If you like creating content on the go, you’ll want the best camera phones, but today’s selection of high-performance camera phones means you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the privilege.
Camera phones have come a long way since their inception, and while they still can’t compete with the best cameras (especially APS-C and full-frame mirrorless cameras), top mobile snappers can still deliver high Quality footage and images you enjoy, display and even sell.
For example, some mobile cameras have optical zoom lenses that use folded optics to allow you to see distant objects (including the moon) clearly. Others use computer technology to enhance the snaps you take with the main camera, and the handful with image stabilization are so impressive you’d think the shots were taken with a gimbal.
1. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best camera phone thanks to its incredible versatility. She has so many lenses and features that there isn’t a photo she can’t take. Other devices may produce slightly better images in some situations, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra handles everything from close-ups to night photos to extreme zoom distances quite well.
While the 12MP ultrawide and dual 3x and 10x 10MP telephoto sensors on the back of the S23 Ultra feel very familiar, the phone sheds the series’ previous primary 108MP resolution sensor and replaces it – a first for a Samsung phone Phones – Equipped with up to 200-megapixel primary cameras for a consistently impressive photo experience.
This change in hardware can sometimes mean lower quality for some manufacturers, but it’s similar to Google’s move to a new 50MP main sensor in its Pixel 6 series, and Apple’s move from 12MP to a 48MP main sensor a year after the iPhone 14 Pro series, it’s clear that Samsung’s camera team ensured that the output from the S23 Ultra’s 200-megapixel Adaptive Pixel sensor delivered the same consistent and immersive experience as its predecessor from the start.
2. Google Pixel 6a
If you want a great photo experience on a relatively modest budget, look no further than the Google Pixel 6a.
Sure, the photos you take with this phone won’t match the vibrancy or detail of the standard Pixel 6, but they’ll beat pretty much every other phone around the $449/£399/AU$749 price point.
Instead of the 50-megapixel main camera found on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the Pixel 6a has a 12.2-megapixel f/1.7 camera and a 12-megapixel f/2.2 Ultra Sits wide-angle camera with a 114-degree field of view. Also, without optical zoom, digital zoom only goes up to 7x. So don’t expect to capture long distance shots.
However, Google’s AI Scene Optimization, which tweaks images based on settings to make them look more appealing, is a real game-changer for the Pixel 6a, and the phone offers a host of other AI-based features too . For example, Magic Eraser is basically a version of Adobe’s Content-Aware Fill tool. It allows you to click on unwanted elements in the background of your snapshot and use AI to remove them and fill the background. It’s a fun tool, and depending on the photo, it can produce some pretty impressive results.
3. Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Google Pixel 7 Pro makes it easy to take great photos, day or night, but it also takes the photo experience further than ever before — it actually makes the photos we take with older phones look better. Currently, you can only do this with phones that support Tensor G2, such as the Pixel 7 Pro. In fact, the Pixel 7 Pro can do things that the competition hasn’t even tried.
The Pixel 7 Pro hears better — literally. It recognizes speech more accurately and makes Google Assistant more useful. Not only does it make photos better, but it also makes photos clearer and fuller by enhancing skin tones using Real Tone technology. This will make the phone sound better in no time.
4. iPhone 14 Pro / iPhone 14 Pro Max
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max both use the same cameras, so we’ve rounded them up in this list—the main difference between them being the screen size. Both phones have a 48-megapixel main camera, complemented by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 12-megapixel telephoto cameras that support up to 3x zoom. There’s also a front-facing camera with – you guessed it – 12 MP resolution.
Apple’s camera shines when it comes to its AI processing, which adjusts images to get the most out of them, and works within their dynamic range. They’re also great for video capture, with some fun modes like drag focus to help you capture cinematic footage.
We also found the iPhone’s low-light photography to be very good, with the large sensor second to none for night shots. If Apple loses points, it’s because the 3x zoom isn’t quite up to par with some competitors.
5. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best camera phone of 2022 because it’s a beast.
For starters, it offers a wide range of lenses. This includes two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses: one is f/2.4 with a 36-degree field of view (FOV), and the other is f/4.9 with an 11-degree field of view. There’s also a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view, followed by a 108-megapixel main camera (f/1.8) with an 85-degree field of view.
Not only does the lens help, but so does the software. Samsung has improved optical image stabilization, digital image stabilization, and image processing on the S22 Ultra, and you’ll notice that, especially when zoomed in.
The best camera phones change regularly, but our current top pick is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, that doesn’t mean it’ll be the best choice for everyone; before buying a camera phone, consider what you actually need.