It’s no exaggeration to say Instagram has changed the world.
From quenching wanderlust to making everyone a roving reporter, this Facebook-owned photography platform dominates social media nowadays – even more than its parent brand.
However, to compile a follower-friendly timeline or upload unforgettable stories, you need a good smartphone camera.
And while manufacturers are quick to boast about megapixels and aperture widths (affecting the amount of light reaching the lens), translating jargon into real-world results is tricky.
The old adage ‘size isn’t everything’ is especially true when it comes to pixel quantities, or the number of lenses adorning a particular handset.
To simplify your decision, we’ve produced a guide to which devices have the technical attributes required to assemble a compelling portfolio of smartphone photography…
Smartphone photography champions 2018
Huawei P20 Pro
Pros: Three rear cameras, separate 24MP selfie-cam
Cons: Expensive for an unfamiliar brand
Summary: The all-new Mate 20 Pro is due for release any day, but the Huawei P20 Pro remains a great option for budding David Baileys.
Photographs are compiled from a dedicated colour camera, another lens using black and white imagery, and a third taking care of optical zoom.
The end result is a handset capable of capturing dynamic smartphone photography even in low lighting or from a distance, with minimal noise.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Pros: Cleverly adapts in response to ambient light levels, remarkably wide aperture
Cons: Not a huge evolution over the far cheaper S8 model’s camera
Summary: Compared to the Huawei’s innovative three-lens design, the S9’s solitary 12MP sensor looks pretty feeble on paper.
Yet this South Korean handset regularly ranks above its Chinese rival in smartphone photography testing.
It has a number of technical attributes like optical image stabilisation, while the f/1.5 aperture ensures photos are crisply detailed and impeccably illuminated, even at dusk.
Apple iPhone XS
Pros: Stunning images, front-facing depth sensors and stabilisation for perfect selfies
Cons: Difficult to justify £1,000 for a handset
Summary: If you can forgive its extortionate pricing, the brand-new iPhone XS is a superb device for enthusiastic amateur photographers – and maybe a few professionals, too.
Its twin rear cameras are both 12MP Sony affairs, one handling full-view photography while the other deals with zooming in.
Improvements over the iPhone X include a greater range of ISO settings, front camera autofocus, and more ability to balance dark details against light backgrounds like windows.
Google Pixel 2
Pros: Superb balance between light and dark elements, photos can be zoomed into in detail
Cons: Settings menus aren’t always intuitive
Summary: Google’s second smartphone handset is a remarkably sophisticated piece of hardware for such a new entrant to the ultra-competitive mobile handset market.
This second-generation Pixel reprises its predecessor’s 12MP rear camera, adding a wider aperture and optical/electronic image stabilisation.
The Pixel 2 delivers slightly more realistic images than the vividly-coloured (and almost artificial-looking) nature shots you might expect from one of the handsets listed above.
LG G7 ThinQ
Pros: The best camera for landscape photography, more affordable than its rivals
Cons: Standard camera is nothing impressive
Summary: Putting aside its silly name, LG’s latest flagship smartphone has a party piece that even Apple’s iPhone XS can’t match, despite costing twice as much.
The G7 has a proper wide-angle lens, of the kind beloved by professional photographers. This squeezes a far bigger canvas into each photo, such as spectacular skylines and interior shots.
The standard 16MP camera also takes pretty decent images, with an f/1.6 aperture ensuring photos are well-balanced and bright.