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The best camera phones you can get

Want to shoot the best photos possible?
By
June 3, 2022
The Google Pixel 6 in Sorta Seafoam color resting on a bridge
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Smartphones have effectively replaced point-and-shoot cameras, and many outperform them. These portable computers have become our primary cameras, and there are a lot of consumers out there who prioritize photo quality when picking a new smartphone. That’s why we made a list of the very best camera phones currently available.

The best camera phones are all stunning performers, but different factors put them on this list. Some are better in some ways but fall flat in others. Today we are here to find out which best suits your needs.

What makes a good camera experience?

Before we get into the actual list, there are a few things to consider when looking for a great smartphone camera experience. We’ve got a complete guide if you need a comprehensive rundown, but here are a few topics you should consider.

Here: What to look for in a great camera phone

How many cameras do you need?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera module close up angled
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s not uncommon to see three or four rear cameras on phones. Some of the more popular extra cameras today include ultrawide lenses (giving you a broader perspective), telephoto cameras for zooming, periscope cameras for longer-range zoom, macro cameras for close-up snaps, depth sensors for portrait mode and depth effects, and monochrome sensors for proper black-and-white shots.

You generally want main, telephoto/periscope, and ultrawide cameras for the most versatile experience, as we see on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, for example. This gives you the most consistent image quality across a variety of ranges. We’ve also seen some phones like the OnePlus 9 ditch the telephoto/periscope cameras, sometimes in favor of depth sensors and/or macro cameras.

This practice gets worse as you go down in price, with devices like the Poco M3 and OnePlus Nord N200 having three rear cameras, but two of them are macro and depth shooters, which may be less valuable to many. In this case, a phone like a Pixel 6 would be a better option as it only has two rear cameras, but both are practical (main and ultrawide). In other words, more isn’t always better when it comes to cameras.

Megapixels don’t tell the whole story

Xiaomi 11T Pro angled camera on bench
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Having more megapixels doesn’t automatically equate to better image quality when it comes to smartphone cameras. You shouldn’t assume that a 108MP camera is better because it has a higher megapixel count. In fact, some of the best Android smartphone cameras are equipped with 12MP sensors or thereabouts.

This is because the sensor and pixel size are generally more important than the megapixel count. Larger pixels and sensors usually result in better low-light image capture, less noise in general, and better dynamic range. That’s not to say that there aren’t upsides to more megapixels, though.

Explained: Why camera sensor size is more important than more megapixels

The main benefit of more megapixels is that you can get much more detail, so you can print or display the image much larger without sacrificing quality. Not to mention some of these higher MP cameras take advantage of pixel binning, which could improve overall image quality. Another benefit is that 8K recording requires 33MP+ cameras (much like 4K recording requires ~8.3MP cameras), so 48MP+ cameras comfortably support this video quality option.

Nevertheless, sensor size, pixel size, and megapixels are essentially a trifecta for smartphone photography, and they all depend on each other. You can have plenty of megapixels on a small sensor, but then you won’t have large pixels. One can also have large pixels on a small sensor, which would mean losing out on megapixels. Alternatively, you can also have large pixels on a large sensor with loads of megapixels, but then you’ve got a huge camera bump. So balancing these three factors is an essential task for phone makers.

Software is important too

Motorola Moto One Zoom taking photo viewfinder

Another crucial element is software. A recent poll of Android Authority readers found that almost two-thirds of respondents felt that camera software was more important than hardware.

Smartphone makers differ in their image processing software, even when the same camera hardware is used. For example, Samsung and Oppo tend to deliver images with saturated colors, while LG and Sony opt for more realistic hues.

Camera apps from various brands also tend to differ in terms of features. Samsung offers a neat Single Take feature, Huawei offers reflection removal functionality, and Sony offers a comprehensive Pro camera app. Which is better comes down to personal preference in many cases.

The best camera phones

Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best camera phones as new Android devices launch.


Google Pixel 6 series

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on a windows ledge
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Google Pixel lineup spent years among the best camera experiences you could get, even when it didn’t pack the latest lenses or the sharpest specs. Now, Google has brought its most significant upgrade since the Pixel 4 series with the brand-new camera bar on the Pixel 6. It’s impossible to ignore the new camera housing, and it brings Google back among the best camera phones you can buy.

Google has raised the bar in the camera department — literally.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro feature a new 50MP primary shooter paired with a 12MP ultrawide lens and laser autofocus. However, the premium Pixel 6 Pro adds a third option to the mix with a 48MP telephoto lens. It’s capable of up to 4x optical zoom for better long-range shots. On the front, you’ll find an 8MP selfie shooter for the Pixel 6 and an 11.1MP option on the Pro.

Also: The best Google products

Of course, Google’s real prowess comes in its image processing capabilities. The Pixel 6 models launched with a suite of brand-new tools, including the Magic Eraser, which lets you clean up unwanted distractions in the background. You can also tap into Night Mode and Astrophotography options for your next stargazing adventure.

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are very similar under the hood, with Google’s new Tensor chip powering the pair. You get a Titan M2 security chip and Google’s fastest wired charging to date. However, you’ll have to go Pro for a 5,003mAh battery — the Pixel 6 tops out at 4,600mAh.


Google Pixel 6 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Tensor
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 50 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,600mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Google Pixel 6 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, Quad HD+
  • SoC: Tensor
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Camera: 50, 48, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 11.1MP
  • Battery: 5,003mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Samsung Galaxy S22 series

Samsung Galaxy S22 family in blue spread like cards angled
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup offers it all: performance, a fantastic design, and some of the best camera phones the industry has to offer. We can’t expect less from Samsung’s flagship series.

Both the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus feature identical camera systems. They have a 50MP primary camera, a 12 MP ultrawide, and a 10MP telephoto shooter. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra adds a 10MP periscope camera and upgrades the primary sensor to 108MP. So the Ultra is the best of the three, although the S22 and S22 Plus are still great camera phones.

Also read: These are the best Android phones you can buy

Otherwise, you’ll get nothing short of stunning specs. Depending on your market, they all come with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200 processor. RAM ranges between 8GB and 12GB. The screens are gorgeous, offering AMOLED panels and a 120Hz refresh rate, all at different sizes.


Samsung Galaxy S22 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: SD 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 10, 12, and 50MP
  • Front camera: 40MP
  • Battery: 3,700mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.6-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: SD 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 10, 12, and 50MP
  • Front cameras: 40MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra specs:

  • Display: 6.8-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: SD 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200
  • RAM: 8 or 12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512/1,024TB
  • Cameras: 12, 10, 10, and 108MP
  • Front cameras: 40MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 12

OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro back of the phone
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The OnePlus 10 Pro was initially only launched in China, but it has since reached the global market and has become one of the best camera phones. It was the first flagship to come from the full merge between OnePlus and Oppo, and the mix seems to have created a great outcome.

Here: OnePlus 10 Pro buying guide

The OnePlus 10 Pro has an outstanding design and powerful performance. Additionally, you’ll enjoy a large 6.7-inch QHD+ screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. The battery is pretty large at 5,000mAh, and it can charge really fast. This smartphone supports 80W charging globally, and 65W speeds in North America. Additionally, you can charge wirelessly at blistering 50W speeds.

In terms of camera performance, we like the primary camera, but weren’t too convinced by the secondary sensors. Regardless, we love what OnePlus has done in collaboration with Hasselblad. Hasselblad’s color enhancements make images more true-to-life. You can read all about it in our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.

With all that in mind, the OnePlus 10 Pro isn’t as great of a camera phone as the Galaxy S22 or the Pixel 6, but it’s still a great option for OnePlus fans.


OnePlus 10 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 50, 48, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 12

Sony Xperia 1 III

Sony Xperia 1 III camera 4 - The best camera phones
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Sony Xperia 1 II has been on our list of the best camera phones for long, and now it’s time for its successor to take its place. The Sony Xperia 1 III comes busting doors, shooting some of the “best-looking pictures out of all the phones we’ve tested,” according to our full review.

Our very own Robert Triggs reports great image quality, with colors and white balance that are “among the best in the business.” The primary camera provides plenty of detail, and processing is much more subtle than the competition’s, making for more natural photos. Consistency has also been improved, though we wish the camera did a bit better in low-light conditions.

The Sony Xperia 1 III shoots the best-looking pictures out of all the phones we've tested. Robert Triggs

It’s not all about photos, though, and Sony excels in the video department. This phone can shoot 4K video at up to a whopping 120fps. Quality is excellent, and stabilization is decent.

Also, consider looking into the Sony Xperia 5 III if you want similar camera quality for a lower price. And keep in mind that the Xperia I IV has already been announced, but it is not available for purchase yet — learn more here.


Sony Xperia 1 III specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 4K
  • SoC: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, 12, and 3D ToF
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Apple iPhone 13 series

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max camera closeup sky - The best camera phones
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying Apple makes some of the best camera phones you can buy. The iPhone 13 series is no exception. This year, the company has four phones to show off: the iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max. We haven’t tested them first-hand yet, but we’re working on that and are sure these are still some of the best camera phones the market has to offer.

On paper, it looks like the iPhone 13 devices have the same cameras as their direct predecessors. While specs seem the same, that doesn’t mean there are no upgrades to be found. The ultrawide camera on the Pro and Pro Max has been upgraded from an ƒ/2.4 aperture to ƒ/1.8, giving it better shooting in low light.

More: Apple iPhone 13 vs. older iPhones

Apple has added support for Cinematic Mode on the software side, bringing bokeh effects to video. There’s also Night Mode support for all lenses, which was only a treat the main lens got in the iPhone 12 series. ProRes is also coming to the Pro models “later this year.” The upgrades may not be drastic, but these are still some of the best camera phones you can have.


iPhone 13 specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, 2,532 x 1,170
  • SoC: Apple A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,240mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

iPhone 13 Mini specs:

  • Display: 5.4-inch, 2,340 x 1,080
  • SoC: Apple A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12 and 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 2,438mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

iPhone 13 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, 2,532 x 1,170
  • SoC: Apple A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512/1024GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 3,095mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

iPhone 13 Pro Max specs:

  • Display: 6.7-inch, 2,778 x 1,284
  • SoC: Apple A15 Bionic
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128/256/512/1024GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 12MP
  • Battery: 4,373mAh
  • Software: iOS 15

Google Pixel 5a

the google pixel 5a camera module and fingerprint sensor
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Pixel 6 series listed above may offer one of the best smartphone experiences in the industry, but not everyone needs a higher-end device. Going with something simpler like the Google Pixel 5a will save you a good amount of cash while keeping your experience great for casual usage.

Next: The best budget camera phones

Not only that, but the Pixel 5a still has a great camera system. You don’t need fancy hardware to take great images with a Pixel 5a. Google’s advancements in computational photography can take pictures to the next level.

Specs are relatively modest. You’ll get a Snapdragon 765G and 6GB of RAM. It also comes with a 6.34-inch OLED display and a 4,680mAh battery.

However, keep in mind that the Pixel 6a has already been announced, but it isn’t for sale yet. You’ll be able to get your hands on it starting July 28.


Google Pixel 5a specs:

  • Display: 6.34-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 765G
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Camera: 16 and 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,680mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Photography FAQs

Zoom is changing the focal length to make an object appear closer or further away in a photo. Learn more here!

These standards refer to a camera’s aperture. This would be the size of the opening through which light enters the camera. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture, and the more light that can enter. Learn more here!

We aren’t huge fans of macro lenses in smartphones, but you’ll probably encounter a macro lens at some point. Macro refers to the ability to shoot a subject at least a 1:1 ratio, or real-life size. This means you have to focus on your subject very up close and make it appear much larger. Ever seen images of a fly’s eyes? That’s a macro shot. Learn more here!

Simply put, it’s a way to measure the number of pixels an image has. One MP equals one million pixels. Each pixel is a tiny dot in an image. Put together, different colored pixels turn into images.

You’ll often see this term being thrown around on camera system specs. ToF refers to “time-of-flight.” These cameras are there to measure distance by recording the time it takes for infrared light to exit the camera system and return. Just like its name entails, it measures the time it took to fly there and back. By measuring distance, the ToF sensor can help the camera decide what to blur out when creating artificial bokeh.

Bokeh is a Japanese term that refers to the quality of out-of-focus areas in a photograph. It describes how good background blur looks. Learn more here!


Also, keep in mind that having a great camera smartphone is only half the battle. Getting familiarized with photography fundamentals and training your skills will go a long way. Check out our guides to further polish your photo skills. Here are the most important photography terms, as well as some essential tips you should practice.