By Ann Young 3 days ago Camera & Lenses
Which smartphone has the best camera in 2020?
Every year, smartphone cameras are getting closer and closer to DSLR and mirrorless cameras in terms of shooting quality. But among hundreds of models released every year, selecting the best camera phone is quite difficult.
If you still can’t choose between the suspiciously huge 108MP on Xiaomi Note 8 Pro and the reliable 12MP on iPhone 11 Pro Max, then my list of the best camera phones will be useful to you.
Main camera: 12MP f/1.8 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.0 | Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.4 | Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth | Video: 4K (60fps) | Screen: Super Retina XDR 5.8inch
⊕ Low battery consumption, fast charging
⊕ The main and zoom cameras demonstrate remarkable results, Night Mode works as promised
⊕ Incredible video quality and stabilization across the board
⊕ Wonderful selfie photo and video capabilities
⊖ Haven’t been found
Mind that the same camera is used on the iPhone 11, but in this case they added the third module - a telephoto lens. Optics has a 12-megapixel matrix with 4x zoom.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro shoots perfectly and the main feature is the support for Night Mode - the camera takes several pictures at once with different exposures, and then combines them into one frame, which turns out to be the most successful.
Another plus is the updated Super Retina XDR screen. The protection class of this smartphone with the best camera complies with the IP68 standard: it withstands immersion to 4 meters deep.
The brightness of the 5.8-OLED screen is 1200 nits at a density of 458 PPI. The battery life has been increased by 4 hours. There is a quick charge option, allowing you to get 50% in 30 minutes.
Main camera: 12.2 MP f/1.7 | Telephoto: 16 MP f/2.4 | Front camera: 8 MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: P-OLED 5.7-inch
⊕ Extensive system of tips in the camera application
⊕ Excellent performance and fast work
⊕ Beautifully configured 90-hertz OLED display
⊕ Good shooting quality on the main camera
⊖ No fingerprint scanner
⊖ Lacks wide-angle camera
⊖ Poor autonomy
The Pixel 4 has two cameras, one with a 12-megapixel sensor, which has the dimensions of 1/2.55" and an optical stabilizer. The second camera boasts a 16-megapixel sensor with a pixel size of 1.9 microns.
The camera’s software has been modified. The developers added a very convenient Live HDR + mode, so you can see the final result on the screen while shooting, adjust the image brightness and contrast.
It may seem like something of minor importance, but in difficult shooting conditions, these settings allow you to bring the picture to a whole new level. Besides, these updates make Google Pixel 4 one of the phones with best cameras.
Moreover, you can adjust the exposure in two ways simultaneously - by lights and shadows. But there is still no full-fledged manual shooting mode.
As for the completely new shooting modes, I want to note the astrophotography - this mode is turned on if you’ve fixed the Pixel 4 with the activated night shooting mode on any surface.
Main camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.4 | Ultra-wide: 16MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 10MP f/1.9 / 8MP f/2.2 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: Dynamic AMOLED 6.4-inch
⊕ Universal triple camera
⊕ RAW format and manual settings
⊕ High-quality front camera
⊕ Reverse wireless charging capabilities
⊖ Some exposure problems in difficult lighting conditions
⊖ Different pictures depending on the firmware version
⊖ Some background objects may be captured incorrectly
The main innovation of the flagship Samsung line is the addition of an ultra-wide-angle camera. Also, the variable aperture in the main camera and the double optical zoom from the previous version haven’t disappeared.
Both double-zoom and ultra-wide-angle lenses provide additional shooting options, making Samsung Galaxy S10+ one of the best camera phones. Quality and detail remain at a high level, despite the lower aperture value of the cameras.
The S10 + has all the popular shooting modes, including panoramic. This smartphone also got a new feature – “Live Focus”. This mode allows you not only to shoot an object with a blurred background, but also to choose which effect you will get.
Another advantage is the ability to shoot in the dark. Details in night shots pleasantly surprised me. There is also a RAW format.
Files are saved in the DNG extension and are easily recognized by Adobe Lightroom. Moreover, the program has separate lens profiles for Samsung smartphones, so you can safely update the program and work with files.
Main camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.1 | Ultra-wide: 16MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 10MP f/2.2 | Video: 4K (60fps) | Screen: Dynamic AMOLED 6.8-inch
⊕ A bright OLED screen with a small punch hole and razor-thin bezels
⊕ Stereo loudspeakers produce great sound
⊕ S-Pen with dozens of cool features
⊕ Nice overall camera experience, wonderful photo quality
⊖ Only 2x telephoto cam while competitors feature 3x and even 5x
⊖ The Night mode should be improved
⊖ The ultra-wide-angle camera doesn’t have an autofocus
All three cameras in daylight operate at a good level and deliver high-quality results. But at 100% crop, you can notice the most peculiar problem of Samsung devices – oversharping.
Despite the quality of the picture and the fact that the image is almost identical from all three cameras, overharping is the same everywhere.
Today this is the best camera phone with the widest viewing angle. The equivalent focal length is 12 mm; the new iPhone has 11–13mm. The smartphone has a 3D ToF-camera, which is responsible for determining the depth of the field.
So, you can shoot in a RAW format. However, neither an ultra-wide-angle camera nor double optical zoom is available.
Files are easy to manage during post-processing, and instead of oversharping on 100% crop, I noted a kind of “grain”, which can be easily removed by noise reduction.
Main camera: 12MP f/1.6 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.4 | Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.4 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: OLED 6.5-inch
⊕ Quality OLED-screen with a unique 21:9 aspect ratio
⊕ Solid frontal camera
⊕ Realistic color reproduction in photos
⊕ Special cinematic features and capabilities
⊖ Noticeable oversharpness and editing algorithms that damage image quality
⊖ Cinema Pro only works horizontally, can’t cut duplicates
⊖ Confusing decision to go with the 21:9 aspect ratio
Photos taken by all cameras look good: highly-detailed and with natural colors. However, if you look at 100% crops, you can see the terrible work done by post-production algorithms, which turn uneven surfaces like brick walls into “grain.” The phone has HDR support as well. You can turn it on and off manually.
In many ways, Xperia 1 is probably the best phone camera if you value cinematic functionality. Other than the display and an annual subscription to the OKKO service, everyone can use the Cinema Pro app, developed by Sony in collaboration with CineAlta.
This app is basically a real director’s remote with the ability to switch between lenses, manually adjust the focus, and apply different settings and special looks that change the image’s color.
Main camera: 40MP f/1.6 | Telephoto: 8MP f/3.4 | Ultra-wide: 20MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 32MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: OLED 6.47-inch
⊕ High-quality Super AMOLED-display
⊕ Excellent operation of the ToF-camera in the "Portrait" and "Aperture" modes
⊕ Amazing 5x optical and 10x hybrid zoom
⊕ Excellent autonomy, the ability to quickly and wirelessly charge your phone
⊖ Poor manual operation when shooting in RAW
⊖ The “Night” mode is useless during night shooting with AI turned on
⊖ Lacks 2x or 3 zoom
The P30 Pro has three cameras: ultra-wide-angle; with 5x optical zoom; with hybrid 10x and 50x digital zoom, which make it a serious contender for the “best camera phone” title. The device has “Portrait” and “Aperture” modes.
The first works with people, cats and dogs (artificial intelligence automatically turns it on, identifying the model in the frame). The second allows you to shoot all kinds of objects with blur, apply special effects and change the focus point post factum. It is quite interesting that both modes support 1x, 2x, and 3x zoom.
In the "Aperture" mode, it works fine, almost perfectly identifying the subject and separating the foreground and background.
Nowadays, even glass and mirror surfaces are not a big problem for electronics. This has become possible thanks to the ToF-camera, which allows you to accurately determine the depth of field.
Main camera: 48MP f/1.7 | Telephoto: 13MP f/2.4 | Ultra-wide: 8MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 16MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: AMOLED 6.5-inch
$540 VIEW IN AMAZON
⊕ Frameless AMOLED-display
⊕ Selfie camera works efficiently
⊕ High-capacity battery
⊕ 3.5mm audio jack and stereo speakers
⊖ Ultra-wide and zoom cameras work noticeably worse at night
⊖ Lower resolutions of zoom and ultra-wide-angle cameras (sometimes lack of clarity)
⊖ Dust and dirt get into the extracting block of the front camera
The flagship model OPPO Reno 2 can hardly be confused with any other smartphone. The front camera is mounted on a retractable triangular block, which resembles the shape of a shark fin.
It is often called the best camera phone, as it features four main cameras with support for 5x hybrid and 20x digital zoom.
The device shoots well in low light conditions thanks to the support for Ultra-Dark mode. You can also use this best smartphone camera to take sharp and detailed portraits.
I should admit that I wasn’t very pleased with the quality of the ultra-wide-angle camera. Often, due to a lack of resolution, the picture taken with it looks a bit blurry in comparison with other cameras, as if lacking clarity.
But I really liked the macro mode, which works when you activate the ultra-wide-angle camera from a distance of several centimeters.
Main camera: 48MP f/1.4 | Telephoto: 8MP f/2.4 | Ultra-wide: 16MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 32MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: IPS LCD 6.26-inch
$500 VIEW IN AMAZON
⊕ Universal camera
⊕ Great performance in Night mode
⊕ Quality selfie camera built-into the screen
⊕ Lightning-quick finger scanner on the side
⊖ Oversharpening at 100% crop
⊖ No stereo speakers
⊖ Lacks lipophobic screen coating
⊖ No wireless charger
Honor 20 is probably the best camera phone in its class considering how cheap it is, while offering very good image quality. Overall, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro cameras are very similar.
Thus, the Pro-version has a 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom, which makes the main camera configuration virtually perfect. Additionally, the wide-angle and zoom cameras are supplied with optical image stabilization.
When working in proper lighting conditions, the images come out looking beautiful, highly-detailed, and accurate colors. Additionally, the AI is great at picking shooting settings.
Same as Honor 20, a 100% crop makes oversharpening visible, which is not acceptable for the best cell phone camera. In poor lighting, the AI takes control of the settings or switches the smartphone into the Night mode.
Main camera: 48MP f/1.6 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.2 | Ultra-wide: 16MP f/2.2 | Front camera: 16MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (60fps) | Screen: Fluid AMOLED 6.55-inch
⊕ State-of-the-art OLED screen, high-resolution, 90 Hz, without cutout
⊕ Highly-durable battery, fast charging
⊕ Flagship-level image quality, both during day and night
⊕ Impressive video functionality
⊖ Lacks an audio input, no micro-SD slot
⊖ Doesn’t support wireless charging
⊖ Ultra-wide and zoom cameras have a max of 1080p (30 fps) when recording videos
When looking at this best smartphone camera title contender, the first thing you notice is the updated back case design – the main camera block received a long-awaited update – it has 3 modules with different zooms: the main camera, an ultra-wide module and a telephoto camera with a 2x zoom.
In proper lighting conditions, the noise is nonexistent, the images look smooth and highly-detailed even when viewed at 100%, other than the occasional noise-reduction signs that appear when examining small details.
The ultra-wide module takes good photos, which, however, are noticeably less detailed compared to the main camera, while also suffering from worse auto white-balance.
The camera phone app’s UI is simple and intuitive. Swiping the viewfinder screen left/right changes the mode (photo/video/portrait/night), while up/down swipes bring up a menu with an extended list of modes (panoramic, slo-mo, pro, time-lapse) and additional settings.
The pro-mode allows the user to change white balance, ISO, shutter, and expo-correction settings as well as adjust sharpness.
Main camera: 108MP (8P lens) f/1.7 | Telephoto: 12MP f/2.0 / 5MP (upscaled to 8MP) f/2.0 | Ultra-wide: 20MP f/2.2 | Macro: 2MP f/2.4 | Front camera: 32MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (30fps) | Screen: AMOLED 6.47-inch
⊕ Bright and large AMOLED screen, DCI-P3 accurate
⊕ Large battery and very fast charging
⊕ All cameras produce excellent daylight photos
⊕ Has the latest MIUI 11 included in the kit
⊖ Images taken b zoom and the ultra-wide cameras aren’t really impressive
⊖ Video recording quality is average
⊖ Upscaling the 5MP 5x photos to 8MP is useless
Mi Note 10 Pro features an innovative system of 5 cameras, the main of which has a resolution of 108MP. It sounds like a marketing trick, because shooting in the standard mode, you don’t really need108 megapixels - therefore, by default, the module shoots at a resolution of 27 megapixels.
In addition to the record-breaking resolution for the smartphone with best camera, it can boast a large 1/1.33-inch matrix with a cell size of 0.8 microns, aperture f/1.69, optical stabilization, phase and laser autofocus.
The support for Tetracell technology, which combines neighboring pixels in groups of four to reduce noise, increase photosensitivity and dynamic range, is another strong point of this device.
The Night Mode 2.0 that enables you to get quality photos at night deserves special attention. Battery capacity is 5260 mAh. Such a volume is rather a necessity, due to a very demanding screen and a new premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor.
Main camera: 64MP f/1.8 | Telephoto: 13MP f/2.5 | Ultra-wide: 8MP f/2.2 Front camera: 16MP f/2.0 | Video: 4K (60fps) | Screen: Super AMOLED 6.5-inch
$480 VIEW IN AMAZON
⊕ Top-notch under-screen fingerprint reader
⊕ Multifunctional quad-camera design with the primary camera offering 65 MP
⊕ Solid battery life
⊖ Ultra-wide and telephoto cameras are mediocre and don’t support 4K recording
⊖ Nightscape mode should be improved
This model is one of the best camera phones that currently offer a quad-camera, the one that is now called a four-module smartphone. The back side of the device has 4 lenses, but the last module (with a matrix resolution of 2MP) is only used as a sensor for measuring the depth of a scene and creating a bokeh effect for portraits.
Macro shots are taken by an 8MP wide-angle module, which is also used for portraits.
The AI takes care of the scenic modes, but there are manual settings, auto-HDR, panoramic, portrait, and slow-motion (960 fps) modes as well.
The native camera app doesn’t allow saving images in RAW, but you can use a third-party app for that. The frontal camera from Sony RealMe X2 Pro produces images that offer decent sharpness, detail, and brightness.
The RealMe AI Intelligent Beauty algorithm detects 296 unique points on a person’s face in a photo to provide 8-million options for beautification, making it possibly the phone with the best camera.
To learn how good a smartphone at taking photos is, you almost always have to try it out in person since there are too many camera characteristics to account for. Below I’ll cover all the questions you can encounter when choosing the best camera phone.
This characteristic is usually highlighted by marketers that present a new phone with best camera. The problem is that a higher resolution image is usually accompanied by an increased noise level and grain – blurred small details caused by aggressive noise-reduction algorithms.
All of this leads to images received by sensors with fewer megapixels looking better than photos taken by a high-resolution camera.
The size of a single pixel is one of the most important sensor characteristics that is rarely talked about by marketers. Other aspects being equal, the larger the size of a dot, the more light it receives during the exposure.
Aperture represents the light sensitivity of a camera, the wider it gets, the more light falls onto the matrix. This smartphone with best camera characteristic is measured in f-stops. The value scale changes by fractions, such as f/1.4. The higher the number on the right, the smaller the aperture.
A large aperture lets through the maximum amount of light, a small one – the minimum. In poor lighting conditions, you have to open the lens as wide as possible, while bright light demands an opposite approach to avoid overexposure. Small aperture values are great for portrait and landscape photography lovers since they increase the sharpness of the image.
The larger the matrix – the better it is and the more it will cost. The size of a matrix is measured by its diagonal in inches: for instance, 1/3.6” or 1/2.3”. Pay attention to the size of the matrix and a pixel when picking the best camera smartphone. The higher those values – the better quality you can expect from the camera.
Sometimes phones with the best camera are supplied with additional black-and-white sensors. This is done to receive more light, decreasing the noise level, and increasing the overall photo quality.
The availability of several cameras with different lenses and/or different sensors allows taking more interesting and higher-quality photos.
There are situations when it’s only possible to take a good photo with a wide-angle lens (when you need to encompass a larger scene and can’t take the shot from further out) or a telephoto lens (when you can’t approach the subject closer).
Even if you’re holding the best Android phone camera in your hand during the shoot, the smallest movement is enough to “smudge” the photo.
While that doesn’t affect the quality of the image in sunny weather when dealing with poor lighting conditions that require, let’s say, half a second to capture enough light, the photo will become blurred.
This problem can be solved by getting a model with OIS (optical image stabilization), found in most phones with best cameras. Not only does this technology allow recording smoother videos, but it also increases image clarity in poor lighting.
Oftentimes, optical stabilization relies on using movable lenses or sensor. The smartphone’s movement is compensated by the lens/sensor inside the camera moving in the opposite direction.