Nov 22 AT 1:12 PM Nick Gray 12 Comments

Building the perfect Nexus: camera


As you might imagine, we couldn’t do a series on the perfect Nexus phone without talking about the camera. Camera technology on smartphones has come a long way since the HTC-made T-Mobile G1 hit the market. Digital imaging sensors have shrunk while boosting the number of pixels they are able to capture. There’s no arguing that the technology has improved every single year, but do we really need 13 or 20 megapixel images?¬†For me, a phone’s camera is the most important feature. Not because I’m a photography snob and want to show off how great my pictures are on Instagram, but because I want to capture a moment.

There is an argument that you should just get a DSLR if you want a good digital camera. That argument annoys the crap out of me. I do own multiple “real” cameras (it doesn’t hurt that my wife is a professional photographer) and we take them with us on family outings or to events. When we know we want a good picture, we plan for it. The problem is, it’s extremely impractical to carry a DSLR with you all the time.

While the megapixel race is still on, some manufacturers are looking at different options when it comes to improving the camera experience on Android phones. HTC actually took a step in the opposite direction, reducing the megapixel count on its flagship HTC One, dramatically increasing the amount of light each pixel is able to absorb. HTC definitely get credit for thinking outside the box, but the phone didn’t get the response HTC was hoping for because the smaller images were not as crisp as those produced by the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the LG G2 despite the fact that the phone has superior low light performance.

Do you think the perfect Nexus phone camera should be a leader in the megapixel race or champion unique image capture approaches?

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • bdub

    A good solid lens backed up by proper software… built in to the nexus experience is what i’d like to see. But I also understand the need to cut corners here and there for cost…

    • clocinnorcal

      Exactly! I would prefer not to spend the same amount as any other new flagship device. If the camera has to be nominal than so be it. For what it’s worth, the Nexus 4 had a decent shooter in nicely lit situations. I am finding my Nexus 5 has superior low light pictures but it is slow to focus and often slow to snap the picture (in low light).

  • Elise Hines

    The Nexus experience is not about having a top-of-the-line camera. What Google could do, and probably should do, is work on making the software better for the existing camera first. I installed the Camera Awesome app when it became available for the Nexus 5, and it fixed the vast majority of problems I had with the device’s camera (INCLUDING THE SLOW FOCUS ISSUE), which means that the SOFTWARE is the culprit.

    I think Google should prioritize battery size over camera hardware moving forward, but work harder to refine the camera software. More megapixels doesn’t make for a better picture. The software and hardware working together properly does.

  • thymeless

    Those aren’t the right poll choices for a nexus device. Neither is about quality or performance necessarily.

    No need to lead in high pixel count, medium-high is enough. A good sensor and lens are the more important features, particularly in a mid market price point.

    The camera apps in the market can add special software. Remember, the Nexus is about basic Android

  • Nathan D.

    Bigger sensor please!

    • donger

      Hell yeah.

  • Bradley R

    My NEXUS 5 was in my soft arm pocket (ACU) between a flat 12 page book and the lens glass shattered. LG repair said it failed from impact but since there was no impact or stress, it can only be from a material or processing failure. The cracking happened between showing several folks my phone. They have decided not to buy one just from the demonstration.

  • SGB101

    Just click when I click!

  • jamal adam

    Probably one of the biggest issues for a Nexus smartphone. We have seen that the mexapixel race isn’t really worth it and doesn’t matter as much. I feel that what we need is a sensor that is capable of delivering amazing photos and video and one that also shines when it comes to the software and features. For example, HTC went a different route and was able to deliver some great low light photos and the software was amazing especially the burst mode and Zoe and highlights, the only problem was the fact it was only 4 ultrapixels.

  • klcow92

    Maybe we’ll get to see some lytro style lenses in the future, shoot now, focus later :)

  • Mario Junior

    Soon, they will ask for help will Nokia / MS to get put a decent camera in the Nexus.

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