Budget Smartphones With Cameras to Beat


As smartphone cameras continued to improve in this IG-fixated generation, sales of compact cameras and DSLRs nose-dived, especially since budget smartphones are now fully-featured, camera-wise. GenXers made the camera brand Kodak iconic because these cameras were ubiquitous in “times of your life” moments – something millennials capture fuss-free, cheaply, and vividly; with images stored in the cloud and retrieved from practically anywhere connected.

“…98.4% of the consumer cameras sold in 2016 were built into smartphones – only 0.8% were compacts, 0.5% DSLRs, and 0.2% mirrorless.”

-Sven Skafisk (Photographer as interviewed on Petapixel)


On-cam editing apps, filters, stabilizers, and controls make even the most inexperienced shooter take professional-looking shots that aren’t blurry even when the subject is in motion. Scan and print from your camera – documenting seasons of your life simply. These days, photos create such an impact that diners no longer consult Michelin guides on where to dine but instead scour FB and IG for the place to go to eat “beautiful” food. On the spur moments, travel, and motion shots used to be shot with additional lenses, stands, and light sources – not anymore! And yes, you can make movies without breaking the bank even when you are concerned with the aperture, white balance, exposure, saturation, zoom, and motion stability. Budget ones have most of the best-loved features of the higher-end babies. Of course, all these won’t matter if all you need is decent-face recognition and portrait mode to catch selfie after selfie.

With so many choices and price ranges available in the market, which one is right for you if you aren’t eyeing the ultra expensive iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google’s Pixel 2? Do you really need to spend close to a $1000 when there are affordable models almost 1/3 of the price, with specs that dovetail with your needs?

Let’s take a look at megapixels – obviously higher resolution sensors allow you to print large format photos without pixelating. Thing is, you don’t need that much clarity and it jacks up the price substantially. Another feature that might not be necessary is the presence of dual cameras at the rear or front. This can increase the cost of the smartphone made from the same manufacturer, by a hefty 30%. But for those who love the zoom or telephoto capabilities of a second rear camera, going back to a single back camera dampens creativity and story-telling capabilities.

Before iPhone came out, pricey Carl Zeiss and Leica lenses were the ones to beat. However, in 2017, budget phones on the market snapped photos worthy of the expensive ones. It was no surprise that big names are vying for superiority; Big Brother Samsung and iPhone have basic models, with returning ones like Nokia. Sony and Lenovo/Motorola (Moto) as well as Chinese brands like Huawei and Xiomi making the grade. The one disruptive phone, the Sagus V Squared held so much promise but then again, some promises were meant to be broken.

A few budget smartphones that can happily snap 2018 people, events, and places for you:

  • Honor 8 Pro (Honor 6 is cheaper)
  • iPhone SE
  • Asus Zen Phone 3
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
  • LG C6

Some Tips for Choosing a Camera:

  1. If you don’t plan to print or enlarge photos, choose a camera with low f-stops or wider aperture. This means that the lens can open more to let in more light in low-light situations
  2. Check what the dual rear camera is for;
  3. Check whether the camera is capable of just zooming in or true telephoto.
  4. Check whether the portrait mode can be achieved by tweaking the controls of the cheaper smartphone
  5. Review the video and sound; does it lag and what effects are possible?
  6. Last but not least, check color vividness, sharpness, and contrast. Watch sample videos, look at photo close-ups and read online reviews.

2018 will come out with newer models but when looking for a smartphone with a good camera, you don’t need to wait for one that is cutting-edge. One that feels good in your hands, have no glitches, and priced right will keep you happy on a budget.