The camera is one of the most decisive specifications when deciding to buy a mobile, and finally, the brands seem to have abandoned the unexplained race to be the one that more megapixels gets embedded in a sensor and have opted to bet more on the quality of these sensors.
In that sense, it is not surprising that the sensors of some smartphones presented in 2018 include the sensors of their predecessors of 2017, but adding some improvements in the processing of the images. This is the case of the Samsung Galaxy S8 which, in essence, shares the same sensor as the Galaxy S7 Edge, but added some improvements that make a difference.
One of the fire tests that reveal the quality of a photographic sensor is its behavior in scenes in low light. In this type of scene, the lack of sharpness, the presence of chromatic and luminous aberrations, reflections and flashes, but above all the presence of noise in the image, reveal when we are before a camera of good quality.
To try to find out which are the best camera phones for night photography or in low light, we have created a list of the 10 smartphones with the best cameras for photography in low light.
In them, as it could not be otherwise, we found some of the best high-end smartphones of 2018, but also some pleasant surprises such as Aquaris X Pro BQ, which goes a step further in the development of its photographic features offering a smartphone very well equipped for this type of photography in low light.
So, let’s discover which are the best camera phones for low-light photography starting with the model with the most expensive price and ending with the most affordable of this selection.
1. Apple iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus is, for the moment, the first and only iPhone to incorporate double rear camera of 12-megapixels and, although the objective of this double camera is not to improve the capture of light, as it happens in other models equipped with this technology, the fact is that it behaves brilliantly before scenes with low light and night photography.
The sensor chosen by Apple for its iPhone 7 Plus is capable of making captures with really low ISO values even in the most complicated light conditions, although, interestingly, for this does not make use of the telephoto lens that, as we have already mentioned, does not influence the enhancement of the light capture of the camera of the iPhone 7 Plus.
2. Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung has taken a continual way of maintaining the 12-megapixel sensor with Dual Pixel technology, aperture f/1.7 and an optical image stabilizer that gave such good results in the Galaxy S7 Edge, but not so in the processing that the smartphone makes the captured photos.
If in full daylight the results obtained with the camera of the Galaxy S8 are simply spectacular, when night comes the performance does not decay getting night shots of very good quality.
In night photography it is usual to have to deal with reflections and flashes of light that some models solve more effectively than others. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S8, despite achieving night shots with very little noise, and with great sharpness, fails to control some aberrations that produce intense light reflections creating lights that are not actually in the photo.
However, the brilliant performance that the camera of this smartphone shows in other scenes in low light makes it worthy of one of the highest positions in our selection of mobile phones with the best camera for night photography.
3. HTC U11
Although the Taiwanese brand HTC has not especially highlighted the performance of the cameras of its smartphones, in this model they have put great hopes to make a gap between the smartphones with the best camera of 2017.
For its new flagship, HTC has opted for a sensor of 12-megapixels with a size of 1.4μm and an aperture of f/1.7 in its rear camera that is endorsed by the 90 points that the experts of DxOMark have awarded in its ranking, while the front camera features a 16-megapixel sensor with UltraPixel technology and f/2.0 aperture.
In conditions of poor lighting, which are the most we take into account when making this selection of 5 smartphones with the best cameras for low-light photography, HTC has opted for an effective automatic adjustment that shows the details very clearly thanks to its automatic focus and the HDR Boost system, although it sacrifices part of the quality giving some noise to the images.
Of course, the camera of the HTC U11 has a manual mode with which you can adjust the settings to take the photo at your discretion. But, according to its price, we place it right in the middle of our selection of mobile phones with the best camera for low-light photography.
4. Sony Xperia XZ
Sony remains true to its commitment to the camera with which it has equipped its Xperia XZ and, in fact, has not improved the sensor 23-megapixels with aperture f/2.0 and angular 24mm that already mounted on previous models.
In what has been improved is the incorporation of various improvements that contribute to increase the quality of the photos you take with this device, among which is a new layer of the sensor with which it improves the white balance of the scene. This is of great importance when taking photos in low light as a correct white balance contributes to show the colors more accurately.
However, the large size of its sensor seems to play against it when taking night or low-light shots with the Sony Xperia XZ because there is no large aperture or optical stabilization, hence, night images tend to show noise and lose sharpness, little that the conditions of light stop being the ideal ones.
A clear example is that the camera of a high-end mobile should be required much more than a handful of megapixels. But, still it is a good option for taking photos in low light.
5. Aquaris X Pro
We close our list with what is indisputably the most affordable among all the smartphone in our selection of mobile phones with the best camera for low-light photography: Aquaris X Pro
BQ has been betting heavily on photography and the truth is that they are doing very well. It has already demonstrated with the quality of image offered by its previous flagship, the Aquaris X5 Plus and demonstrates again with its new Aquaris X Pro that is positioned as one of the 5 smartphones with the best cameras for low-light photography.
This time they have opted for a Samsung 2L7 sensor, with features equivalent to the one that the Samsung Galaxy S7 mounts, specifically oriented to night photography or in conditions of low luminosity with which great results are obtained thanks to the combination of the 12-megapixels with 1.4μm size, Dual Pixel technology, and a f/1.8 focal aperture.
We are faced with a smartphone that performs an excellent job in the processing of images in low light or night, and with which you can get quite good results thanks to the optimization of resources by both the hardware and the software.
In its new Aquaris X Pro, BQ has implemented significant improvements in light capture, such as that achieved by Dual PhotoDiode (Dual PD) phase detection approach technology with which all pixels function as phase detectors, offering greater stability of focus and sharpness in night shots; or ZSL (Zero Shutter Lag) technology with which you can take 10 images before you press the shutter button, at the time of shooting and thanks to Multi-Image Processing technology, select the 6 best photos and automatically merge them into a single final shot.
Another of the strengths of the new flagship of BQ we find in its renewed camera app in which BQ applies a post-processed more intense to the photographs in scenes of low light or nocturnes to avoid the appearance of noise.
6. Moto G (3rd Generation)
It is true that we can found really interesting advances in the new Moto G (3rd Generation). However, this has been achieved by the inclusion of a camera with a 13-megapixel sensor (a Sony IMX214 with f/2.0) that offers results far superior to those that at the time offered the Motorola Moto G 2nd Generation and, not only even this is also true for the front camera as well which is of 5MP.
The truth is that with a good luminosity the photos do not generate a lot of noise and, although in many of them the tendency to lower the tonality is clear, it must be said that the improvement is evident and both colours and light are now managed better. Also, the focus speed is really high, a lot. Therefore, it must be said that the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation has taken a very important step here.
When the light is not the best possible, there is also a considerable advance in this Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation, as now the representation of the colours is better and a good dynamic range is used.
Apart, it is appreciated with the dual flash on the back that convinced us enough. It is true that if the zoom is abused the grain appears clearly, but this is something that is not strange in a mid-range model. Obviously, it does not lack the option to use HDR mode.
7. Samsung Galaxy S7
The camera of the Galaxy S7 is receiving excellent comments around the world, often dismissed as the best camera in the mobile market at the time. Hence, we have decided to help to better understand this topic, and for this, we have done a more in-depth analysis.
In Samsung Galaxy S7 we tested both the photo and the video, analyzing the front camera and the rear camera, both in scenes with light and in the darkest and we found it is really awesome. We also see the difference when using flash, HDR, macro, stabilizer, pan, slow motion, 4K and more. Hence, we must recognize that Samsung is growing a lot, both in experience and resources.
So, you can share your experience in the comment section below with the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S7, as we will always keep them in mind in all the analysis of cameras that we publish in the future.
8. Honor 9 Dual Camera
The Huawei already integrated the double camera in the last edition of Honor, but this is the first time that they have made the bet of their cousins with one of the monochrome sensors. What we have specifically in the Honor 9 are two sensors, one is 20 and another one is 12-megapixels, the monochrome being the first, which also give the option to 2x hybrid zoom.
As I always like to count the use of the camera, shelling both the result of the set of lenses and processed and the options that the app gives, and in this case it will not be an exception, much less because the Huawei (which is the one that incorporates Honors in a native way) is one of the most options. So, let’s first see what possibilities Honor 9 offers and in what lenses.
Moreover, if you will open the camera app then you can see that the camera comes by default-adjusted to 112-megapixel resolution, so if we want to start with the 20, mute the shutter sound or add grid among other things we will have to go first to the settings. And this adjustment of the resolution will convince us to remember it to make use of the options of the app.
In general, the backs of the Honor 9 gives amazing results, standing out in scenes with medium-high or medium lighting and if we resort to macros. With plentiful light and scenes of the general plan, we have some photographs with a realistic colour and good dose of detail, with a good behaviour of the approach. Now, if we talk about the low light photography then let me tell you that Honor 9 really performs well in lowlight scenes and indoors as well.
9. Apple iPhone X
The rear and the front camera, like all of them, responds well with abundant light. Edges and colors well saved with something more difficult in the shade or if the light is too intense and abundant, and in well-lit interiors, it defends well.
The decompensation of the display appears especially when you look for it, that is when we have a lot of contrast between different areas of the photograph (that is, a very illuminated area with another one in the shade or less illuminated). Here our faithful and necessary friend will be the HDR, which will balance the exposure as far as possible, saving the background (wall or light) in shaded pictures or with a less direct dose of solar lumens.
While now if we talk about the lowlight photography then let me tell you that the tech giant Apple’s flagship smartphone, of course, iPhone X really gives good satisfactory results, so, if your budget is high and you are planning to buy iPhone X for lowlight photography then yes, you can go for it without any hesitation.
10. Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The part of the technical sheet of the camera of high-end smartphones is getting complicated at times. From the single sensor camera with just data from its megapixels we have passed to several sensors, different apertures, several focus modes, angular systems or with a monochromatic sensor and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera is a perfect example of all these.
Huawei Mate 10 repeats ideas about the camera: alliance with Leica, the double sensor (one of them monochrome) and a quite complete interface, with very accessible manual controls. All this is greatly enhanced with systems that allow more light to reach the sensor, the work of the processor to identify images, and a portrait mode that almost manages to eclipse the black and white mode that we liked to talk about so far in the cameras of high-end Huawei devices.
The operation of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera is very fast, instantaneous. We have noticed it especially in the focus, accurate even in low light scenes. The shot, the change between modes, the digital zoom everything goes smoothly in terms of speed.
Apart from speed we also have good news in the final results. The camera decides at all times, in automatic mode, which scene it has identified and applies improvements to the image in order to get the most correct picture in each situation. In most cases it is correct and it is one of the cameras where the best photo is assured by just pointing and shooting.
The detail in scenes with good light is maintained, and the 20 MP of the monochromatic sensor is especially appreciated because it is precisely in this type of photography where the textures can make a difference.
The second sensor is RGB and offers the standard resolution: 12-megapixels. Here we can not hurry so much in the detail but it fulfils well. Its brightness f1.6 and OIS stabilization are key in scenes with low light, so, yes, if you are planning to buy this phone for lowlight photography then you can blindly go for it.
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