Best phone cameras

Best phone cameras
Finding the best smartphone camera is no easy task these days. Most all flagships now come packing some serious camera tech and software, and while certain brands and models may excel in certain areas, it's pretty much a neck-and-neck race.

Some phones perform better in low light, others have dedicated Night Modes that are way ahead of the competition, and then there are those that are mediocre for stills, but are great for video. It's not easy picking the best of the best, especially if you don't get the chance to try out many, many phones for yourself.

Thankfully, that's our job here at PhoneArena! We've thoroughly tested all smartphones featured on this list, and in our opinion, they boast the best-performing cameras on the market right now.

So, without further ado, here's our list of the best smartphone cameras right now!


iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max


Pros

  • Huge battery life improvements
  • Camera improved in meaningful ways
  • Night Mode works extremely well
  • Industry leading video recording quality with XDR
  • Face ID works slightly faster and at a wider angle

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • Screen still has a big notch, lacks Pro features like 90Hz refresh rate
  • Still only 64GB of on-board storage in base version
  • A USB-C port would be better
The new triple camera is the most versatile yet in an iPhone. Ultra-wide camera captures a lot more in a single shot. The big improvements, however, are not mentioned in specs: the main camera captures much sharper images, it supports night mode and video is the best you can capture on any iPhone.

Over the past couple of years, the iPhone has had some serious competition when it comes to camera quality. From Google, to Samsung, to Huawei—the Android world has no shortage of great cameras to choose from. The iPhone 11 Pro is in many ways Apple’s response to a lot of what its competitors have had for years: it finally adds a third, ultra-wide camera to the mix; it finally introduces Night Mode that works wonder in low-light conditions, and it also improves the photo and video quality in ways that you will not see on the specs sheet.


Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL



Pros

  • Premium build quality and feel
  • Excellent cameras with useful software additions
  • Clear, crisp display
  • Fast, accurate face unlock
  • Smarter Google Assistant and local computing

Cons

  • Large top bezel doesn't look pretty
  • Only 64GB base storage
  • Battery life is not great on the base Pixel 4
  • Motion Sense is intuitive but limited as of yet

Some might say that the Google Pixel 4 is not great; that it is the worst value phone of 2019, even. And, as much as I'd like to argue with that, I really can't. The Pixel 4 is weirdly anachronistic when it comes to design and battery life, and isn't exactly an easy recommendation at its starting price point of $799. But an area where the Pixel 4 excels—even though it has two cameras, whereas most high-end devices now feature three—is mobile photography.

Leveraging Google's AI platform and advanced computational photography algorithms, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are capable of delivering some amazing results. From Night Sight, to Super Res Zoom, to Live HDR+ and Dual Exposure controls, the Pixel 4 has a lot of camera features on offer, all the while treading a delicate line between accessibility and fine control. But no matter the situation and lighting conditions, it rarely produces something that can even remotely be described as "bad".


Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+



Pros

  • Clean, modern design
  • Large, beautiful display
  • Refined, easier-to-use interface
  • Versatile and highly capable triple camera
  • Loud stereo speakers, good earphones in the box
  • Reverse wireless charging is useful for charging accessories

Cons

  • In-screen fingerprint scanner isn't as fast or reliable as a classic one
  • On the expensive side
  • No improvement in battery life despite the bigger batteries

The rear cameras on the Galaxy S10 and S10+ are practically identical, and for the first time on a Samsung flagship, we have not one, not two, but three cameras around the back. While Samsung isn't the first phone maker to go with this type of camera setup, we applaud its choice of cameras, as the combination of wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto is not only convenient, but also fun to play around with.

After taking hundreds of photos and making several camera comparisons with the new Galaxies, we can say that we're pleased with the camera performance. Images out of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ stand out with sharp details and well-filtered noise. Low-light performance is also very good, thanks to Samsung's dedicated Night Mode feature. Shooting with the telephoto camera gives you 2x zoom without quality degradation, and the results look great, as long as you have enough light, as otherwise the phone will switch to the wide camera, which has a wider aperture than the telephoto.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+


Pros

  • Incredibly good looking display
  • Fastest storage ever on a phone, and tons of it, 256GB in even base model
  • Very fast charging
  • Excellent loudspeaker quality
  • S Pen!

Cons

  • Lacks exciting innovations like 90Hz screen, super-zoom camera
  • Battery life is above average, but not top notch
  • Ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner is not as fast as 2nd gen optical fingerprint readers

The difference between the Note 10 and Note 10+ camera-wise is that the former lacks a DepthVision. This camera is what other companies refer to as a Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera. It helps the phone better determine the depth in an image for better Live Focus images. Other than that, both Note 10 models have practically identical (and very capable) triple camera systems with that cover a wide focal length range.

Samsung has changed a bit the color reproduction from the S10 series and it has managed to squeeze a bit more detail from the sensor so you get slightly better photos with the Note 10. In comparison with the iPhone and the Pixel, the Galaxy stands out with its balanced and cheerful colors. It does not go overboard with contrast like the Pixel and it does a better job exposing the face than the iPhone. It’s not always that way, but generally you get very consistent and very likable results with the Note 10+ cameras.


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