Which is the best camera phone to buy?
From quad-sensor wonders to single-camera marvels, camera phones continue to evolve in interesting and surprising ways. There’s a ton of variety on the market and many have led to some fantastic results, earning their place on our best camera phones list.
We’ve tried and tested a wide range of phones over the past year and, for many users, a quality camera is a huge selling point. With this list, we haven’t just cobbled together a list of the most premium devices. Instead, we’ve got the best camera phones for you and your needs – from the best budget camera phone to best camera phone for video.
Check out below for a quick roundup of all the phones on the list. If they catch your eye, read on for a more detailed look at each one as well as links to our full and comprehensive reviews.
- Best phone camera: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best Android camera phone: Samsung Galaxy S20 Pro
- Best phone camera for video: iPhone 11
- Best phone camera for zooming: Oppo Find X2 Pro
- Best phone camera for features: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Best phone for ultra-wide shots: OnePlus 8 Pro
- Best Huawei camera: Huawei P40 Pro Plus
- Best budget phone camera: Google Pixel 4a
- Best big phone camera: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Best for megapixel lovers: Xiaomi Mi Note 10
1. iPhone 11 Pro
Best camera phone for versatility and video
- A lovely, supremely bright display
- One of the best camera systems on any phone
- There’s a quick charger in the box
- Design hasn’t changed much and the notch remains annoying
- 64GB still the base storage option
- The iPhone 11 is, for most people, a better pick
The iPhone 11 Pro, along with its larger iPhone 11 Pro Max sibling, sits at the head Apple’s current phone line. It’s currently our favourite smartphone camera, thanks to a great mixture of pure photo quality and sheer versatility.
It’s glitzier, flashier and far pricier than the iPhone 11. Apple has seriously improved its photographic output with the iPhone 11 Pro (and with the iPhone 11 in many ways). The iPhone 11 Pro packs three distinct 12-megapixel cameras, which, for the first time in an Apple device, includes an ultra-wide-angle lens (13mm equivalent, f/2.4). You also get a standard lens (26mm, f/1.8) and a 2x telephoto lens (52mm, with an improved maximum aperture of f/2.0).
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Nothing is lacking with the video recording, audio and super-bright XDR display. All are tremendous, and the iPhone 11 Pro is also an absolute performance beast. The new A13 Bionic chipset puts it up there with the fastest phones we have reviewed. It’s also the first 5.8-inch iPhone that isn’t hamstrung by a battery that needs recharging to get it through a full day.
There are a few downsides: meagre amounts of base storage, the speed of the refresh display and Apple’s resistance to fully embracing USB-C. Being able to charge the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone 11 Pro with the same block and charger would make so much sense.
Related: Which iPhones will get iOS 14?
The iPhone 11 Pro offers many improvements on its predecessor. However, there are a few missing features that would have been welcome. 5G was never going to happen but would have been good to have anyway. Some sort of TouchID-enabled fingerprint sensor inside the display and the rumoured reverse wireless charging that could have powered up a pair of AirPods would have been the icing on the cake.
2. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
The best Android camera phone you can buy right now
- Nice design
- Great screen
- Strong performance
- Good battery
- Ugly UI
- 8K video recording is pointless
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus rocks a total of four rear camera sensors, including a 12-megapixel main camera, a 64-megapixel telephoto sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 0.3-megapixel depth sensor.
It’s a set-up that offers a lot of versatility, and thankfully Samsung has dialled down post-processing so images look more realistic and less overdone (though portrait shots were sometimes overly smooth). Autofocus was very useful and accurate too.
While the processor was generally excellent with every that we threw at it, – one exception was the recording of 8K video recording; but frankly, this is an endeavour that we wouldn’t recommend anyway given that it’s capped at 30fps and even causes the phone to noticeably heat up.
The only real photographic disadvantage compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is that zoom is less powerful, but we didn’t find that to be a major loss by any means.
3. iPhone 11
An excellent camera phone with strong battery life at a great price
- Great camera
- Long-lasting battery
- Really nice colour options
- Surprisingly excellent value for an Apple phone
- A screen resolution bump would have been nice
- Still no fast charger in the box
The iPhone 11 is the natural successor to the popular iPhone XR and sits below the pricier iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in Apple’s current phone line-up.
It could be considered an iPhone XRS: the design of the previous phone is virtually unchanged, but the internals have been upgraded. There are now two cameras on the back, for example, and the same A13 chipset found in the Pro model. Surprisingly, the iPhone 11 starts cheaper than the outgoing model: £729/$699 for the 64GB base as opposed to £749/$749. It could be the best-value iPhone yet.
The 11’s size is the best out of any iPhone. It doesn’t feel overly bulky or heavy, even though there’s more screen to play with than on the 11 Pro. Battery life is very good – we found the iPhone 11 went slightly further than its predecessor on a single charge.
The new rear cameras are also excellent. The iPhone 11 is a lot more affordable than the Pro models but boasts the same wide-angle 12-megapixel optical image stabilised (OIS) main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and the same 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera (f/2.4).
The only thing you’re missing out on is the Pro’s 2x optical zoomed telephoto camera – but if you’d take ultra-wide angle over zoomed, you might well see this as a fair trade, and it’s hard to see any differences when comparing photos from the two models.
The 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD falls below the competition, however, in terms of resolution and it would have been nice to see the 1792 x 828 panel upgraded to a 1080p version.
The 5w charger you’ll find in the box is also less than impressive. It has always felt slow and that is even more obvious now that the iPhone 11 Pro models come with an 18w charger. Not including a fast charger is a cost-cutting measure that counts against this phone.
If you’re updating an older iPhone then you’ll notice the vast array of improvements to the camera, battery life and overall design straight away. This is a great buy that’ll hopefully perform comfortably for several years.
4. Oppo Find X2 Pro
An excellent all-round smartphone camera
- Lots of storage
- Punchy screen
- Excellent zoom
The Oppo Find X2 Pro beats both the S20 Plus and the iPhone 11 Pro when it comes to zoom thanks to the periscope lens and 13-megapixel sensor. It also outguns them with its resolution, with the phone’s primary camera featuring Sony’s new 12-bit IMX689 sensor with a large 1/1.4” size and 1.12-micron pixels and a 50-megapixel sensor. There’s a 48-megapixel ultrawide here, too.
On the front you’ll find a 32-megapixel selfie camera. The Snapdragon 865 makes for a seriously fast phone, while the 120Hz QHD+ OLED is a joy to watch media on. Battery life is excellent and the ridiculously fast 65w charging makes up for the lack of Qi wireless charging.
5. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Best for features
- Lots and lots of megapixels to play with
- Great zooming up to 10x
- 8K video
- Battery life isn’t the best
If you’re after versatility in your camera phone then the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a great choice. It packs three main rear cameras (wide, ultra-wide and tele), a sensor for calculating depth, shoots 8K video and captures selfies with a 40-megapixel front camera.
Instead of focusing on computational photography like the flagships from Google and Apple, the S20 Ultra goes for big wins with loads of megapixels. There are 108 in the main wide camera, 60 in the telephoto and 12 in the wide.
That telephoto is arguably the pick of the bunch, allowing you to zoom up to 100x. While 100x photos aren’t the best, use it to zoom 10x and you’ll capture some delightful shots with lots of detail.
When it comes to viewing photos you’ve got a 6.9-inch OLED panel that’s the best in the business. It’s big, bright, smooth and very responsive to the touch. Samsung has shrunk down the notch from the S10 to make it less obvious and the curved edges feel steeper.
Inside the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you’ll find a 5000mAh battery that can be charged via 25w fast charge or wirelessly, either a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 and 12 or 16G RAM. It’s a 5G phone too, so if you’re on a 5G network transferring snaps, uploading to social media and backup services should be very fast. Storage options range sit at 128GB or 512GB, but there’s microSD expandability too – which might come in handy if you’re shooting a lot of 8K videos.
6. OnePlus 8 Pro
Best camera phone for ease of use
- Excellent wide camera
- Sharp details
- Steady video
- The camera isn’t industry-leading
- Pointless colour filter camera
- Low-light isn’t up there with the best
The cameras on OnePlus phones have come a long way in a few years, and the photographic capabilities on the OnePlus 8 Pro are up there with some of the best. Shots from the main 48MP camera are sharp and colourful, while the 48MP ultra-wide is one of the best around.
This is a £799/$899 phone, so there are sacrifices. There’s no impressive zoom here, just a standard 3x 8MP sensor, and the ‘fourth’ camera is merely a colour filter sensor that does very little. Elsewhere the camera is capable of 4K video at 60fps, and there’s a 16MP camera in a small cutout on the front.
Once your photos are snapped, you can view them on the stunning 6.78-inch OLED 120Hz panel. It has full support for HDR and 10-bit colour, a QHD+ resolution and some motion smoothing skills.
There’s 5G onboard, a Snapdragon 865 keeping everything running and a 4510mAh battery.
7. Huawei P40 Pro Plus
Best camera phone zooming
- A fantastic, versatile camera system
- Premium design and screen
- Top-tier specs and storage
- Very expensive
- No Google support
- Mono speakers
The Huawei P40 Pro Plus is among the most multi-talented camera phones around. You get the best zoom available on any phone, a handy 18mm ultra wide-angle lens, and a main f/1.9 23mm lens that’s backed up by a 50-megapixel sensor.
It trumps the Google Pixel 4’s Night Sight mode in dark scenes by stacking several images in a longer exposure. This is limited to scenes where there’s no movement or bright lights, though, and in more common low-light scenarios such as concerts, bars and night-time cityscapes, performance doesn’t stand out quite as much.
The zoom on the P40 Pro Plus is unmatched, easily giving crisper images than the Oppo Find X2 Pro and S20 Ultra. It’s a great all-rounder for daylight shooting and it generally handles scenes with mixed lighting well.
So, why isn’t this phone at the top of our list? That all comes down to the lack of Google support. You’ll have to make do with Huawei’s App Gallery or by installing APKs yourself. This means it’s not the right phone for everyone.
Read our Huawei P40 Pro Plus review
8. Google Pixel 4a
Best camera phone on a budget
- Great camera
- Refreshingly small size for an Android phone
- The promise of fast updates
- Nice, sharp OLED screen
- You’ll find competition with far larger spec sheets and feature lists
- Some mild performance and touch latency hiccups
- As well as being a Pro, the small screen might put some off
One of the stand out features of the Pixel 3a was its camera and Google has made sure to bring its expertise to the next version. Pixel 4a packs in a single 12-megapixel f/1.7 sensor that dominates many camera phones sporting more than double the amount of camera on the back. Image processing power and low-light shooting make the Pixel 4a a contender in the camera department with even the most premium phones, while managed to come in at a sub-£400 price point.
Along with the stellar camera, you’ll be getting the sleek Pixel Launcher, for a clean-yet-functional Android experience as well as speedy updates guaranteed for three years.
Despite the low-low price, Google has managed to whack a pleasing screen onto Pixel 4a. The OLED display offers sharp images, even without a 90Hz refresh rate. The 5.8-inch OLED sits nicely in a basic but still good quality feeling plastic body that comes in a size that harkens back to a more one-handed friendly past.
Related: Best mid-range phones
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Best camera phone for fans of big phones
- Bronze colour is really nice, and adds a matte finish
- S Pen even more responsive than ever
- Really good triple camera
- The best looking phone around
- Battery life, on Exynos version, isn’t good
- Screen resolution limits are annoying
Samsung’s second phone to sport the “Ultra” moniker matches its predecessor in both its lavishness and price tag. However, what it does bring to the table is a more refined take on the camera setup, including ditching the 100x Space Zoom.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra brings a camera setup that features a 108-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel telephoto and 12-megapixel ultrawide. The combo produces strong results that our review called “a huge improvement over the S20 Ultra.” The setup tones down Space Zoom to just 50x while using a 5x optical zoom alongside it.
Aside from the camera, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is sporting a whole lot more tricks – from a gorgeous and gargantuan 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate 6.9-inch OLED display to strong performance from the Exynos 990 (even if we here in the UK lose out on the better Snapdragon 865+ option).
10. Xiaomi Mi Note 10
Plenty of hardware at a value price
- Smoothly curved glass front and back
- Great zoom cameras
- High-quality 108MP main sensor
- Camera is slow
- Protruding camera housing
- Some software quirks
- Low-light images aren’t best in class
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is a mid-range phone with some high-end device design traits. It packs five cameras, a main 108-megapixel sensor and a generously sized battery that lasts pretty well.
In some areas, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is made to the same standard as a phone costing twice as much. Its sides are metal, and both the front and rear of the device are substantial, curved pieces of glass. There’s no plastic border between the metal and glass, which is highly unusual for a phone costing less than £600.
The Mi Note 10 has a 6.47-inch screen, an OLED panel with a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution – excellent for the money. You may find larger, but you won’t find much better, particularly if the curvy front appeals.
Day-to-day performance is technically sound, as you’d hope from a device with a good CPU and 6GB of RAM.
Most of the cameras that feature on the Mi Note 10’s rear are impressive. There’s a 2x zoom, a 3x zoom lens the phone crops into for 5x images, an ultra-wide and a dedicated macro. The macro sensor is the only real dud – in almost all situations the other cameras offer better results. Normal shots are packed full of detail; 108-megapixel shots even more so. The camera is unusually good at dealing with the light levels of tricky scenes such as sunsets. However, the camera is where you’ll discover the Xiaomi Mi Note 10’s most significant performance issues. It’s slow. There’s shutter lag of around half a second, and image processing takes a long time.
This isn’t the most polished smartphone on the market. The camera is slow, it isn’t the most attractive phone despite all that curved glass, and fingerprint scanner performance is poor. However, you do get plenty of hardware for your money and, despite its flaws, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 offers good value.
How we choose the best smartphone camera
Putting a smartphone’s camera through its paces is a significant part of the review process at Trusted Reviews and each model listed below is top class, for images and overall photography experience.
- What makes a good phone camera? It isn’t just megapixel count the majority of the devices in this list don’t feature more than 12 megapixels.
- More important are a wide aperture (around f/1.8 or lower), and image stabilisation, whether optical or electronic (OIS or EIS). Other aspects such as a secondary lens for portrait photos and an impressive selfie camera will be more or less important to you, depending on your requirements.
- We test each camera in several real-world scenarios, for example, low light, portrait, landscape, light and dark conditions, and then we compare models. You’ll find a dedicated page for each phone’s camera in the reviews below.