Camera software is more important for phone users than hardware


Adam Molina / Android Authority

Smartphone makers really focus on the camera performance of their devices these days. From a time when phones used to have single shooters, we’ve now come to an era of multiple camera sensors that promise everything from high-res photos, portrait capture, detailed macro shots, bright low-light images, HDR, and much more. However, hardware is not the only factor that makes a phone great at photography. How OEMs tweak the camera software of their devices is equally important and we’ve seen brands like Google, Apple, Huawei, and Samsung prove their metal time and again in this department.

Keeping this in mind, we asked you, our readers, to choose what’s more important to you — camera software or hardware. Does hardware play the lead role in getting great results from your phone’s camera? Or is it the software that makes all the difference? Here’s how you voted in our poll.

What’s more important: camera hardware or software?

Results

We conducted our smartphone camera hardware vs software poll across our website, YouTube channel, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Not only do the total results accumulated from all platforms show that our readers prefer having good camera software over hardware, but results obtained from each social media poll also show that camera software holds precedence over camera hardware for Android Authority followers.

Related: The best phones for photography you can get right now

A little over 70% of our audience voted in favor of having great camera software on their phones, while for 29%, hardware camera specs are more important.

Comments from our readers shed more light on why they picked software over hardware.

What you had to say

Drone9: Both are important. But since we have Gcam software portable to most devices, I’d rather manufacturers put in the latest optics and sensors at the least. The software can be improved, but you’re stuck with whatever hardware you get. The better the hardware, the lesser the software needs to work.

Stanley Kubrick: Many phones today have camera hardware that is more than adequate for very good pictures (especially for viewing on a 6″ screen) but the software is what is still falling behind! The Pixels are a good example of this. The hardware may not be the absolute best there is but they still rank #1, or 2, or 3 in picture quality, while some phones have monstrous camera hardware specs, and their pictures look like they were taken with a potato! Hardware 5 or more years ago, software today!

007700: What good is the hardware when your software is not optimized for it? We’ve seen this during the great spec chase with past Samsung phone’s and it still continues on to this day with other makers. The Pixel 5 is a great example I feel that shows regardless of the hardware, your software experience and still take things much further.

Alfred E. Neuman: For smartphones, with their small lenses and tiny sensors, the software is way more important. Google Pixel makes miracles with only one small lens.

Albin: At the bleeding edge of flagship iPhones, Huawei, Samsung, etc. lens/sensor configurations can push ahead temporarily, but I don’t buy them. In the great mid-range of common hardware the biggest difference makers are implementing Camera2 API (still deliberately sabotaged by many OEMs) and compatibility with GCam and/or a number of other good third-party apps (since OEM in-house camera devs are not always crackerjack and the stock camera app is often poor). Often phones with pretty capable hardware get poor camera reviews for lousy stock apps, but no mention if they are Camera2 enabled or can be greatly improved by better apps.

(•̀ᴗ•́): Good input makes a good output. That being said, you need good hardware to capture good images that can then be made even better with good software. Remove the software part and you are still left with decent images. I can’t say the same thing if the hardware is crappy to begin with.

Mario Ray Mahardhika: Hardware is the hard (no pun intended) limits of what the software can squeeze. You can all have Gcam, in which weak hardware is weak hardware, won’t beat a strong one any day. If you have shitty hardware in the first place, any software won’t be able to push it further than the hardware can give. While if you have shitty software but potential hardware, either updates or Gcam can eventually come to the rescue giving you a monstrous final quality.

kirkiscool: If you can give me good photos without a dumb camera lump or giant breakable lens then that’s what I vote for. Who’s taking serious photos with a phone anyway? Gear nerds just get fancy cameras anyway.

Winston: Google and Apple showed us that even with average-poor hardware, the software can make a camera system excel.

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