The main technical difference between smartphone cameras and standalone digital cameras is that smartphones use tiny lenses and tiny sensors. The smartphone’s results ought to be much worse. They are not. Smartphonesproduce high-quality results by using their powerful processors and built-in graphics engines to process the image data and compensate for their technical limitations.
To my eye, smartphone images are sometimes so over-saturated and over-sharpened they look unnatural. In some cases, where portraits are “beautified”, they really are unnatural. However, very few people are interested in how the final image compares to the reality. They’d much rather have something that looks good. Exaggeration wins almost every time.
However, this does mean there’s an element of taste when choosing a smartphone camera. When you have a shortlist, look for sample images in reviews at websites such as DxO Mark, The Verge and DP Review, and on Flickr’s Camera Finder.
Also, see if you can get friends to take photos of a colourful object that’s small enough for you to carry around, such as a trinket box, to provide comparisons. You may not be planning to buy that particular model, but different smartphones from the same manufacturer may use the same sensors (often from Sony) and the same processing software, giving the results a family resemblance.
Check out the full article and in-depth looks into phones on the market.