Phone Camera vs Digital Camera

Updated: Sep 21, 2023 3:18 PM
Cell Phone Cameras vs Digital Cameras

If you are an amateur shutterbug, you may be comparing cell phone cameras vs digital cameras. The best dedicated digital cameras, after all, are certainly rich with features, but so are modern smartphones and the leading 3D cameras. Keep reading to learn some differences between the two.


  • Cell phone cameras are generally easier to use and more convenient than digital cameras.
  • Additionally, cell phone cameras are considered to be cheaper, as you likely already own a smartphone with a camera.
  • Digicams provide for increased versatility and robust feature sets aimed toward professional photographers.

Differences Between Cell Phone Cameras and Digital Cameras

The most obvious difference between the two is that digital cams are just cameras, whereas cell phones can do all kinds of stuff beyond taking photographs (including making phone calls.) You can see a comparison of this mashup between the Sony DSCWX350 18MP digital camera vs iPhone 6S. This makes cell phone cameras better for people who don’t want to get bogged down by carrying additional gadgets, though digital cameras are built with professional photographers in mind. In other words, there are some real differences to consider.

Insider Tip

You can still get great photos with a smartphone camera. Experiment with camera settings and lighting.

Convenience and Cost

You likely already own a smartphone and that phone comes with a camera. It’s already in your pocket or purse and ready to go. You can whip it out and start taking photos. You will have to buy a dedicated digital camera (especially if it doesn’t record) and any protective gear you may need to keep it safe. And, if you have a camera used with your computer, like the one in our Mevo Start review, you can’t take it with you. Additionally, some high-end digital cameras can be quite expensive, as much or more than top-of-the-line smartphones.

However, there are good reasons for the high cost of certain cameras. Higher-end cameras tend to have larger image sensors with greater dynamic range, allowing them to capture high-quality images with more detail in both shadows and highlights.

They also often shoot RAW files, which contain more unprocessed image data than JPEGs from native camera apps. With higher pixel counts and RAW capture, skilled photographers can produce photos with superior quality compared to smartphone cameras, even though modern phone cameras continue to improve.

Ultimately the ability to manipulate depth of field and work with RAW images gives high-end cameras capabilities that surpass mobile devices for users focused on professional-level photo quality.

You’ll be dishing out some real cash when comparing CMOS vs CCD digital cameras or when shopping for any decent digital camera.


Some cameras found with mobile phones are fairly versatile, in that they allow for wide-angle shots and to participate in a variety of photographic techniques. However, the versatility found with even the robust smartphone camera pales in comparison to a dedicated digicam. Legitimate digital cameras were built with the professional photographer in mind, so they allow for the swapping of lenses, optical zoom, larger sensors, and for experimenting with dozens of experimental and useful photographic techniques.

Despite advances in smartphone camera technology, modern cameras excel at capturing higher quality photos through features like optical zoom lenses and larger sensors, which avoid the loss of quality from digital zoom. Plus, they have the option of manual control. 

Dedicated cameras provide more control over depth of field and other techniques for skilled photographers to produce professional quality photos that smartphone cameras cannot match. Of course, there are smartphone lenses to attach to a camera phone, but they’re still limited in power and capabilities against standalone digital cameras. 

In fact, that’s what you’ll find on the best digital Canon cams. Plus, they also easily integrate with tripods and the like, which can come in handy if you are comparing optical camera image stabilization vs digital camera image stabilization.

Learning Curve

Cameras that come with mobile phones are made for amateurs, so they are generally easier to use than a dedicated digital camera. Actual digicams have plenty of hidden features and functionalities that may take years to fully uncover, whereas smartphone cameras are typically just “point and click.” With that in mind, it generally takes longer to set up a shot with a digital camera than with a cell phone camera. The results, however, are likely worth it.

STAT: Digital camera sales have dropped 87% Since 2010. (source)


Smartphones vs DSLRs and mirrorless cameras: what are we likely to see next?

Smartphones will continue to develop more robust camera systems, rivaling mirrorless cameras and other dedicated cameras.

Is there still a role for digital cameras?

Yes. Dedicated cameras are still the go-to choice for digital photography professionals, thanks to increased image quality, increased digital zoom, better focal lengths, and an improved depth of field. Amateur photographers may opt for smartphone cameras.

The best smartphone for photography?

The best smartphone for photography is constantly changing, as new cameras are introduced in modern smartphones.

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