Hi, today we’re going to learn about how to read smartphone camera specs.

If you are a camera enthusiast and you want to be able to tell a killer camera by just looking at the specs, I’ll advise that you read up on the earlier two posts (click here for part 1 and here for part 2) that I have made on the subject. If you already have, then that’s great. Let’s proceed.

quad camera set up on a Redmi Note 8

Quad 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)

(Redmi Note 8 quad camera specs)

Every smartphone should have the following specifications:

i. The number of sensors
ii. Megapixel (MP) rating
iii. Aperture size (F/ number)
iv. Focal length of lens (mm)
v. Sensor size (1/x.x”)
vi. Pixel size (µm)

How to read smartphone camera specs

How to read Smartphone Camera specs


So when you check the spec sheet of the camera of any phone, it should tell you first and foremost the number of cameras it has. If it reads single, it means that it has only one camera, dual means two cameras and quad means four cameras. Some phones like the Mi Note 10 and the Mi 10 have penta (five) cameras which is the same as the Nokia Pure view.

Penta camera set up on the Nokia Pureview


The next thing to look out for is the number of pixels in the sensor. This is rated in megapixels. A large number of pixels helps to boost the image resolution especially when you zoom in.

Cameras these days boast a lot of pixels, some going as high as 100MP. Most of these numbers are for marketing so do not be overly swayed by them. A lot of 16MP cameras in the market give out 8MP photo output, and some 48MP give out 12MP photo output as well. Samsung’s new 64MP cameras give out a 16MP output while the 108MP used by Xiaomi outputs at 27MP quality. These are all as a result of pixel binning which I will explain in my next post.


The aperture size (F/x) is the size of the opening into the camera. The standard size used is usually F/2.0. The main camera usually has the widest opening. The wider the opening, the more light will enter into the camera and this will lead to better pictures. The only trade-off here is that you’ll have to sacrifice depth of field.

aperture sizes in smartphone camera


The focal length of the lens will tell you how wide the angle of view of the camera is. It is measured in millimeters. A high focal length of 40mm means that the lens used in the camera is thick but the angle of view would be smaller than a thinner lens of 20mm which would have a much wider angle of view.


The sensor size is measured in fractions of an inch. The sensor size of the main camera of the Redmi Note 8 above is 1/2.0” (0.5″) which is a fairly good size. The average size used is 1/2.55”.

The biggest sensor in use today is the 1/1.28 (0.78″) (Huawei P40) while the smallest is 1/5.0” (0.2″). A big or well-sized sensor means that a good amount of pixels can be packed into the sensor which will help it catch light better and produce great photos.


Finally, you have pixel sizes. These are measured in micrometers or microns (µm). The average size used today is 0.8µm while the largest in use is around 2.4µm.

In summary, bigger pixels are always better than small pixels. This is because bigger pixels catch more light and produce brighter, clearer, and noiseless photos. They also perform better at night or in low light. Smaller pixels do not catch light as well as big pixels so their performance does not meet up with those of the bigger pixels.

In other to combat these problems of small pixels, manufacturers now combine four small pixels to produce a larger “super pixel” to catch light better using a method called pixel binning. The Redmi Note 8 featured here combines four 0.8µm to try to achieve the light sensitivity of a 1.6µm sized pixel.

Now back to our Redmi Note 8

Quad 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)

(Redmi Note 8 quad camera specs)

Here we can see that the main sensor has a resolution of 48MP, a very wide aperture at f/1.8, a wide angle of view because of that 26mm focal length lens, a well-sized sensor at 1/2.0” and small pixels at 0.8µm although it uses pixel binning to combine 4 pixels to catch light better. This means that 48MP divided by 4 equals 12MP. It also has PDAF or simply Autofocus.

The second camera there has only an 8MP resolution. This is understandable because it is a supporting camera. It produces a really wide angle of view due to its really thin focal length of 13mm. The aperture is smaller than the main camera at f/2.2 but it is still wide enough to catch light effectively.

The hardware specs vary with different cameras. A main camera does most of the work and should have the highest resolution (MP rating), a wide aperture, a big sensor size, big pixels as well a focal length that would give it a wide angle.

Telephoto cameras have smaller apertures and longer focal lengths with an increased depth of field while Ultra wide cameras have wide apertures and very small focal lengths which give them a very wide field of view.

It is important to know who designed the camera. The best manufacturers around are Sony and Samsung. Their cameras cost a pretty penny too. Others are Omnivision, Toshiba, SK Hynix, LG, and HTC.

So that’s it on how to read smartphone camera specs. Coming next are filters and pixel binning.

Hope you had a great time. Hit me up in the comments.

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