Whether you consider them to be in poor taste, a passing fad or a key element of today’s pop culture, selfies are unquestionably at the peak of their popularity.
The most retweeted image ever is a self-portrait photograph of a cluster of celebrities, the Oxford English Dictionary awarded the term, which wasn’t previously listed in the glossary, the 2013 word of the year prize, and yes, even Russian dictator Vladimir Putin occasionally strikes a selfie pose.
Not to mention the leader of the free world, who infamously made waves with much too cheerful selfies during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, or Pope Francis, who recently helped press coin a new term relating to the tireless trend – “usies”.
You also got groupies, groufies and wefies, but no matter how you call them, one thing’s crystal clear: selfies are here to stay. So instead of vainly opposing the furor, why not go with the flow, embrace it and make the most of it?
That’s what smartphone manufacturers are trying to do, and the good news is they’re treating the newly created market niche very seriously. So seriously that most current contenders for the title of world’s best front-facing camera-toting handheld are much more than just solid selfie-centric slabs.
Cutting to the chase, we’ve rounded up seven Android phones with some of the most capable front snappers attached, as well as an array of impressive other features. As usual, we’ve only selected gadgets readily available stateside, and designed by OEMs we can vouch for. Here we go:
7. BLU Life Pure – starting at $252.45
First of all, yes, we can vouch for BLU Products. The Miami-based mobile phone producer has been around long enough to earn our trust, and lately, the budget specialist has begun cranking up its marketing and advertising efforts too.
Now, BLU’s very rich roster includes a number of devices packing 5 megapixel front shooters, but the Life Pure ultimately made the cut thanks to its sensible price point and solid bang for buck factor. The imaging department in particular is thrilling, with a 13 MP cam slapped on the 5 incher’s rear. And then you have Full HD display resolution, quad-core power, 2 GB RAM, as well as DTS Surround sound enhancements.
6. Huawei Ascend P6 – $270 in an unlocked flavor
Ah, yes, the one-year-old Ascend P6 is a classic heavyweight of the selfie scene, being one of the very first Androids to come towing an impressive 5 MP front camera. Aimed squarely at teenagers with an eye for fashion, this upper mid-range 4.7 incher measures a record-breakingly slim 6.2 mm in depth and is capable of shooting HD videos with the 5 megapixel secondary snapper.
The Beauty Shot mode is bound to further increase the handheld’s appeal among youngsters, while the 8 MP primary cam doesn’t sound very impressive at first, but it does feature autofocus, LED flash, plus 1,080p video recording capabilities. Not bad for less than three Benjamins, eh?
5. HTC Desire 816 – $230 on Virgin Mobile prepaid; starting at $370 SIM-free
The Desire 816 wins precious points with its larger-scale availability, relative affordability and dedicated Selfie mode, but at the end of the day, we feel the 5 megapixel selfie-centric camera comes up short in a toe-to-toe battle with the following four title contenders.
It just does, although 1,080p video shooting is supported, and outside of the photographic field, the specs are quite decent too: 5.5-inch 720p screen, quad-core 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5 GB RAM, 2,600 mAh battery.
4. Lenovo Vibe Z – starting at $303
Forget “decent” specs, the Vibe Z is one of the most underrated powerhouses of late 2013. With a skinny body, uber-crisp 5.5-inch FHD panel, 2 whopping gigs of RAM under the hood and a zippy quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, this baby almost doesn’t need top-level cameras to appeal to the young, hip crowd.
Yet it carries them anyway, sporting 13 megapixels on the rear and 5 on the front, spiced up with add-ons like autofocus, LED flash, touch focus, face detection and an 84-degree wide-angle lens and FHD video recording respectively. Duckfaces have never been clearer. Just don’t forget to edit out all the pimples.
3. HTC One M8 – available for between $50 and $100 with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint contracts; $650 unlocked
The selfie bronze medalist is one of Android’s all-around greats, and the all-aluminum beaut settles for the last spot on the podium only due to an inferior megapixel count when compared to the silver and gold winners.
Sorry, HTC, the 5 MP sensor is amazeballs, especially when paired with a wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture and the now iconic Selfie Mode, but it’s simply not the greatest. And we know full well megapixels don’t always tell the full story, but here, we think they do.
That being said, if you’re not just interested in taking vain photos of yourselves eating out, get the M8. It’s gorgeous, punchy and a battery life beast.
2. Meitu 2 – starting at $395.99
You know how we promised to list solely smartphones from well-known, reliable manufacturers? Let’s take a short break from that, and consider this nugget: the no-name Meitu 2 (horrible name, by the way) features a, wait for it, 13 MP front camera. And a 13 MP rear camera. That’s… just… crazy.
Even crazier, the dedicated Fujitsu Milbeaut professional image processor, which takes care of a number of complex editing tasks once the rough selfies are taken. You can clear out skin imperfections, change the color tone, lighting and even make yourself look skinnier. Sure, it’s cheating, but so is Photoshopping pics. The difference is the Meitu 2 makes photo editing as easy as ABC.
Oh, if only we’d know a thing or two about the obscure Asian company.
1. Huawei Ascend P7 – $415 with 4G LTE in factory unlocked version
No, the P7 is no hardcore, professional selfie machine. It lacks the built-in image processor of the Meitu 2 (seriously, what’s up with that name?), and the 8 MP front cam sensor pales in comparison with the 13 megapixels mentioned above.
But still, 8 MP is pretty nutty. And the Panoramic Selfie feature is a home run. You also get 1,080p video support, and outside of the vanity photo realm, a 13 MP rear-facing camera, 5-inch Full HD IPS LCD screen, 6.5, yes, 6.5 mm profile, 2 GB RAM and quad-core 1.8 GHz HiSilicon Kirin 910T SoC. In short, the absolute best you could hope for at less than $450.