If you’re wondering what the best camera phone in the world is, there probably isn’t a cut and dry answer. Is money no object? Do you need the best zoom, or GoPro-style ultrawide camera? Or do you just want a smartphone that can take stellar shots whether it’s the middle of the day or the dead of night?
Smartphone camera tech is developing quickly, and with more options available than ever, choice paralysis fast sets in. It doesn’t matter if 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 your Instagram game, we've tested hundreds of smartphones, and whittled our list of best camera phones you can buy down to just ten.
Obviously, for those making a full-time living from photography, grabbing one of the best cameras out there is still crucial. But your smartphone can act as an excellent backup too, and could even pack some tricks up its sleeve missing from higher end dedicated snappers.
Not looking to spend a lot of money? Don't worry. This roundup isn't all flagships and $1000 price tags. We'll cover multiple price points here, but if you're looking for something particularly cheap, check out our roundup of the best budget camera phones. 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.
While the best camera phone for many will be the iPhone 11 Pro, packing excellent app support and delivering a rich user experience, the best camera on a phone right now is that of the Huawei P40 Pro Plus. The first phone to launch with a 10x optical zoom, it does what no other can do – deliver a 240mm focal length without crumbling.
The best camera phones available now
Life just looks better when it’s captured on the P40 Pro Plus. Whether you’re pinching the screen to zoom way into the distance, or shooting in middling to low light, Huawei’s latest Leica co-engineered flagship phone delivers best-in-class photography, almost every time.
The stars of the P40 Plus’s show are the telephoto cameras. We say cameras, plural because there are two: a 3x zoom and a 10x zoom around the back. This combo covers all bases, so you can be guaranteed a decent shot, however you frame it.
Combined with an ultrawide camera featuring an 18mm focal length, and a primary 50MP camera that comes in at 23mm, there’s plenty of versatility with the penta-camera system around the back of the P40 Pro. Huawei also loads up a time of flight (ToF) depth sensor to help with background defocus for DSLR-a-like photos depth of field.
Add to the mix excellent video credentials and a selfie camera that flatters like no other with realistic beautification that can be dialled up or down, and to say Huawei gets imaging is an understatement. It’s a shame that the Chinese tech giant’s phones aren’t easier to recommend from a software point of view.
Owing to app support issues after Huawei falling in the firing line of China-US trade disputes, it doesn’t support the full suite of Google services. In turn, definitely read up on the potential limitations before picking one up. That said, if all you care about is that camera, and/or you don’t mind sideloading Google Services onto your phone (something we naturally can’t sanction but have successfully done), then this is the hands-down camera phone to beat.
The iPhone camera wavered in 2018 with stiff competition from Google and Huawei. But now Apple’s back on top, having refreshed its flagship camera and included a sensational night mode that can rival the best Android camera phones out there. What’s more, Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max pack wide, telephoto and ultra-wide cameras options that are calibrated to perfection, producing colour matched images across all three that look stunning.
The rest of the phone is also top-tier, with more power than virtually anything else on the market and a familiar iOS interface. App support on iPhones is fantastic, from Adobe Lightroom through to third party manual camera applications that will eke even more out of the three 12MP sensors around the back, and the phone’s 4K video capture is also sensational.
The hardest pill to swallow when it comes to any iPhone is the price; though, while in the past you weren’t always getting a truly top quality camera with your iPhone, when it comes to the 11 Pro, you really are. Want to know more? Check out our in-depth iPhone Pro 11 review.
Huawei’s successor to the fantastic P30 Pro is a worthy follow-up from a camera point of view, but the phone isn’t as easy to recommend as its predecessor. The reason for this has nothing to do with its hardware; it’s all down to the US-China trade war, and the fact Huawei can’t use Google services on its phones at the moment at the behest of President Trump himself. While the P40 Pro will be a dream for anyone trying to uncouple themselves from Google, therefore, definitely read up on it before you pick one up, as the implications are far-reaching.
Google stuff aside for a second, and there’s no denying the camera power behind this flagship smartphone. It packs four cameras around the back and two on the front. Delivering a stellar main camera with a 50MP sensor resolution and a nice and wide 23mm field of view, come day or night, it nails it. Then there’s the 5x periscope zoom – it pulls in close and stays sharp. Add to the mix an ultra-wide, GoPro style camera as well as a depth sensor, and all your bases are covered, with the P40 Pro bettering big hitters from Google and Samsung.
With up to 256GB storage and a nippy processor, internals will leave you wanting for nothing, and when they come packaged in such a beautiful glass and metal chassis, the outside matches what’s within. It even feels special; Huawei has curved the screen on all four sides, so whether you’re swiping in from up, down, left, or right, your thumb will effortlessly glide across the display.
If this was a ‘Best main camera’ phone list, the Pixel 4 would be sitting pretty at the top. But, as a package, the lack of an ultrawide camera holds it back. Given the phone’s flagship price, from a focal length point of view, it just isn’t as versatile as the rest of the best camera phones in our list.
Having said that, if you don’t care about all-encompassing wide angles or sensational 5x optical zooms, and you just want to point, shoot and get a stunning picture; you can confidently pick up the Pixel 4. Google has also included a night mode on its Pixel 4-series called Night Sight that can capture night skies in more detail than anything else on the market, with intelligent long-exposures that create pictures that look like they were taken on a DSLR.
Pixels aren’t cheap, and they don’t pack tonnes of storage. Additionally, you’ll want to go for a Pixel 4 XL if you want decent battery life. If picture taking is your passion though, pick one up and you won’t be disappointed.
The Galaxy S20-series, Samsung’s flagship smartphone troupe for 2020, is spearheaded by the S20 Ultra, a tour de force in cutting-edge camera tech. Loaded up with no less than a 100x Space zoom and an equally outlandish 108MP sensor resolution, nothing else comes close on paper.
You need to take marketing terms like ‘Space Zoom’ with a pinch of salt though. After all, the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s telephoto camera actually packs a roughly 10x optical zoom. The 100x across the phone’s marketing materials is a combination of optical zoom (true magnification) and digital zoom (cropping into the sensor). That being said, even once the jargon’s been debunked, we can’t deny that the S20 Ultra’s zoom is better than anything else out there - if we wanted to capture the moon at night, this would be our camera phone of choice.
All four rear cameras on this pricey smartphone are at least very good, with the main camera grabbing stacks of detail and a pleasing amount of depth. The S20 Ultra’s ultra-wide camera gets more in the frame than most of the competition, while still grabbing plenty of detail and performing respectably across lighting conditions. The camera highlights don’t stop there though; the S20-series can record video at up to 8K resolution, so videographers and photographers alike should be able to get the imaging edge over other smartphone snappers with one of these.
Oppo has been relatively unknown until recently, but it landed with a bang. Last year, its branding was all over Wimbledon, and now it’s launched one of the best smartphones of the year so far, the Find X2 Pro.
From a camera point of view, the X2 Pro wows, introducing Sony’s new 48MP sensor to the world. Grabbing high-resolution photos with beautiful depth and plenty of detail, the great thing about photos shot on the Find X2 Pro is that they look natural and realistic, especially when set aside those captured on Samsung phones. Packing a 5x zoom telephoto camera, the Pro also gets you close to the action, and its ultra-wide camera is a pin-sharp 48MP, for GoPro-esque shots you can crop into.
Delivering flagship power, decent battery life and an absolutely jaw-dropping screen, inside and out, the X2 Pro impresses. That said, we haven’t even covered the phone’s two standout features – the X2 Pro delivers the fastest charging on the market - powering up from 0-100% in 38 minutes, not to mention over half a terabyte of storage as well – that’s three times what Samsung offers on the S20 Ultra. In turn, power users will love the fact Oppo has well and truly arrived
The Samsung Galaxy S20 will probably be the most popular of the S20-series, even if it isn’t the most specced out. Its manageable size combined with a premium set of features and a sharp, punchy, bright screen mean it’s a cracking phone, and the fact it costs a lot less than the S20 Ultra gives it plenty of appeal.
With three cameras around the back, including a 64MP 3x zoom telephoto camera, it packs plenty of pixels and pulls you right into the heart of the action for impressive shots at a distance. The main camera is lower resolution at 12MP, but its nighttime performance is a big step up when compared to last year’s Galaxy S10. Combined with an ultra-wide camera and up to 8K video recording, the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus cover all bases without breaking the bank like the S20 Ultra does.
Just like the iPhone 11 Pro, the S20 is water and dust resistant, and supports wireless charging. Unlike iPhones though, you can bump up the phone storage with an SD card, and reverse the wireless charging, so your Samsung phone can power up your wearables, or indeed, an iPhone.
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 triple camera on the rear is the obvious place to start. It’s no longer unique, but the remarkable dual f/1.5/f/2.4 aperture is certainly an attractive added bonus, meaning you can take eye-popping shots even in low light without any long exposure party tricks. 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.
OnePlus phones have always screamed value for money, packing a select range of flagship specs while undercutting the best from the rest. The OnePlus 8 Pro pulls a bit of a switcheroo, bumping up the price, and packing in a bunch of extra features like wireless charging and water resistance, thereby competing head-on with flagships from Samsung and Apple.
Luckily for OnePlus, in this instance, the gamble pays off. The OnePlus 8’s screen is the same panel as found on the Oppo Find X2 Pro, and it’s stunningly sharp, deep and vibrant all at the same time. Its cameras incorporate Sony’s latest 48MP sensor, which grabs beautiful depth. Thanks to improved nighttime performance, even when the lights go down, pictures shot on it look great. Where it falls behind the Oppo Find X2 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro is zoom, though its 3x optical zoom matches that of its main competition, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus like-for-like.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is also a power-packed beast from a specs point of view. The processor is top of the line, it charges at up to 30W, both wired and wireless, which is a boon for anyone in a hurry, and thanks to its stereo speakers, it sounds as good as it looks. How good does it look? In its new, frosted Glacial Green guide, very good indeed; curving glass and metal masterfully for a rich-feeling device that’s easy on the eyes.
Think iPhone 11 Pro without the 2x telephoto camera and you get the iPhone 11. This stonking phone may lose out on some of the Pro’s perks like an OLED screen and that flagship fit and finish, but when it comes to the cameras, it’s very comparable. This means fantastic pictures, morning, noon or night, and pin shark 4K video at up to 60fps.
Naturally, the iPhone 11 is also significantly cheaper than the 11 Pro Max, and is available in some beautiful, understated colours, including a lilac purple, powder mint green and a slightly muted, bright yellow.
Apple’s mainstream iPhone is also powerful, shipping with iMovie and supporting 4K video edits on the go. Factor into the mix a suite of third party downloadable creative applications from Adobe, as well as tools like LumaFusion and Vectornator - a fantastic on-the-go Illustrator alternative, and the iPhone 11 is about as close as Apple products get to being great value for money.
Check out the widget below for a quick overview of the best camera phones and the cheapest prices in your region right now.