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Best camera phone for snapping holiday photos (2014)

Which smartphone has the best camera for taking great holiday photos? We compare the LG G3, Sony Xperia Z2, Nokia Lumia 1020 and Apple iPhone 5s to see which makes the best holiday cameraphone.

Back in the day, we used to lug Polaroid cameras big enough to crush a Labrador away on holiday. Now, all the camera tech we need is packed into our smartphones, with the latest flagship mobiles capable of amazing scenic pics, not to mention sly shots of that buff Italian waiter…

Best camera on a smartphone for taking holiday photos in 2014

We took four of the very best cameraphones all the way to the Outer Hebrides, to find out which is the ultimate holiday snapper. These were:

The Sony Xperia Z2 – a 5.2-inch Android phone with a brilliant Auto camera mode, for quick no-fuss photos.

The LG G3 – the latest Android smartphone, with an amazingly fast laser-focus 13-megapixel camera.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 – A Windows Phone handset packing a whopping 41-megapixel shooter, with a brilliant manual mode.

The Apple iPhone 5s – One of the simplest cameras to be found on a phone, just point and tap.

Time for a sexy comparison review…

Best Camera Phone 2014: Ease of use

As a bonus intro round, we decided to compare how easy each camera phone was to use. After all, when you’re on your hols, you just want to point and tap.

The LG G3 and Apple iPhone 5s are both beautifully simple with stripped-down interfaces, and lenses that focus and snap pretty much instantly. The Sony Xperia Z2 is also great for amateur photographers, taking a very short time to focus. All three cameras tend to capture brilliant photos on auto mode, with the lenses adjusting well to different lighting conditions.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 by far has the slowest focus, taking over a second or two in most cases to lock onto your subject. However, it does have the best manual mode here, thanks to the Nokia Camera app, which allows you to quickly tweak the ISO level, contrast and so on.

If you want a simple camera, we’d recommend the LG G3 or iPhone 5s. If you prefer more control, the Lumia 1020 is your best bet.

Best Camera Phone 2014: Landscapes

If you’re off to somewhere picturesque, you’ll want a snapper that takes amazing scenic pics. We tested all four camera phones in a variety of landscapes to see which produced the most atmospheric and detailed photos.

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

LG G3

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Apple iPhone 5s

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Nokia Lumia 1020

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Sony Xperia Z2

All four phones took great landscape shots, with sharp visuals that look great even on a massive telly, but the Nokia Lumia 1020 just about edges out the competition overall, thanks to its supreme levels of detail and vibrant output. That said, the LG G3, iPhone 5s and Sony Xperia Z2 produced realistic images that were crisp and beautiful, no matter what we were snapping.

Best Camera Phone 2014 we review and compare the Xperia Z2 Lumia 1020 iPhone 5s and LG G3

LG G3

Best Camera Phone 2014: comparison review

Apple iPhone 5s

Best Camera Phone 2014: comparison review

Nokia Lumia 1020

Best Camera Phone 2014: comparison review

Sony Xperia Z2

Best Camera Phone 2014: Macro shots

If you like getting up close and personal with fauna or wildlife on your trips, or taking shots of the delicious food before stuffing it into your gullet, it’s important to have a camera phone that takes good macro shots.

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

LG G3

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Apple iPhone 5s

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Nokia Lumia 1020

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Sony Xperia Z2

The Nokia Lumia 1020 really struggled to focus on our flowers and food, even when we manually tapped on the damn things, leading to many blurry shots and much gnashing of teeth. We eventually had to back off a bit, and the resulting images were certainly vibrant, although colours appear more realistic with the other camera phones here.

We were particularly impressed with the Xperia Z2’s macro shots, as it produced very crisp images with zero effort, and plenty of attractive bokeh (background blurring).

Best Camera Phone 2014: Selfies

 

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

LG G3

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Apple iPhone 5s

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Nokia Lumia 1020

Best Camera Phone 2014 review comparison

Sony Xperia Z2

The LG G3 came top in our selfie test, taking a bright and lifelike image, at a wide enough angle to get a few mates in if needed. Taking snaps is easy too, thanks to the sexy fist-pump shutter activation. Just clench a fist in view of the camera and it activates a quick countdown timer, then takes a shot – much better than fiddling with awkward buttons.

The Lumia 1020 came bottom of the pile, with a dull and lifeless selfie that really disappointed.

Best Camera Phone 2014: Special Features

The LG G3 and Sony Xperia Z2 can both film video in 4k and slow motion, with impressive results, while the iPhone 5s can handle slow motion, which can be added retrospectively. All four phones produce sharp video that’s more than fine for holiday footage.

All four phones have extra modes that can be played around with, including a panorama mode for shooting particularly gorgeous landscapes. However, while the iPhone 5s pretty much ends there, the other phones have a good few bonus modes.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has extendable ‘lenses’ which add all kinds of funky features, such as the ability to remove photo bombers and stick together quick-succession shots into a single montage. The G3 has a couple of extra modes, including Dual Shot, which takes a snap with front and back cameras at once – one way to shoot yourself and the family without resorting to a selfie. And the Xperia Z2 offers ways to stream your hols to social media, or grab info on sights using the hit-and-miss Info Eye.

Best Camera Phone 2014: Verdict

All four cameras here really deliver, but for pure simplicity you can’t beat the LG G3 and Apple iPhone 5s. The G3 for us is the best all-rounder, thanks to the incredibly fast auto-focus and pin-sharp results, combined with a smart and sharp selfie cam.

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