Camera quality ranks high on my list of requirements for a smartphone to be considered a true "hero" device. Since I do not own a traditional point-and-shoot camera, I rely on my smartphone every time to capture the moment. I also rely on it for video recording. While many will try and sell me on the boatload of advantages a digital SLR clearly has, I just can't justify spending that much money on something I'm unlikely to carry around.

Manufacturers are catching onto the consumer's desire to own a smartphone with a high quality camera around back and are starting to market their device's advantages over others. Yet the motive towards more megapixels is starting to get old. Considering how many other factors (software, image stabilization, optics) affect an image's quality after the shot, it's definitely not as easy to sit down and easily convince yourself one picture is better than another because the competition is heating up. Consumers have some truly fantastic options to choose from.

So, manufacturers are taking different pathways to try and attract consumer's to their smartphone cameras. A recent example is HTC's UltraPixel camera on the HTC One. The camera on the One uses an enlarged sensor which retains more light, and after using the device, it's clear low-light performance is where HTC leads the pack.

However, sacrifices were made for an enlarged sensor size, and that was in the image resolution which is only 4-megapixels. HTC says "the quality of each pixel is substantially higher than the industry average," but this is just one example of a trade off made to differentiate the UltraPixel camera from competing smartphone cameras.

I traditionally avoid smartphones which have under-performing cameras because I know what situations my camera needs to produce passable results in. Low-light performance is nice to have, but not necessary, while daylight images take up the majority of my photo gallery. I do not do much photo editing after a shot, so megapixel count never phases me.

But knowing low-light performance isn't as paramount a feature as, say, daylight performance, I'm unconvinced of a device marketed as the "best low-light smartphone camera." This is what a recent image leaked by My Nokia Blog says the rumored Nokia Lumia 928 will use to differentiate itself against other devices.

The Lumia 928 has been tipped to be a Verizon-friendly variant of the Lumia 920 featuring a 4.5-inch display, 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, while allowing simultaneous voice and data support. But Nokia has managed to pack PureView technology into its camera, and this is where Nokia is waging its war against the competition.

Nokia's PureView technology is drool-worthy if taking highly detailed images are on your agenda. The PureView philosophy combines an abnormally large sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, and pixel oversampling (condensing visual information into fewer but "truer" pixels). As you'd guess, the results are stunning, but can a camera really sell a smartphone?

Die-hard Windows Phone fans eagerly awaiting the Lumia 928 to drop are justified in their excitement. By simply mentioning "PureView" to a prospective buyer, you're bound to get a reaction out of someone privy of Nokia's camera tech, but whether or not low-light performance is a feature consumers want has yet to be tested. 

And this is where I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the matter, reader. Is strong low-light camera performance enough to garner consumer interest? Does "PureView" sell? Moreover, if the megapixel count of the Lumia 928's camera is at (or near) the industry standard of 8-megapixels, can Nokia's PureView song really sing? Submit your comments to the box below!

Images via @evleaks and My Nokia Blog.

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32 Reactions to this post

"How important is low-light camera performance to you?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Michael A. Lococo I would like to have a great camera but only if it comes in the phone I want.
Kevin Joseph Not so imp.
Roberto Enrique Caballero Lopèz “Well, the smartphone has to have at least an 8 megapixel sensor. In order to take good photos. Anything less than an 8 megapixel camera is not acceptable” “Bueno, el smartphone tiene que tener por lo menos un sensor de 8 megapíxeles. Con el fin de sacar buenas fotos. Cualquier cosa menos que una cámara de 8 megapíxeles no es aceptable.”
Jason Wilde But I also love Nokia
Jason Wilde Love my HTC one with it badass camera
Mostafa Taufik Not really. I am okay with any phone that has decent 8+ mp camera n flash, taking an overall acceptable photo.
Rok Vrtacnik not at all a good camera on a phone is not that important to me...
Benjamin Williams Wife has an S4, I have the One, we have a baby on the way, we're covered.
Mars Ray It's a phone, not a camera. As long as it has flash so I can use it as a flashlight
Brandon Jiang Robert you are against ads? Push ads I understand, but blocking little banner ads are no better than piracy. It is how the developer makes money for their hard work, and getting rid of them is robbing them, much like downloading a paid app off the internet
Marlon Milligan Very important. I'm a night owl
Ilija Jovanovic not very important
Faseeh Pervaiz yeah it does matters a lot sometimes but not always !
Ron DeMarco HTC one has amazing low light performance.
Jerimiah Reece Indoor photos and "low light" are basically the same thing. They come out grainy. A good CMOS chip and lens are critical for a camera. We need better cameras on phones.
Morten Helm Larsen Not important since I take less then 5% of my pictures in low light.
Jarrett Lennon Kaufman Post hoc ergo propter hoc. There's nothing about G+ that makes you inherently more likely to get hacked. It would be the entire talk of the 'net if so. That's why I asked. And the Amazon Appstore's pretty strong. I still vastly prefer the Play Store, though.
Robert Salender I never had the problem with my acct being hacked until I was on G+. Anyway, doesn't matter now. Waiting on the Ubuntu phone. Unless you know of another repository to find legal apps from... I already have F-Droid installed, because of Google wanting to ban ad-blocking software.
Bobby Delaney I think it's good to have a balance like the HTC One or the Lumia 920. Sure they lose out to the iPhone 5 in light pr direct sunlight but not by much. As compared to low light situations, the blow the iPhone 5 out of the water.
Scott Sanstad Considering that the majority of pictures taken with camera phones are taken indoors, and in low-light conditions, it can't hurt. I'm starting to consider upgrading to a new WP8 phone from my current Android based phone.
Jarrett Lennon Kaufman I couldn't disagree more with virtually everything you wrote. Google+ is unlikely to ever become mandatory for a wide variety of reasons, and it's exactly the one-way friending method of Google+ that I so strongly prefer over Facebook. It allows people to follow one another without having to tacitly agree that they're your "friends." It allows you to decide, on their own, as they interact with you, that they're worthy of being circled back. And how, exactly, were you hacked via G+ circles? I don't see how that's possible. I'm in a massive number of circles and have never had my account hacked.
Robert Salender To be honest, I would get it if it was on Android. But Google fcked it over hundred-fold. Got a WP only because of Google wanting to mandate Google+ for application reviews. I fear I won't be able to use Gmail without G+ being needed these days. All because my Google account got hacked twice via G+ circles. Bad idea to them, should've been like here where connections are two-way. And this was before two-step.
Lucas Lin Yes, one of HTC ones marketing schematics is its low light camera.
Jarrett Lennon Kaufman It could potentially sell a phone, but not an OS. The fact that it's only on WP8 prevents me from considering it as a selling factor. But between Android phones? Maybe.
Jesse Ling Not very,but its good to have it.
Roger Schubert DeOliveira A better camera is a must for us to see all the teenage duck face mirror shots in low light
Robert Salender The fact that it is Windows Phone... the fact that WP does NOT have Instagram... it's an insta-buy for me.
Maegan Babcock I don't take many pictures with my phone, so the camera in general isn't that important to me.
Dayan Inclán It seems more important than I would ever think. I have been taking increasingly more low light photos
Creighton McCain Very a flash is still a must though for me when I choose a device now. I would have prob picked up a 521 but no flash=fail to me.
Kyle Cordiano It's good but not a deal breaker.

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