The best camera phones in 2023

The best camera phones, featuring someone taking a low-light landscape photo
(Image credit: David Monje / Unsplash)

What do the best camera phones have to offer? In recent years, manufacturers have worked tirelessly to develop handsets with more lenses, larger sensors and AI-powered enhancements that help produce crisper, more vibrant images. But choosing the right camera phone for you depends on a number of factors, including operating system, special features and how much you're willing to spend. 

Here, we've selected nine of our own favourite devices, based on our reviews, firsthand experiences and detailed spec comparisons. (Learn more about how we test devices (opens in new tab).) Unsurprisingly, Apple and Samsung are going head-to-head with their respective flagships, but Google and Sony are in the mix, as well as smaller brands like OnePlus and Oppo.

Our list spans a range of price points, but if you're not looking for anything too intricate or expensive, our list of the best budget camera phones (opens in new tab) may be more your speed. You can also take a look at our guide to how to buy refurbished tech if you want to get a bargain on a used version of one of the best camera phones. Plus, check out our guides to the best cameras (opens in new tab) overall and best point-and-shoot cameras (opens in new tab) if you want a more specialised piece of kit.

Whichever of the best camera phones you go for, make sure you see our smartphone photography (opens in new tab) tips to get the most out of your new device. We also have some quick buying tips at the end of our list to help you land the right model for your needs. 

The best camera phones available now

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra photographed in the reviewer's handcb badge

(Image credit: Future)

01. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The best camera phone overall

RAM: 6GB, 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Rear camera: 108MP (wide, f/1.8) + 10MP (periscope, 10x optical zoom, f/4.9) + 10MP (telephoto, 3x optical zoom, f/2.4) + 12MP (ultra-wide, 120-degree, f/2.2) | Front camera: 40MP (wide, f/2.2)

Useful S Pen stylus
8K video recording 
The best zoom we've experienced on any camera phone
Costs over $1,000 in the US
Battery life suffers with 8K recording
Slippery case 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best phones for creatives – as well as one of the best smartphones in general. It has a dazzling 6.8-inch screen with a 2K resolution, and the addition of the S Pen stylus means you can sketch or take notes with ease. But it really shines when it comes to mobile photography. Samsung seldom slacks with its flagship camera phones, but the Galaxy S22 Ultra is on a whole other level.

It doesn't differ much from the S21 Ultra, as the S22 Ultra has the same array of cameras, the same massive pixel count and pixel binning for improved low-light performance and 8K video recording. It also has a 10x optical zoom and an incredible 100x digital zoom.

However, the S22 Ultra has a selection of new modes and upgraded specs to make it a better choice for photographers. Remember the S Pen stylus we mentioned earlier? You can use it as a remote shutter, which we found incredibly helpful for taking selfies or long exposures without setting a timer.

It's also extremely versatile. Whether we wanted to take a wide shot of a big view, needed to jump in close for a portrait shop or wanted to travel far (and really far) into the distance for a zoom shot, we could rely on it to provide. Photos taken with a 30x zoom are much clearer here than what the S21 Ultra could produce, and night photography yields warmer tones and more balanced contrasts.

Although Samsung doesn't offer as many camera modes as some other phone brands, it makes up for this in photo quality. Samsung's Portrait mode is still outstanding, and the AI-powered Single Take picks out the best images from each lens based on a brief video you take of a subject. It's not always perfect, but the tech has certainly been on the upturn here so you'll be able to capture some excellent shots this way. 

And if you're into making movies on your smartphone, the S22 Ultra offers a Pro Videography mode that'll allow you to select which lens you want to shoot on and what range the mic is recording in – plus other tweaks like white balance and focus, as you'd find in the Pro Photography mode. You can shoot up to 8K video, but know it'll drain the battery and cause the phone to overheat. 

Cost-wise, you're looking at a base price of  $1,199 / £1,149 for 128GB, which is akin to buying a high-end laptop. But if you're an Android user who relies on your phone for photography or videography, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will yield a high return on investment.

See our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review for more details. You might also want to see our comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max.

A photo of the iPhone 14 Pro Max on a tableCB endorsed

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

02. iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max

The best camera phone for Apple fans

RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Rear camera: 48MP (wide, f/1.8) + 12MP (telephoto, 3x optical zoom, f/2.8) + 12MP (ultra-wide, 120-degree, f/2.2) | Front camera: 12MP (wide, f/1.9)

Fantastic processing
Great macro photography mode inherited from the iPhone Pro 13
Resolution upgrade on main camera
One of the most expensive camera phones
Underwhelming selfie mode
No major design changes from the 13

If you're strictly Team Apple, the latest flagship iPhones join the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as some of the best camera phones out there. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max offer enough of an improvement over the 13 series to land on our list, even if they don't look all that different, design-wise. (The most notable aesthetic change is the addition of the Dynamic Island for a more seamless UX.)

The Pro and Pro Max have significantly better cameras than the standard iPhone, sporting that additional third lens (a telephoto with 3X optical zoom), macro abilities on the ultrawide and higher resolution on the main camera. The 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have the same cameras, as well, with 48MP main sensors that are 65 per cent larger than the 13 Pro / Pro Max. That means they let in more light, improving performance in dark conditions. The 12MP ultrawide also gets improved low-light performance thanks to a new sensor and more focus pixels. We found that with an f/2.2 aperture, it's also now sharper.

There's good news for pro photographers too. The iPhone 14 Pro can capture big 48MP RAW images, allowing a lot of flexibility for clean cropping and post-processing (and storage goes up to 1TB to provide space for them). There are also a ton of AI tools to make it easier to get great shots without having to adjust settings, and night Mode is particularly good for low-light conditions. Notable is the quality of images on the 14 Pro / Pro Max, as they appear less over-sharpened than with previous iPhones. Colours look accurate and consistent across all three main cameras, too. 

You won't find a max 100x zoom like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the 14 Pro / Pro Max's macro mode on the ultrawide lets you take detailed close-ups of anything from food to bugs or plants. The telephoto zoom is also impressive, reaching 6x optical zoom or 15x digital zoom. As for video, resolution tops off at 4K, and the addition of Action mode will help keep footage steady if you're running. 

Perhaps the only area the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max fall short is selfie mode. Whilst it's been updated with an auto-focus, it doesn't deliver the same consistent quality as the rear camera, especially in low light and indoors.

If you're torn between which to go for out of the Pro and the Pro Max, it's worth bearing in mind that as well as a larger screen, the Pro Max also offers better battery life – almost 15 hours compared to just over 10. The Pro Max is also more expensive, priced similarly to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. (The Pro is $100 / £150 less.)

Either way, if you're seeking the best iPhone for taking pro-level photos, the iPhone Pro 14 and Pro Max are it.

Read more in our in-depth Apple iPhone 14 Pro review and Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max review for more details. And make sure you check out our essential iPhone Pro camera tips to get the most out of your new device.

Product shot of the Google Pixel 6 ProCB endorsed

(Image credit: Google)

03. Google Pixel 6 Pro

The best camera phone for chances of a great deal

RAM: 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB | Rear camera: 50MP (wide, f/1.9) + 12MP (ultrawide, 114-degree, f/2.2) + 48MP (telephoto, 4x optical zoom, f/3.5) | Front camera: 11.1MP (wide, f/2.2)

Useful camera software tools
Top camera hardware
Good deals available
Battery life isn't impressive
The ultrawide lens is fixed focus

Google has just announced the launch of the Pixel 7 Pro, and that means that right now we're seeing some great deals on its predecessor, the 2021 Pixel 6 Pro. We've not yet tested out the Pixel 7 Pro to see how its camera compares and whether it's worth an upgrade, but considering the price of the best camera phones, if you're looking for a bargain, we'd suggest checking the prices of the Pixel 6 Pro right now for the best price on a fantastic Android camera phone.

The fact that it's a year old doesn't mean it's starting to date by any means. The Pixel 6 Pro was awarded the best camera phone of the year in the Creative Bloq Awards 2022. It has a big 50MP sensor on its main camera, which takes in a lot of light, as well as a powerful telephoto and ultra-wide camera.

Best of all is Google's software, which is what made Pixel phones great camera devices in the first place. We found the AI scene optimization to be fantastic at tweaking pictures. Night Sight is fairly good for low-light photography, and the Magic Eraser is good at editing out unwanted objects and even people if the shot's clean enough, although Photoshop doesn't need to worry too much yet. It can get hot, and battery life is poor when compared to the S22 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, although no worse than the iPhone 14 Pro.

Want Google's superb photo processing tech at a much lower price? The Pixel 6a tops our list of the best budget camera phones (opens in new tab)

Sony Xperia 1 IV photographed in the reviewer's hand

(Image credit: Future)

04. Sony Xperia 1 IV

The best camera phone for people who like 'real cameras'

Storage: 256GB, 512GB | RAM: 12GB | Rear camera: 12MP (wide, f/1.7) + 12MP (telephoto, 3.5x-5.2x optical zoom, f/2.3) + 12MP (ultra-wide, 124-degree, f/2.2) + 0.3MP (3D Time-of-Flight)) | Front camera: 12MP (wide, f/2.0)

Useful shutter button
Loads of creative apps
Angular design
High price

Sony's been putting out some great cameras, so you would hope for good things from its camera phones, and the fourth-generation Xperia 1 doesn't disappoint. It justifies its place on this list thanks to a few key features designed more for professional photographers than average consumers. 

The zoom camera on the Xperia 1 IV has a moving lens, which facilitates continuous optical zoom between 3.5x and 5.2x, giving the phone a competitive edge for people who like zoom photography. The phone also sports a physical shutter button, which can be partially depressed to find focus or fully pressed to take a picture, giving a camera-esque experience that can be useful in certain situations, such as when you want to focus and wait for the perfect moment for the shot.

Meanwhile, for the first time on a Sony phone, you can record 4K and 120fps footage on any of the three rear cameras and one on the front, which is useful for videographers and bloggers. We also quite like Sony's creativity apps like Photography Pro and Cinema Pro (there's also Audio Pro for music). The photography app isn't the easiest to use since it's modelled on cameras rather than smartphones, but if you're familiar with using a  DSLR, you'll have no problem with it.

Beyond the cameras, the Sony Xperia 1 IV is a typical premium Android phone, though a reasonable battery (we got a full day out of it), 4K display and a clean Android experience may endear it to some. But its cameras are its real selling point.

Read more in our in-depth Sony Xperia 1 IV review.

Photo of the OnePlus 10 Pro in the reviewer's hand

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Creative Bloq)

05. OnePlus 10 Pro

One of the best camera phones for looks

RAM: 8GB, 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB | Rear camera: 48MP (wide, f/1.8) + 8MP (telephoto, 3.3x optical zoom, f/2.4) + 50MP (ultra-wide, 150-degree, f/2.2) | Front camera: 32MP (wide, f/2.2)

Stylish design
Impressive cameras
More affordable than other flagships
Can get hot
No official water resistance

OnePlus's high-end phone for 2022 offers an impressive trio of rear cameras, with the company's partnership with pro camera manufacturer Hasselblad paying off again. We found the main, ultra-wide and telephoto cameras offer a lovely shallow depth in a lot of shots, although some might feel the AI optimisations leave the pictures a little oversaturated.

There are some unique modes available. XPan, inspired by the niche Hasselblad camera of the same name, takes wide panoramas, while 150-degree mode uses the ultra-wide camera to create a fisheye-like effect.

Beyond the camera, we found the OnePlus 10 Pro to be a well-rounded Android phone with a good-looking screen, fast charging and plenty of processing power. As with all phones, it has a few rough edges, and we found it ran hot when put through intense use.

Read more in our in-depth OnePlus 10 Pro review.

Oppo Find X5 Pro photographed in the reviewer's hand

(Image credit: Ben Brady)

06. Oppo Find X5 Pro

A sleek camera phone with Hasselblad filters

RAM: 8GB / 12GB | Storage: 256GB / 512GB | Rear camera: 50MP (f/1.7) + 50MP (ultra wide, f 2.2) + 13MP (telephoto, 2x optical zoom, f/2.4) | Front camera: 32MP (wide, f/2.4)

Elegant design
Hasselblad colour enhancements
Poor zoom

The Oppo Find X5 Pro has been one of the most talked about top-end smartphones this year, and mostly because of its camera, thanks to help from Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad. There's a 32MB selfie on the front and three lenses on the back neatly grouped into a kind of plateau: a main 50MP with a super fast f/1.7 aperture, an ultra-wide-angle 50MP camera with f/2.2 and a 13MP telephoto lens with f/2.4. Gone is the Find X3 Pro's dedicated microscopic macro lens.

The two main lenses are fantastic with great, vivid colours and the low apertures allow fast shots. The telephoto lens is less impressive, with only a 2X zoom, which lags behind much of the competition. The new Marisilicon X neural processing unit applies AI imaging algorithms right on RAW data to improve noise reduction in low light for photos and 4K video. Meanwhile, Hasselblad's filters that can add a film-like quality to the most mundane of images.

Cameras aside, the Oppo Find X5 Pro has a unique, sleek design – its camera bump is a smooth slope rather tan a clumsy protrusion. The display is also very good and highly adjustable. 

Read more in our in-depth Oppo Find X5 review.

Photo of the Realme GT 2 Pro, one of the best camera phones

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

07. Realme GT 2 Pro

The best camera phone for microscopic photography

RAM: 8GB, 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB | Rear camera: 50MP (wide, f/1.8) + 50MP (ultrawide, 150-degree, f/2.2) + 3MP (microscope, 40x magnification, f/3.3) | Front camera: 32MP (wide, f/2.4)

Fantastic microscope camera
Pretty affordable
No telephoto camera
Bloated software

Realme isn't a company that often gets onto 'best camera phone' lists, generally due to its lack of top-end smartphones, but the GT 2 Pro is its first top-end phone and it wins Realme a place on this list. The phone's 50MP main and ultra-wide cameras are great, but the real reason the phone is on this list is its 40x magnification microscope camera.

We found Realme's mobile miraculous for how it offers impressive camera features at a much lower price than you'd expect. The main camera is incredible for low-light photography, and would definitely give an iPhone a run for its money. It also captures loads of colour and light in daylight or well-lit settings.

We had loads of fun playing about with the microscope camera, and this is a great phone for a few other reasons too. It charges quickly, its screen looks great, and it's very powerful. Plus, it's one of the most affordable mobiles on this list, making it a great alternative to the big flashy phones from the bigger brands.

Read more in our in-depth Realme GT Pro 2 review.

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

08. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

The best foldable camera phone

RAM: 12GB | Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Rear camera: 50MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoom | Front camera: 10MP cover (f/2.2), 4MP under-display (f/1.8)

Better multitasking with taskbar
Foldability can be handy as a tripod
S Pen support
More expensive than phones with better cameras
Lacklustre selfie camera

If you long for the days when flip phones were the standard, there's the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. As the name suggests, this is the fourth iteration of this foldable smartphone, and Samsung has continued to make the right tweaks in order to produce the lightest and thinnest Fold phone yet.

There are five cameras spread around the Z Fold 4 – three on the back, a selfie camera in the front display, and then another in the inner display. The latter is almost unnoticeable from most angles but obvious at others. These don't get Samsung's best cameras, but they're a notable upgrade from the previous foldable with a 50MP main camera with an f/1.8 lens, a 12MP ultra-wide and a 10MP, 3x zoom telephoto. The selfie camera on the cover display is also 10MP, but the in-display selfie camera is a rather lacklustre 4MP.

This is a camera phone aimed more at productivity and hybrid working than photography per se, so video calls, for example, but there's some smart software to get good use out of the cameras. When we got hands on with the Z Fold 4, we also found that its foldability allows it to work as its own tripod in a way. And if you open it up while taking a shot, you can give subjects a preview by duplicating your viewfinder to the front display. 

Neat tricks, but those alone aren't enough to justify spending such a huge amount of money on a camera phone. It's the most expensive on the market, so you need to have a use for that big unfoldable screen and Samsung's S Pen stylus.

Read more in our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.

Samsung galaxy S21 ultra review

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli )

09. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The best camera phone if you're looking for a discount on an older model

RAM: 12GB, 16GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB | Rear camera: 108MP (wide, f/1.8) + 10MP (periscope, 10x optical zoom, f/4.9) + 10MP (telephoto, 3x optical zoom, f/2.4) + 12MP (ultrawide, 120-degree, f/2.2) | Front camera: 40MP (wide, f/2.2)

 Wacom pen tech 
 Excellent camera zoom 
Big and bulky 

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is still a great choice if you manage to find a decent deal. Its camera array is largely the same as that on the S22 Ultra at number one on our list, offering fantastic flexibility with 108MP main camera and 100x digital zoom.

Features elsewhere across the board still stand up today. The S21 Ultra boasts a top-notch processor, a water-resistant body and wireless charging. It can connect to a monitor and double up as a desktop experience using Samsung’s big-screen interface DeX, and supports Samsung’s S Pen for drawing and note-taking. 

What you don't get on the S21 Ultra is S Pen stylus support, which was only introduced on this year's S22 Plus. Other than that, it's a fairly similar set up, but it's only really worth buying if you can find it significantly cheaper than the S22, and those deals come and go.

Read more in our in-depth Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review.

How do I choose the best camera phone for me?

Different smartphone makers focus on different aspects of the camera, so to decide on the best camera phone for you, you need to look at the camera strengths, available modes and the shooting experience itself.

The camera strengths involve what the device focuses on (pun intended) - some have long-ranging zoom cameras (like the S22 ultra's massive 100x digital zoom) while others might focus on sensor size or dedicated macro lenses. Available modes might help too, as most brands create their own camera modes. Samsung has Single Take and Food, both of which help you take great-looking pictures with little work, while OnePlus and Oppo have some gorgeous Hasselblad-created filters.

Finally, the shooting experience could influence your buying choice. Some phones offer and easy point-and-shoot experience, so that at the tap of a button you can take social-media-ready posts, while others have a more involved process that makes it easy to fiddle with different settings. Your choice here will depend on your comfort level with cameras, and we'll definitely note anything pertinent in our reviews.

Of course, you need to consider the rest of the phone experience in your choice too. You're choosing a camera phone, not just a camera, so you also want to consider general processing power, screen quality, batter life and the size of phone you want.

How much do the best camera phones cost?

None of the phones in our pick of the best camera phones is cheap. Based on the manufacturers' recommended retail prices, our recommended choices for the best camera phone range from $699 / £699 for the Realme GT 2 Pro to $1,099 / £1,199 for the new iPhone 14 Pro Mac and a staggering $1,799 / £1,499 for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 – and those prices are for the starting configurations.

That's a difference of $400 in the US and £500 in the UK – large enough to possibly be a factor in your decision. But when it comes to comparing our top picks, the iPhone 14 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the difference in price is too small to really be an influence, and the choice comes down more between the camera specs, or more likely between whether you prefer an Android phone or iOS.

That said, some of the phones on our list are more likely to see discounts than others. Samsung often offers deals on its phones, especially during events like Black Friday, while Apple doesn't. Your best bet to save on an iPhone is through trade in or through a deal with a phone carrier. Google's Pixel 6 Pro is also seeing some great deals at the moment because of the announcement of the Pixel 7 Pro.

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Basil Kronfli

Basil is a trained graphic designer and photography expert who geeks out over anything to do with digital imaging and sketching. Now a tech journalist and content director at a creative comms agency, he covers tech through a real-world lens, contributing to titles including Creative Bloq, Digital Camera World, Metro, T3, TechRadar and WIRED.

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