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Which smartphone has the best camera? The market is saturated with mobile devices with very good dual, triple or even quadruple-camera modules, with a focal aperture that allows for tons of light in low light situations, with incredible bokeh effects in portrait modes or with pre, during and post-capture artificial intelligence processing. There are 4 things to keep in mind when choosing the best camera phone:
Ignore the number of megapixels
We are tired of repeating it. The amount of megapixels is not a decisive factor when determining whether one camera is better than another. What you should focus on is the size of the megapixels. The larger they are, the more light they capture and the better photos will get in low light conditions. This is also why most high-end devices take 12MP photos (although they use a 40+MP sensor).
The smaller the focal aperture, the lower the noise in low light conditions. To ensure this, look for a camera with a focal aperture smaller than f/2.0. Even better try to find a smartphone with an adaptive sensor that can change between two focal apertures depending on the situation.
Optical and digital image stabilization
When recording videos or taking photos at night, a good amount of OIS will eliminate any shaking from the end result. A device without this function will perform very poorly at night or when you shoot a video.
Low light photography is the deciding factor between a good and a bad camera module. Nowadays, we can find solid mid-rangers that can take great photos even at night. Without a doubt, this is a key feature that you must take into account when choosing a camera phone.
To help you decide, we have found the best phone cameras of 2020, and this is the list:
Apple iPhone 11 Pro: best Apple camera phone
The iPhone 11 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) brings interesting developments in the photographic sector compared to its predecessors. It is equipped with 3 sensors (finally) for better versatility, with the addition of an ultra-wide-angle lens.
This fact brings the iPhone 11 Pro on par with the Android competition that has been offering this feature for some time now. It still lacks the raw hardware specs to beat the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com), on paper at least, but Apple made some huge leaps forward in software processing: the photos are balanced and manage to preserve a very natural look. The Night mode is also particularly convincing.
Sadly, it is far too expensive to be considered the best.
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 Pro review: worth the wait
Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL: best Android camera phones
But their real ace in the hole is obviously the cameras. Yes, you heard right, cameraS since they come with a dual rear module, with a 12.2-megapixel main sensor and a 16-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x zoom. Color uniformity is unparalleled as always, regardless of the sensor. In addition, they now offer an 8x hybrid “Super Res” zoom which is as effective as pure optical zoom.
The HDR is on par with the competition: it produces somewhat dull colors, but also more realistic.
The Night mode is once again spectacular letting us literally “see” in the dark.
The Portrait mode with the single 8-megapixel selfie camera is still as effective as it was on the Pixel 3 (Check on Amazon.com) and offers a perfect bokeh effect.
The Pixel 4 is also the only smartphone that can use HDR in combination with Portrait Mode.
The only thing that is keeping them behind is their poor autonomy and that makes them less attractive than the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com).
Huawei P30 Pro: best camera phone
Thanks to its versatility, Huawei occupies the leading position in the world of smartphone photography.
Compared to the Huawei P20 Pro, the P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) still goes up a notch with its 5x periscope optical zoom that is also optically stabilized. In addition to its three lenses, Huawei added a Time of Flight (depth of field) sensor to enhance portrait mode.
An 8MP sensor has also been integrated behind the periscope lens to deliver what Huawei calls a “lossless 10x zoom”.
The 40MP ultra-wide-angle lens has an aperture of f/1.6 with a focal length of 27mm. Huawei has also upgraded the P30 Pro’s front-facing camera with a 32MP lens and artificial intelligence.
Huawei has abandoned the traditional RGB (red, green, blue) sensor for an RYYB (red, yellow, yellow, blue) Super Spectrum one, that allows it to capture 40% more light and very realistic colors.
In addition to taking sharp and detailed pictures during the day, this phone is just as great at night. The Night mode on the P30 Pro has a high sensitivity, and the images have good colors even in the dark.
Finally, the P30 Pro captures really good video footage but the sound is not as convincing. And although this is the first Huawei phone to offer 4K stabilization, the implementation is quite disappointing.
The P30 Pro is not perfect, but overall and considering the versatility of its 4 sensors, its otherworldly zoom, amount of detail that can capture and its Night mode it gets the first place on our podium.
Google Pixel 3a: best budget camera phone
The latest addition in our list is the Google Pixel 3a (Check on Amazon.com). It is simply amazing finding such photo quality at this price range.
Google did cut some corners in order to drop the price (the device is made of plastic and has generous frames) but it didn’t touch the photographic sector that is almost the same one you find on Google’s premium devices.
The 3a is equipped with the same 12MP sensor as the Pixel 3 (Check on Amazon.com). And although it doesn’t have the Visual Core chip (for HDR+), it still provides an almost unfathomable photo quality.
With an aperture of f/1.8, it manages to capture a stunning level of detail especially if you consider the price. And in low light photography, it is capable of eliminating almost all electronic noise without using extreme smoothing and thus producing an unrealistic picture.
It is also equipped with a dual front camera. One is standard while the other has a wide-angle lens for group selfies. Again, the result is amazing for a smartphone in this price range.
It can also record a satisfactory 4K video at 30 fps.
If you want a camera phone and can spend (Check on Amazon.com) buy the Pixel 3a, you won’t regret it.
OnePlus 7T Pro: best value phone
The OnePlus 7T Pro (Check on Amazon.com) has the same camera setup as the previous OnePlus 7 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) with some slight adjustments. The module is comprised of a 48MP wide-angle main camera and an 8MP telephoto lens with 3x zoom, both optically stabilized and a 16MP ultra wide-angle lens (117°) featuring the new Super Macro mode. This mode lets you focus on an object that is just 1 inch away, which produces macro photos with an excellent level of detail.
OnePlus has also improved the software processing using the new UltraShot Engine, its in-house algorithm. In theory, this translates into better backlight management, more precise portraits and better quality night photography.
In good lighting conditions, the OnePlus 7T Pro is on par with its predecessor, which was already among the best.
It also offers numerous shooting modes, among which we find the new Action Cam Style mode for improved stabilization. This video mode reduces the resolution at 1080p and overall image quality but is capable of shooting the most stable video footage that we have ever seen in a smartphone.
The performance in low light conditions cannot beat the phones from Huawei and Google, but all things considered, the OnePlus 7T Pro offers unequivocally the best value for money.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: best business phone
The new business smartphone from Samsung delivers one of the best overall performances in photo quality, especially in the Plus version. The Korean tech giant produces itself the camera sensors that go into its smartphones and thus it can use the very best ones.
Samsung still uses the dual-aperture (from f/1.5 to f/2.4) “smart” sensor introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Check on Amazon.com). This time around in a quad-camera array that also features an ultra-wide lens (for landscape and architectural photography), a telephoto lens (for high-quality zoom) and a ToF (Time of Flight) depth sensor that delivers excellent results with Portrait Mode.
In terms of software, Samsung has surpassed the Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) with a less aggressive image processing. Samsung also shows no weaknesses in videos and selfies. It cannot match the zoom of the Huawei P30 Pro, but that’s not a dealbreaker for most users.
Samsung’s camera UI is incredibly comprehensive, with a Pro mode that can keep the shutter open for over 30 seconds, as well as an improved Night mode, which can compete (but not beat) the handsets from Huawei and Google.
Add to all these goodies the convenience of controlling the camera via the included S Pen and you have an almost perfect device.
Thus, if you want one of the best camera phones currently on the market and have (Check on Amazon.com) laying around, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ will be the ideal companion for almost every situation.
Samsung Galaxy S10+: most versatile camera
The camera of the S10+ (Check on Amazon.com) is different from that of its predecessor, the S9+. To improve the versatility of the already great 12MP main sensor and 12MP telephoto lens, Samsung added a third 16MP wide-angle sensor.
The main camera is basically identical to that of the Galaxy S9 (Check on Amazon.com) with a variable aperture of f/1.5 and f /2.4. The telephoto lens is also similar, with a 2x zoom and optical stabilization. The 2x zoom works well, but it lacks precision.
As for the photos taken with the ultra-wide-angle lens, they lack detail, which is expected, however, they are sharp as the rest.
The white balance is quite reliable, granting bright colors in almost every lighting condition except total darkness.
The selfie camera dual module (10MP and 8MP) has a standard and a wide-angle lens similar to the one on the Pixel 3 (Check on Amazon.com). The 10MP secondary lens is used for depth detection and it manages to improve considerably the bokeh effect.
Several Live Focus effects are also available (Blur, Rotate, Zoom, and Colorpoint) and make portrait photos more convincing than those taken with other phones.
When shooting video, the S10+ offers excellent 4K stabilization, unless you want to record at 60 frames per second. Samsung also offers an option to record video up to 4K at 30fps using HDR10+, thus allowing for better contrast and more beautiful colors.
Its only flaw is the absence of a Night mode.
Overall, the S10+ has one of the best and more versatile cameras on the market.
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: the best camera phone
What a pity that the Huawei Mate 30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is sold without Google Apps and Services. This device could well be the best smartphone of 2019 for photos and videos.
But the P30 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is not far behind so it represents an excellent alternative.
Oppo Reno 10x Zoom: best zoom
The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom (Check on Amazon.com) is a true flagship and a hell of a camera phone. It has a periscope lens (similar to the two Huawei devices above), which grants it a five times optical zoom.
The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom also sports a quad-camera array and the possibility of recording 4K videos at 60 frames per second.
It offers great versatility and a decent Night mode, but it cannot beat the two Huawei devices in overall quality.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10: the highest resolution camera phone in the world
Xiaomi aims towards greatness with this smartphone (Check on Amazon.com) which is the first to sport a 108MP camera sensor. And with 5 cameras in total, it promises beautiful photos in every situation.
The main 108MP camera is flanked by a 20MP ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2MP macro lens (2-10cm autofocus) and two telephoto lenses: a 5MP 10x hybrid zoom and a 12MP 2x optical zoom one.
The 108MP sensor uses pixel binning: it combines four pixels into one to generate a 27MP final image with great details and low noise. The macro camera is the best one we have tested so far and the telephoto lens can go up to 50x digital zoom, but the quality drops drastically and it doesn’t show the same sharpness as the Huawei P30 Pro.
Not surprisingly, the stills are breathtaking. However, you will mostly use the main objective since it is the most efficient and accurate one. Sadly the slow app and long rendering times can ruin the photographic experience…
Xiaomi paid special attention to the Portrait mode with precise clipping and well-exploited bokeh. The subject shows an excellent degree of separation from the background thus producing a beautiful photo. Using the selfie cam (32MP), this mode is a little less impressive but still effective.
This is a well-balanced terminal that also offers good performance and solid battery life. It does not have much to envy from flagship terminals but also fails to achieve the level of excellence of a Google Pixel 4 device.
Also read: Cell Phones Buying Guide