Update: In 2022, the sub-Rs. 30,000 segment saw nearly every smartphone have at least three cameras, with some exceptions taking the tally to four as well. While the debate of whether more megapixels equals better cameras will go on for years to come, the key to getting the camera right overall is a far more complex matter. To decide this category’s winner was a tough task, as many smartphones competed strength-to-strength. However, the Realme 9 Pro Plus was selected as the Best Mainstream Camera Phone of the Indian Gadget Awards by our jury.
Winner: Realme 9 Pro Plus
With its crisp 50MP primary shooter, the Realme 9 Pro Plus stole the hearts of budget photographers in 2022. It’s a great mix of new features and familiar hardware to bring about a solid imaging experience.
Original story follows…
The mainstream smartphone market has no dearth of options. It’s almost like wherever you toss a stone, there’s a good phone waiting for you. But, getting the camera right in a segment with such tight margins is tough, even for the most experienced smartphone makers. In 2022, the sub-Rs. 30,000 segment saw nearly every smartphone have at least three cameras, with some exceptions taking the tally to four as well. While the debate of whether more megapixels equals better cameras will go on for years to come, the key to getting the camera right overall is a far more complex matter. After putting several smartphones to the test, the top tech experts in India have put forward their nominations for the best mainstream camera phones of 2022. Here’s a quick look at them.
Best Camera Phones of 2022 (Mainstream) – Indian Gadget Awards Nominees
- Realme 9 Pro Plus
- iQOO Neo 6
- Realme GT Neo 3T
- OnePlus Nord 2T 5G
- Samsung Galaxy M53 5G
- Motorola Edge 30
Realme 9 Pro Plus
The way Realme has grappled the mainstream smartphone market is nothing short of extraordinary and the Realme 9 Pro Plus is a testament to that. Sporting an optically-stabilised 50MP Sony IMX766 primary sensor along with 8MP ultrawide and 2MP macro cameras, the Realme 9 Pro Plus offers a practical camera solution. There are a bunch of new camera modes too that include Ultra Nightscape video, Smart Long Exposure for Night Mode and the new Street Photography suite which also includes a 90s pop filter.
For its class, the Realme 9 Pro Plus clicks some remarkable photos. Photos from the primary camera are nice and contrasty with accurate white balance and very little noise. It also features 2x lossless zoom, which crops and upscales a 50MP photo to give you an electronically magnified image. It also fares really well in low light, with the OIS and advanced processing coming together to give a well-exposed frame. The ultrawide shooter also clicks some decent photos with realistic colours and good dynamic range.
iQOO Neo 6
While the iQOO Neo 6 is known for being a gaming champ at a budget, it also has a well-respected camera array. Running the show here is a 64MP Samsung GW1 primary sensor, with 8MP ultrawide and 2MP macro sensors pitching in. While the primary and the ultrawide cameras are electronically stabilised, OIS is available only on the primary camera.
The photos clicked in the day by the iQOO Neo 6’s primary and ultrawide cameras are vibrant and eye-catching. Even at night, it shines with low-noise and good colour saturation. The photos clicked during the night may take a little longer to process, but the outcome is worth the wait.
Realme GT Neo 3T
Another performance champ in the sub-Rs. 30,000 price point is the Realme GT Neo 3T. While it’s pitted deeply against the Neo 6, it has a slightly different camera configuration. So, it boasts a 64MP primary shooter along with an 8MP ultrawide camera and 2MP macro. Its camera UI is pretty straightforward, and every mode is neatly organised for ease of access.
The primary camera takes nice, saturated shots in the daylight and clear, bright shots in low light. It is capable of taking some decent portraits too. The colour palette of the ultrawide camera is consistent with that of the primary and it too clicks some commendable photos in the night.
OnePlus Nord 2T 5G
We believe the Nord 2T has a very unique personality. It’s not a phone for the enthusiasts, but for the masses. It falls in a goldilocks zone of price, performance and reputation, and its camera module also follows the same philosophy. It comes with an optically stabilised 50MP Sony IMX 766 primary sensor punching above its weight class with 8-megapixel ultrawide and 2-megapixel depth cameras having its back.
It features a ‘DOL HDR’ badging on the camera module, standing for Depth of Light, High Dynamic Range, and it stays true to it. Daytime shots pack rich details, have fairly accurate colours and a nice, wide dynamic range. The ultrawide helps click photos with more elements in the frame with good metering. Sometimes, the HDR can appear a bit overdone, but other than that, it can be a camera system worth considering on a budget.
Samsung Galaxy M53 5G
The Samsung Galaxy M53 5G has an interesting feature proposition for you – a quad camera setup with a 108MP primary sensor! An 8MP ultrawide sensor along with dual 2MP cameras (one for depth, one for macro) assist the primary shooter. At the front, a 32MP snapper helps with selfies.
The primary camera clicks detailed, lively shots with good colour accuracy and dynamic range. If you click photos in full resolution in all of their 108MP glory, you will get to see some finer details too, but this mode doesn’t let you use HDR. Because the primary shooter is so good, the ultrawide camera appears slightly lacklustre in comparison, but it’s still as good as other ultrawides go. In the dark, the Galaxy M53’s night mode really helps boost some shadows and exposure while keeping the noise in check.
Motorola Edge 30
The Motorola Edge 30 tries to keep things clean by being one of the few near-stock Android offerings in the segment, and it’s also got a respectable camera module. The Edge 30 comes with a trusty 50MP primary sensor with OIS that is capable of clicking some detailed yet neutral shots, far closer to reality.
Unlike a lot of its competitors, it’s not stingy in the ultrawide department, as it packs another 50MP camera with 118-degree field-of-view. It can double up as a macro camera too, and packs a ton of visual information, especially around the edges. Motorola’s Night Vision tech takes care of low-light shots, reducing noise and recovering some of the lost data in the shadows.