We've collated a shortlist of the best camera phones currently on the market, based on the latest and greatest smartphones to run through our review gauntlet.

Camera quality has become one of the biggest points of consideration when choosing a new smartphone. The arms race for sharper and smarter cameras in the sliver of glass, metal and silicon that resides in your pocket is easily one of the most heated right now.

As such, it's pushing manufacturers to create hardware capable of astounding image and video quality, despite the limited amount of space and size they have to work with.

How we test phone cameras

Rather than using controlled conditions and attempting to compare the cameras scientifically, we take photos and videos just as anyone else would, in real-world situations, without additional equipment; such as a tripod, extra lenses or a dedicated flash.

We drill down to test out manual controls, may alter still or recording resolution to draw comparisons and make sure to test any specialist or dedicated features or settings a particular device boasts too.

Phone camera specifications

 

Main cameras

Front cameras

Max video quality

Special features

Apple iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max

12MP, 12MP (ultrawide), 12MP (2x zoom)

12MP

4K at 60fps, stabilised

Portrait Lighting, adjustable depth of field

Google Pixel 4/4 XL

12.2MP + 16MP (2x zoom)

8MP

4K at 30fps, stabilised

Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, Night Sight

Huawei P30 Pro

40MP, 20MP (ultrawide), 8MP (5x zoom), depth

32MP

4K at 30fps, stabilised

Night mode, light painting, 960fps slo-mo, Cinema AI

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

12MP, 16MP (ultrawide), 12MP (2x zoom), depth

10MP

4K at 60fps, stabilised

960fps slo-mo, HDR10+ video

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

48MP, 8MP (ultrawide), 13MP (5x zoom)

16MP

4K at 60fps, stabilised

Night mode, lighting effects

Best camera phone reviews

1. iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 11 Pro
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In the past, it's fair to say that some manufacturers have had a tendency to release iterative flagship phones from one year to the next; an accusation that Apple is no stranger to. The move from the iPhone X to the iPhone XS certainly embodied this trend, but 2019's iPhone 11 family represents a notable shift from its predecessor, namely because of its impressive new camera system.

Both the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max employ the same triple sensor arrangement on the back - a first for an iPhone - bringing greater versatility to the shooting experience than ever before. There's a pleasing symmetry to the fact that all four (including the selfie camera) of the phone's sensors all employ a 12MP resolution too.

Like the iPhone X and XS before it, the 11 Pro duo feature a primary wide-angle lens and a 2x telephoto lens (both with optical image stabilisation) but also benefit from an additional ultra wide-angle lens, with a 120-degree field of view.

The main sensor sports an f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto promises better low light performance, thanks to a wider f/2.0 aperture (compared to f/2.4 on its predecessors). The ultra-wide also makes use of an f/2.4 aperture, while the f/2.0 selfie snapper employs a wider 80-degree field-of-view than the 7MP 75-degree front-facer on the XS line (see below).

iPhone 11 Pro camera test selfie

As is always the case with iPhones, camera quality in natural light is excellent, across all three rear sensors, but the 11 Pro's camera addresses one of the longest-standing issues of Apple's smartphone snappers - low light performance.

A new automated Night mode kicks in when the phone detects less-than-ideal lighting conditions and gives Google's Pixel phones a run for their money, offering up shots that look as if they were taking during the daytime, in the dark (see below).

iPhone 11 Pro Night mode

Video prowess also endures with the bonus of 4K 60fps recording now possible on the front camera and the addition of "slowfies" - Apple's term for slow-motion selfies. The same versatility for stills also persists when shooting video, with the ability to move between the phone's three main lenses while records.

Perhaps most impressive of all is that Apple has managed to match colour and exposure when moving between said sensors with impressive consistency.

Read our full Apple iPhone 11 Pro review

2. Google Pixel 4/4 XL

Google Pixel 4
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Like their predecessors, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL share the same camera arrangement.

Despite finally integrating a second sensor into the main module, the hardware at play isn't particularly fancy by current smartphone standards; on the surface, it lacks lustre, compared to the photographic setups of key rivals. But there's more to the Pixel 4 series' imaging chops than its hardware.

As with previous-generation Pixels, Google’s ‘Computational Photography’ and the Neural Core (the successor to the Pixel 3-series' Visual Core) chip allow for outstanding image processing, resulting in superb final photos and videos.

The main camera still relies on the same 12.2MP Sony IMX363 sensor as the last two Pixel lines, but now also incorporates a secondary 16MP telephoto sensor too, which offers up to 2x lossless optical zoom. Perhaps more importantly - the secondary sensor also helps with the phones depth perception when judging portrait imagery.

Software features are the highlights here: Super Res Zoom, Night Sight and Top Shot. Super Res Zoom takes several photos and uses the slight differences between frames at capture, along with Google’s computing power, to intelligently 'create' pixels for a better-quality zoomed photo than mere interpolation would create.

Google Pixel 4 camera test

Night Sight works in a similar way to create a correctly exposed image rather than one which is too dark. It’s possible to get some fantastic results in dark conditions so long as there’s no movement in the scene beyond your shaky hands.

To up the ante, Google has also added a new astrophotography mode, letting you capture stars and planets in the night sky, provided the phone remains still long enough and there's minimal light pollution. While a niche feature, it's a unique inclusion that helps the Pixel 4 camera stand out.

Top Shot shoots a series of photos and automatically selects the best one, eliminating any images where a person’s eyes were shut or someone wasn't smiling.

In good light, the Pixel 4’s photos are just as amazing as you’d expect. Detail is crisp, white balance excellent and dynamic range is impressive. This is also the first time you have the option to adjust the highlights and darker regions of exposure independently in real-time.

Portrait shots are very good, with authentic-looking bokeh (background blur). Even with the second sensor though, it should be said that errors around the edge of a subject still have the potential to appear.

It's also worth noting that, despite finally adopting a secondary sensor, opting for an ultra wide-angle feels like it would have made more sense, compared to a telephoto. Super Res Zoom on the single-sensored Pixel 3 line was already so good and the 2x magnification of the telephoto lens doesn't add all that much, while capturing a wider field of view is one trait that can't be achieved by software and image processing alone.

Speaking of wide-angle - be aware that Google nixed the secondary ultra-wide front-face from last year's Pixel 3 line to incorporate the new phone's Motion Sense smarts.

Generally speaking, video quality remains unchanged from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, still maxing out at 4K/30fps.

Stabilisation is a combination of electronic and optical and works at all resolutions. It’s a shame that 60fps isn’t available at 4K and that Google still hasn’t improved the slo-mo options: you’re still limited to 120fps at 1080p and can only shoot 240fps at 720p. However, the Pixel 4 does allow for zooming using that secondary sensor while recording and offers notable better audio capture compared to the Pixel 3.

Although you can criticise Google for certain decisions about the Pixel 4’s cameras and capabilities, the main camera still takes outstanding photos and decent video.

Read our full Google Pixel 4 review

3. Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro

Despite the challenges Huawei continues to face against the US government and the entitiy list, you can't deny that it makes some excellent phones.

The impressive P20 Pro first proved that Huawei was serious about making a competitive camera phone - a point it then reinforced with the Mate 20 Pro later that same year. 

The P30 Pro then arrived and has subsequently continued to push the envelope with its quad-camera array.

The standout feature has to be its 5x optical zoom but there's also an impressive amount of megapixels to play with, ultrawide capture and even dedicated depth-sensing on offer.

One of the advantages of this system is that the P30 Pro is able to use its main camera for portrait photos and therefore offers the same field of view. Most of its rivals have to crop in, which while not a damning problem, can be a bit irritating.

However, it’s that zoom system that really 'wows'. If you think a 2x telephoto lens is adequate, you’ll quickly change that opinion once you’ve used the P30 Pro’s 5x telephoto lens.

Huawei P30 Pro

The P30 Pro uses a hybrid zoom system that leans on the megapixel clout of the main 40MP sensor, along with the base image quality of the 8MP sensor attached to the periscopic arrangement to achieve what Huawei describes as 'lossless 10x zoom'.

It’s a different way of doing things to Google’s Super Res Zoom and a methodology we think is more effective overall. Despite the claims though, it’s obvious from looking at photos at 1:1 that to call it 'lossless' is somewhat of a misnomar.

Close scrutiny aside, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the detail the P30 Pro can capture. In our sample shots, there’s a surprising amount of detail and clarity in the 10x zoom photos. Even at 5x, the P30 Pro still blows the majority of the competition out of the water.

By default, Master AI – the ‘artificial intelligence’ image processing – is switched off, and for the most part, you’ll probably leave it that way. There’s still a tendency to over-saturate everything when it’s on but not to the extent that it did on the P20 Pro.

Beyond the party piece, the phone's 40MP ‘Super Sensing’ primary camera also impresses. Huawei ditched a traditional RGB pixel arrangement for two yellow sub-pixels instead of green (RYYB). That’s because yellow is more sensitive to light, allowing the sensor to capture up to 40 percent more light.

In addition to taking sharp, detailed images during the day, it’s possible to shoot astounding photos in the dark, even if you have shaky hands. The Night mode works in a similar way to the P20 Pro’s, combining a selection of photos over a varying period of time, depending on if the phone is mounted or handheld.

The main camera is the one to use for the majority of the time as it delivers the best photos. On the sample phone Huawei provided for our tests, photos from the ultrawide camera presented noticeably different colours to those from the main and telephoto cameras; being darker and more saturated.

This issue is most annoying when you’re shooting video and you switch from the main camera to ultrawide, as the colours visibly shift.

The Apple-like interface of the camera app is also fairly easy to use but is packed with a few too many settings and features.

The P30 Pro is Huawei’s first phone to offer stabilisation in 4K, but there’s still no option to record it at 60fps. Video quality is very good, with lots of detail and good stereo sound. Stabilisation isn’t great in 4K, sadly, so you may want to stick to 1080p or invest in a phone gimbal if you're considering the P30 Pro as the means to kickstart your YouTube career.

The 32MP front-facer does undoubtedly take a good selfie, but we couldn’t see a whole lot more detail compared to the P20 Pro’s 24MP offering. Look up close and details appear 'smeary', with heavy noise reduction evidently at work. It also seems that even with the slider set to zero, beauty processing is still going on to some small degree.

While the P30 Pro isn’t perfect, the ultrawide and zoom cameras each have their flaws, but overall the versatility on offer here let's you capture shots that simply aren't possible on other devices. Did we mention its excellent low light capabilties?

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus


The Note 10 Plus’ cameras are quite different from that of their predecessor. Instead of minor tweaks, Samsung has added a third imaging sensor to accompany the 12MP main and 12MP telephoto snappers.

This latest addition is an ultra-wide 16MP sensor, meaning the Note series now totes more versatility than ever before. The Note 10 Plus also incorporates a 3D ToF sensor for better depth perception and Air Gesture remote control support, using the included S Pen stylus.

The main camera is similar to what you'd find on the Galaxy S10 and other recent Samsung flagships. Its iris can switch between two apertures: f/1.5 (bigger) and f/2.4 (smaller), offering greater management over available light and photo quality as a result.

The telephoto camera is also the same, with a 2x zoom and optical stabilisation, while the 16MP sensor sports a 35mm equivalent of 13mm, with an f/2.4 aperture.

Galaxy Note 10+ camera test

Considering its predecessor, it's no surprise to see similarly good quality from the Note 10 Plus’ photos. They have great dynamic range, so there’s lots of detail in both shadows and highlights. Auto HDR means you don’t have to think about exposure, either.

White balance is generally reliable, so colours are very good in just about all lighting except when it’s really dark. Zoom in on a big screen and there’s a lack of sharp, fine detail but this is a minor complaint. You won’t notice the effect of the variable aperture, as it’ll mainly stick to f/2.4 in daylight.

The 2x zoom works well enough but obviously can’t compete with the P30 Pro’s or Oppo Reno 10x Zoom's magnification. As with the main camera, exposure, white balance and colours are very good.

Images shot with the ultra-wide camera lack detail when you zoom in, but there’s no obvious drop-off in sharpness as you often find at the edges of the lens.

In portrait mode, the Note 10 Plus uses the same field of view as the main camera and does a good job of depth detection, helped by that additional 3D ToF sensor. There’s a more realistic gradient to the blurring from foreground to background that makes the Note 10’s portrait photos more convincing than from other phones. That said, it still has a tough time adequately isolating wisps of hair, as any close examination will reveal.

For video, the Note 10 Plus offers great 'Super Steady' (digital) stabilisation - letting you capture handheld footage that looks as though it was shot on a stabilised gimbal. Live focus is also pretty impressive, as it can isolate a moving subject in-frame and add real-time background blur if desired.

Overall, the Note 10 Plus has excellent cameras. It takes wonderful photos in good light which are on par with the best here. Its strengths include great portrait modes for both front and rear cameras, and great video stabilisation (plus the ability to record in HDR10+).

The zoom is much more limited than the P30 Pro’s, as are the Note 10 Plus’ low light capabilities. But if you prefer to buy Samsung rather than Huawei, the latest Note is a fine choice.

5. Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom
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The Reno 10x Zoom feels a lot like the superb OnePlus 7 Pro but trades that phone's phenomenal screen for a better camera instead - a trade-off that's likely to make sense for a lot of people. It's got top specs, a decent battery and a slick design - as long as you don't mind the 'shark fin'.

As you might be able to guess from the name, the camera is the star of the show here. The flagship Reno boasts a triple-lens setup with an optically-stabilised (OIS) 48MP, f/1.7 primary lens, backed up by an ultra-wide 8MP sensor and a 13MP sensor with 5x optical zoom.

Despite this transverse 5x optical zoom, the phone promises 10x hybrid zoom, similarly to Huawei's P30 Pro and a maximum 60x magnification overall.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

The imaging team responsible for tuning the Reno's camera has done an excellent job, granting you some of the best stills possible from the IMX586 sensor that's used by a whole handful of current-gen handsets.

In the case of the Reno 10x Zoom, it shoots with a natural-looking warmth, pleasing dynamic range and it trumps other similarly-specced phone cameras with regards to general versatility; namely devices like Xiaomi's Mi 9 and the aforementioned OnePlus 7 Pro.

Its low-light capabilities are also top-notch, considering the sensor at play, with only Huawei's, Apple's and Google's latest and greatest really standing out in front.

One of the most visually striking aspects of the Reno 10x Zoom has to be the "pivot rising camera" that sits flush to the phone's top edge when not in use. Whether you're using the main shooter with the flash on, or you want to snap a selfie, the 'shark fin' will pop up and greet you.

As pop-up cameras go, this design looks like one of the more reliable, based on its engineering, with a 16MP sensor on offer that takes decent enough selfies, provided you aren't looking for anything mindblowing.

Read our full Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review

What is the best camera phone?

Best overall camera phone of 2020: iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max

Apple rose to the challenge (i.e. the competition) with the cameras on its latest iPhones. The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max all offer better image and video quality than ever before, all boast decent low-light performance - a first for any iPhone - and all offer the playful versatility of an ultra-wide secondary snapper.

The Pro models only stand out in front thanks to that third telephoto sensor and how well-balanced Apple has tuned image and video quality when moving between these three lenses.

Runners-up

As you’ll see from the reviews below, there are other excellent choices besides the iPhone 11 Pro line.

Huawei's P30 Pro is still without question an exceptional camera phone and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the versatility and improved video chops of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro too - it simply didn't make the list due to the Chinese company's tied hands with regards to Android and Google Play Services - making this phone unobtainable for most people, globally.

It’s also no surprise to see the Galaxy Note 10 Plus as our new favourite from Samsung; it makes greater strides in the video department than pretty much anything else on this list.

Oppo's Reno 10x Zoom also ousted Xiaomi's Mi 9, thanks to its great image quality and its ability to give the P30 Pro a run for its money when it comes to zoom capabilities.

Google Pixel 4 phones finally integrate a secondary sensor and still take astounding images, bolstered almost exclusively by new computational photography smarts.

Also consider

The models mentioned above are the best, but if you can’t justify buying a flagship phone, here are some cheaper alternatives that we’ve tested and been impressed by:

Best Camera Phone Reviews