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Perfect your photos with the best camera phones around.
Best camera phones
(Image credit: Future)
What is the best camera phone? Camera tech is advancing so quickly these days that it can be tricky to tell. We’re here to answer the question for you. Whether you’re a full-time photographer who wants a powerful portable camera to supplement their bulky DSLR; a creative who wants to be ready to capture anything that inspires them; or just someone looking to up their Instagram game, we’ve scrutinized all the different options to find you the best camera phones on the market right now.
While it’s true that most smartphones pack a decent camera nowadays, there are some camera phones that shine so much brighter than the rest. The likes of Apple, Huawei, and Samsung have upped their game so much you could even ditch your dedicated camera and just use a phone, and you’d be hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference in the results.
Obviously, for those making a full-time living from photography, grabbing one of the best cameras out there is still crucial, but after investing in one of the best camera phones on this list, you will find yourself having to reach for your camera far less, and still managing to blow people away with the quality of the shots.
On a budget? Don’t worry. This roundup isn’t all flagships and $1000 price tags. We’ve even tracked down the best camera phones if you’re on a budget so you can boost your abilities without bankrupting yourself. That way you can instead invest in the (much more reasonable) best smartphone lenses or a smartphone tripod with all the cash you’ve saved.
Right now, we think the best camera phone is the Google Pixel 4, even with a lot of stiff competition. Following closely at number two is the Huawei P30 Pro – and there’s good news, right now there are a couple of amazing deals in the US and UK.
01. Google Pixel 4
The best camera phone right now
Release date: October 2019 | Rear cameras: 16MP + 12.2MP | Front camera: 8MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera apertures: f/2.4 + f/1.7 | Autofocus type: Phase detection and dual-pixel phase detection | Weight: 162g | Dimensions: 68.8 x 147.1 x 8.2mm | Storage: 64/128GB
Incredible camera beautiful display poor battery lifeNo fingerprint scanner
Quite simply, camera phones don’t come any better than the Google Pixel 4. When Google relaunched its mobile phones under the Pixel moniker, it was clear that much of its focus (if you’ll forgive the pun) was on the quality of the onboard cameras. The camera tech on the Pixel 3 was excellent, and Google has managed to improve things even further with the Pixel 4 – in fact, the camera is where Google has clearly targeted its improvements in this newer model; the other upgrades are minimal. Nevertheless, the photos the Google Pixel 4 can take are nothing less than jaw-dropping – we’ve never seen sharper, brighter more detailed images from any other camera phone. We’re not saying it makes standalone cameras defunct, but unless you’re a professional photographer, you won’t need much more than what this smartphone will give you.
Of course, the Pixel 3 still packs an excellent camera, and you might be able to snap up a deal more easily on the slightly older model.
02. Huawei P30 Pro
Runner up to the best camera phone crown
Release date: March 2019 | Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP + ToF | Front camera: 32MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.6, f/2.2, f/3.4 | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm | Battery size: 4,200mAh
Quadruple (!) camera technology combined 68MP rear cameraAweome in low light availability issues will update always be available?
The Huawei P30 Pro has taken the ball passed to it by its predecessor and just kept on running – it’s proving to be the smartphone that’s breaking the Samsung and Apple duopoly on the world phone market. It’s one of the best smartphones on the face of the Earth and its main camera is one of the major factors why. The combination of 40MP, 20MP, and 8MP shooters combines powerfully with excellent image processing, noise reduction, and super zoom features making the P30 Pro’s overall photo-taking prowess something very special indeed. You could even argue that 2019 is now a quadruple lens camera, now that it’s added an extra ToF (time-of-flight) camera for more depth on portraits.
Of course, we have to utter a word of warning here as Huawei has its ongoing issues with the US government and there’s a small risk if there’s a ban on updates and such. But if that doesn’t put you off, you’ll have a fantastic bit of hardware to enjoy.
03. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
The best camera phone on a Samsung phone
Release date: March 2019 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP + 8MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.5, f/2.4, f/2.2 | Weight: 198g | Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm
Great in all lights high standard of design prices option may be too bulky for some
Samsung Galaxy smartphones are now so good that the latest iterations generally struggle to make strides on the last. But that shouldn’t stop us crowing about its latest and greatest flagship – the Galaxy S10 Plus, which has raised the bar again for camera phones on release (just not by that much). The dual 12MP cameras on the rear are the obvious place to start. They’re no longer unique, but the remarkable f/1.5 aperture is certainly an attractive added bonus, meaning you can take eye-popping shots even in low light. And you can tweak the aperture to the other end of the spectrum in sunnier climes. Samsung has also worked hard to reduce noise, too. We love the super slow motion 960fps function for getting creative with videos and the bokeh-enable selfie snapper is impressive as well.
Today’s best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus deals
04. iPhone 11 Pro
Go all out with Apple’s best camera
Release date: September 2019 | Rear camera: Dual 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 12MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.8 and f/2.4 | Autofocus type: Focus pixels (i.e. Phase detection) | Weight: 188g | Dimensions: 144 x 71.4 x 8.1mm | Storage: 64/256/512GB
Superb camera powerful CPUSizeable battery very expensive locks you into Apple’s ecosytem
Here we are, the choice for all of the Apple fans out there. Luckily, Apple’s most recent launch gave us a trio of devices perfect for creatives. Combining both affordable pricing and all of the best specs, the middle option of the trio – the iPhone 11 Pro – easily comes out as the star of the show.
You’re getting a triple camera lens set-up with wide-angles and optical zoom, perfect for taking impressive shots on the go. And, with the most powerful CPU in any phone currently on the market, the iPhone 11 Pro won’t let you down in performance either.
Today’s best Apple iPhone 11 Pro deals
05. iPhone XR
An excellent Apple camera smartphone – for less
Release date: October 2018 | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 7MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.8 | Autofocus type: Phase detection | Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
Excellent battery life lower price tag strong cameraWeak portrait mode screen is lower-res
If you liked the idea of the iPhone 11 Pro above but the price tag quickly put you off, the iPhone XR could be an ideal substitute. This device offers an excellent 2942mAh battery, a strong overall camera performance with a main 12MP camera taking some impressive shots and most importantly, a much lower price tag.
However, if you’re job revolves heavily around your camera, it could be worth taking the dive and spending a bit more on the iPhone above. With the iPhone XR being limited to just one lens, it falls short of being the iPhone to win this list.
06. Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Make use of Samsung’s unique ‘S’ pen
Release date: August 2019 | Rear camera: 12.2MP | Front camera: 8MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.5 – f/2.4 | Autofocus type: Phase detection and laser | Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm | Storage: 256GB
High-quality screen triple camera set-upSamsung’s ‘S’ penBattery could be stronger
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is one of the many 2019 camera phones to jump on the trend of using three cameras on the rear. And this is an investment that has clearly paid off, getting you a 16MP ultra-wide lens, a 12MP regular lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens.
Through these three lenses, Samsung can offer an excellent automatic experience and for those more experienced in the use of cameras, there is a range of features to boost its abilities. Furthermore, Samsung has put a lot of work into the video camera on the Note 10, The image stabilization technology has been improved and a new feature – ‘Live Focus’ – gives you access to portrait-like ‘bokeh’ effects.
07. Samsung Galaxy S8
Release date: April 2017 | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.7 | Autofocus type: Phase detection | Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm | Storage: 64GB
Super-easy selfie modeExcellent all-round performance biometric features failSlightly dated tech
If you want to improve your Insta-game, then you’re probably not after the priciest smartphone on the market. That’s why we’ve picked out the still-great-after-all-this-time Samsung Galaxy S8 as our choice camera phone for selfies. With its dedicated selfie mode, the S8 just makes taking photos with the 8MP front camera ridiculously easy. We found that you don’t have to mess around taking multiple shots before this phone gets things right – it’s on the ball straight away. The fact that it’s a former Samsung flagship phone means you get the rest of the package, too: superb screen, premium design, equally impressive main camera. And as it was released a few years ago, you get an affordable price tag.
08. Huawei Mate 20 Pro
An incredibly powerful phone at an affordable price
Release date: November 2016 | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP | OIS: No | Rear camera aperture: f/1.9 | Autofocus type: Phase detection | Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm | Weight: 155g | Storage: 32GB
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Excellent wide angle lensHigh powered processor maker HDR elements
After a few years on the market, this Huawei device has dropped down in price. And yet, it is still one of the most powerful camera phones on this list. It has an excellent wide-angle lens and although its HDR features can’t match that of the Google Pixel 3 or Huawei P30 Pro, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro offers a solid triple camera performance paired with a stellar overall design.
Of course, this phone does suffer from the same issues as the P30 Pro. Huawei has its ongoing issues with the US government and there’s a small risk if there’s a ban on updates and such. But if that doesn’t put you off, you’ll have a fantastic bit of hardware to enjoy.
Release date: March 2019 | Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP | Front camera: 12MP | OIS: Yes | Rear camera aperture: f/1.7 | Autofocus type: Phase detection | Weight: 176g | Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8.3mm | Storage: 64GB
Great value for money dual rear cameras4K video can’t compete with above devices
For anyone on a tight budget needing a new camera phone, this will be the best option to go for. Motorola is famed for its budget devices and the Motorola Moto G7 Plus is the best of them all.
And, despite being one of the cheapest options on this list, it has a surprisingly powerful camera. The higher pixel-count, when compared to the G7 and G7 Power’s 12MP cameras, means the camera performs far better in brightly lit situations. And, with the OIS features on this device, low light shots come out surprisingly clear as well.
And for those video makers out there, this phone can shoot in 4K, a feature rarely seen at this kind of price point.
10. Honor 20
Release date: May 2019 | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP | Front camera: 32MP | OIS: No | Rear camera aperture: f/1.8 – f.2.2 | Autofocus type: Phase detection | Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 154.3 x 75.4 x 7.9mm | Storage: 128GB
Speedy performanceImpressive camera resultsGreat price for specs not very attractive
As part of the Huawei family, the Honor 20 brings some high-end specs at a far lower price. You’re getting a quad lens camera with a 48MP main lens and a 16MP super-wide-angle lens. But, where this camera really shines is the core 48MP lens offering the main sensor with a fast f/1.8 aperture, perfect for getting those shots on the go.
Of course, at this price, you’re not getting the top camera quality on this list or anything that will be able to match a DSLR. But, this phone offers incredible camera quality for the price. Like the two Huawei devices above, the Honor 20 does deal with the Huawei ban from Google so take that into account when considering this device
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