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Top 16 Best Camera Phones For Photography 2021

If you're looking for the best camera phones to capture high-quality images, have a look at our top 16 best camera phone recommendations.

|  Samsung Galaxy Note10+ in Camera Phones
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Apple iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max


If you're looking for the best smartphone for photography, then you've come to the right place. Cameras in smartphones have come a long way over the last few years, with a number of features that have greatly improved the quality of images produced by smartphones, including optical image stabilisation (OIS), larger sensors, bright lenses, and even optical zoom making them even better for photography. The photographic capabilities of smartphones have become such a massive selling feature, that many premium smartphones now support shooting "raw" images, so you can take complete control over image processing.

Some of the weaknesses of small sensor cameras have also been removed by the use of "computational photography" - for example, Auto HDR, combines images for improved dynamic range, "Bokeh mode" produces DSLR-like images with blurred backgrounds for portraits, and multi-shot night modes offer better low-light shots, with reduced noise. 

Here we highlight some of the best camera phones we've reviewed, up until now, and what makes them unique so you can make a more informed purchase next time you upgrade/buy a new smartphone. You'll also find more in-depth comments on each of the smartphones featured in our reviews, plus take a look at our technique and feature sections where you'll find a range of articles, including our 8 DIY smartphone photography tricks you must try feature and our food photography basics, that'll have you snapping top smartphones shots in no-time. 



1. Apple iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max


Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are excellent propositions which produce fantastic and very similar quality images. However, we recommend sticking with the smaller 12 Pro and saving yourself a bit of cash, unless you particularly want a very large screen.

Camera features at a glance: Both the iPhone 12 Pro models feature a triple-lens setup, giving you a wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto lens. The iPhone 12 Pro has a 2x zoom lens, giving you 52mm f/2.0 equivalent. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 2.5x zoom, which is 65mm f/2.2 equivalent. 12MP f/2.2 front camera. 6.1 or 6.7-inch screen, 4K video, Apple ProRAW, Night Mode, Portrait Mode. 

Overall score

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2. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

Samsung Galaxy Note10+

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ packs a host of impressive specs, and produces images with great colour and dynamic range. It also features live focus video, so you can change the amount of blur in the background as you film. If you want the ultimate flagship smartphone the Galaxy Note 10+ is the phone for you.

Overall, the Note 10+ has a stunning all-screen display, great image quality, fun camera features and fantastic video functionality.

Camera features at a glance: Rear - quad-camera setup, featuring a 16 megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide, 12-megapixel wide 2PD AF f/1.5-f/2.4 OIS, 12-megapixel telephoto f/2.1 OIS and a VGA 3D depth camera. Front: 10-megapixel 2PD AF f/2.2 selfie camera which has a night mode. 6.8inch screen, 4K FullHD video, Image stabilisation, 4300mAh battery.

Overall score

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3. Vivo X51 5G 

Vivo X51 5G Smartphone


The Vivo X51 5G is a smartphone that instantly grabbed our attention. It has an impressive line-up of cameras, a 'gimbal' and what's on offer in terms of lens choice can not be snubbed. It's rare that you find a smartphone where all of the built-in cameras are actually useful but on the Vivo X51 5G they are. Low light performance is good and as we've mentioned, the choice of zoom options makes it a more usable smartphone. 

The 'gimbal' technology is impressive, producing steady video footage at 1080p with ease when Super Anti-Shake Mode is selected. It's also nice to see some new technology appearing in smartphones which have all become a bit samey of late. 

Overall, we like what the X51 has to offer and we think you will, too. 

Camera features at a glance: Rear - 48MP f/1.6 wide-angle with double-ball suspension mount OIS, PDAF, 13MP f/2.46 50mm portrait camera, PDAF, 2x optical zoom, 8MP f/2.2 120-degree super-wide-angle and 2.5cm macro, 8MP f/3.4 telephoto camera, PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom. 5X optical zoom and up to 60X Hyper zoom, Front Camera - 32MP f/2.45 26mm wide-angle, Super Night Mode, Astro Mode, Pro Sports Mode, Portrait (Art Portrait, AI Makeup, Filters, etc.), AR Stickers, Slow Motion, Live Photo, Time-Lapse, Video, Supermoon Mode, DOC, Panorama, Pro Mode, 4K video. 

Overall score

Buy On Amazon UK   


4. Samsung Galaxy S10/S10+ 

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Green (8)


The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10 5G offer premium features, excellent results, and a great smartphone experience. Also, considering the recent woes faced by other smartphone companies, if you're looking for a premium multi-camera smartphone, then getting the Samsung Galaxy S10 / S10 Plus is a great choice. 

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus delivers a great triple camera setup, with a better than expected selfie camera as well.

Camera features at a glance: 16mp Ultra-Wide, 123 degrees, 12mp Main, with f/1.5 or f/2.4 aperture, with OIS, 12mp 2x Telephoto (S10, and S10+), with OIS, Selfie: 10mp f/1.9 with Dual Pixel AF, Additional 8mp RGB depth camera for the front on the S10+, 6.4inch screen, 4K UHD video recording, 4100mAh battery.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK   Buy On Amazon USA



5. Samsung Galaxy S10e

Samsung Galaxy S10e


The Samsung Galaxy S10e sounds like it's the "entry-level" S10 from Samsung, but it's anything but entry-level, with an excellent screen, great design, high build quality, and the same processor as the S10 and S10 Plus. It's also got the same great shooting experience, just minus the telephoto lens. If you can live without a telephoto lens on a smartphone camera, and would much prefer an ultra-wide-angle lens, then the S10e is an excellent option, and it also saves you money compared to the bigger S10 smartphones. 

Camera features at a glance: 16mp Ultra-Wide, 123 degrees, 12mp Main, with f/1.5 or f/2.4 aperture, with OIS, Selfie: 10mp f/1.9 with Dual Pixel AF, S10 / S10 Plus: 12mp 2x Telephoto, with OIS, S10 Plus: Additional 8mp RGB depth camera for the front, 5.8inch screen, 3000mAh battery, 4K UHD video recording.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK  Buy On Amazon USA 




6. Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro Smartphone


The Huawei P30 Pro is an impressive smartphone that massively improves on the Huawei P20 Pro. There's a triple camera set-up supported by a TOF sensor, 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and a 4200mAh battery powering the whole thing. There's a decent amount of storage, good AI features, an improved portrait mode and the P30 Pro takes better selfies than the P20 Pro did. Combine this with its smart design, great display and improved night mode, you've got a smartphone worth paying attention to. 

As we said in our review, we can clearly see the direction Huawei smartphones are going in which is definitely an exciting one for photographers and with so much progression in just a few years, it will be very interesting to see what they bring to the smartphone world next.

Camera features at a glance: 40MP, f/1.6, 27mm, 20MP, f/2.2, 16mm & 8MP, f/3.4, 125mm. Plus, TOF 3D camera, 32MP f/2.0 dewdrop front-facing camera, 4K, Full HD & HD video, 6.47-inch (1080x2340) with in-screen fingerprint sensor, ISO 50 to 409,600, 4200mAh battery, water/dust resistance rating.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK

Less Money To Spend? Have a look at the Huawei P30 as if you don't want to part with an extra £200, the P30 would be a good choice - 'Recommended'. 


7. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note9 Blue (11) (Custom)


With the same cameras as the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is bound to impress, however, Samsung has updated the software to include auto scene recognition which will automatically apply optimum settings to deliver better photos. There's a large 6.4inch screen which makes composing and viewing photos a great experience. There's manual shooting letting you select f/1.5 or f/2.4 apertures with the wide-angle lens. There's also raw support, Auto HDR, and an 8mp f/1.7 selfie camera with autofocus ensuring selfie's are correctly focused. As you'd expect with a premium smartphone, it's waterproof with an IP68 rating. It has plenty of RAM and storage, and comes with a bluetooth stylus that can be used as a remote shutter release! ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO1250 can be used, and there's a large 4000mAh battery for great battery life.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.5-2.4 lens, 26mm equivalent wide-angle, and telephoto f/2.4 lens, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS for both cameras), 4K 60fps video, 8mp selfie camera with AF, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK    Buy On Amazon USA


8. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S9plus (7)


The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus features an ultra bright f/1.5 - f/2.4 aperture lens, and the S9 Plus has a second telephoto camera. Both feature a 12-megapixel sensor and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and the front selfie camera is an 8mp f/1.7 camera with Auto Focus (AF), which is still quite rare. The screen is an impressive 6.2inch Quad HD+ screen that dominates the front of the phone, whilst maintaining a similar size to other phones with 5.5 or 6inch screens. The phone can capture high-speed video at 960fps, 4K video at 60fps as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It's dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen and back on the phone, it's ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO1250 can be used, and using the manual mode you can shoot raw images. 

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.5-2.4 lens, 26mm equivalent, telephoto f/2.4 lens, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K 60fps video, 8mp selfie camera with AF, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK    Buy On Amazon USA

If you want to save money, and can find it available to buy, then the Samsung Galaxy S8 is also worth looking at. 


9. Google Pixel 3 / 3 XL

Google Pixel 3 (1)


The Google Pixel 3 (and 3 XL) may only have one rear camera but they make up for it by providing some of the best camera software available. This offers a number of intelligent shooting modes that combine a number of shots (often without you even being able to notice any kind of delay). The features include Super-Res technology to give 2x zoom with improved detail. There's a very impressive Night Sight mode, which can give excellent low-light shots. There's a Bokeh effect/portrait shooting mode for portraits, and Auto HDR improves the dynamic range in shots. High-speed continuous shooting may not be new, but the "Top Shot" feature makes it easy to get the best shot, and it all happens quickly, easily, and for the most part automatically.

The Pixel 3 also features dual 8mp front cameras, with an ultra-wide angle, and a wide-angle to let you get more people into group shots. Available in two sizes, as the Google Pixel 3 with a 5.5inch screen or the Google Pixel 3 XL with a 6.3inch screen and larger battery. Like other premium smartphones, the Pixel 3 is waterproof.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.8 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K 30fps video, dual 8mp selfie cameras (ultra-wide and wide-angle), raw.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK    Buy On Amazon USA


10. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G features a rear quad camera and is Samsung's current flagship device. With Ultra-Wide 12MP, f/2.2, Wide-Angle 108MP, f/1.8, OIS, Telephoto 48MP, f/3.55, OIS and DepthVision cameras on the rear and a 10-megapixel f/2.2 optic on the front, it's definitely a powerhouse in terms of the camera setup. Samsung claim a 100x 'space zoom'.

The S20 series offers better low light performance, video capture with Super Steady Stabilisation for less shake during filming and the option to shoot movies in 8K. It has a huge 5000mAh battery, with 16GB RAM (512GB memory model). Thre's a 6.9-inch Quad HD+ infinity-O display. 

The camera tech in this phone has come on in leaps and bounds, but the price currently holds it back - it's over a grand, making it out of reach for most. But if you want the biggest and the best, very latest tech, this phone will suit. It's a fantastic model, but very pricey.

Camera features at a glance: Rear Quad Camera: Ultra-Wide 12MP, f/2.2, Wide-Angle 108MP, f/1.8, OIS, Telephoto 48MP, f/3.55, OIS and DepthVision. Front Camera: 10MP f/2.2 with AF. Space Zoom - 10X Hybrid Optical Zoom and up to 100X Super-Resolution Zoom.

Overall score

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11. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro


The Huawei Mate 20 Pro feels, and looks, like a true flagship device, with an abundance of technology crammed into a stylish and relatively compact smartphone, considering the large 6.39inch screen.  

The camera is generally great, there's a good ultra-wide-angle camera, with an impressive 2.5cm macro mode. The main camera is the best of the three, giving good results in a variety of situations. The 3x telephoto camera, as we found with the P20 Pro, can struggle with focus (particularly when capturing video). When you switch between the standard and telephoto cameras, the colour saturation often changes, too, however, when the camera does get it right, results can be very good. 

If you look at the Huawei Mate 20 Pro as a cutting-edge smartphone, with a very good standard camera, with the option of an ultra-wide-angle and 3x telephoto cameras as optional extras, then you have an extremely versatile smartphone. However, if you expect the ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras to be as good as the main camera, then you'll most likely be disappointed.

For the dedicated photographer, you can shoot in Pro mode, and get better images by processing the raw files yourself. For everyone else, you can get great results leaving the camera on default settings, and leaving Master AI to sort everything out for you. 95% of people who buy this smartphone will be extremely happy with the cameras. The fussy, or the more serious photographers, may wish it was just a tiny bit better. 

Overall, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a true flagship smartphone, pushing the boundaries of what's considered possible with a smartphone, with a stylish design, in-screen fingerprint reader, face recognition, 3D scanning (coming soon), impressive battery life, extremely fast processor, plenty of storage and more. With three cameras it offers a variety of shooting possibilities, and will certainly keep the majority of people very impressed. 

Camera features at a glance: Leica Triple Cameras (Rear), 20mp f/2.2 Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens - 16mm equivalent, 20mp output, 40mp f/1.8 Standard Lens - 27mm equivalent, 10/40mp output, 8mp f/2.4 Telephoto Lens - 81mm equivalent, 10mp output, with OIS, AI IS, 24mp f/2.0 selfie camera, Dual-tone LEF flash, 4K video, FullHD video, ISO50-102400, 2.5cm macro focus, Super HDR, personalised bokeh

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK



12. Apple iPhone X


The Apple iPhone X marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and the iPhone X's camera which builds on the dual camera of the iPhone 7 Plus, but features updated cameras, with both the wide-angle (28mm equivalent) and telephoto (56mm equivalent) lenses now featuring Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), a brighter aperture for the telephoto lens (f/2.4 instead of f/2.8), and a larger sensor. Both dual cameras feature 12-megapixels, same as the iPhone 8 Plus, and the wide-angle lens features an f/1.8 aperture.

The front 'selfie' camera has 7-megapixels as well as an aperture of f/2.2 and you can use Portrait Mode to create 'bokeh' in the background of your self-portraits.

Some other features worth mentioning include the 5.8" super retina HD screen which is surrounded by a smaller bezel so the smartphone remains a reasonable size, a water and dust resistant design and those who capture video can now do so in 4K up to 60fps. As with previous iPhone models, there's no headphone socket. 

The iPhone X is unmistakably a premium smartphone that's built well, feels solid and looks really great.

Camera features at a glance: Dual 12mp wide-angle and telephoto lenses, f/1.8 & f/2.4, 28mm and 56mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK   Buy On Amazon USA


13. Huawei P40 Pro

Huawei P40 Pro (3)

The Huawei P40 Pro is one of the top of the range smartphones from Huawei for 2020, with a high-res 40mp ultra-wide-angle camera, a new 50mp wide-angle camera, and a 5x telephoto periscope camera. The selfie camera has been upgraded as well, and now features auto-focus for better selfies. The ultra-wide-angle camera is used for 4K video recording and gives great image stabilisation. There's also a slow-motion video mode with up to 960fps possible.

If you're looking for a large smartphone, with an emphasis on the camera(s) included, then the P40 Pro certainly offers a great set of cameras, however, the lack of access to the Google Play store could be a deal-breaker for many.

Camera features at a glance: Triple cameras 40mp ultra-wide, 50mp wide, 12mp 5x telephoto, plus Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and depth sensor, 4K 60fps video recording, Huawei NM memory slot, raw. 32mp selfie camera with auto-focus, and depth camera.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK   Buy On Amazon USA


14. Honor View20

Honor View20

The Honor View20 will grab the attention of photographers with the headline '48-megapixel camera' and rightly so, it's a pretty cool thing to see in a smartphone.

It's great to have such a high-resolution sensor built in but a lot of the shooting features switch back to a 12MP image quality option, the smartphone still uses the 48MP lens, and the Sony sensor technology to capture images, combining the pixels to output images at a smaller 12MP size. This occurs when using the portrait mode, aperture mode, night mode etc.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, it's not, but with the device advertised as a 48-megapixel shooter, it would be nice to see this resolution used and available more often. 

When you can shoot 48MP images, detail is excellent and you only have to compare similar shots taken with a smartphone with a smaller sensor to see the difference. Having said that, you do have to look rather closely to see how much detail the smartphone is capable of capturing in a 48MP image so is it something most will need? Perhaps not, but the option is there so why not invest in a smartphone which gives you the option to shoot in a little more detail? Even more so if it won't break the bank. 

Overall, image quality is good (both 48MP and 12MP) with an accurate reproduction of colours (even in dull conditions) and the night mode is particularly impressive as you don't even need a tripod (thanks to a clever night scene mode)! Selfies look great and portraits, particularly with a bit of bokeh, are excellent. 

The design is great, particularly with the cool nanolithography and the screen is a really decent size, even more so with the cutout camera rather than a top-notch taking up room.

If you're looking for a smartphone that's full of camera features and is capable of taking really good photos - have a look at this one. 

Camera features at a glance: 48MP f/1.8 rear camera, 25MP f/2.0 selfie camera, super night shot, AI, 4K video, Aperture/Portrait Mode, Pro Mode, ISO50 to ISO65536.

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon UK 


15. Google Pixel 4XL

Google Pixel 4XL


You might expect to see the Google Pixel 4XL higher up the list but it has been awarded 4 stars, in comparison to the Pixel 3 which we gave 4.5 stars, as even though it takes really great photos, it should still be better. The battery is poor, there's no fingerprint sensor and the selfie camera lags behind Samsung's. Plus, even though the Pixel 4XL does capture excellent photos, there are still only 2 rear cameras built-in and the camera app lacks in features when you compare it to other flagship smartphones. Yes, it's good and we're happy to recommend it, after all, it's a great smartphone, but we'd have liked to have seen just a bit more from it. 

Having said that, if you're looking for a smart-looking camera phone that's well built and can capture great images with not much effort, the Pixel 4XL should go on your list. 

Camera features at a glance: Main camera - 45mm 16MP f/2.4 lens & 28mm 12.2MP f/1.7 lens, optical & electronic image stabilisation, selfie camera(s) - 22mm 8MP, f/2.0 fixed focus lens, 4K video, splash, water and dust resistant

Overall Score: 

Buy On Amazon USA




16. Sony Xperia 1 II

Sony Xperia 1 II


The Sony Xperia 1 II smartphone is full of features but its unusual size/dimensions, price and fiddly Pro camera mode will mean it's not everyone's ideal smartphone but that doesn't mean it won't be the perfect model for someone. If you have the patience to learn how a Pro app works, too, you'll be rewarded with great looking photos but there's no reason you can't capture excellent images with the normal auto mode either as results are accurate and AF is quick. To be honest, the Pro mode seems a little over-engineered but we applaud Sony for adding this and some of its technology previously found in DSLRs. 

The longer/taller screen will be a big tick for those who watch films/tv shows a lot on their smartphones, as will be the improved battery life and overall display quality.

The Sony Xperia 1 II improves on past Sony Xperia smartphones but is it good enough to persuade us not to purchase a Samsung or an Apple device? At this moment, probably not but if you're looking for a smartphone with a great display that captures true to life images and quite like the quirky shape, you should pop it on your 'consider' list. 

Camera features at a glance: Quad Rear Camera: 12MP Wide f/1.7, 12MP f/1.4 Telephoto, 12mm f/2.2 Ultrawide & 0.3MP TOF Depth Sensor, Front Camera: 8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens, Zoom: 3X optical zoom (telephoto lens), OIS, ZEISS Optics, Pro camera mode

Overall score: 

Buy On Amazon UK    Buy On Amazon USA


For more options, have a look at some of our other guides: 

Cheap Smartphones <£200   Budget Smartphones <£300   Best Mid-Range Smartphones 


Looking For More? 

Have a look at our complete guide to memory cards to find the right MicroSD card for your smartphone, or have a look at more camera phones reviews.

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dancin 17 United Kingdom
30 Jan 2019 10:36PM
The ratings given in the group give 12 of the 15 the same 4 and half stars each. No much of an in depth analysis If they were tested as a photographer I am sure there would be some variation. May we assume that the first one in the review is the top choice.
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2020 7:02PM
It seems to be simply a compendium of the phones you happen to have previously reviewed rather than what’s on the market.

The two Apple phones for example are two and three generations old respectively - and the X wasn’t even the top model (or the best ‘camera features’) when it was new.

I’m not really sure what the point of this article is - it may tempt a few phone users to click, but it’s hardly a decent - let alone comprehensive - buyers’ guide.

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