Palm Pre vs. iPhone - Which is the Best Camera Phone?

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Cell phone cameras are no longer just for grainy party snapshots. Megapixel camera phones are getting serious. Here is a photo essay from the St. Petersburg Times. The photojournalist used her Apple iPhone for a series of print-worthy images. I’ve seen holiday photos emailed from an iPhone that are sharper than images from a similarly priced camera — and the camera can’t surf the Web, find a gas station or call your mom.

The iPhone was the definitive smartphone two years ago, but other companies stepped up their game. Most notably, the Palm Pre is giving the Apple iPhone 3G S serious competition in every area, including the camera. Still, the iPhone 3G S gets an easy win on the photography front, offering more features and capabilities and overcoming the problems of earlier models. The Palm Pre has some good features, but it is still catching up to the iPhone.


A quick glance at the two cameras would put the Palm Pre ahead. Both smartphones have a 3-megapixel camera and the Palm Pre has flash. Sure, the iPhone 3G S shoots video, but we’re talking photos here, not movies. Palm Pre wins, for now.

Native features

Spend a couple more minutes playing with the iPhone 3G S and you’ll find some simple features that outweigh the flash on the Palm Pre. The newest iPhone has autofocus, auto white balance and auto exposure, as well as a cool new tap-to-focus feature. The iPhone also has 16GB of storage for the same price as the 8GB Palm Pre, and 32GB for $100 more. A big complaint about the Palm Pre is the slow startup time. If you want to snap a quick wildlife photo with a switched-off Palm Pre, you better hope the bear sticks around for about two minutes. iPhone just pulled ahead.


The most talked-about feature of the iPhone applies to photographers as much as everybody else. The iTunes store has more than 50,000 applications, including dozens for photographers. Here is a list of good iPhone applications for photographers. Dozens of other apps aren’t specifically designed for photographers, but they don’t hurt.

As of late June, the Palm Pre had 30 applications available. That’s cute, but the Palm Pre might as well forfeit. It’s not even a fair fight anymore.

Want to get the most out of your cell phone’s camera? Here are 10 tips for taking pictures with your camera phone.