPU, and camera.

  • Reed Kerr

    I’m really hoping the X+1 has a great camera. The quality and speed of the camera is very important to me, and that’s probably my only real complaint with my Moto X. The camera is very fast to launch, which I love, and it takes very good pictures in good lighting, but indoors in lower lighting, or when the subject is a fast moving 4 year old, the output is rather weak.

    I don’t need a 20 MP camera (why, Sony, why?), just something with quick and accurate autofocus, and a good sensor that gets color and white balance right. I’d love it if I can get it with Motorola’s twist to launch feature, which is fantastic.

  • renGek

    Is very much a personal taste topic. Some people want to just snap a “at that moment” event and if someone’s head is cropped or the lighting is totally jacked, who cares. And there are those who enjoys taking a beautifully crafted photo because to them is art and inspirational. Neither is more or less important. That said, I like taking my time and shooting beautiful pictures. While not impossible its very difficult to do well on a phone.

  • Ks Montoya

    I guess it should be more in line with top of the line Point and Shoot, DSLR is pushing it. On that note I would pay $1500 for a phone that was top of the line w/DSLR quality.

  • I picked, “It just needs to be decent.”

    For me there are things that are more important such as:
    Battery life.
    What time of day will I be looking to charge it back up.


    How much usable space will I have after disabling or uninstalling bloatware (if no MicroSD expansion).
    How accessible is the MicroSD port.

    Until my last VZW line is off contract I’m buying my phone(s) at retail. That’s why I’m still rocking my DNA.
    Once I switch over I still have to weight price versus total value.
    Come middle of October I will have to decide. Part of me wants to buy a Galaxy Note, but my wallet says Nexus(2014)>OnePlus>Moto X(2014)

    Three factors & I’m still not at the camera.
    So when I do get around to it there needs to be decent night-time or low-light capture ability. Minimum shutter lag. Intuitive UI/UX.

    So which does the best at capturing a picture the faster & in focus once I hit the shutter?

  • paul_cus

    The camera on a phone doesn’t even need to have a flash, in my opinion.

  • Jprime

    The question is not asking if dedicated cameras are better than a phone’s, its asking if having a phone capable of getting god shots is important. Having a camera on you all the time is amazing, i don’t see how people can turn it into a negative.

  • sirmeili

    A bit off topic, but why is it some polls it will let me vote multiple times (I don’t), and others I can’t even vote at all? Some it seems I can vote the next day and some an hour after it is put up I can’t? I didn’t get to vote, so I’ll say this:

    A great camera is a “nice have”
    An Ok camera is “OK, so my facebook/g+ pictures look that much better”
    A camera in general is probably necessary, but just because I’ve become accustomed to it. I was ok with the Gnex camera and apparently it was horrible.

  • Bryan

    I’ve found my Moto X can take great photos, but I need to disable HDR mode. I think it’s too aggressive in trying to take HDR pictures for things that it shouldn’t, and therefore produces soft/blurry/grainy photos. That and holding the phone steady when taking a pic seem to give me very good shots.

    • sirmeili

      I find it sometimes has it uses (HDR). but you have to really hold the camera still.

  • Gregory Martinez


    • gm

      I’d add screen quality to that list. (Brightness, vibrancy, contrast, viewing angles, reflectivity, etc). After all, it’s the most used piece of hardware when interacting with your device, even before software.

  • No option for “Insanely Important” ? Astonished at the apathy towards this.

    • sirmeili

      But why? If you have to have a great camera, why not buy a great camera instead? I’ve seen some people say they would like their phone’s camera to be as good as their $1k DSLR, which I just think is insane. It’s a phone with a small sensor. Sure you can get pretty good pictures, but it will never replace a great dedicated camera, IMHO.

      • Because I don’t “have to have a great camera”. I take a compact superzoom on occasions where I know I’ll be taking a range of pictures and want more quality, but that doesn’t preclude me from wanting the pictures I take on a daily basis to be the best they can be. Its one of the big 5 things most people do with their phone and I hate dealing with crappy cameras. I have no intention of spending 4 figures on a semi-pro rig I’ll use twice a year.

        • jimt

          The guy really wants a fire phone./s He is serious about carrying two separate things and probably doesn’t know you need extra lenses and covers and a bag for a dslr. He thinks software will make the moto x even better than it is, which is great in his opinion.

          • sirmeili

            If I know I’m going to be in a situation where I need a DSLR, I will bring one. It doesn’t happen often. For day to day pictures, most of the phone’s cameras are adequate. Is it nice if a phone has a great camera? Sure, but I personally put other things in higher priority than a great camera in a phone. I don’t have such high expectations to think that a $600-700 multipurpose device with a small sensor and small lens will ever compare to a $1k DSLR (or even some point and shoots with the better sensors). I live in a world of reality.

            You seem to be really butt hurt over the motoX. Have you used one? Have you used one long term? If not, STFU about it. Seriously, the user experience OVERALL is great. Its the first phone I’ve had that’s had fast updates and no lag even after updates and over 9 months of use with not factory resets or using ROMS. I’m sorry you seem to think that an optimized phone is such a horrible thing. I mean, it’s only what has made Apple (across all their platforms) so successful. Optimized software to hardware will pretty much ALWAYS beat out just throwing more hardware at it (understand, that I don’t think software will make up for a bad camera, I’m talking over all hardware to software optimization to get the best performance from the hardware that you can.

            That being said, I don’t get to pick and choose what camera hardware Motorola puts in their phones. Could I buy another phone to send a message to Motorola saying “I would have bought your awesome phone, but it’s camera is lacking…fix that in the next version and i’ll but it”? I sure could, but then I would be ignoring all the other important things that Motorola is doing that I don’t feel many other manufacturers are doing. So in my case, Yes, the software makes the PHONE a better device, lackluster camera or not. Because Motorola is doing TONS of other things that I think are a hell of a lot more important (IMHO):

            Over all user experience
            Light to no skin
            Adding features that actually matter and are useful
            Fast updates

  • Fernando Gonzalez

    Really important… Not the first point but one of the firsts ones… Speed, Design, Size, Camera, Battery… Not in that precise order…

  • MKader17

    I said I make buying decisions based on the phone’s camera capabilities, but I seem to be one of the few that find the Moto X camera to be very good.

    • jimt

      Maybe nothing to compare it with is your problem. Just find someone that has a phone with a good camera and take pictures of the same thing. Compare the results.

      • Captain Spaulding

        Agreed. I have a Moto X and a G2. The G2 camera is far superior to the Moto X, although it has improved since initial release.

      • MKader17

        My wife has a Canon camera. It’s not a point and shoot but also not a DSLR. It will take great pictures if you can stay still and give the shutter some time. That being said I’ll take a picture with it, then my phone because the quality of the phone is plenty good for sharing and is much easier to share.

    • sirmeili

      I’m not gonna say it’s “very good”, I wouldn’t say it was “bad” or “average” or anything…. I would say that it’s adequate for what I need it for: quick pictures of stuff to post on facebook and g+. It was better than my Gnex, which I also didn’t have issues with.

  • wtd2009

    After coming from the worst camera ever aka the Droid razr and switching to a S5 I’ve realized how fun it is to have a nice camera. Since most everything else has been improved to the point that I don’t find myself complaining at all, I’d say a camera is a really high priority if I’m going to lock into a contract (which I do)

  • jb

    I see a LOT of comments about low light performance… It’s obvious to me that most saying that have NO IDEA where the bulk of low light performance comes from. It’s from the SIZE OF THE SENSOR! And guess what, the sensor in a phone is TINY (smaller than the head of a pencil eraser). A DSLR on the other hand has a sensor a little larger than a postage stamp (Full Frame DSLR’S are twice that size). If low light performance is so important that you’re deciding whether or not to buy a phone based on it, don’t even bother with a phone’s camera, you need a large sensor camera. Get a DSLR, MILC, or even a large sensor compact camera. Especially one with wifi so you can transfer the images to your phone easily.

    • DanielMena9

      However, there are some phones relative to others that fair much better in low light. i.e. iPhone 5s vs my Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

      • jb

        Of course. And you can thank sensor performance, wide aperture lenses, and software for that. But they still can’t match or even come close to a DSLR.

        • Droidzilla

          You’re like someone on a car forum talking about hot hatchbacks which blend performance, affordability and utility and you keep saying, “Nothing beats a sportbike for performance!” It’s ridiculous.

          • jb

            No. Not really. To use your analogy, I’d be that guy refuting people saying that a hatchback is the fastest way to get somewhere. Or that it had the best performance in a turn. Or that it was the best solution to move with. And people would respond “but my hatchback is always with me”. That might be the case, but there are alternatives and owning one doesn’t preclude you from owning others.

          • Droidzilla

            I haven’t seen a single person say that a phone camera is as good or better than a DSLR, so no (and if anyone does say that, they’re ridiculous). People are saying they want a decent camera on their phones, even though they know it won’t ever be DSLR quality. My analogy is spot on. Your analogy nicely highlights your misinterpretation of what others on this thread are saying. I drive a hopped up WRX, and I love it because it’s pretty darned fast but I can still drive my family around in it, get groceries, go over speed bumps, drive it in the snow, etc. I used to have a litrebike, and that was stupid fast, but it wasn’t practical so I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to ride it. I wanted to have fun in the car I used as opposed to only having a fun driving experience when I had the specialised tool with me. Is my WRX as fast as my old 1000cc bike? Not hardly. Is it still pretty fast and I get to get on it during my normal driving around time? Absolutely.

            Camera quality is a big deal for me on a cell phone because I always carry it with me, like everyone else. I used to have a DSLR but it just sat collecting dust, so I hocked it. I don’t need DSLR quality for the shots I’m taking, but there is a significant difference between the high and low end of the phone camera spectrum in both usability and overall photo fidelity. It’s really not an esoteric or invalid point, and it makes perfect sense that a lot of consumers would want and value the feature.

          • jb

            I think you and I would agree on one thing for sure. If you’re not using your DSLR, sell it. There’s no point in keeping it. I would also venture a guess that if a person isn’t using a DSLR and is instead using a camera phone, it’s quite likely that they really don’t know what they’re doing with their DSLR anyway. They likely shoot in full auto mode including exposure settings and autofocus point selection. If that’s the case, they’re going to get shi**y pictures, probably not even as good as a cell phone.
            A DSLR, like any complex tool, requires that the user knows what they’re doing to use it even halfway correctly. They need to understand exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, all the lens verbiage, autofocus modes, and most importantly, WHEN and WHY they should change all those things! And LIGHT! ALLLLLL about light! Most people with a DSLR and 1 or 2 lenses know very little of that stuff.
            As for photo quality from a camera. I agree there’s definitely a difference in the low, medium, and high end. And for SOME images, a camera phone will do an admirable job. But as I said before, if I’m going to bother taking a picture, it’s going to be a picture I want to keep for a LONG time because it matters. And if it matters, I might as well use the right tool for the job.
            I do use my camera phone. But I use it for things like taking a picture of a product in a store and sending it to my wife to see if she wants it (can’t eat gluten or dairy and there are new foods coming out all the time she can try), or a quick picture of my daughter in the car seat to send to her grandmothers. Things like that. Pictures that don’t matter if I immediately trashcan them.

          • Matt Isaacs

            You have clearly missed the point of this article and what others are saying… You are buried so deep in arguing with others you completely missed the point. Too bad you argue without reading first… What does your boss say about you carrying an slr to work everyday? What do girls or boys (no judgement) say about you wearing your slr in bed, have you ever damaged it in the rain, pool, shower, lake. I could go on forever but I know your response will be “SLR BETTER, SLR BETTER, SLR BETTER”. I’m off to the real world. Please read before commenting in the future. p.s. no one actually said a cell phone was better

  • DanielMena9

    I went to watch Ringling Bros and Barnum circus this past weekend, and I was thoroughly SHAMED on how bad the camera on my Sony Xperia Z1 Compact was relative to my guest with an iPhone 5s in low light. In sun, my phone can take gorgeous shots, but from my seats in a dimly lit arena … wow just embarrassing.

    With all the specs almost reaching a plateau my next phone will be based ONLY on camera, battery, and size.

  • Maryncland

    Don’t really care about the camera. Rarely take pictures and I don’t like being in them

  • Chris M

    Could care less about the camera

  • archercc

    I want decent, big thing is low light. All of the bells and whistles (filters and that crap) I never use. I have an SLR for studio quality stuff, so its only really got to have a resolution to support mobile sharing.

  • ROR1997

    It stopped me from getting a GNex.

  • Champion1229

    Everyone is picking on the Moto X…