Best camera phones, Which smartphone has the best camera? Which smartphone has the best camera quality in 2021? Which phone has the best camera? We put the best Android and Apple phones to the test, to crown the ultimate champion.
If you’re looking to buy the best camera phone on the market, you’re going to have a hard time finding just one mobile for you, because there are so many fantastic options available to you from different companies.
Do more megapixels mean better photo quality? Not necessarily. If you are comparing an 8MP camera phone with a 12MP camera phone it may well be that the pictures you’d be able to take with the 12MP model would be better, but they could also be worse if the sensor is the same size.
Which mobile camera is best for photography in 2021? If we’re talking about hardware alone, then the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has everything it takes to be the best camera phone on our list. It’s got the largest camera sensor ever seen on a smartphone, creeping up to the 1-inch sensor size seen on pro-grade compact cameras.
The best camera phones available now – Best phone camera 2021
Best camera phone 2021, our picks for the best smartphone cameras right now:
Apple iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max – Best phone for videos
Apple’s iPhone 13 family was launched in late 2021, and the Pro and Pro Max handsets are the top siblings in the line. Sure, they’re not huge upgrades over the iPhone 12 devices, but some of the biggest upgrades are in the camera software department.
The 13 Pro Max (and the price 13 Pro Max) has three cameras on the rear. The main camera yet again delivers sensor-shift stabilisation on a smartphone – keeping your videos as steady as can be – and consists of a 12MP camera unit with a wide f/1.5 aperture.
The other two cameras are similar to last year: there’s a 12MP (f/2.8) 3x telephoto zoom camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a field of view equivalent to a 77mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor and an ultra-wide camera, also with a resolution of 12MP, but with an aperture of f/1.8 and a field of view equivalent to a 13mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor.
While still image quality is excellent – with the 13 Pro building on Apple’s excellent portrait mode – the best thing is the iPhone 13 Pro’s video capabilities. Yet again capturing footage at 4K resolution at a maximum framerate of 60fps with support for Dolby Vision, no other smartphone’s video efforts come close when it comes to this level of quality.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – The best phone camera
Remember when phones had one camera? Well, now they have five. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best Android camera phone you can get right now, and certainly has the best zoom capability of any phone we’ve ever seen.
The phenomenal power of the four-camera array on the rear has to be seen to be believed. The main sensor is a 108MP model that gives you immense digital zooming and cropping ability, with a new autofocus system that fixes the sharpness issues with the S20 Ultra.
It is ably backed up by two 10MP telephoto sensors and a 12MP ultra-wide. This gives you amazing shooting flexibility for a smartphone, and a frankly scary ability to capture shots at a distance. The 40MP selfie camera, completing the quintet, also acquits itself well.
New photography features for this year include the ability to grab an image directly from any frame of an 8K video recording, as well as “Director’s View”, which displays a live view of all three camera lenses while recording. You can also take pictures and record video from both the front and back cameras simultaneously, and record multiple slowed-down instances in a single slow-mo video.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro – The best low-light camera phone
Huawei’s P40 Pro has a rather unusual quadruple-camera arrangement. The optically stabilised 50MP RYYB camera is capable of capturing images with greater dynamic range than ever before, with less visual noise. This works with a – frankly rather excellent – 40MP wide-angle lens, which shoots at the full-frame camera equivalent focal length of 18mm, which means you can shoot large groups of people from up close without using panorama mode.
The third camera – a 12MP 5x telephoto lens (125mm equivalent focal length) – adds optical zoom to stunning effect. Notably, the fourth lens is just a depth-sensing unit. And while our focus is the rear snappers, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro also has a decent setup on the front, with a 13MP f/2.4 camera joined by a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor for sensing depth.
OnePlus 9 Pro – The best camera phone for ultra-wide shots
OnePlus phones aren’t often included on this list, and while the OnePlus 9 Pro still doesn’t threaten the top spot, it’s by far the best camera phone the company has put out at the time of its launch.
The special sensor is capable of capturing super-high framerate 4K footage at up to 120 frames per second – something many pro-grade cameras can’t do. And add to the mix an ultra-high-resolution ultra-wide camera, which captures expansive landscapes at 50MP resolution, and shoots close-up pictures thanks to autofocus (something seldom seen on ultra-wide cameras), and imaging is definitely one of the 9 Pro’s fortés.
Google Pixel 5 – The best camera phone for editing
The Google Pixel 5 isn’t a camera phone that wows with numbers. There are only two rear lenses for a start, giving you the choice of a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera and a 16MP f.2.2 ultra-wide one. That also notably leaves the Pixel 5 without a dedicated telephoto lens.
An area in which the Pixel 5 really shines though, is its software, with features like Portrait Light brightening faces and subjects, along with a powerful set of in-built editing tools for perfecting shots after they’re taken.
The ultra-wide lens also creates less distortion at the edge of images than many other ultra-wide options, and the Google Pixel 5 has a decent range of photo editing tools built-in. Software features like Portrait Light also help the phone – letting you convincingly brighten faces and other subjects.