Mobile Photography

Fastest Android Phone for Street Photography

Fastest Android Phone for Street Photography
Written by Darren Wall

What Do We Mean by “Fast”?

Do you remember the last time that perfect shot lined up just right – your friend in a compromising position, a pet posing for a money shot? You grabbed your phone with shaking hands, turned it on, clicked the shutter button… and five seconds after your subject had wandered off (in boredom), you heard the cheesy shutter sound effect spelling the death knell to your photographic aspirations.

…But is fast-on-the-draw the only factor that makes for a good street shooter?

Also Read: [Huawei P20 Has the Best Camera According to DXOMark]

Will a Fast Shutter Help?

The shutter is the span of time the image has to record on the sensor. A fast shutter will help to freeze the action and help you get sharp photos of birds/arrows/bullets in flight, right? No, that is unfortunately not the full picture (excusing the pun). What usually happens with cell cameras is that you end up with hopelessly blurry photos. Like the one below:

you are now entering the Twilight Zone

It’s All In the Triangle

What freezes the action and gives you sharp, action-suspending photos? This is where the exposure triangle comes in.


Also Read: [Best Phone for Light Photography]

Suffice it to say, aperture plays a big role (how much light comes through), and the lower you can get the F-Stop number on your camera, the faster the image can expose to give you a crisp image:

Fly by

Mobile Phone vs Camera: What Works Best For Street Photography?

  • The secret of street photography is to not let your subjects know they are being photographed. Potential photo subjects will be less suspicious and act more natural if they see you with a cellphone than with a DSLR.
  • A mobile phone is closer at hand to catch that rare perfect shot.

  • Even if you have the Leica aimed and ready, it is still good to have an mobile phone in your pocket as backup. Camera batteries can go flat, sd cards can get full, and when that perfect shot comes along the cellphone will do.
  • Mobile phones are perfectly silent (if you remember to turn down the volume). With a DSLR you will have a mechanical clicking sound alerting and scaring away your prey.

Lunch break - Dublin, Ireland - Black and white mobile street photography

Fastest Android Mobile Phones for Street Photography

The Phones We Review:

Samsung Galaxy S9: Is it Worthy of Being Called the Fastest Android Phone?

No list would be complete without a fast camera from Samsung, so let’s see what this Android camera has to offer. It manages a photo in 0.7 seconds flat, takes just a second to do HDR, making it the fastest street snapper in the first half of 2018. Faster than the fastest Apple (the iPhone 8) that can manage only 0.95 seconds. With a 1.2-micron pixel size and a 12-megapixel camera, the way it’s set up is near perfect for capturing fine detail quickly.

Street photography is all about being able to see the beauty in what lies right in front of your eyes. That’s why capturing high-resolution images with a quick tap of a screen is required. On that note, optical stabilization and phase detection auto focus (using some fancy dual pixel footwork), which comes as standard, certainly helps with spur-of-the-moment photography. The lens can jump between f1.5 for low-light situations and f2.4. Unfortunately there is no sliding scale adjustment from one to the other; it is either f1.5 or f2.4.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S9 is perfect if you want to be able to flick around and capture the beauty of the city as a whole. You won’t notice much lag (if any!). There’s also the option to increase the storage to 400GB, which is ideal for storing thousands of more photos…

Google Pixel 2 XL: Has Google Mastered Mobile Street Photography?


Let’s take a brief look at what is on offer. This is the only other Android phone that manages to come in below a second at 0.95. Where the magic comes in is how fast it manages to build an HDR image; it kicks the S9’s behind squarely by achieving this in under a second as well.

With the Pixel 2, a lot of magic has been introduced to help bring things into focus. A laser along with the same dual-pixel technology as seen in the Samsung above helps with auto focusing. Together, these are ideal for those of you who want to be able to snap away without any motion blurring. Optical image stabilization as well as a wider aperture of f1.8 helps in low-light situations, especially when hands get a little shaky.

Finally, its 6-inch display is excellent for reviewing your shots, and with a screen-to-body ratio of over 75%, you can see every little detail. I also really liked the dual LED flash because it allows you to illuminate from a range of angles. This is ideal for those of you who want to take those night shots and maintain flexibility with lighting.

OnePlus 5: Is It Worth a Look?


First off, why are we not reviewing the OnePlus 6? The answer is that although sensor size and image quality has gone up, the time it takes to fire off a shot has gone up from 1.1 seconds to a very ho-hum 1.8 seconds. So for now, let’s stick with the OnePlus 5.

Dual lenses are all the rage at the moment, and on the OnePlus, we see a 20-megapixel zoom lens (f2.6) as well as a 16Mp wider lens (f1.7). Autofocus is also handled by dual pixel technology without any help from a laser. The 16Mp camera is the standout of the two cameras, producing vibrant and detailed images, but the larger telephoto lens produced a bit more noise. This is what happens when trying to pack in too many pixels for a small sensor.

LG V30: Is it Your Next Choice for Street Photography?

Has LG sufficiently caught up with its Korean counterpart, enough for you to consider the V30 as your next street shooter?

Coming in at 1.6 seconds to record an image, it can’t quite manage the sub 1-second performance of the S9 and Pixel 2. Still, it is above average, so we’ll give this contender the benefit of the doubt and look at its other capabilities.

The aperture is impressive (F1.6), which allows you to take high definition shots with very little exposure time. That is something which is crucial if you want to be quickly capture something cool when on the move. The wider angle shots are impressive, and LG has invested a lot of effort to avoid the inevitable distortion that comes with wide angle shots.

Like Samsung’s cameras, LG has been working on improving quality, and with a pixel size of 1 micron, it’s done it. For me, it shows a real commitment to pushing the boundaries in the name of even higher definition images. It also comes with optical image stabilization, which should reduce most of the motion blur you get if you like to shoot on the move.

Huawei P20 Pro: Is it the King When it Comes to Pixels?

The Huawei also just managed a slightly above-average 1.6 seconds to take a shot, duplicating the LG V30 performance. What sets this camera apart is the monstrous 40-megapixel snapper that runs along the 20-megapixel black and white snapper. 

At 40 megapixels, it is double that of some on this list, which makes it a prime candidate for getting the most out of your up-close shots. I liked how Huawei combined this with a simple yet highly robust auto focus that works well in low-light levels. It uses both laser and phase detection, which both work well with the on-board optical image stabilizer.

These two smart pieces of software make this a great camera if you want to be able to shoot on the move and quickly—two things that are essential for any budding street photographer.

And the Winner is?

If I had to recommend a winner, I’d have to go with the Galaxy S9. It’s streets ahead. However, on final image quality, the results are much closer and require a fine eye for detail. So, on that note, I would put it neck and neck with the Pixel 2. Both could be considered the fastest and best Android handsets for street photography.


Android Phone Street Photography Pinterest

Benchmark figures obtained from PhoneArena.

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Darren Wall
Darren hails from the UK, is a lover of all things mobile technology and likes to write about it all of the time. He's been writing for his own mobile tech blog and various others for over 13-years and cannot foresee a day in which he will become tired of doing so.

About the author

Darren Wall

Darren hails from the UK, is a lover of all things mobile technology and likes to write about it all of the time. He's been writing for his own mobile tech blog and various others for over 13-years and cannot foresee a day in which he will become tired of doing so.

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