x PhoneArena is hiring! Reviewer in the USA
  • Hidden picShow menu
  • Home
  • News
  • These are the smartphones with the largest camera sensors on the planet

These are the smartphones with the largest camera sensors on the planet

These are the smartphones with the largest camera sensors on the planet
What makes a great smartphone camera? Whether we want to admit it or not, the vast majority of consumers, who have little technical background, have been led to believe that a higher pixel count equates with better image quality. The reasons for this are many, but let's just say that manufacturers did us no favors by marketing megapixel counts as heavily (and pretty much exclusively). Ostensibly, a higher megapixel count does introduce advantages, but diminishing returns kick in real fast. That is, a 5-megapixel image is more than large enough for a clear print on an A4 paper, and certainly sufficient for sharing on social media. More than that should not necessarily be considered an advantage.

So why is that? It's not that hard to grasp, actually. When you cram as many pixels on a relatively small sensor, that comes at the expense of pixel size, which is a pretty important consideration when talking image quality. Indeed, the smaller the pixel, the less accurately it can measure light bouncing off of it, and thus the more noisy and less clear the picture is. That's why, all things being equal, smartphones with larger sensors are better suited for shooting in darkness. Again, cramming as many pixels as possible in a smartphone may be a good way to advertise and sell a device, but not necessarily a prelude to better quality.

This is not to say that smaller pixels don't have their own set of advantages, but in the current climate, those are usually the result of manufacturers feeling pressured to increasingly add in more and more megapixels to their flagships while continuously cutting down on the thickness of a device (which tends to be impossible if you go for a large sensor, which, in turn, requires larger optics). This isn't limited to just cameras, and is plainly visible in other areas, such as the processor and display resolution. 

So which are the smartphones that offer the largest camera sensors? We've got the answer, so jump right into the slideshow below.

* Arranged in ascending order!


55 Comments
  • Options
    Close




posted on 12 Jan 2015, 08:56 1

1. Aliagha (Posts: 42; Member since: 07 Jan 2015)


Why s3 but not s4

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:01 4

2. Chris.P (Posts: 519; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


The S4 has a smaller sensor than the S3.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:11 5

6. kkmkk (Posts: 447; Member since: 06 May 2013)


this really shocked me

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:25 9

10. Chris.P (Posts: 519; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


@Aliagha,

After you brought this up, we actually ended up investigating this. Turns out, our specifications are wrong, and the GS3's sensor size is 1/3.2", which is why we have since removed it from the list.

Apologies for the confusion! :)

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 11:18 14

22. f35hunter (Posts: 231; Member since: 12 Dec 2013)


You forgot the nokia N8 which has a 12MP 1/1.83 sensor

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 11:29

23. Aliagha (Posts: 42; Member since: 07 Jan 2015)


Thank you for your kindness bro

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 10:04

48. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 1981; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


Is the lg G4 have a small sensor too?

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 10:48 4

19. Desmortibus (Posts: 66; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)


Why do you say that the Panasonic Lumix CM! does NOT have optical zoom when, in fact it does... and it does it superbly ?!..... I know, I have been using mine for more than two months with absolute satisfaction....

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:08

42. mixedfish (Posts: 1144; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)


Good purchase man

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:20

44. StuiWooi (Posts: 61; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)


It's not just them that says that, panasonic themselves state as such which has put me off purchasing.

I'd link you to their specs as proof but I'm apparently not allowed to post links.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:25 1

45. waddup121 (unregistered)


Sensor is love Sensor is life

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:03

3. Felix_Gatto (Posts: 894; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)


Ahh... They must be forgot Vertu Aster with that Hasselblad camera, I'm sure that Vertu fitted a large sensor to that phone.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 14:02 2

26. torr310 (Posts: 769; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


The King emerges: Panasonic Lumix CM1, 1"

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:06

4. Felix_Gatto (Posts: 894; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)


l can't imagine if someday smartphones would have an APS-C or even Full Frame sensors.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:43 1

13. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Have you ever seen an APS-C sensor in real life yet? It's too god damn huge to fit in any phone, my CSC has one and its 35.7mm thick, even with a fast, prime small lens it barely can fit a pocket.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:47 1

14. Felix_Gatto (Posts: 894; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)


Everything's possible, maybe someday Samsung will make a DSLR camera phone.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:53

16. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


They already have the Galaxy NX mirrorless with APS-C sensor, while it's not a phone it runs on Android.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:10 9

5. Deaconclgi (Posts: 405; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


The Nokia N8 has a 1/1.8 sensor and should be on the list.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:12 5

7. Felix_Gatto (Posts: 894; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)


I don't think it's a smartphone in today's standard.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 10:50 6

20. amasog (Posts: 338; Member since: 22 Aug 2013)


what standard are you talking about? can you teel me some, or better yet, give me the link of the standard you are talking about?

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 20:10 1

30. iushnt (Posts: 1481; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)


5 year old smartphones are generally considered feature phones in today's context..In today's standard, N8 cannot cope up wih many useful apps. Moreover, M8's OS doesnt 'suppor apps of today's standard. And without apps, a phone is not a smartphpone.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 22:14 5

32. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


If the 808 PureView is on the list then the N8 should be. Same OS, same app store, just bigger camera and better components. Symbian in-the-raw is more capable than Android, even lollipop. It just lacks newer apps and modern hardware.

They're still more capable than IOS devices. Heck, the iphones only recently became considered smartphones instead of feature phones with a wide app store, though I don't remember what the catalyst for that was.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 08:55

40. SIGPRO (Posts: 1284; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Totally agree with -box-

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:15

8. teenaxta (Posts: 42; Member since: 10 Sep 2014)


waiting for lumia1020's successor ?????

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:18

9. Symon_Fleece (Posts: 334; Member since: 30 May 2014)


panasonic beat both 1020 and 808, but i doesn't have xenon flash

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 22:06 1

31. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Also doesn't offer the same megapixel capacity as the Nokias. I'm looking forward to real world comparison between the Panasonic and 1020.

posted on 13 Jan 2015, 00:18 2

33. Booza (Posts: 15; Member since: 19 Dec 2014)


Less megapixel = better

posted on 23 Feb 2016, 18:45

53. Plutonium239 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 17 Mar 2015)


Not necessarily, more megapixel = more details. However, more megapixel is more vulnerable to motion blur. Also, the 1020's ability to focus could have been better, if it was, I would still be using it over my Lumia 950.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 11:40

50. sergiobr (Posts: 690; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


http://smartcam.club/ There you can see G4 and S6 close to all them

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:30 6

11. SIGPRO (Posts: 1284; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Again PA do some research! You forgot the Nokia N8 12MP, 4000 x 3000 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash, 1/1.83'' sensor size!
The old N8 still takes better pictures than some newer phones!

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:35

12. Felix_Gatto (Posts: 894; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)


I bet you didn't read comment #7

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 10:44 4

18. SIGPRO (Posts: 1284; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Yes i saw your comment, but then they should say smartphones with today's standard!
Because the N8 is a smartphone :)

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 12:03 3

24. Deaconclgi (Posts: 405; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Comment 7 is your opinion. This article is about smarphones with the largest camera sensors, not about what your opinion of what a smartphone is. With what you are saying, you could conclude that the 808 PureView doesn't need to be on this list as the N8 and 808 have the same OS and OS features.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 09:51

15. cgraham8 (Posts: 9; Member since: 03 Oct 2013)


I would love to see a camera shoot out between all of these!

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 10:33

17. rsiders (Posts: 830; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


And all over again I miss my Lumia 1020. Sony has not given me the manual controls I'm accustomed to even though I'm able to get some great shots with it. I really need an Android dev to give us a knockout app more on the aesthetic and functional level of a Proshot or Nokia Camera from Windows Phone. Here's hoping the Lollipop update will be enough to make Camera FV -5 more to my liking.

posted on 13 Jan 2015, 18:25

36. bur60 (Posts: 821; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)


I know exactly what you mean. I have had the Z1 Z2 and now Z3 compact (got them for free via insurance because I sadly always had issues with waterdamage, z3 not fyi), The Sony camera app is nice for camera noobs, and Camera FV-5 does offer quite a few things, but it can't override things because the phone doesn't allow it. I never had a 1020, but i did play with it and I loved the controls they offer!

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 11:04

21. isprobi (Posts: 604; Member since: 30 May 2011)


If the Nokia 1020 ran Android I probably would have bought it instead of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. I am not an Android fanatic but WP seems to lack web browser choice and apps that are important to me like AT&T Mobile TV or at least Fox News.

posted on 23 Feb 2016, 18:48

54. Plutonium239 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 17 Mar 2015)


The 1020 didn't lack web browser choice, some third party browsers are available, also android would lag on the 1020, its processor was too weak for the sensor.

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 13:55

25. Jorgemerino97 (Posts: 53; Member since: 05 Apr 2014)


And where is the Xperia Z/ZL?

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 15:09 2

28. mildorzalost (Posts: 140; Member since: 03 Jun 2014)


A lot of nokia here ;)

posted on 12 Jan 2015, 15:16

29. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 1981; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


Sony never made it..

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:10

43. mixedfish (Posts: 1144; Member since: 17 Nov 2013)


Clearly you didn't see pic #13

posted on 13 Jan 2015, 04:50

34. Bogdan86 (Posts: 48; Member since: 06 Oct 2014)


i think that Z2 prove that bigger sensor does NOT mean better pictures.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:04

41. hound.master (Posts: 1044; Member since: 27 Feb 2015)


I think Z series proved that their cameras suck!

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 11:13

49. Jorgemerino97 (Posts: 53; Member since: 05 Apr 2014)


It's all about the processing...

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 19:38

52. BaffledTruffle (Posts: 505; Member since: 07 Dec 2013)


Half of it is the processing. You can't call a phone with fine processing for a 4 MP camera great if everyone else is improving their 20+ MP-ed, wide-apertured, huge-sensored with 3-axis OIS cameras.

posted on 13 Jan 2015, 06:37 3

35. sbw44 (Posts: 433; Member since: 04 Dec 2012)


The fact that the Nokia N8 isnt on the list shows the credibility of this site! It has a bloody xenon flash which most of the phones on this list doesn't have.

Plus a 1/1.83" sensor that would wipe the floor with these droids!

Looks to me PA couldn't wait to show this list cause a android is 1st but guess what? Both the 1020 and 808 wiuld beat the lumix! Because it has way more pixels to do their oversampling magic!

posted on 23 Feb 2016, 18:49

55. Plutonium239 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 17 Mar 2015)


The 1020's sometimes makes colors pop too much and the 808 was much too dull. Its better to use the 1020 to take raw images and process them yourself.

posted on 14 Jan 2015, 13:45

37. ThePhenomenalOne (Posts: 6; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


No Nokia N8 :(

posted on 15 Jan 2015, 10:40

38. charlesxph (Posts: 34; Member since: 04 Jan 2015)


PA did put to note the list includes recently released smartphones and given N808 PV is on there, no need to put N8.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:27

46. rsiders (Posts: 830; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


But when the Lumia 1020 successor arrives, it's all over from there. But the 1020 was and still is by far the best phone for photography I've used despite its slow shot to shot time and color temperature issues. I miss it dearly.

posted on 23 Feb 2016, 18:50

56. Plutonium239 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 17 Mar 2015)


Microsoft has stated that there will be no 1020 successor, unfortunately.

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 09:29 2

47. yoosufmuneer (Posts: 1455; Member since: 14 Feb 2015)


Lumix CM1 is a killer for sure. 1" Sensors on Smartphones would be perfect. Same size as RX100 MKIII. A 16 MP + f/1.8+ 1" Sensor + OIS = Great Smartphone camera

posted on 26 Jun 2015, 12:45

51. Osama99 (Posts: 38; Member since: 14 Nov 2014)


G4 HAS 1/2.6".

posted on 09 Apr 2016, 03:56

57. Abubakr916 (Posts: 1; Member since: 09 Apr 2016)


please someone tell me, i am doing a project that need a smartphone whose camera is equipped with CMOS sensor, kindly tell me names of few, it will be very helpful

Want to comment? Please login or register.

Latest stories