The bar has been raised for what makes a cameraphone truly "state of the art." With Nokia's 5-megapixel N95 in geeky hands all across the land, and a handful of other 5MP handsets slated for release in the coming months, it won't be long before cell phones are viable replacements for those consumer-grade digital cameras. Most carrier-supported cameraphones in the US max out at 2MP, but if you're interested in the best of the best, take a look at our Top 5 Cameraphones, all of which will work in North America.
1. Nokia N95 - Unlocked GSM
Nokia's flagship handset sports a 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera with optical zoom and VGA-resolution video capture mode. Until recently announced 5MP cameraphones from SE, LG, and Samsung actually make it to our shores, this is the one to beat (Samsung has a 10 MP cameraphone out now, but it only works in Korea). While the N95 suffers from a bit of shutter lag, it yields excellent photos and is the closest thing to a true camera replacement you'll find in a US-compatible phone right now.
2. Sony Ericsson K790a - Unlocked GSM
Though it's been officially replaced by the K810 series, SE's K790a is still the best cameraphone out there in the minds of some cellie aficionados. Combining a 3.2MP lens and a true Xenon flash with a full-featured media phone (with US-spec 850 band and EDGE compatibility), the K790a is still the SE of choice for American shutterbugs. At least until the new 5MP K850 makes it to eBay.
3. Nokia N93i/N93/N73 - Unlocked GSM
Nokia's N-Series is stocked with powerhouse media phones, and each of these three models features a 3.2 MP Carl Zeiss lens that ranks up there with the best any other manufacturer has to offer. The N93 and its newer, sleeker sibling, the N93i, feature a unique multi-folding design and full VGA-quality video capture mode. The N73 packs that same quality camera into a traditional candybar shape that's a little easier on the pocket - for carrying and paying for the phone both.
4. Samsung SCH-A990 - Verizon CDMA
This somewhat overlooked handset is still Verizon's premiere cameraphone. The A990 is a little bulky, but it doesn't suffer from the same mediocre imaging functionality that Samsung's Ultra Slim cameraphones do. Instead, the A990 is still the highest-res cameraphone officially supported by a US carrier, and it turns out photos worthy of that lofty status.
5. Helio Ocean - Helio CDMA
While Ocean's 2MP camera isn't quite on par a few other handsets I considered for this final spot, it's more than adequate for digital picture sharing. It's Ocean's integrated software that gets it on the list - Helio makes it easy to upload your photos to an album, share them with friends, post them to your mySpace page, and even tag them with GPS information. WIth an Ocean and one of Helio's "All In" plans, you can share your life in text, images, and videos with everyone you meet. Just pray you don't have to contact Helio's Customer Service department for anything ... they're really one of the worst out there.