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Best Camera Phones

Updated March 2024
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro Max
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

The latest and greatest iPhone has one of the best Apple camera feature sets yet.


It can take photos and videos in up to 4K quality with its three-lens system. Includes a main 48-megapixel lens plus an ultra-wide and telephoto lens. It also has a 5x optical zoom and it’s easy to see what you’re snapping with the 6.7-inch screen.


The large body can be slightly cumbersome at times.

Best Bang for the Buck
Samsung Galaxy A54
Galaxy A54
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Bargain Pick
Bottom Line

This phone boasts a triple-lens design and provides high-quality photos.


This phone has a crisp 6.4-inch AMOLED display and a 50-megapixel rear camera for taking highly detailed photos. It offers several camera features, such as slow-motion video, hyper lapse and AR filters.


It's not as fast as other Samsung camera phones.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Galaxy S23 Ultra
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

This is Samsung’s latest, greatest, most powerful 5G-capable phone.


It can be tied to a big carrier or left unlocked to be used with a smaller one. It comes in eight colors and three data storage capacities. It has four camera lenses on the back to take advantage of a range of camera options.


It doesn’t have an SD card slot and it has less RAM than previous models.

Samsung Galaxy S23
Galaxy S23
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Sleek & Redesigned
Bottom Line

The S23 brings better battery life and a sleeker, bump-free camera design.


It has a bright 6.2-inch AMOLED display with an adaptive refresh rate for smooth visuals. Redesigned rear cameras do away with bumps completely, and the 50MP primary sensor takes excellent photos in bright or dark environments.


This phone offers a significant performance upgrade from its predecessor, but its camera remains the same.

Google Pixel 7 Pro
Pixel 7a
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

The latest Pixel phone from Google boasts a sophisticated camera system and is among the best phones for taking quality photos.


This phone features an upgraded ultra-wide lens, a telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, and 30x Super Res zoom. Plus, Macro Focus is excellent for capturing minor details with outstanding clarity. The Tensor G2 chip offers fast performance.


The battery life is mediocre compared to other high-end camera phones.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best camera phones

There was a time when having a camera on your mobile phone was considered a luxury. Nowadays, virtually every cellphone in production has one or multiple cameras for video calls, taking photos and recording video. But camera quality varies from phone to phone, and typically, pricier smartphones have more advanced cameras. The question is, what camera phone is best for your budget and your needs?

A camera’s megapixels determine how much detail the sensor can gather. They also gauge the quality of the photos you can take and the videos you can record. For example, a phone with a 48-megapixel camera typically captures clearer and sharper images than a phone with a 12-megapixel camera. However, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t always the case. Some phones with relatively low-megapixel cameras take noticeably better photos and videos than phones with high-megapixel cameras.

The number of megapixels offered can be used as a guide when shopping for a camera phone, but it isn’t the only thing to consider. We’ll delve into greater detail a bit further in this article, but here are some highlights. The sensor size, aperture and additional photo-enhancing features (zoom, lens, shooting modes) are crucial, so you should pay attention to these specs when shopping.

Of course, in your quest to find the best camera phone, it’s a good idea to also pay attention to the smartphone’s qualities. It’s unlikely you want a phone that takes excellent pictures but lags in other areas.

Our top pick is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. This is a great all-around camera phone with a 200-megapixel primary sensor and many cool features: 100X space zoom, 30X optical zoom and astrophotography for capturing detailed shots of the night sky. It also boasts a powerful processor, a stunning display and excellent battery life.

Best camera phones

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has one of the most powerful smartphone processors around, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Combined with 8GB or 12GB of RAM, it is a highly efficient multitasker and one of the fastest phones on the market today. It has a four-camera setup with a 200-megapixel primary sensor, the highest of any smartphone, and a 12-megapixel front camera.

We love this phone for its blazing-fast performance and the stunning images it captures under any lighting conditions. Night portrait mode blurs the background for improved focus. Recorded videos have a cinematic look, even in low-light conditions. Its excellent astrophotography feature lets you take crystal-clear night sky photos, and additional exposure features allow you to take detailed and dynamic shots.

Samsung Galaxy A54

The Samsung Galaxy A54 isn’t as glamorous as some of our other favorite camera phones, but it’s an excellent bargain pick for the price. Although it’s considered a budget smartphone, the Galaxy A54 has a stunning 6.4-inch AMOLED display, and the main sensor is 50 megapixels – the same as the one on the Samsung Galaxy S23.

Although it doesn’t boast the same sophisticated camera setup as our top pick, the 50-megapixel sensor, combined with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and 5-megapixel macro lens, allow it to take excellent photos, even in low-light conditions. It lacks telephoto lenses for capturing detailed long-distance shots, but this camera phone gets the job done in most situations and is an excellent buy at less than $500.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is a top-performing iPhone with many top-notch features that make it highly coveted, including a stunning display and fantastic battery life. The camera isn’t quite as good as what our top pick offers, but we’re confident that it’s the second-best of all camera phones available right now.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a high-end camera setup which includes a 48-megapixel main with 2X optical zoom, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom for capturing highly detailed images from a distance. The lighting and colors of photos are vivid, and although the telephoto lens zoom is somewhat low for such a sophisticated phone, it’s adequate for most situations.

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is your best bet for a smartphone with a great camera and excellent features and functionality. It’s the entry-level model of the best Galaxy phones, but it has the same powerful chipset found in our top pick, the Galaxy S23 and a 6.1-inch dynamic AMOLED display with a 120-hertz refresh rate.

It features a three-camera setup which includes a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 10-megapixel telephoto camera with 3X optical zoom. Detail Enhancer technology reproduces sharp images with excellent clarity, and Expert RAW mode lets you capture stunning photos in low-light situations. Plus, you can enhance dark and blurry images if you need to. The front camera focuses fast and adjusts color for authentic-looking shots, even in dark environments.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google may not have a stronghold in the smartphone game yet because of heavy hitters such as Samsung and Apple, but it would be unwise for us to overlook the Google Pixel 7 Pro when discussing the best camera phones. The Pixel 7 Pro has a crisp 6.7-inch OLED display, a powerful chipset and 12GB of RAM, making it one of the fastest and best phones for multitasking.

The camera setup is one of the best around, as it features a 50-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 48-megapixel telephoto with 5X optical zoom. Although shots captured primarily using the telephoto lens are a bit lacking in color depth and clarity, overall photo quality is comparable to the iPhone 14 Pro Max and reproduces fine details.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

If you don’t want to spring for the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is still a terrific buy. What’s more, you can get it at a much lower price than you could last year. 

Like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers Night mode for taking photos and videos with detailed clarity in any light environment, including dark situations like a concert or an evening spent gazing up at the sky.

It can record videos in 8K, and auto stabilization allows for super-smooth reproduction. It has a 108-megapixel primary sensor, and Vision Booster gives photos enhanced brightness and improves color depth. Portrait mode lets you adjust images to choose what you want in front and center focus.

Apple iPhone SE

We mentioned an iPhone earlier in our guide, and although it’s certainly a premium smartphone, the price tag might be a turn-off for some, especially those working with a budget. However, if you don’t want an Android smartphone and have your heart set on an iPhone, the iPhone SE is a terrific budget phone with an excellent camera.

At first glance, this phone may appear mediocre in the camera department compared to the other picks on our list. Although it only has a single 12-megapixel camera, photos and videos look surprisingly good. Portrait mode lets you take shots with excellent clarity and rich color, even in low-light environments, and you can record Dolby Vision HDR 4K video at 60 frames per second.

What to know before buying a camera phone


Megapixels are often used to compare the relative quality of cameras, with higher numbers generally considered superior. A 12-megapixel camera with a top-notch sensor and lens could produce better-quality images than a 48-megapixel camera with a subpar sensor and lens.

At the time of this writing, the highest-megapixel camera packs a whopping 200-megapixel punch. However, photos taken with a camera with 48 megapixels or more are generally downgraded to take lower-quality images via pixel-binning unless the lighting conditions are perfect. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the number of megapixels a phone camera offers, but it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider.


A camera’s sensor takes the information from light passing through the lens and transforms it into an image. The smaller a sensor is, the more the image quality will be compromised. The bigger the sensor, the better the image quality will be.

Because smartphones are compact, they don’t have sensors as big as DSLR cameras, but many high-end phones can still take exceptional photos.


Most camera phones have a multi-lens camera setup. Technically, each one of these lenses is a separate camera, but they’re controlled together via one camera app. Lens options vary, but the best camera phones often have one standard lens or primary sensor, one wide-angle lens and one telephoto lens for getting closer images of distant subjects. When you switch to the wide-angle option on your phone’s camera app, you’re actually switching cameras.

Lens quality varies and can make a huge difference in how a photo turns out. While you may find exceptions to the rule, you can generally expect to find poor-quality lenses on budget-priced phones and high-quality lenses on expensive phones.


Camera phones can record videos in addition to taking photos. Top-end models can shoot footage in 4K or 8K. Slow-motion recording is also a common feature. Your phone should offer some built-in video editing software, but you’ll have more options if you use an advanced third-party app.

Non-camera considerations

You might be looking for the best camera possible on your new phone, but you’ll need it to function well as a phone, too. Battery life is a big concern, as you don’t want your phone to run out of juice in the middle of your day. 

Further, your phone should have a fast processor so you can run apps and load pages without experiencing any lag.

Camera phone features

Low-light mode

Low-light mode is often known as night mode. This mode allows you to take quality photos at night and in other low-light conditions without the need for a flash.


Aperture refers to the diameter of the lens and affects how much light it can take in. A wider aperture allows for better images in low-light conditions. The wider the aperture, the lower the number. Thus, a lens aperture of 1.4 is wider than one of 2.4.

Front-facing camera

All camera phones have a forward-facing camera or selfie camera. But unlike rear cameras, most front-facing cameras are simple and max out at 12 megapixels. That said, some camera phones automatically smooth out skin and adjust lighting when using the forward-facing camera, which can give your captured images a brighter and sharper quality but a less-authentic look.


Q. How much do camera phones cost? 

A. If you’re looking for a cheap phone with a simple camera setup that takes decent shots but has limited zoom features, you can find one for $300 to $500. Solid mid-tier options can be found for $500 to $800. But the best phones with multi-camera setups, high-megapixel sensors and plenty of adjustment features and functions can cost up to $1,200.

Q. What’s the difference between optical and digital zoom?

A. Adjustments in the lens itself create optical zoom, whereas digital zoom is achieved digitally by the camera software enlarging the center of the image and cropping away the edges. When you use optical zoom, you don’t lose any image quality. Digital zoom, however, can lead to distortion, especially at the top of its range.

Q. What can I do to protect the lenses on my phone?

A. You might have a case for your phone, but it has a cut-out for the lens or lenses so it doesn’t distort the image. That leaves the lenses vulnerable to damage. But smartphone cameras are tough and difficult to scratch. If you’re worried, you can carry your phone in a pouch inside your bag or pocket or keep it separate from keys and other objects that could scratch it.

Q. Do phones have built-in image filters in their camera apps?

A. Anyone who uses social media will probably be aware of image filters like those found on Instagram. Most phones also have built-in image filters, which you can apply to photos even if you aren’t sharing them on a platform.