When searching for the best camera phone, there are a number of things you need to consider:
the sensor size
the focal length of the lenses
the size of the aperture
resolution in terms of megapixels (MP)
But beyond all the technical specifications, there are plenty of other important factors such as how easy it is to use, how much functionality it has, and whether or not unnecessary specs are putting it out of your budget.
So which phone has the best camera and which one should you get? Here are our picks for the best camera phone 2022.
If you’re a devout Apple fan, it’s probably less of a choice between the best camera phones than it is between the best iPhone cameras. Thankfully Apple doesn’t skimp on its camera technology, and each new version of the iPhone and iPhone Pro comes with improved and impressive camera technology.
If you want the best camera phone that Apple has to offer, then you’ll want to get the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max.
As two of the best camera phones in 2022, both phones have very similar specs, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max priced slightly higher and featuring a larger screen.
Apple introduced its triple camera lens setup with the iPhone 11 Pro and, while it seemed rather unsightly at first, has become the standard for most camera phones since.
Both the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max have the following camera lenses:
- 12MP wide lens camera
- 12MP ultra-wide lens camera
- 12MP telephoto lens camera with 3x optical zoom
- 12MP front-facing camera
The iPhone 13 Pro wide lens is your standard camera phone lens. It’s the one that is automatically on when you start up your camera app, allowing you to capture more in your photos.
Both the wide lens and ultra-wide have wide apertures to let in plenty of light and allow you to shoot with a shallow depth of field. So low light photography and portrait photography are a dream with the iPhone 13 Pro.
The zoom lens is an upgrade from the previous model’s 2.5x optical zoom, which lets you take better quality photos from a distance. There’s also the option of 15x digital zoom but that’s essentially just a crop function that won’t add any detail to your photo.
All rear cameras are capable of recording HDR video in up to 60 frames per second, meaning you can record crystal clear video in super-slick slow motion whenever you want.
Finally, both phones include a 12MP TrueDepth front-facing camera so your selfies and group photos will include just as much colour and detail as your other photos.
While the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have the same camera setup, the biggest difference is the screen. And although both have OLED displays with a 120Hz refresh rate, the 6.7-inch Pro Max will make those high-resolution photos seem even more impressive than the slightly smaller 6.1-inch Pro screen. They’ll be more fun to look at but will be exactly the same quality once shared with friends or on social media.
The iPhone 13 Pro has an impressive array of camera features, but its main pro, when compared to other top-end camera phones, is its usability. Without much effort, you can be sure of always grabbing a great pic, with intuitive design and a combination of lenses that allow you to take photos of yourself, your friends, your pets, scenery, selfies and low light photos.
Want to know more about the iPhone 13? Check out iPhone 13: Everything you need to know.
The Samsung S22 Ultra is an elite smartphone, and like everything on Samsung’s flagship device, the camera is exceptional. While Apple is now known for its three-camera setup, Samsung has taken it a step further and introduced five rear-facing camera lenses on its Galaxy Ultra range.
The main camera on the S22 Ultra is an incredible 108MP camera, and it’s accompanied by a 12MP ultra-wide camera. You also get two telephoto cameras, both of which are 10MP and allow for an unbeatable 10x optical zoom that needs to be seen to be believed. Finally, the front-facing 40MP camera is able to capture selfies and group photos in incredible detail.
The main camera is set to 12MP by default since shooting at 108MP takes up a lot of storage and isn’t necessary if you’re just snapping a quick pic. When you dial up the resolution and shoot photos at 108MP, you’re treated to detailed images with natural-looking colours and skin tones, and a soft bokeh effect that blurs the background.
The Samsung S22 Ultra comes with a number of shooting modes. This includes Samsung’s Single Take mode that takes multiple photos and videos to help capture a scene or fast-moving subjects i.e. pets and children. There’s also a Pro mode that gives you the option to manually adjust ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and manual focus pulling as well as shooting in RAW for better post-editing.
Want to know more about the Samsung S22 Ultra? Check out our Samsung S22 Ultra review.
The launch of the Google Pixel 6 Pro means the best Google camera phone got a significant upgrade. While the Pixel range has always been known for its cutting-edge software, the Pixel 6 Pro means that Google has included impressive hardware to match. It was actually awarded handset of the year by our Uswitch Telecoms Awards judges.
The Pixel 6 Pro features three rear-facing cameras including a 50MP wide lens as the main camera which is supported by a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 48MP telephoto lens. Finally, there’s an 11.1MP front-facing camera which, like all the rear-facing cameras, supports filming in 4K.
The Pixel 6 Pro incorporates all of Google’s technology as well as new features, including Face Unblur, Motion Mode, Magic Eraser and Real Tone. These are all powered by the first Google Tensor chipset which also lends its computational photography and new Google Assistant features.
The hardware upgrades mean that the Pixel 6 Pro is more than a match for the iPhone 13 Pro, with higher resolution sensors on two of its rear-facing cameras and an impressive 4x optical zoom telephoto lens.
For Android users, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is probably the best camera phone for those who want a clean and easy-to-use photography experience. Its software is state-of-the-art and key features like optical zoom and Night Sight are better than most top-of-the-range camera phones.
Overall, the Google Pixel 6 Pro's biggest competition is probably the Samsung S22 Ultra, which still beats all other camera phones when it comes to the number of lenses and the quality of its optical zoom images. But this of course comes with a higher price tag.
Is the Google Pixel 6 Pro right for you? Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review for more details.
While the iPhone image on the right looks brighter, notice how the lights and details are significantly overprocessed, losing a lot of details in order to make the whole image brighter.
Sony is well known for its range of mirrorless digital cameras, giving them access to a level of camera technology that other smartphone brands don’t. The Sony Xperia 1 IV is a phone that’s very much designed for photographers, with its main draw being the inclusion of the Camera Pro and Cinema Pro apps. It also has a somewhat nostalgic physical camera shutter button which makes taking horizontal shots much more intuitive.
Those that use a DSLR or mirrorless camera will be familiar with the professional display, and the amount of control it gives you is similar to using a full-sized digital camera. You’re able to control shutter speed, focus and metering, white balance and ISO levels in the manual exposure mode. While this can be a bit confusing and overwhelming for casual users, the level of control will feel familiar for photography enthusiasts.
In terms of lenses, the Sony Xperia 1 IV has a rather ingenious collection, with a 27mm wide-angle lens, a 16mm ultrawide lens, and a variable focal length telephoto lens. The telephoto lens is able to physically move between 70mm and 105mm as if you were adjusting the lens yourself. This gives you up to 4.4x optical zoom without the need for an additional lens, making the handset lighter and easier to manage with one hand.
Each lens has a 12MP sensor and features dual-pixel Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and a 3D time-of-flight sensor for real-time autofocus and object tracking.
Read our Sony Xperia 1 IV review for more information.
As smartphones continue to improve their camera technology, prices inevitably rise with the quality of the photos. If you’re not necessarily searching for all the bells and whistles, a budget camera phone would still allow you to take great photos without you having to pay over the odds.
The easiest way to find the best budget camera phone is to look at previous models of popular handsets. Going back one or two generations of the latest flagship phones will get you excellent camera technology that’s still impressive even though it’s not the most up-to-date.
When you’re looking for the best budget camera phone it’s important to adjust expectations. If you’re expecting three or more cameras, high-resolution sensors and top-of-the-line zoom capabilities you’re going to be disappointed.
The best budget camera phone will be one that makes good use of its hardware, either with good usability or powerful software to support a decent, if not exceptional, lens and sensor.
The Google Pixel 6 Pro is one of the best camera phones available, and a lot of its success has come from iterating on previous models. One of the most popular was the Pixel 4a. First launched in 2020, the Pixel 4a was incredibly popular with Android users, despite being somewhat overshadowed by the release of the Pixel 4a 5G which is no longer available for purchase.
Though it sports just a single rear-facing camera, it has a 12MP sensor, which features dual-pixel phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilisation. It’s also capable of shooting video in 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps (super smooth slow motion). Despite being limited to just one lens, its software means you’ll always be able to snap a great pic that’s in focus and video that’s smooth, stable and high resolution.
Its front-facing camera has a smaller 8MP sensor, which means your selfies and group shots won’t be in as high resolution as top of the line camera phones. And while its Snapdragon 730G processor won’t be as powerful as newer models, it’s more than capable of taking and processing great images.
All this and it costs just £349, compared to £849 for the Pixel 6 Pro.
If you’re after an even more affordable camera phone, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is a great option. Priced from around £210 - £265, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro still includes some seriously impressive camera specs for such a low-cost phone.
The main camera is a 108MP wide lens camera with an f/1.9 aperture, giving you the option to take those portrait pics with a nice shallow depth of field as well as allowing in lots of light for low light photography. It can also record video in up to 4K resolution. This is accompanied by an 8MP ultra-wide lens that gives a 118-degree field of view, plus a 5MP macro camera for close-up photography.
These specs would be fairly impressive on a new, top-of-the-range camera phone, but the fact that you can get all this for under £300 is a serious win for Xiaomi.
So what’s the catch?
Probably the biggest drawback is unfamiliarity with the Xiaomi interface. That, paired with a processor that isn't quite top-dollar and no options for 5G, means that it can’t compete head-to-head with the flagship phones on the market.
However, if that’s not as important to you as saving hundreds of pounds, then you should definitely consider the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro for a budget camera phone.
If you want to keep costs as low as possible and still have a decent camera phone, then the standard version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 is a safe bet. Coming in under £200, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 has slightly lower specs than the pro version, with a 48MP main camera accompanied by an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro camera.
The main camera is more than competent, able to take good photos in regular light and low light, although darker images can look a little overprocessed. Its macro lens is decent if not perfect and doesn’t have an autofocus function so it can be tricky to get a good shot.
However, with all this, the ability to shoot in 4K and fairly decent phone specs, the price point for this phone is incredible.
If you've found your photos aren't up to scratch and you're ready to upgrade, compare all our latest mobile phone deals to find the best smartphone camera for you.
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