Which is the best camera phone to buy?
Early 2020 is a great time to take stock of the fantastic array of camera phones currently on offer. In 2019, zooming jumped to the next level, multi-camera sensor arrays became common and even budget phones gained the ability to snap excellent pictures – it was an extraordinary year. This year has already had an exciting start, with the launch of the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S20 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Our reviews cover a huge array of phones, and the camera is an important factor, whether you’re on a tight budget or seeking a flagship model. We put each phone through a tough camera review process and you can see the results below.
Below you’ll find a quick overview of all the phones in this list, and you can continue reading for in-depth info. We’ve also got full reviews of each phone if you want the full picture samples.
- 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 detail: Google Pixel 4
- Best phone camera for features: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Best phone camera for night shooting: Huawei P30 Pro
- Best budget phone camera: Google Pixel 3a/ Google Pixel 3a XL
- Best big phone camera: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Best phone for cheaper zooming: Oppo Reno 10x Zoom
- Best for megapixel lovers: Xiaomi Mi Note 10
- Best value phone camera for Android: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Best phone camera for ease: OnePlus 7T Pro
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.
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).
Related: Best iPhone Deals
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.
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.
- Read our iPhone 11 Pro review
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.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review
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
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.
- Read our iPhone 11 review
4. Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL
Best for detail
- Photos are truly excellent with lovely detail and contrast
- Telephoto camera adds some extra versatility
- 1080p video looks great
- The phone is very well designed
- No ultra-wide camera leaves it lacking compared to some of the rivals
- No 4K60fps video
- Battery life isn’t very good for either version
Google’s Pixel series has always been about the camera and the latest model (the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL) remains one of the best phones available when it comes to photos. The addition of a secondary telephoto lens for zooming in a bit further and helping with portrait snaps only improves the overall package.
The Pixel 4’s photos are truly excellent, retaining that distinctive contrasty look we’ve come to expect from a Google phone. Colours pop without having a lurid finish and the level of detail – for a 12-megapixel – is matched only by the iPhone 11.
However, there’s a lack of versatility without the third, ultra-wide lens and with pretty much every other flagship packing one it’s a clear omission. On most other flagships you’ll find 4K recording at 60fps – but not here.
While the camera is excellent, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL both suffer from uneven battery life that falls well short of their rivals’ offers.
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.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review
6. Huawei P30 Pro
Best camera phone for night shooting
- Fantastic photos
- Multiple cameras and lenses
- Battery life is excellent
- Clever extras, such as in-display fingerprint and reverse wireless charging
- Huawei’s software remains a weakness
The Huawei P30 Pro is among the most multi-talented, versatile camera phones around. You get the best zoom available on any phone, a handy new 16mm wide-angle lens, and a main f/1.6 28mm lens that’s backed up by a 40-megapixel sensor.
It trumps the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode in dark scenes, by either cranking up the ISO (in normal photo mode) or 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 P30 Pro is a great all-rounder for daylight shooting. It generally handles scenes with mixed lighting well, despite sometimes clipping highlights in brighter areas, while the depth sensor helps it serve up the best virtual bokeh we’ve seen. Whether you’re shooting a flower in super-macro mode or a face in Portrait mode, it’ll reliably blur details both in front of your subject and behind.
The zoom is also a standout feature. Its periscope lens uses what’s known as folded optics to squeeze a 125mm lens with image stabilisation into the P30 Pro’s 8.4mm-thick body. While it’s not technically a zoom (there are no moving lens elements, so zooming between 24mm-125mm focal lengths involves some cropping), these are the best images you can get from a phone at that end of the range. Its hybrid 10x zoom is also decent, though the results from its 50x zoom are mostly unusable.
- Read our Huawei P30 Pro review
7. Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
Best camera phone on a budget
- There’s a headphone jack
- Flagship-quality camera
- Fantastic display
- Great size
- No Qi charging or water resistance
- Can feel slow in certain activities
- The screen is a little dim
The Pixel 3 is an undeniably fantastic phone – a true flagship in every sense, including price. The 3a series looks to offer the same user experience and make the same proposition as the standard model but at a more budget-friendly price point.
While the Pixel 3a isn’t exactly cheap, at £400, it’s several hundred pounds more affordable than the standard Pixel 3 and retains one of its principal features – its camera. The 3a (and larger 3a XL) employ the same 12.2-megapixel primary snapper as the Pixel 3 line, paired with the same imaging processing used in their pricier siblings. This means you can expect a phenomenal camera experience at a price that is less eye-watering.
The Pixel 3a series also retains Pixel-specific shooting features like Night Sight. The only real shortfall in the camera department is the absence of the Pixel Visual Core, which results in slower performance and image processing.
Related: Best mid-range phones
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Best camera phone for fans of big phones
- Fantastic size for a Note phone
- The S Pen remains great
- Very powerful, and cameras are versatile
- The camera isn’t quite as good as other rivals
The display is the standout feature of the excellent Galaxy Note 10 Plus phone. It appears to be a slightly remodelled Galaxy S10, complete with an S Pen, and that’s no bad thing – the S10 is one of the best Android phones around. It would, however, also have been nice to see Samsung push forward in areas where the S10 has fallen behind some of the competition.
This includes the camera. The rear cameras are similar to those of the S10 and, while you can capture excellent snaps thanks to the three sensors on the back, the phone lacks the dynamic range and night shooting capability of the iPhone 11 or Pixel 4. Still, video recording is excellent.
As previously mentioned, the display is great. At 6.8 inches it’s big and bright, with serious punch and detail. The display now runs to the edges of the phone’s front, granting it an impressive 90.9% screen-to-body ratio. The single Infinity-O hole-punch camera is now centrally aligned at the top of the screen and is, therefore, less intrusive than the S10’s solo-sensor effort.
The design remains the best of any Android phone, the functionality of the S Pen offers something unique, and the slightly smaller form factor is also a plus.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review
9. Oppo Reno 10x Zoom
Most cutting-edge camera phone
- Fantastic triple camera
- Impressive battery life
- Great performance
- ColorOS is still awkward
- No wireless charging
- No water resistance
Oppo has plenty of experience of making appealing, successful devices in its home market of China, though it’s a relatively new player in the UK. Its latest flagship, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, makes a strong impression.
The Reno crams in nearly every major desirable feature you could wish for. As the name suggests, the main focus is the impressive triple camera arrangement – a 48-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle snapper and a periscopic 13-megapixel telephoto effort that offers up to 5x optical zoom and up to 60x digital.
It’s as though Oppo designed the 10x Zoom to rival the Huawei P30 Pro’s class-leading optics and, for the most part, it holds its own.
Shots captured on the Reno have a more natural, warmer finish than those of the P30 Pro, and mainly keep pace. Its low-light credentials aren’t as strong as those of Huawei’s flagship but they don’t fall far short.
Until the US government’s Huawei Android ban is resolved, you might feel safer dropping cash on the Reno rather than the P30 Pro.
- Read our Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review
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.
- Read our Xiaomi Mi Note 10 review
11. Xiaomi Mi 9
Best value camera phone for Android
- Excellent, versatile tri-camera
- 2x optical zoom
- Ultra-wide-angle option
- Shoots 4K at 60fps
- Occasionally temperamental fingerprint sensor
- MIUI Android skin not for everyone
The Xiaomi Mi 9 offers incredible value for money, not least for its camera capabilities. Its triple-camera set-up with a 48-megapixel f/1.75 main snapper would only have been found on a high-end flagship until recently, but now it’s on a sub-£500 handset.
It’s not just about specs and big numbers – the cameras perform well and together, for great shooting versatility. Pixel binning means that main 48-megapixel camera takes 12-megapixel snaps by default, with that extra resolution going towards noise reduction and stabilisation. If you want to use the cropping potential of that 48-megapixel sensor, though, that’s also an option.
The camera is flanked by a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor that gives you 2x lossless optical zoom (this is also the lens surrounded by that holographic halo ring) and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor for architectural shots.
Low-light shooting falls a little short of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s performance and if video is your priority, we’d still go for the iPhone 11. Otherwise, this is an excellent camera phone for the price.
12. OnePlus 7T Pro
Best camera phone for ease of use
- Great display
- Perfect for mobile gamers
- Speedy charging
- Innovative front camera design
- The camera isn’t industry-leading
- Not a big upgrade on the Pro
The OnePlus 7T Pro flagship smartphone is the follow-up to the OnePlus 7 Pro, which was one of Trusted Reviews favourite blowers when it first launched. While the OnePlus 7T was a huge update on the older OnePlus 7, the 7T Pro tweaks the original Pro’s hardware, rather than incrementally changing it. However, the original Pro’s formula remains a winner, the OnePlus 7T Pro is still a stellar handset, and it’s a perfect choice for any Android fan in the market for a top-end device.
The screen is wonderfully calibrated and features colour settings that are easy to tweak. The OLED panel is suitably bright, to meet mobile HDR standards, and you won’t find a better screen on most smartphones.
The 90Hz max refresh rate makes it wonderfully smooth to use and offers a minor competitive advantage to online mobile gamers. A high refresh and polling rate minimises the delay between a command being enacted and played out on screen.
The speakers sound great and are among the loudest we’ve met on a smartphone.
The phone features an identical triple-sensor rear camera setup to its predecessor. The setup pairs 48-megapixel main, 8-megapixel telephoto and 16-megapixel wide-angle sensors. The only big difference is that there’s a new and improved macro mode that OnePlus claims will let you capture usable images from a distance of a mere 2.5cm. OnePlus 7T Pro’s camera is more than good enough for most phone buyers’ needs.
This is a great smartphone that will meet the needs of 99% of users. If you’ve already invested in a OnePlus 7 Pro, though, there’s little reason to upgrade.
- Read our OnePlus 7T Pro review
Still not sure? Check out our guides to the following:
- Best cheap/budget phones
- Best Android phones
- Best mid-range phone
- Best phablet/big phone
- Best small phone
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