The best camera phones offer a tantalizing combination of the pinnacle of imaging technology with pin-sharp displays and lightning-fast internet connectivity. In fact, some handsets can deliver better photographs than the 'proper' camera you might otherwise be tempted to pick up.
As camera phone technology progresses, you might find it tricky to keep up to date on the latest handsets available. To help you find the best camera phone for you, we've rounded up a selection of the latest models with a range of budgets in mind.
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Camera phone technology can really boil down to one simple concept – pure and simple convenience. Not only will the best camera phones feature powerful imaging sensors (for example, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has an incredible 108MP sensor – higher than most of the best professional cameras), but they'll also have incredible computational photography features that takes a matter of milliseconds to process the images you capture and improve aspects such as sharpness, white balance and more.
While the best camera phones might not yet be able to beat the best DSLRs or the best mirrorless cameras for sheer image quality, the one area that camera phones beat out traditional cameras in is their size. Even the best compact cameras can still take up the majority of your pocket (if they even fit in at all!), but the best fold phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 are incredibly compact.
No matter whether you're looking for a high end camera phone that will help you capture fantastic social media content, or you're simply looking for an everyday handset that will capture beautiful family snaps, we've rounded up the best camera phones currently available below…
The best camera phone in 2022(opens in new tab)
The latest Galaxy flagship's four-camera system is top-notch, featuring wide, ultra-wide, telephoto and super-zoom sensors. The first of these boasts a 108MP sensor, with an f/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel AF, and an 85-degree field of view. The 12MP ultra-wide camera features an f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view. There's also one 10MP telephoto with an equivalent three times zoom (f/2.4) and another 10MP telephoto with a 10 times zoom (f/4.9). And that's not to mention the selfie camera, with its 40MP resolution, f/2.2 aperture and 8K video capture at 24fps.
More broadly, this is a large, stylish and powerful smartphone. Its 6.8-inch AMOLED screen is to die for, with smooth motion, vivid colors, impressive brightness, and 500 pixels per inch resolution.
The S Pen stylus is brilliant, and gives you the kind of productivity you previously only got with a Galaxy Note. There's a powerful 5,000 mAh battery to keep it going for hours, and the design and look of the phone is simple but, to our eyes, very stylish.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Google’s first flagship in years has a lot to prove. The Pixel 5 was great, but definitely wasn’t a top-end smartphone, and the Pixel 4 missed the mark for us, with rehashed camera hardware and overheating internals. With the Pixel 6 Pro, Google hits the target.
Its triple rear-facing camera system has had a full hardware refresh: the main (26mm wide-angle) camera features a 50MP 1/1.31 sensor with 1.2-micron pixels, omnidirectional phase-detection autofocus, laser autofocus, and OIS. For a wider perspective, there's also a 12MP 17mm ultrawide camera module.
But arguably the most impressive camera in the Pixel 6 Pro is its new periscope zoom camera. Utilising a 48MP sensor with an f/3.5 aperture, 104mm lens, the telephoto module gives you roughly 4x zoom. The sensor itself is tiny at 1/2 an inch, but thanks to Google’s software know-how matched with OIS, it’s still a cracking addition to the handset, and really makes the 6 Pro worth choosing over the regular Pixel 6.
While Google’s Tensor chipset gets hot on first setup and with intense gaming, day to day, we found everything from performance to photography to be impressive on Google’s top-tier flagship – a hands down win for Google.
Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Until the launch of the latest Samsung Galaxy S22 ultra, the S21 Ultra was the flagship model, and it remains a stunningly sophisticated device with a lot to offer. This camera phone features four rear cameras, including a 108MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom and one with an f/4.9 aperture and a huge 10x optical zoom. You also get a fantastic 6.8-inch screen. The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display features a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and gaming experiences, HDR10+ support, 1500-nit peak brightness and a 1440 x 3200 resolution.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
If you're looking for a fuss-free and capable point-and-shoot camera phone, then the Google Pixel 5 might be the handset for you. While the Google Pixel 5 might not have the most up-to-date tech, what it lacks in innovation it makes up for with reliability and usability. The rear dual camera unit on the Google Pixel 5 features a 12.2MP 27mm f/1.7 camera and a 16MP ultra wide f/2.2 camera, but it's the software that really elevates this camera to excellence. Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 765G chipset works well with the Android 11 OS for a lag-free camera phone experience. The Google Pixel 5 also has some exciting flagship features to offer, such as a 90Hz refresh rate display, water resistance and wireless charging.
Read our full Google Pixel 5 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Sony Xperia 1 III is the only choice for video pros and cinema buffs who want to get manual with their smartphone videography. It’s able to shoot footage at up to 21:9 for cinema style capture, offers full manual control and features a beautifully flat color profile, perfect for post-processing in Premiere Pro or Da Vinci Resolve (opens in new tab). Thankfully, almost everything else about this phone is excellent too, with a striking 21:9, 4K HDR screen, a clean UI and a snappy chipset ensuring plenty of power under the hood. Sony photography fans will also appreciate all the Alpha elements that have made their way into the Xperia camera UI. If want the ultimate cinema experience, both from a content creation and consumption point of view, the Xperia 1 III is it.
Read our full Sony Xperia 1 III review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Though it's camera improvements may be fairly modest when compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro still sports some worthwhile upgrades. There's a useful new macro mode, along with an improvement to low light shooting with the ultra-wide camera. New picture styles are worth experimenting with, while the Cinematic video mode is a clever feature and nice to have if you're a budding movie-maker.
As for camera hardware, Apple has gone for a triple lens set up on the iPhone 13 Pro, giving us a standard, ultra wide and telephoto lens. We have the same focal lengths for the 26mm (equivalent) standard lens, and 13mm (0.5x) ultra-wide optic, but the telephoto lens has been extended to a 3x (78mm) offering, compared with the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x lens.
Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro is without question the best iPhone for photographers (opens in new tab) to date (exactly what we’d expect) and it produces fantastic image and video quality, but it’s not for those who are particularly budget conscious, especially if you’re already in possession of a 12 Pro which is very nearly as good.
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the biggest and best of Apple’s new-generation iPhones, with the same cameras and tech as the iPhone 13 Pro, but with a bigger screen (6.7 inches versus 6.1 inches). The Pro Max also boasts a slightly longer battery life of up to 28hrs video playback versus up to 22 hours on the smaller '13 Pro. It might be tempting to pick the Pro Max over the regular Pro model just to get ‘the best of everything’. The regular Pro costs enough, so why not take that last step and get the bigger screen? Well, some may simply find it too big to be comfortable to use every day. There's no doubt the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a truly stunning camera phone, whether you shoot stills or video. However, the regular iPhone 13 Pro boasts the same photographic performance in a more ergonomic (and cheaper!) package, hence why it's higher up this list.
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Realme GT 2 Pro is very much a flagship phone despite it costing less than the competition. Its 2K 120Hz AMOLED display is excellent – the first flat panel to feature the LTPO 2.0 technology found in Oppo and OnePlus’s new flagships - and its cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is a tried and tested performance champ.
Realme does push the envelope in one area with this phone – its new ecological design made from a combination of materials including paper pulp, and a dual 50-megapixel camera system, complete with a class-leading 150-degree ultra-wide angle camera, as well as a microscope camera, similar to that introduced on the Oppo Find X3 Pro (opens in new tab). The 50MP primary camera is a seriously reliable shooter that captures punchy, detailed shots, and matches a sharp subject with pleasing amounts of background defocus.
The Realme GT 2 Pro misses out on a premium glass design, telephoto zoom camera, and wireless charging. But if you don’t mind those omissions, this is a great camera phone given its price.
Read our full Realme GT 2 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The OnePlus 10 Pro boasts a good-looking body, a stunning screen, and stacks of power - it’s a great gaming phone that also gives you impressive value for money. While the 48MP primary camera is impressive in areas – photos are processed with pizazz and look rich, detail is fair and the ultra-wide field of view is stellar - there are a handful of quirks that hold the 10 Pro, like colour inconsistency between the rear facing cameras, and the ultrawide snapper's lack of autofocus. What also holds back the OnePlus 10 Pro’s appeal is the fact Google’s Pixel 6 Pro (above) can be had for similar money, but is an all-round better camera phone. That’s why while we can wholeheartedly recommend the OnePlus 10 Pro – it’s a great phone, after all - it can't make it further up this list.
Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review (opens in new tab)
Want the photography smarts of a modern iPhone, but on a tight budget? Then the 2022 iPhone SE is ideal. At a surprisingly affordable price, you get an impressive camera setup, with a 12MP f/1.8 aperture wide camera on the rear. The new, fast A15 Bionic chip makes everything works smoothly and beautifully, with AI enhanced software such as Portrait mode and the same Smart HDR 4 tech as the iPhone 13 giving you lots of great shooting options. The rear camera (7 MP, f/2.2) is pretty decent too. Elsewhere, the iPhone SE (2022) offers 5G, longer battery life, and improved durability. It's rated IP67 for water and dust resistance, features the Home button, and supports Touch ID and Apple Pay. On the downside, the screen is pretty small, at 4.7 inches, you're not getting zoom or ultra-wide enses, and in general it's not as powerful as the iPhone 13 series. But overall you're getting a very nice camera phone indeed, for not a lot of money.(opens in new tab)
Though it's no longer the latest iPhone, the iPhone 12 Pro is still one of the most advanced handsets for photographers currently available. It features an impressive triple camera unit, including an ultra wide f/2.4 camera, a wide f/1.6 camera and a telephoto f/2 camera. Meanwhile, the front-facing TrueDepth camera features a 12MP sensor as well. There are plenty of new features on the iPhone 12 Pro, such as a LiDAR scanner – which will mean faster focusing in low light situations. The iPhone 12 Pro will also be able to use the new Apple ProRAW file format, which means users will be able to combine the great computational photography effects Apple is known for with the power of RAW files. Combined with the addition of 5G and a Ceramic Shield display that has a 4x better drop performance, you can't really go wrong with the iPhone 12 Pro!
Read our full iPhone 12 Pro review (opens in new tab)
HOW WE TEST CAMERA PHONES
As a photography website, we pay special attention to the photo and video quality of camera phones. We rate resolution, noise and color rendition (opens in new tab) in the context of what rival cameras can do, and where there are any special features, such as ‘night modes’ or ‘portrait modes’, we check that these perform as the makers describe. Camera phones are all-round digital assistants too, of course, so we will also check general handling, usability and practicality – such as battery life.
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