Not too long ago, smartphone cameras didn’t stand a chance against the most basic standalone cameras. But that’s no longer the case these days. In fact, some of the best camera phones today can now compete with any point-and-shoot. Now, smartphones come with multiple lenses, impressive front cameras, and built-in software for brilliant post-processing. Here are some of our top picks, categorized according to operating system and price.
Best Apple Camera Phones
If you love your Apple products, here are the best iPhone cameras:
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Despite losing in the first round of the 2019 blind smartphone camera test, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is no doubt one of the best camera phones available today. This smartphone has both rear- and front-facing cameras. The back has three cameras, all with 12MP (megapixel) resolution. The front camera is also 12MP, a unique feature amongst the sea of phones that often feature front cameras with lower resolution.
The three back cameras come with ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses. They have 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. Some modes included are portrait, night, smart HDR, and burst mode. Portrait mode has Depth Control that gives great focus on the subject and lovely bokeh effects in the background. It comes with lighting options, too, for more natural photos.
With the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you can geo-tag your photos, capture clear photos in low-light conditions, correct red eye, and you don’t have to worry about unfocused photos because of the built-in image stabilization. Combined with professional-grade post-processing software, you will love every single photo you take with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
If you’ve been looking to upgrade your old iPhone, and you want a phone with a good camera, you can’t go wrong with the iPhone 11.
This Apple smartphone comes with a dual 12MP Ultra-Wide and a Wide camera. It doesn’t have the 3rd telephoto lens of the 11 Pro Max, but you will still be able to enjoy 2x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom.
Just like the pricier model, however, this smartphone camera also comes with a portrait mode, which has various lighting settings, a panorama mode for wide photos, image stabilization that will always give you clear images, and night mode for taking photos in low-light conditions. It also has burst mode for taking multiple photos.
Aside from the price, the major difference between the 11 Pro Max and the iPhone 11 is that the former has a larger 6.5-inch screen. This size may matter when post-processing photos, but the difference probably won’t be noticeable for most people.
Best Android Camera Phones
Not a fan of Apple? Not to worry, here are some of the best Android camera phones available now:
Google Pixel 4
Topping the list of the best Android camera phones is the Google Pixel 4. Priced at almost $800, this Android smartphone features dual-rear cameras with 12.2MP and 16MP lenses. The front camera is only 8MP, but it is more than enough for taking lovely selfies.
The Google Pixel 4 has a camera system that will let you take studio-like photos without the studio. It comes with a great night mode for taking clear photos that have rich color and detail. Even in low-light conditions, and without using the flash, every image you capture will be fantastic.
This smartphone’s camera comes with Live HDR for capturing vivid colors, Res Zoom for taking detailed photos from far away, and portrait mode for sharp subjects, even with a bokeh effect in the background.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Another top Android camera phone choice is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. This smartphone is a lot pricier than the Pixel 4, but it is still about a hundred dollars cheaper than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. However, even though it is cheaper than the newest iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a quad-rear camera system. You get the 16MP Ultra-Wide, the 12MP Wide-angle, the 12MP telephoto, and the VGA DepthVision cameras.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus lets you take detailed photos from afar and capture wide angles, such as the beautiful views from your vacation. This phone also features auto-adjustment settings that intelligently take surrounding light into account. You take beautiful photos, even when it’s too bright or too dark.
In terms of post-processing, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has editing modes that will help you process photos, whether you’re taking photos of nature, people, vehicles, food, or city scenes.
Huawei P30 Pro
Powered by a quad-camera system, the Huawei P30 Pro is another one of the best camera phones on the market today. It features Leica cameras, a household name in photography. With these lenses gracing the Huawei P30 Pro, taking a bad photo should be next to impossible with this phone.
The camera system in this smartphone is comprised of the 40MP wide-angle lens, a 20MP ultra wide-angle, an 8MP telephoto lens, and the Hauwei time-of-flight camera. The time-of-flight camera is useful for blurring the background on portrait mode or for capturing details in low-light conditions.
With the Huawei P30 Pro, you can zoom in 50x to take photos of distant objects. You can also capture details in low light, due to the phone’s SuperSpectrum sensor. You can rely on the intelligent HDR feature to give you clear and focused shots, even when shooting with a backlight. And, if you like to spend time in nature, the Huawei P30 Pro’s long exposure mode will turn your waterfall photos into works of art.
Additionally, this smartphone camera has panorama mode for taking wide photos, macro shots for capturing the smallest details in focus, and a spectacular 32MP front camera.
Best Budget and Mid-Range Camera Phones
The camera phones featured above are priced between $500 and $1,000. Sure, you can probably find them for less during a big sale, but you can get a decent camera phone for less than $500. Here are the best budget camera phones:
Xiaomi Mi 9
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is an Android smartphone sporting a triple-camera system with an impressive 48MP primary camera, a 12MP telephoto, and a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens. Not bad for a $399 phone, right?
Despite its relatively friendly price tag, this phone’s camera system comes with night mode for taking clear photos in dark conditions, a portrait mode with the bokeh effect, a panorama mode for taking gorgeous nature photos, and HDR for vivid colors. The primary lens is powered by Sony, so you know you’re getting great images every time.
Google Pixel 3a XL
Priced at less than $500, the Google Pixel 3a XL is one of the best budget camera smartphones. If you want to take brilliant photos without thinking about confusing phone camera tech and software, we believe that this Google Pixel is for you.
This camera phone only comes with a 12.2MP single rear camera system. While that may not sound like much, especially when compared to the other models listed here, it’s actually a robust camera. It’s great for taking night shots, cool portraits with blurred background, capturing faraway objects via Super Res Zoom, and vivid color editing.
On an even tighter budget? The Google Pixel 3a XL has a much cheaper version, the Pixel 3a. It comes with the same camera, but it has a much smaller 5.6-inch display compared to the Google Pixel 3a XL’s 6-inch display.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
If you like the Leica cameras of the Huawei P30 Pro, but you don’t want to spend a huge chunk of your monthly paycheck, we suggest going for the Mate 10 Pro. Just like its pricier brother, this smartphone camera showcases Leica lenses. It has a 12MP primary lens and a 20MP monochrome sensor on the back.
This smartphone also features impressive camera software and tech, even for a mid-range mobile phone. It comes with a low-light mode, portrait mode, and long exposure settings for taking artistic photos.
If you still have an older smartphone, check out our tips for taking great photos in low-light conditions.