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My current phone is a Galaxy S5: F/2.2 aperture, 1/2.6 sensor, 16 megapixels. With that I can take detailed closeups of bugs and such. I typically shoot a photo as close to the subject as focus allows, then crop the result to enlarge the subject. I don't even use the zoom feature because it just blurs everything.

I'm forced to upgrade and am having difficulty determining which phones have cameras that might best suit my needs, for instance:

  • Galaxy S7: F/1.7 aperture, 1/2.5 sensor, and 12 megapixels.
  • Moto Z Force: F/1.8 aperture, 1/2.4 sensor, and 21 megapixels.
  • Asus Zenfone 4: F/1.7 aperture, 1/2.55 sensor, and 12 megapixels.

How do I analyze such data to determine how to best suit my needs?

Would, say, an F/1.7 aperture enable me to get physically closer to the subject than a F/2.2 aperture, thus negating the need for increased megapixels to allow for cropping? Or is there even a correlation there?

How does pixel size even factor in? Or focal length?

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The f/1.7 wide open aperture has no effect on how close you can focus. In fact a smaller aperture like f/2.8 or f/4.0 would actually be better for Macro photography because it gives you more depth of field, and keeps everything in focus better.

Minimum focus distance is a physical property designed into the optics of the lens. You can have two cameras with identical specs and the minimum focus distance will be determined only by how the focus mechanism has been designed.

More megapixels allows you to crop the photo more but that is not the ideal way to make a Macro photo.

Your best bet is to try and research the specs of each phone to determine which one has the best close focusing capabilities.

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The aperture affects depth of field - not minimum focusing distance. Because of the way a phone camera has to be designed - these apertures are fixed. Since you can't change the aperture, you can't increase depth of field.

Your methodology today is to get as close as you can and then crop into the resulting image to "get closer still". This method thrives on having more pixels from which to crop. If this is going to be your method, then I'd choose the camera with the most pixels.

That being said, I'd encourage you to check out lens add ons such as the Moment Macro lens. (There are others, this just happens to be the one I own). They allow you to truly focus closer by being closer to the subject (think of them as attaching a magnifying glass to your phone camera). Depth of field is incredibly shallow, but because the aperture is fixed, there's not much that can be done here - and indeed, your f/2.2 will have more DOF than a f/1.6 - though whether this is desireable is up to you.

  • The effective depth of field on a 1/2.3" sensor is very large, even if you have an f/1.6 lens. – JonathanReez Jan 2 '18 at 12:43
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    @JonathanReez, indeed. But the DOF really gets thin when using a macro attachment and a point could be made that, if focusing on macro alone, a f/2.2 would be preferable to more open lenses. I leave this up to OP though. Personally, I'd rather have the /2.2 and add blurring in post over something more open where nailing the focus on a hand held device became more difficult. This is a preference though, and so not stated as an important feature for the answer. – Hueco Jan 2 '18 at 12:50

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