Whilst a cell phone camera is never going to be the greatest, it does excel in one area - you generally have it on you all the time. So having a good cell phone camera is a nice thing to aspire to.

One of the main failings I have found with every camera phone I have owned is the lag between pressing the shutter release and the capture of the image. Taking pictures of small children with a cell phone is next to impossible - by the time the camera responds to the shutter release the kid has moved on, or started crying or whatever.

I've had the following phones:

  • Sony Ericsson w810 (probably the one I was most happy with)
  • Nokia n73
  • Sony Ericsson K770
  • HTC Wildfire (very bad on lag with all Camera apps I have tried) - this is the phone I currently have
  • iPhone 4 (laggy) - wife's phone

Does anyone here have experience with a phone that they consider has a good response time.

Alternatively, has anyone found settings that reduce lag time on any phone. I'm particularly interested in any Android apps that have less delay between shutter release and image capture than the stock HTC/Android camera.

Or any workarounds?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ iOS 5 will apparently greatly improve the camera app, including letting you use the volume buttons to fire the shot and also letting you access the camera straight from the lock screen. I assume they'll improve the response as well. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14, 2011 at 10:23

2 Answers 2


The HTC Sensation (featuring Sense UI version 3) has an instant shutter release which I can personally attest to. The HTC website lists it as a feature here.

I recall reading somewhere that it's actually a feature of Sense UI 3 not the hardware, that what the software does it continually take frames from the shutter so when you press the shutter release button it simply 'keeps' the most recent shot. I'm afraid I can't find a reference for this though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if the instant release means it's just running in movie mode, thus giving you only 1/30s shutter speeds? \$\endgroup\$
    – AngerClown
    Jun 14, 2011 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AngerClown, I don't think movie mode would give it the resolution to be able to call itself an 8mp camera, 1920x1080 vs 3264x2448. I'm intrigued though I might have to see what the exif data says if I get time later \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14, 2011 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some of these camera sensors can actually put out full resolution every 10th or 15th of a second. \$\endgroup\$
    – Evan Krall
    Jun 15, 2011 at 6:14

Nearly every cell phone camera uses an electronic shutter rather then a mechanical shutter. Once that is understood, the rest of the equation is simply how fast the software capture the shot.

You stated that you have had the Apple iPhone 4 and considered it laggy. The iPhone 4 is on a path to become the most used camera on Flickr, and I think many people would consider it to be one of the better camera phone options.

The easiest way to work around its "laggy" shutter release is to use a variety of third party applications available in the app store. My favorite is Camera+ which dramatically speeds up image taking abilities as compared to the built in Apple Camera application. They do this by storing photos into a temporary lightbox management tool within the application. This allows you to take burst shots of as many images as you would like, extremely quickly.

I have found that the speed of the burst shots taken with this application rival many DSLRs of today. The one thing you will want to understand about this is that when they are saved to this lightbox within the application, they are not available in the standard "Photos" application till you export them from the Camera+ lightbox. Some people do not like this piece of it, but I think it is a benefit that allows you to only export and save the images that you liked the best, especially out of a burst of shots.

With the release of iOS 5, Apple claims to greatly enhance the photo taking capabilities of the current generation of iPhone 4s and iPod Touches. It not only speeds up the process of taking photos using the software enhancements, but it also gives the user the ability to open the camera application directly from the lock screen of the phone, as well as use physical the volume button to actually activate the electronic shutter.

Furthermore, if you are trying to take images of small children while moving around, a camera phone may not be the best possible solution. You may be experiencing quite a bit of motion blur due to the children moving around. The majority of the current generation of camera phones simply do not have large enough apertures or high enough ISO capabilities to freeze the action of small children. A DSLR with a 50mm f/1.8 lens might be the best solution for images like this!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have the DSLR with nifty 50mm lense, but it isn't with me all the time - the camera phone is and inevitably it is times when the DSLR is on the shelf that something is going on that I really want to capture. \$\endgroup\$
    – dunxd
    Jun 15, 2011 at 9:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ IOS 5 promises to make the Camera App more quickly accessible - lets hope they also do something about time between pressing shutter release and capturing the image. \$\endgroup\$
    – dunxd
    Jun 15, 2011 at 9:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ iOS did make the camera app more accessible, but I still prefer Camera+ for the speed it allows. Being about to set focus and exposure points separately is nice, but for another question. I think that the response time from camera plus is great. Push the button, take a frame. I don't feel like I am waiting on lag or having to preemptively press the shutter release to get the picture I really want a few moments later. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2012 at 18:07

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