The Best Camera Phones of the year

The best camera phones of the year

Diverse phones take very different approaches to photography, thus the best camera phones won’t be the same for everyone. Do you want the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s lens overload and wide zoom range? The iPhone 12’s point and shoot simplicity? Or the Google Pixel 5’s amazing software?

Maybe you want to get up close and personal with macro photographs, or maybe you prefer selfies. There are many additional factors to consider, such as megapixel counts, low-light performance, and so on.

So the choice can be daunting, but we’ve put together this guide to help you decide, emphasizing the top best camera phones in general. These won’t all work for everyone, but we’ve given an outline of each so you can see their benefits and draw your own conclusions.

If you just want the best of the best, we’ve got you covered there, because this list is ranked based on our personal preferences. So, our top pick is at number one.

But don’t worry if nothing seems just right; the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be available soon. We are certain to make this list once we’ve given them a thorough review, and the iPhone 13 range is also on the way.

This comes with some of the best camera phones of the year. These won’t all work for everyone, but we’ve given an outline of each. So, you can see their benefits and draw your own conclusions.

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i. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 

One of the best camera phones on the market

1. 227g in weight

2. OS: Android 11

3. Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

4. 6.8-inch screen with 1440 x 3200 resolution

5. Exynos 2100 / Snapdragon 888 CPU

6. Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB

7. RAM: 12GB / 16GB

8. 5,000mAh battery

9. Front camera: 40MP

10. Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP

Where to purchase it

The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra didn’t quite live up to expectations unlike the one on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Like everything else on the S21 Ultra, the Camera is top-of-the-line, with a 108MP f/1.8 primary sensor, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide sensor, and two telephoto cameras, which is almost unheard of on phones. 

These two cameras are 10 megapixels, but one has an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom, while the other has an f/4.9 aperture and a whopping 10x optical zoom. The results are just as remarkable as the numbers. So, in our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review, we named it the best camera zoom on a phone.

Photos that are not zoomed are also impressive, though not always on par with the best competitors. 

However, when a plethora of camera modes are combined, including new ones like Director’s View (which allows you to capture video with both the front and rear cameras at the same time). Also, with a highly powerful 40MP front-facing camera, you have a smartphone photographer’s dream.

ii. Huawei Mate 40 Pro 

Almost the greatest camera phone you can buy for the money


1. Dimensions: 162.9 x 75.5 x 9.1 mm

2. Weight: 212g

3. OS: Android 10

4. CPU: Kirin 9000 5G

5. RAM: 8GB

6. Storage: 256/512GB

7. Battery: 4,400mAh

8. Screen size: 6.76-inch

9. Front camera: 13MP

10. Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP + 20MP

Where to purchase it

You might be shocked to see the Huawei Mate 40 Pro on this list; after all, it’s a phone that only received 3.5 stars from us and isn’t even close to making our best smartphone list.

However, the reason we can’t give it a higher overall rating has nothing to do with its cameras and everything to do with its limited app situation (due to lack of access to the Google Play Store).

In fact, its cameras are outstanding. A 50MP f/1.9 main camera, a 12MP f/3.4 periscope camera (with 5x optical zoom), and a 20MP f/1.8 ultra-wide camera are all included.

While it doesn’t have as many lenses as other competitors, it does have all of the most critical types covered, and they all work admirably.

In our assessment, we discovered that the Huawei Mate 40 Pro could handle just about any type of photo, from portraits to vast landscapes, zoomed photographs, and close-up topics. Even in low-light situations, it performs admirably.

While we’ve been focusing on the back cameras, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro also offers a decent front camera arrangement. Also, with a 13MP f/2.4 camera and a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor for depth sensing.

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro also has a variety of photographic modes and features, including a light painting feature and a special moon photography mode.

iii. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

The finest iPhone camera on the market


1. 228g in weight

2. 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4m Dimensions

3. iOS 14 is the operating system.

4. 6.7-inch screen size

5. 1284 x 2778 pixel resolution

6. A14 Bionic CPU

7. 6 GB RAM

8. 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB of storage

9. 12MP + 12MP + 12MP rear camera

10. The front camera has a resolution of 12 megapixels

Where to purchase it

The iPhone 12 Pro Max isn’t the best smartphone, but it’s a close second. A 12MP f/1.6 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 telephoto camera (with 2.5x optical zoom), a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera, and even a LiDAR scanner for Night Mode photos are all included.

In reality, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has significantly less trouble with night and low light in general than most smartphones. Thanks to a big sensor that can capture a lot of light.

Night Mode works with both the primary and ultra-wide sensors. So, you’re not restricted in what you can photograph at night. Meanwhile, Smart HDR 3 is a new feature for the range that combines multiple exposures to generate the best picture possible, something that can help your photographs regardless of the lighting conditions.

The internal editing features are also fantastic, and with Dolby Vision support for films, the iPhone 12 Pro Max shines at more than just stills. Overall, it’s a fantastic setup, with each lens functioning admirably.

This iPhone is just slightly better than the iPhone 12 Pro in terms of camera quality, but it still has the upper hand, making it the best camera phones (iPhone) for photography.

iv. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

A fantastic camera phone with a fantastic zoom lens


1. Weight: 208g 

2. OS: Android 10

3. Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm

4. Resolution: 1440 x 3088

5. Screen size: 6.9-inch

6. Exynos 990 / Snapdragon 865 Plus

7. 12 GB RAM

8. 128/256/512 GB of storage

9. 4,500mAh battery

10. Front camera: 10MP, 12MP, 12MP

11. Rear camera: 108MP, 12MP, 12MP

Where to purchase it

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes with a high-resolution camera, but it’s the telephoto lens that really shines. This camera has a 12MP f/3.0 sensor, 5x optical zoom, and 50x digital zoom.

Both of those specs are amazing, and while the S20 Ultra boasts a 100x digital zoom, it’s a gimmick, since the Note 20 Ultra actually outperforms it. Thanks to a wider aperture and larger pixels.

While the telescopic camera is the star of the show, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 108MP f/1.8 primary camera and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera are equally impressive. 

The camera on the Note 20 Ultra is also really simple and enjoyable to use, with features like 8K video and Single Take mode, which takes a bunch of photographs and videos at once using multiple lenses and modes to boost the chances of getting something worthwhile.

Low light shots aren’t as detailed as those taken by some of the rivals, such as the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but this is an excellent camera configuration overall.

v. OnePlus 9 Pro 

OnePlus photography takes a great step forward 


1. 197g in weight

2. 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm

3. OS: Android 11

4. Dimensions: 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm

5. 6.7-inch screen size

6. 1440 x 3216 pixel resolution

7. Snapdragon 888 processor

8. 8/12GB RAM

9. 128/256GB of storage

10. 4,500mAh battery

11. Rear Camera is 48MP + 50MP + 8MP + 2MP 

12. 16MP front camera

Where to purchase it

The OnePlus 9 Pro is by far the best camera phones the company has put out at the time of its introduction, and while it doesn’t challenge the top rank. Also, it is by far the best camera phones the company has put out at the time of its launch.

It is design with a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera (with 3.3x optical zoom), a 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP monochrome sensor for enhancing black and white images. 

The ultra-wide is perhaps the most noticeable of them, as it features a free form lens design that eliminates the “barrel” distortion sometimes seen at the borders of ultra-wide images taken on other phones.

The OnePlus 9 Pro’s cameras were also developed in partnership with Hasselblad, albeit the collaboration was primarily limited to color calibration and the design of the camera app. We expect more from this relationship on future OnePlus phones, but the results are already visible in images, with true hues.

While the OnePlus 9 Pro boasts robust manual settings, it also performs admirably in auto mode, making it an excellent point and shoot option.  The OnePlus 9 Pro is a good all rounder in terms of photography and most other respects with video recording at up to 8K quality and a respectable 16MP front-facing camera.

vi. Huawei P40 Pro

The P40 Pro boasts excellent cameras, but it isn’t the greatest phone available


1. 50MP (f/1.9) main camera

2. 12MP (f/3.4) Telephoto

3. 40MP (f/1.8) ultra-wide lens

4. Weight: 209g

5. Front camera: 32MP

6. 158.2 x 72.6 x 9mm Dimensions

7. Size of the battery: 4,200mAh

8. Memory card slot: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB

9. Max video quality: 4K 60fps

10. Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB 

Where to purchase it

Simply put, the Huawei P40 Pro is one of the best camera phones available for under $1,000 / £900. 

In fact, this is simply the best camera phone available for a specific type of photographer who values a telephoto lens.

However, considering the Huawei/Google issue, there are lot of concerns recommending it to people. Despite its long list of impressive features, you should read our P40 Pro review before purchasing one. 

Regardless of its software restrictions, its camera will take your breath away. The Leica-branded photography technology of the P40 Pro is led by a brand new 50MP sensor, which, like the 40MP P30 Pro before it, utilises RYYB (red yellow yellow blue) sub-pixel creation. 

Huawei claims that this improves the P40 Pro’s camera’s ability to handle dim scenes, and we can witness to the fact that it does. On paper, the main camera’s lens has a fairly typical f/1.9 aperture, but thanks to a large sensor size (for a smartphone) and OIS, as well as Huawei’s powerful electronic image stabilization, it’s still a low-light star.

Even in automated mode, this phone can almost see in the dark, something no other non-Huawei phone can. A 40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide camera, a 12MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom or 50x digital zoom, and a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor for bokeh effects are also included. 

The P40 Pro takes photos with a lot of detail and very little noise. Unlike Samsung, Huawei’s images aren’t unduly sharpened, and while they’re not as natural and neutral as the Oppo Find X2 Pro’s, many people will like Huawei’s more vibrant aesthetic.

While the P40 Pro doesn’t get quite as close to the Galaxy S20 Ultra in terms of zoom, it costs a lot less and, more significantly, delivers better image quality across all of its cameras. 

The remainder of the phone’s hardware is top-notch, it looks great, and it packs a lot of punch, so if (and only if) you’re okay with a Google-free software experience, the P40 Pro has a lot to offer.

 xii. iPhone 12 Pro

This is almost as good for photography as the iPhone 12 Pro Max


1. 189g in weight

2. OS: iOS 14

3. Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm

4. The screen size is 6.1-inch with a resolution of 1170 x 2532 pixels

5. A14 Bionic CPU

6. Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB RAM: 6GB

7. 12MP + 12MP + 12MP rear camera

8. 12MP front camera

Where to purchase it

The cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro appear to be very similar at first appearance, and they aren’t that different, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the edge thanks to a bigger sensor on the main camera and enhanced zoom on the telephoto lens.

Nonetheless, the iPhone 12 Pro comes close to matching it, and at a lesser cost. It is design with a 12MP f/1.6 main camera with OIS, a 12MP f/2.0 telephoto camera with OIS and 2x optical zoom, and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera with OIS and 2x optical zoom. 

It, too, features a LiDAR scanner, which can be used to power augmented reality experiences and take Night Mode portrait photographs, just like its bigger brother. The 12MP selfie camera is likewise good, with useful features like Dolby Vision for video and Smart HDR 3 for better picture processing.

viii. Google Pixel 5 

A fantastic combination of cameras and editing software


1. 151g in weight

2. 144.7mm x 70.4mm x 8mm Dimensions

3. Android 11 (OS)

4. 6-inch screen size

5. CPU: Snapdragon 765G

6. Resolution: 2340 x 1080

7. Storage: 128GB

8. RAM: 8GB 

9. 4000mAh battery

10. 16MP + 12MP rear camera

11. 8MP front camera

Where to purchase it

The Google Pixel 5 isn’t a camera phone that dazzles with statistics. To begin with, there are only two rear lenses: a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera and a 16MP f.2.2 ultra-wide camera. 

This also means that the Pixel 5 will be sans a camera. However, we discovered that the Pixel 5 was capable of capturing crisp images with a strong color palette, especially in bright light, and that while low light performance is a step down. It still captures true colors.

The Google Pixel 5’s ultra-wide lens also produces less distortion at the edges of photographs than many other ultra-wide lenses, and it comes with a nice set of photo editing capabilities. Portrait Light is a software function that helps the phone by convincingly brightening faces and other subjects. 

ix. Samsung Galaxy S21 / S21 Plus

It is not the best of the S series, but nevertheless great


1.  169g/200g weight

2. 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm / 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm Dimensions

3. Android 11 (OS)

4. 6.2-inch / 6.7-inch screen size

5. 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution

6. Exynos 2100 / Snapdragon 888 CPU

7. 8 GB RAM

8. 128GB / 256GB of storage

9. 4,000mAh / 4,800mAh battery

10. 12MP + 64MP + 12MP rear camera

11. 10MP front camera

Where to purchase it

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus feature a different camera arrangement than the S21 Ultra, which is why they are ranked lower on our top camera phone list, but each handset still has a very outstanding system. 

A 12MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and a 64MP f/2.0 telephoto camera make up the camera system, which is nearly identical to the Samsung Galaxy S20’s.

New Single Take modes, for example, are among the enhancements. With a single button push, this mode allows the phone to snap a range of photographs and films with all three cameras, and it now includes a slow-mo option.

There’s also a new Director’s View mode, which allows you to film simultaneously with the front and rear cameras.

So you have a lot more options for your photographer’s toolkit, and aside from the new capabilities, the fundamental camera experience remains excellent, regardless of which lens you use – albeit the 3x hybrid optical zoom here is no match for the 10x offered by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

x. iPhone 12 / iPhone 12 mini

The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck


1. 164 grams / 135 grams

2. 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm / 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm Dimensions

3. iOS 14 is the operating system.

4. 6.1-inch / 5.4-inch screen size

5. 1170 x 2532 / 1080 x 2340 pixels

6. A14 Bionic CPU

7. 4 GB RAM

8. 64/128 Storage

9. 2,815mAh / 2,227mAh battery

10. 12MP+12MP rear camera

11. 12MP front camera

Where to purchase it

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini both have identical camera experiences and are a major step down from the Pro models in this regard. They aren’t the best camera phones (iPhones) for photography, but they are still excellent.

The telephoto lens and LiDAR scanner have been removed, leaving only a 12MP f/1.6 main camera and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera on the back, as well as a 12MP f/2.2 snapper on the front.

All three cameras function admirably, and these two, like the rest of the iPhone 12 lineup, outperform most handsets  in low-light situations and this is true regardless of which lens you’re using, as Night Mode works on all of them.

Smart HDR 3 is also available on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which employs AI to optimize photographs, and Dolby Vision is available for video, which should make your films pop more.

For more information on the best camera phones for the year, kindly send us a mail via our contact page.

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