Phones with fastest cameras (2016 edition)


It's astounding how quickly our phones have become our main camera, and it is even more impressive the way these new cameras are used to record everything in our life: from a traditional portrait, to that thing you liked in the mall, to your lectures and all in between.

And more and more, we're taking pictures spontaneously, not as a memory, but as a means of communication: we often use pictures instead of words, and you need to look no further than Snapchat to see a proof.

That is why in a modern phone we value not only the quality of the pictures, but also the sheer speed of the camera. Being able to capture that one moment in a split second is empowering, and it could make all the difference. Luckily, smartphone makers have caught up with these elevated demands by the users and this year, in 2016, we are seeing phones that have the fastest and the best cameras so far. We at PhoneArena have developed a simple way to test the speed of a camera by simply capturing an image multiple times to get an average score, and see objectively which phone has the fastest camera. Take a look at the results right below.

The time needed to start the camera app, focus, take a pic and save it.

sec Lower is better
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
1.33
Apple iPhone 7
1.13
Apple iPhone SE
2.2
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
1.5
Samsung Galaxy S7
1.5
Google Pixel XL
1.9
Google Pixel
1.1
LG V20
1.5
LG G5
2.2
Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition
1.7
Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition
1.3
OnePlus 3
1.7
HTC 10
2.4
Sony Xperia XZ
1.7
Huawei P9
2.7
Xiaomi Mi 5
2.9

It's remarkable that we have such a tight race: the Google Pixel and Apple iPhone 7 win it, but even the runner-ups in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG's V20 are fairly close.

However, we also wanted to see the larger picture: how do the fastest phone cameras in 2016 compare against the fastest phone cameras from last year? Is there any tangible improvement?

The answer is a resounding yes. The top performers from 2016, with their 1.1-second scores are way faster than last year's champions in the form of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus that scored 1.6 seconds and more. Moreover, camera speed improvements seem to have come to all major phones in 2016. And this is simply great news for consumers.

The time needed to start the camera app, focus, take a pic and save it.

sec Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
1.6
Apple iPhone 6s
1.7
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
2.1
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
2.3
Samsung Galaxy S6
2.2
LG V10
2.7
LG G4
2.7
HTC One M9
3.75
HTC One A9
3.1
Google Nexus 6P
2.2
Google Nexus 5X
2.8
OnePlus 2
3.7
OnePlus X
2
Huawei P8
3.1
Sony Xperia Z5
3

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21 Comments

1. SIGPRO

Posts: 2813; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Fastest doesn't mean the best, btw the iphone does not have native HDR.....you wil need an app.....

3. AmashAziz

Posts: 2893; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Really?? Nice try......

7. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

So you believe this claim of S7 clocking in at 1.5 sec? Really? No way. Dual Pixel AF is better than that.

9. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Focusing faster is one thing but processing and saving the picture takes most of the time. Most of the time is taken for saving the file. S7 and S7 edge have slower sequential write speeds than most of the phones here, hence are slower.

12. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

I'm well aware that sequential write speed plays a big role in this test. Yet, I still can't believe the iPhone 7 clocked in at 1.1 sec. That's ridiculously fast.

13. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

That result is fake iPhone 7 and 7 plus should complete in exactly the same time. If anything, the 7 plus should be faster due to better thermals..

20. zenun12

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 31, 2016

It also depends on what version of the iPhone 7/7Plus they used since there was the news about how 32 GB iPhone 7's had slower write speed compared to higher end versions.

21. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Yes, but i don't think PA is stupid enough to test two different storage variants. Who am I kidding, they are.

2. jove39

Posts: 2143; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Please sort data in ascending order...this arbitrary placement of data/devices is annoying to look/read.

4. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

If the iPhone doesn't take the top stop, they are legally required (by their advertising overlords) to sort it randomly so they can put the iPhone at the top anyway for more exposure.

6. Bankz

Posts: 2514; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Lol, I just noticed this too.. Looool LMAO PA. Such an embarrassment tbh

5. Bankz

Posts: 2514; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Long live the PIXEL, MOTO Z, and IP7...

8. Modest_Moze

Posts: 184; Member since: Mar 23, 2015

Wait, wait, wait.... Why do we need this? I think that 1-2% of people really need to shoot fast and others just shoot what they like and take some time.

10. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

because fast shooter mean everything.... even 0.01s mean alot... and who need great camera quality when you have blazing fast camera speed.... /s (btw, pixel have great camera and great capture speed... even with that huge sensor... well done google...)

11. jimjam unregistered

So the pixel and pixel xl with identical hardware apart from screen size have vastly different scores?!

22. vincelongman

Posts: 5653; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yea their Pixel results dont make sense Also the Pixels always take "lite" HDR+ shots in its default HDR Auto mode "lite" HDR+ are similar to other phone's HDR shots (and different from shots take with its HDR+ On mode) For regular shots, they have to open the camera app, set it to HDR Off, then take the shot So the Pixel's HDR time actually should be slower than its regular time

14. Lauticol

Posts: 404; Member since: Jun 25, 2011

It would be nice to know the time needed to take a pic from screen-off. Most androids have some type of gesture (double press some key) to launch it quickly and its really handy.

15. SailfishOS

Posts: 108; Member since: Nov 06, 2016

SONY Xperia has a 22 mpix camera and clocks 1.7? Thats the best among all those then.

16. sachouba

Posts: 264; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

You have only forgotten ONE thing : Almost all smartphones but the iPhone have a hardware shortcut to open the camera very fast, in real life (on top of being way more convenient). I can't wait for next year's WWDC, when Apple will invent a new way to launch the camera thanks to a double tap on the lock button.

17. chenski

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Picture quality is much more important than speed

19. tomskytot

Posts: 37; Member since: May 10, 2014

I think I saw an article where are some phones that has physical shutter buttons that when pressed shoots pictures and saves it before it actually opens the view finder.. I just can't find where.. does that count?

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