The smartphone has very quickly become the only camera for many consumers. It must be said that innovations have multiplied in this area. Photographic equipment is therefore one of the selection criteria which condition the purchase of a new telephone. Here is our selection of the best smart phone with best camera to buy in 2021.
What you will learn
- Smart phone with best camera under $ 1,400:
- Smart phone with best camera under $1000 :
- Smart phone with best camera under $ 800 :
- Smartphones with best camera under $600:
- Smart phone with best camera under $400 :
- Smartphones with best camera under $300:
- The key points for buying well
Smart phone with best camera under $ 1,400:
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: the best camera phone on iOS
2 used from $773.36
- OFFER INCLUDES: An Apple iPhone and a wireless plan with unlimited data/talk/text
- WIRELESS PLAN: Unlimited talk, text, and data with mobile hotspot, nationwide coverage, and international reach. No long-term contract required.
- PROGRAM DETAILS: When you add this offer to cart, it will reflect 3 items: the iPhone, SIM kit, and carrier subscription
- Ceramic Shield, tougher than any smartphone glass
- A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip ever in a smartphone
With its much larger screen, a much larger battery and superior photo capabilities, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the ultimate Apple smartphone. So much so that it obscures the iPhone 12 Pro. Finally, if you were to choose a “pro” model this year, it would be wiser to consider getting a Pro Max to take advantage of everything that Cupertino has to offer with its 2020 models, unless a smartphone of disproportionate size puts you off.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max also offers a very good high-end camera. It has a definition of 1284 x 2778 pixels and 458ppp. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a back camera made up of several sensors:
- a 12 Mpx wide-angle lens with an aperture of f / 1.6;
- a 12 Mpx x2.5 zoom with an aperture of f / 2.2;
- an ultra wide angle of 12 Mpx with an aperture of f / 2.4;
- a LiDAR sensor.
The front camera of the iPhone 12 Pro Max consists of a single 12 Mpx sensor (f / 2.2 aperture).
This iPhone also includes a portrait mode with light effects which takes advantage of the 3D mapping thanks to the LiDAR sensor. The back and front cameras also have HDR mode. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a very good photo smartphone, but it is not accessible to all budgets.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro: multiple ultra powerful photo sensors
- HUAWEI Kirin 9000 | CPU: Octa-core, 1 x Cortex-A77@3.13 GHz + 3 x Cortex-A77@2.54 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55@2.05 GHz | NPU: Dual Big Core + Tiny Core NPUs (Neural-network Processing Unit) | GPU: 24-core Mali-G78
- Operating System EMUI 11.0 (Based on Android 10) | Battery: 4400 mAh (typical value)
- Rear Camera: 50 MP Ultra Vision Camera (Wide Angle, f/1.9 aperture) | 20 MP Cine Camera (Ultra-Wide Angle, f/1.8 aperture) | 12 MP Telephoto Camera (f/3.4 aperture, OIS), support AF
Despite the absence of Google services, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro does not have to be ashamed of the competition. It offers a resolution of 2772 x 1344 pixels and 456ppp (dots per inch, the UK inch distance measure equates to roughly 2.5cm). In terms of photos, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro has a total of 8 photo sensors. On the back of the smartphone, there are many sensors arranged in a circle:
- a 50 Mpx wide-angle sensor with a 23 mm lens and an aperture of f / 1.9;
- a 20Mpx Ultra wide-angle sensor with an 18mm lens and an f / 1.8 aperture;
- a periscopic lens (12 Mpx) of 125 mm with an aperture of f / 3.4;
- a 3D ToF sensor.
While there are 3 sensors in the notch on the front of the smartphone:
- a 13 Mpx Ultra vision sensor with a wide angle lens (f2.4);
- a 3D depth sensor;
- a 3D ToF sensor.
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is the smartphone that includes the largest number of photo sensors. Google compensates with many features of its photo software such as HDR10 + mode (High Dynamic Range meaning “wide dynamic range”), night vision or even high resolution zoom. HDR + mode, when activated, takes multiple photos and combines them into one, selecting the best parts for a highly optimized rendering.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: the king of photography
- Pro Grade Camera: Zoom in close, take photos and videos like a pro, and capture incredible share-ready moments with our easy-to-use, multi lens camera
- Sharp 8K Video: Capture your life’s best moments in head-turning, super-smooth 8K video that gives your movies that cinema-style quality
- Multiple Ways to Record: Create share-ready videos and GIFs on the spot with multi-cam recording and automatic professional-style effects
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the best smartphones passed in our laboratories. Its panel is of exceptional quality, its performance is competitive, its daytime photos very good, and this S21 Ultra is finally complete and will satisfy all needs. By offering compatibility with the S-Pen, this new flagship becomes more versatile than ever and is even closer to the Galaxy Note range. What to question once again on the relevance of the latter.
With a definition of 1440 x 3200 pixels and 5158ppp, it embeds a powerful main sensor of 108 megapixels with wide angle 79 degrees f / 1.8, 24 mm, 1 / 1.33 inch, 0.8 µm, IOS, autofocus laser and phase detection. With him, three other sensors:
- a 12 Mpx ultra wide angle sensor;
- a 12 MP telephoto sensor with an aperture of f / 2.4, 3x optical zoom and phase detection autofocus;
- a 10 Mpx sensor with an aperture of f / 4.9, 10x optical zoom and phase detection autofocus.
The 40MP front camera has HDR and the selfies are crying out for realism.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is easily placed in the best smartphone photos with always high quality photos whether at night, in panorama or for selfies and only the price could be a brake on its acquisition.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
18 used from $645.00
- Power of 5G: Get next-level power for everything you love to do with Samsung Galaxy 5G; Share more, game harder, experience more and never miss a beat
- Single Take AI: Capture video and multiple types of images with one tap of the shutter button; Lenses, effects and filters capture the best of every moment, every time
- Hires Camera Zoom: Capture hires images from 300 feet away that look like they were taken from 3 feet away; The game-changing new 100x Space Zoom delivers unprecedented power and clarity
As always with Samsung’s new top of the line, we don’t have much to complain about this Galaxy S20 Ultra. The Korean flagship of the start of the decade collects five stars for a deserved flawlessness. It unashamedly fulfills its mission as a technological showcase and presents itself as the best of the smartphones passed in our laboratory. To put it simply, whatever the intended use by the user, this S20 Ultra will do. So much so, that it even allows itself to integrate a 5G chip in order to anticipate the new generation of mobile network.
Smart phone with best camera under $1000 :
OnePlus 8 Pro
3 used from $679.99
- 120 Hz Fluid Display – Watch your favorite shows and movies on a state-of-the-art 6.78" QHD+ display with brilliant color accuracy and a seamless 120 Hz refresh rate.
- 5G Capable – Experience faster upload and download speeds along with lower latency when connected to a 5G network.
- 48 MP Quad Camera - Frame every moment with a 48 MP main camera and 48 MP Ultra Wide Angle camera. Get closer with the 3X telephoto camera with up to 30x Digital Zoom, 5 MP Color Filter camera and 16 MP front camera.
As often, OnePlus successfully stacks cutting edge technologies, to deliver us a very successful OnePlus 8 Pro. Too bad the Chinese flagship does not do a little better in photos. It remains slightly behind compared to a cador like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, certainly much more expensive. This OnePlus 8 Pro remains proof that the Chinese manufacturer is able to compete in the high-end smartphone segment.
Smart phone with best camera under $ 800 :
Samsung galaxy s20 +
16 used from $449.00
- Pro-Grade Camera: The new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE mobile phone features high-powered pro lenses for beautiful portraits, stunning landscapes and crisp close-ups in any light with its 3X optical zoom
- 30X Space Zoom: Whether you want your cellphone to zoom in close from afar or magnify details of something nearby, 30X Space Zoom gives you the power to get closer
- Night Mode: Capture crisp images and vibrant video with Night Mode and create high-quality content in low light — no flash required with this smartphone
Without too many surprises, the Galaxy S20 + is positioned as the perfect compromise between a compact S20 and an S20 Ultra all in excess. It is therefore a complete smartphone that is pleasant to use, whatever the use requested. A good top of the range, in short.
Google pixel 5
2 used from $609.99
- New, unlocked Android phone gives you the flexibility to change carriers and choose your own data plan; unlocked smartphone works with T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and other major carriers
- 5G capable  smartphone gives you an extra boost of speed so you can download a movie in seconds,  enjoy smooth streaming in ultra clear HD, play games at home and on the go,  and even share your 5G speed with friends 
The Pixel 5 doesn’t necessarily improve all the points of the Pixel 4, but it is still a very good smartphone and strikes a perfect balance between performance, endurance and price. Unlike many of its competitors, Google doesn’t play with pompous superlatives and just delivers what is needed, where it is needed.
57 used from $374.25
- Unlocked for the freedom to choose your carrier. 4G compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks. Sim card not included. Customers may need to contact Sprint for activation on Sprint’s network
- In order to use this Device on Verizon first provision your SIM through Verizon Wireless . Log in to your account on Verizon Wireless . Devices > activate or switch devices > activate. Alternatively, call/visit a Verizon store.
This Motorola Edge is a good smartphone, well executed, but perhaps too consensual as it looks like the competition. It’s good everywhere, but doesn’t excel anywhere, which can put it down against other phones in the same price range. Its two main opponents, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 and the Realme X50 Pro 5G, are excellent on certain points, such as the screen or the photo part. In the end, it will all depend on what you are looking for. If you are looking for the best performance, the Realme is for you. If you want the best photos, the Mi Note 10 is here. Finally, if you want some sort of compromise, then the Motorola Edge is the model for you.
Smartphones with best camera under $600:
Xiaomi mi note 10
- 6.47"3D curved AMOLED display Corning Gorilla glass front and back, 1080x2340 pixels 398 PPI - HDR 10 - Responsive in-screen fingerprint sensor - TÜV Rheinland low blue light mode
- Flash storage: 128 GB phone storage + 6GB RAM - Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G - 5260mAh (typ) high-capacity battery - Multifunctional NFC
- Main camera: 108MP ultra high-resolution camera + 12MP portrait camera + 5MP telephoto camera + 20MP ultra wide-angle camera + 2MP macro camera - Front Camera: 32MP selfie camera - 4K recording - 1080P slow motion recording - Vlog mode & Night mode 2.0
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is quite simply one of the best smartphones around. Despite some slowness, its camera is very interesting and its 108 Mpx sensor will satisfy lovers of well detailed shots. It is a balanced terminal which does not forget to offer good performance and solid autonomy. It doesn’t have much to envy a lot of much more expensive smartphones.
6 used from $384.70
- Display: 6.1 inches w/ OLED capacitive touchscreen, Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
- Internal Memory: 128GB, 6GB RAM, External: NM (Nano Memory), up to 256GB (uses SIM 2)
- OS: Android 9.0 (Pie); EMUI 9.1, Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 980, CPU: Octa-core (2x2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2x1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
- Rear Triple Camera: 40 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), 1/1.7", PDAF/Laser AF + 16 MP, f/2.2, 17mm (ultrawide), PDAF/Laser AF + 8 MP, f/2.4, 80mm (telephoto), 1/4", 3x optical zoom, PDAF/Laser AF, OIS Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0, (wide)
With its P30, Huawei offers us an excellent camera phone, as versatile as it is successful. In addition to a main photo module of good quality day and night, its very wide angle and 3x zoom are convincing. Its screen is well calibrated, its ergonomics pleasant, its performance is impeccable and its headphone jack is of good quality. In the middle of this beautiful picture, we just regret a slight – very slight – dropout in autonomy. But nothing serious.
Smart phone with best camera under $400 :
Xiaomi mi 10 lite
1 used from $329.99
- 6.47″ 3D curved AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G High-performance octa-core processor Frequency: up to 2.2GHz Adreno 618 graphics processor Qualcomm 5th generation AI engine
- Camera - 64MP AI quad camera ultra-high resolution primary camera, Front Camera 16MP In-Display
- Network & Connectivity:- GSM:2/3/5/8 WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B8 / B19 LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 LTE TDD: 38/40/41(2535-2655MHz)
The Xiaomi Mi 10 lite recipe works very well overall. The Chinese manufacturer offers us a resolutely high-end mobile in its approach, which has few flaws. It competes easily with the Samsung Galaxy S20 or other OnePlus 7T Pro. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand the surge in the selling price compared to a Mi 9 which also excelled for $ 300 less when it was launched.
Google Pixel 4a
6 used from $296.65
- New, unlocked Android phone gives you the flexibility to change carriers and choose your own data plan; works with Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and other major carriers
- Capture great photos using your cell phone on the 12 MP dual pixel rear camera with features like Live HDR+, Night Sight, and Portrait Mode; share photos directly from the viewfinder of your Pixel camera to Google and popular third party apps
With its unique photo sensor, the Google Pixel 4a impresses day and night. But unlike its predecessor, it does not neglect the other elements of its technical sheet. In addition to its excellent photo portion, the 4a displays good performance, a solid battery life, a very good screen and a modern design.
Smartphones with best camera under $300:
Huawei nova 5t
1 used from $259.99
- 6.26 inches All-View Display, 16.7 million colours, FHD+ 2340 x 1080, LCD, 97% Screen to Body ratio, CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 980 Octa-core, GPU: Mali-G76 720 MHz; Memory: 6 GB RAM + 128 GB ROM.
- Rear Camera: 48 MP (f/1.8 aperture AF) + 16 MP (f/2.2 aperture FF) + 2 MP (f/2.4 aperture FF) + 2 MP (f/2.4 aperture FF), supports autofocus (phase focus, contrast focus). Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0 aperture, supports fixed focal length.
The Honor 20 was a “good product but it doesn’t stand out” and we see the same here with this near-perfect copy. This Nova 5T has the same strengths and weaknesses as its cousin released in May. It’s up to you to see who you trust. Note, however, that in the same range, the Google Pixel 3a is just as correct, but much better in photos.
The key points for buying well
In the space of a few years, the smartphone has managed to become the only camera for a number of consumers. While the standardization of the smartphone segment has never been so convincing with machines adopting the same format, a tactile monolith or even the same technical specificities, manufacturers still intend to differentiate themselves by claiming the best aptitudes for capturing photos. Through partnership with venerable manufacturers of optics, ultra bright aperture, double or even triple stabilized sensors or naturally through the race for pixels, larger sensors or photosites or image processing fed with AI, this competition has stimulated the photophone “segment”.
After having killed the compact market and confined hybrids, reflexes or expert compacts to those who intend to take the time to take great photos, the smartphone has become much more than the “everyday” camera. For many, it has become their only camera. Much easier to transport, the phone now has more than adequate equipment that can satisfy the most demanding of photographers.
Thus, the photo remains a determining element when it comes to buying a new smartphone. The good news is that with the annual renewal of the ranges, the evolutions reserved for high-end are often found in the following years on more accessible machines. A forward race that contributes to advancing photography across the entire market, including low-cost smartphones that become correct when the (right) conditions are met. Here is everything you need to remember to make the right choice and buy the photophone that will meet all your expectations.
Megapixels and aperture, kezako?
The definition of a snapshot taken by a photo sensor is expressed in megapixels (millions of pixels or Mpx). Thus, the higher the number of megapixels, the greater the size and definition of the image. Do not fall into the trap, a 48 Mpx sensor is not necessarily more efficient than a 12 Mpx sensor. Openness is also an element to take into account. It is expressed in f / n. The closer “n” is to 0, the larger the aperture is and allows the sensor to capture more light.
Wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, telephoto, what type of lenses for your smartphone?
For several years, the vast majority of smartphones only had a single sensor with a wide-angle lens and therefore did not allow for varying types of shots. It was manufacturers like Huawei who popularized the double, then the triple and finally the quadruple sensor. Usually, the wide-angle lens is paired with an ultra-wide-angle and / or a telephoto lens. The first allows in certain situations to take wide shots without having to back up. The second is useful for capturing distant subjects.
Which brand to buy the best smartphone for photography?
The leaders of mobile telephony, Huawei and Samsung, excel in this field with full quality equipment. Let us not forget Google and Apple which integrate particularly effective processing software into Pixels and iPhones.
How much does a good photophone cost?
It is not necessarily useful to afford a high-end smartphone to benefit from good photographic quality. Brands like Honor, Xiaomi or Realme allow you to have complete photophones at a low price. However, some concessions are made and these smartphones generally struggle to make renderings usable in low light conditions. The Google Pixel 4a is an exception.