Phone manufacturers have a tough time these days. The pure-specs Android arms race of previous years is mostly over, and flagships now sound pretty much the same on paper. But a truly premium experience often comes with additional features that can't be solved purely by hardware, like the camera. A great sensor is a good place to start, but it isn't enough on its own to deliver Pixel, Galaxy S, or iPhone-level photos. And the extra software polish required for those pixel-perfect pictures often comes with a much-increased price. That makes us wonder: How important is camera quality for you?
Two recent phones in memory here at AP jump out as good examples for different perspectives. In our review of the HTC U12+, one of the things that impressed us the most about the $800 phone was its camera performance. Although we felt it underperformed in a lot of ways, photo quality was superb and perhaps the only thing that could justify that high price.
On the other hand, you have the OnePlus 6, which offers a pretty premium experience for $530+. And although camera performance is the best OnePlus has ever produced, that relative affordability also works out to diminished photo quality when compared to other high-end (and more expensive) phones.
For most of my smartphone-owning life, I've happily compromised in favor of cost over camera, but the Pixel series has sold me on the value of good-quality photos from a phone. But budgetary limitations or other specifications can quickly become a more critical consideration.
So what about you? Is the camera one of the most important features in a phone, or the least, or something in-between?