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 awesome 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 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 most of your pocket (if they even fit in!), but the best fold phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are incredibly compact.
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, we've rounded up the best camera phones currently available below…
The best camera phone in 2023
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The Pixel 7 Pro is simply the best camera phone you can buy at its price, it's that simple. It wipes the floor with the similarly priced iPhone 14, and beats the much pricier 14 Pro in a few key areas too.
While the 7 Pro's RAW capture isn't particularly impressive, and some traditionalists might not like how Google processes photos, the camera mix is still mind-bogglingly good as far as point-and-shoot photography goes.
With sleek design, a mighty screen, and excellent future-proofing by way of continued software support, 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 – specifically when it came to connectivity, as a package, you'll be hard-pressed to get a better value flagship phone than the Pixel 7 Pro.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review (opens in new tab)(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)
The iPhone 14 Pro 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 14 Pro's 48MP RAW photos capture excellent results. The automatic mode's photo processing is also one of the best, if not the best, we've seen on a phone. Additionally, while the lack of a periscope zoom is a bugbear when using the Pro, on smaller phones, there's less of an expectation for a far-reaching zoom.
So while the new iPhone 14 Pro is 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 iPhone 14 is a no-brainer. But if you consider yourself a power user who needs a superior battery and the very best watching experience, then you should think about picking up the 14 Pro Max.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Google Pixel 7 is a very safe bet for photographers who want a balanced phone. Yes, you have to sacrifice a little manual control – no pro mode or access to 50MP RAW photos isn't ideal. But for a point-and-shoot mobile, nothing in the Pixel's price range can best it.
Google's photo processing is tasteful and still ekes out loads of shadow detail, the large sensor does great things with close-up photos, blurring out the background naturally, and lowlight scenes, brightening things up reliably. The phone won't be for photography purists, but it will likely check everyone else's boxes from a camera point of view.
As for the rest of the phone – sure, more consistent battery performance would have been ideal in our week with the phone. The inclusion of wireless charging and IP68 water resistance is both a boon at the price, though, and after our third day with the phone, it always kept us alive from morning to night.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 packs an improved camera array over the Z Fold 3, and Samsung's camera software has also been overhauled. We weren't blown away by the Z Fold 4's automatic mode – it's good, but nothing special, especially given the phone's price - but the phone's manual modes and Expert RAW features are excellent. This is especially true when matched with Flex Mode, for some super-steady shooting.
The rest of the phone is premium across the board. The design seems robust and durable – not as slimline as the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, but definitely hardier-feeling. IPX8 water resistance is also a great boon for Samsung's folding phones, and the Z Fold 4's hinge, which locks at almost any point across the 180º rotation, is also very impressive. The competition's foldables (available in China) spring open or closed, by contrast, preventing them from working with a Flex Mode style interface.
Add S Pen support and decent battery life to the mix, and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a mighty smartphone and foldable. Of course, we would have loved better camera hardware, but given how much better the photography experience is year-on-year, and how useful the Z Fold 4's big screen is for third-party photography apps, it's still a great choice.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
From a photography point of view, the iPhone 14 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 (.dng) 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 14’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 artefacts or retouch a portrait more effectively. In this instance, you might consider paying an extra £100 for the iPhone 14 Plus, which has the same camera specs but boasts a larger 6.7” display (and it provides an extra 6 hours of video playback). The iPhone 14 should be more attractive to those who want to upgrade from an iPhone 12 or older as they will notice a bigger difference in performance and features than those upgrading from an iPhone13.
The iPhone 14’s new Action mode 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 14 Pro or Pro Max. The iPhone 14’s lack of a Telephoto camera and Macro mode will also cause many photographers to cough up the extra cash for a Pro model iPhone.
Read our full iPhone 14 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Despite being a last-gen device, the S21 Ultra 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)
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. The OnePlus 10 Pro is a great phone, but it's just outclassed by some exceptional competitors.
Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro 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)
The latest iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are now the best iPhones for photographers, but the previous iPhone 13 is still a force to be reckoned with. Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro got a useful new macro mode, along with an improvement to low light shooting with the ultra-wide camera, plus a clever Cinematic video mode that's nice to have if you're a budding movie-maker.
As for camera hardware, Apple went with a triple lens setup for the iPhone 13 Pro, giving us a standard, ultra wide and telephoto lens. We have the same focal lengths as the iPhone 12 Pro 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 still produces fantastic image and video quality, and now it's a previous-generation handset, there are discounted deals to be had.
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro 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)
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 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 featured in 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.
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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