The best camera phone in 2024: what's the best smartphone for photography?

Having a great camera phone is essential for taking amazing photos wherever you are whenever you’d like. After all, not everyone can carry around a big DSLR at all times. Here at Digital Camera World, we love a good camera phone because they’re simply convenient and as the technology continues to progress the best camera phones have powerful image sensors, incredible features, and the ability to process and edit the images with the touch of a button. 

With all that technology out there though, it can be hard to make a decision on what phone is best for you. That’s where we come in. We’ve tested all of these camera phones first hand so you can be sure that we know which ones truly take the best photos. And since we are photographers, we really do know how to tell a good photo from a bad one. 

If you want to get right into it, our favorite overall pick for both photo and video is the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max with stunning quality and ease of use. If you’re an avid Android enthusiast, then then the more affordable Google Pixel 8 Pro is the way to go as we love its AI photography and editing smarts.

No matter whether you're looking for a high-end camera phone that will help you capture great social media content, or you're simply looking for an everyday handset that will capture beautiful family snaps, here are the best camera phones currently available...

Gareth Bevan headshot
Gareth Bevan

Gareth is the Reviews Editor at Digital Camera World, and the person in charge of approving all the latest camera-related tech. With several years of experience as a photographer and videographer, shooting for some household names, he has learned a thing or two about cameras and the photography industry. Outside of photography, expect to find him cycling around London, or deep in a Netflix binge.

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The best camera phone in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

The best phone for photo and video

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best overall phone for photo and video

Specifications

Release date: September 2023
Rear cameras: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 5x telephoto
Front camera: 12MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 221g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent camera performance
+
RAW photos are loaded with detail
+
Premium IP68 design
+
Powerful internals

Reasons to avoid

-
No SIM slot for US customers
-
Telephoto camera isn't class-leading
-
Very expensive

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a serious, pocketable powerhouse. Yes, it's thick, but its relatively compact footprint and ample camera and power mix make it an enticing option, especially for photographers.

While it's a shame there's no pro mode for manual photography, the 15 Pro's 48MP RAW photos capture excellent results. The automatic mode's photo processing is also one of the best if not the best, I've seen on a phone. Additionally, the iPhone Pro Max now offers up a new 5x telephoto camera, reaching further can ever before in higher quality, and offering even more beautiful natural blur on portraits.

The iPhone 15 range has also added a tremendous amount of functionality and convenience by finally adopting the USB-C port, making it even more compatible with monitors and camera accessories. 

So while the new iPhone 15 Pro is very expensive, it's a mighty phone with a brilliant camera, that's powerful and lasts a full day. If you're an Apple fan who likes more compact phones, the smaller iPhone 15 Pro is a no-brainer, but you will be bumped down to a still very impressive 3x optical camera. But if you like big phones and the best photography experience, the Pro Max is our top choice.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review

The best phone for photography

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best phone for photography

Specifications

Release date: October 2023
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom
Front camera: 10.8MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 7.4 ounces (211g)
Dimensions: 6.4 x 3 x 0.3 inches (87 x 76 x 162 mm)
Storage: 128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Reliable camera with new Pro Mode
+
Smooth performance and clean UI
+
Premium screen and styling
+
Unique Google Android highlights

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than the Pixel 7 Pro
-
128GB starting storage too low for price
-
Occasionally gets warm to hot
-
Strange shadow processing in certain scenes

The Pixel 8 Pro is simply the best camera you can buy at its price for photography, it's that simple. It wipes the floor with the similarly priced iPhone 15 Pro and beats the much pricier iPhone 15 Pro Max in a few key areas too when shooting stills. 

The Pixel 8 Pro adds a new RAW capture letting you take full advantage of the 50MP sensor, as well as a new pro controls mode giving you manual control over the look of your images. The camera mix is still mind-bogglingly good as far as point-and-shoot photography goes, with a new higher-megapixel wide-angle lens, and one of the best telephotos on the market. However, although video has also taken a big step up from the Pixel 7 Pro it still can't quite compete with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

With a sleek design, a mighty screen, and excellent future-proofing by way of continued software support for up to 7 years, you do get a lot for your money here. So even though the phone had a couple of small hiccups in our time with it – as a package, you'll be hard-pressed to get a better value flagship phone than the Pixel 8 Pro.

Read our full Google Pixel 8 Pro review

The best phone for high resolution photos

(Image credit: Luke Baker / Digital Camera World)
The best phone for high resolution photos

Specifications

Rear cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom), 50MP telephoto (5x zoom)
Front camera: 12MP
Dimensions: 162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6 mm
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
200MP camera sensor
+
50MP RAW capture app
+
Latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for Galaxy
+
Beautiful large screen with S Pen

Reasons to avoid

-
Too much emphasis on the wider Galaxy ecosystem
-
One UI still feels like rehashing work Google has already done

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra offers a delightful experience, positioning itself as one of the most well-rounded and feature-complete Android phones currently available. For existing S23 Ultra owners, the incremental updates may not justify the price increase, but for those upgrading from an older model, satisfaction is virtually guaranteed.

While I was personally holding out a desire for more significant changes in the camera system over the S23, such as a large main sensor like Chinese rivals. Samsung has opted for an approach reminiscent of Apple – refining a familiar and popular design, inching closer to perfection.

Despite wanting more for hardware innovation, the software results from the camera are a step above last year's model. The S24 Ultra consistently delivers impressive photos and videos, boasts rapid performance, features a top-notch display, and exudes a premium feel. Where the S24 is really interesting for photographers is the inclusion of fun and practical AI tools that make correcting photos that much easier.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a formidable phone – and a great way to kick off 2024's new cycle.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

The best camera phone for affordability

(Image credit: Bobby Hellard / Digital Camera World)
The best for camera phone for affordability

Specifications

Release date: May 2023
Rear cameras: 64MP wide, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 10.8MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 193.5 g (6.84 oz)
Dimensions: 152 x 72.9 x 9 mm (5.98 x 2.87 x 0.35 in)
Storage: 128GB

Reasons to buy

+
Playful and premium design
+
Best-in-class performance
+
Powerful camera software
+
Water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
60Hz screen isn't competitive
-
Dated camera hardware
-
No wireless charging
-
Battery life could be better

One of the best budget camera phones out now, if not the best, the Google Pixel 7a offers much of the same photo quality as its much more expensive flagship offering, the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Costing midrange money, though, it's clear where Google's compromised. The Pixel 7a has a lower refresh rate screen than the competition, fewer cameras, and no wireless charging. However, Google doesn't usually deliver best-in-class power, instead focusing on smarts, and that's what it's done with the Pixel 7a. It features a mighty Google Tensor chip with top-end features like an under-display fingerprint scanner and AI photo editing powers.

Despite its slightly underpowered hardware, the 7a is a powerful camera phone thanks to Google's smart software, enjoys playful design, and offers plenty of bang for your buck.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review

The best camera phone for novice shooters

(Image credit: Future)
The best for camera phone for novice shooters

Specifications

Release date: September 2023
Rear cameras: 48MP wide, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 171g
Dimensions: 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8 mm
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Reasons to buy

+
3x 'optical' zoom levels
+
The Apple ecosystem and iOS are simply fantastic
+
Bright screen, with sensors disguised as dynamic island

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a big step up to iPhone Pro in price
-
Pastel colors won’t be to everyone’s taste
-
USB-C interface may make existing accessories obsolete

From a photography point of view, the iPhone 15 is a great piece of kit, especially if you just want to point, shoot, and share great-looking shots via social media without doing much post-processing.

However, the more serious photographer will miss the ability to shoot in RAW format so that they can enjoy fine-tuning the look of their images in a digital darkroom such as Adobe Camera Raw. 

Images on the iPhone 15’s Super Retina XDR display look great, but you may need to view them on a larger display if you want to discover and remove noise artifacts or retouch a portrait more effectively. In this instance, you might consider paying extra for the iPhone 15 Plus, which boasts a true optical 3x camera, rather than the iPhone 15's pixel-binning trickery. 

The iPhone 15’s video especially shines and produces amazingly smooth handheld footage which alleviates the need to stabilize it in a non-linear editing app, but serious filmmakers may also want the option to shoot in HDR Dolby Vision, which will lead them in the direction of the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 15 review

The best foldable phone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best foldable phone

Specifications

Release date: July 2023
Rear cameras: 50 MP (wide), (telephoto 3x), 12 MP (ultrawide)
Front camera: 10MP, 4MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 253 g
Dimensions: Unfolded: 154.9 x 129.9 x 6.1 mm Folded: 154.9 x 67.1 x 13.4 mm
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful and feature-rich
+
Expert RAW compatible
+
S pen support
+
Water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
S Pen not included
-
Screen clings onto fingerprints

Samsung's raised its prices for 2023 compared to the previous Fold 4 and matched the Pixel Fold's asking price directly. But Galaxy Z Fold 4 owners who dropped the best part of $2000 on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Fold 4 shouldn't look at the Z Fold 5 and feel like they're missing any killer features, but that doesn't stop the new phone from being a powerhouse.

But while the Z Fold 5 is very similar to the Z Fold 4, it's still one of the most fully-featured folding phones out there, with its S Pen support and foldable-optimized interface helping it shine, while it carries forward the competent camera system of its predecessor. 

If you are already invested in the Samsung ecosystem then this phone also fits perfectly in with your other Samsung devices.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands-on review

The best flip phone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
The best flip phone

Specifications

Release date: July 2023
Rear cameras: 12 MP (wide), 12 MP (ultrawide)
Front camera: 10MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 187 g
Dimensions: Unfolded: 165.1 x 71.9 x 6.9 mm Folded: 85.1 x 71.9 x 15.1 mm
Storage: 256GB/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Larger cover screen
+
Better cameras
+
Improved hinge

Reasons to avoid

-
Side notch on cover screen

Samsung's strange side-notch on the Z Flip 5 might not look as good as Motorola's RAZR 40 Ultra cover screen, but if it makes room for better camera hardware, we're here for it. The fact the Z Flip 5 upgrades the cover-screen functionality to run third-party apps, levels up the line's power, and zaps the hinge gap of old Samsung clamshells all means this is the most exciting Z Flip since the first debuted in 2021.

Keen photographers who want natural color reproduction and maximum bang for their buck would be better off with a traditional phone than any foldable – the Z Flip 5 doesn't change that fact. But if you specifically want a flip phone, the Flip 5 is a good shout, and without much competition, it’s one of the best available in the West for photography, and its IPX8 water resistance, sturdy build, and large cover screen round off the experience nicely.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review

The best cameras on a foldable phone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best cameras on a foldable phone

Specifications

Release date: June 2023
Rear cameras: 48 MP (wide), 10.8MP (telephoto 3x), 10.8 MP (ultrawide)
Front camera: 8MP (internal), 9.5MP (cover)
OIS: Yes
Weight: 283 g
Dimensions: Unfolded: 158.7 x 139.7 x 5.8 mm Folded: 139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1 mm
Storage: 256GB/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable cover screen size
+
Relatively strong camera system
+
Smooth performance and clean interface
+
IPX8 water resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Runs hot with demanding tasks
-
Doesn't unfold completely flat
-
No native manual camera support
-
It's very expensive

On the one hand, the Pixel Fold is a very first-gen device. It doesn't unfold completely flat, and there are plenty of mainstream Android apps that don't look great on it – or any unfolded folding phone (or Android tablet, for that matter).

But in the Pixel Fold's favor, it's an IPX8-rated foldable with a very sturdy hinge – so durability is where it needs to be, at least on paper. Its cameras also benefit from the Pixel treatment, so while its hardware isn't best-in-class, its photos are consistently balanced. Most noteworthy, the Pixel Fold's periscope camera is a welcome win over its main competition, the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and its shooting modes are very user-friendly.

Read our full Google Pixel Fold review

The best phone for cinematographers

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best phone for cinematographers

Specifications

Release date: May 2023
Rear camera: 48MP (24mm f/1.9) + 12MP (85mm f/2.3, 105mm f/2.8) + 12MP (16mm f/2.2)
Front camera: 8MP (f/2)
Rear camera aperture: f/1.9 + f/2.3 + f/2.2
Dimensions: 165 x 71 x 8.3mm
Storage: 1256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent pro video features
+
Stunning screen
+
Plenty of power 
+
microSD card storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks the zoom power of some rivals
-
Expensive
-
Weaker zoom than competition

The Sony Xperia 1 V 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 beautiful flat color profile, perfect for post-processing in Premiere Pro or Da Vinci Resolve.

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 V is it.

Read our full Sony Xperia 1 V review

The best underdog camera phone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
The best underdog camera phone

Specifications

Release date: Feb 2023
Rear camera: Main camera 50MP, telephoto 32MP, ultra-wide 48MP (f/2.2)
Front camera: 16MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 205g
Dimensions: 163 x 73.9 x 8.6mm
Storage: 128/256/512GB