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We asked, you told us: This phone takes the best shots so far in 2021

The most popular option for readers was in line with our own winner.

Published onAugust 4, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Sony Xperia 1 III on on windowsil
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We’re well past the halfway point of the year, and our own Rob Triggs thought it would be a good time to test the photographic capabilities of some of the most popular phones released in 2021 so far.

Rob compared several high-profile flagships available in the US, namely the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, and Sony Xperia 1 III. He felt that Samsung’s device was the “marginal” winner purely because it didn’t have major weaknesses. We asked readers to pick the phone that took the best photos too, and here’s how you voted.

Which phone takes the best pictures?


We posted the poll on July 31, and it received an enthusiastic response from Android Authority readers. Over 3,700 votes were counted as of writing and the most popular pick was easily the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, accruing almost 46% of the vote. This means the most popular reader’s pick is in line with our own winner.

Second place goes to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, with almost 26% of respondents voting for Apple’s phone. We thought it was pretty handy too, but took umbrage with the long-range zoom capabilities, HDR, and low light performance.

Sony’s Xperia 1 III took the third step with just over 15% of the vote, while the OnePlus 9 Pro rounded out the poll with fourth place and almost 13% of all votes.


  • Ellio74: Personally, the Sony really stood out for me, since Apple is left behind with their nearly one year old flagship, and the Samsung and OnePlus have more notable flaws (color accuracy, white balance or color processing) when looking for what really matters for me. Sony once again did a great job, they just need to improve the front facing camera situation.
  • Stephen Marcus: Wow. Thanks for the excellent review so carefully done. I would love to buy the Sony Xperia 1 iii but I think I am one iteration away, not because of the camera (although the selfie and video are not that great) but battery life. Battery life has been an issue with Pixels whose software is the best. And battery life is a big deal to me. Why can’t Sony offer better management of the display to extend battery life?
  • Setebos: Oneplus 9 Pro User here (coming from Pixels which I love too but just can’t put up with anymore for the time being, the 6 Pro XL hopefully will change that) and I have to say that unfortunately the camera is again far from perfect, I don’t see Oneplus’s software to ever get to the point where it can be as good as an iPhone or a Pixel. They just suck at this particular aspect.
  • Lamar Taylor: I own the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the GS21 Ultra as my business phone…this contest didn’t include video quality. The iPhone 12 Pro Max destroys every Android phone in that category. Since I use both phones daily and travel frequently…in the real world they are about even. The GS21 is much better at zooming in but that is a feature I use the least on a camera.
  • Victor Rumyantsev: There is no way that Xperia’s dull, discolored, neutral pictures, blown out skies etc is what I see with my eyes. Seriously Galaxy S21 photos are a way more natural, closer to reality.

That’s it for the results of our camera shootout poll. Thanks for voting and for leaving comments. Are you surprised by these survey results?

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