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Top 10 Best Camera Phones For Photography

Written by  Jul 30, 2018

Cameras in smartphones have come a long way over the last few years, with a number of features that have greatly improved the quality of images produced by smartphones, including optical image stabilisation (OIS), larger sensors, bright lenses, and even optical zoom making them even better for photography.

The photographic capabilities of smartphones has become such a massive selling feature, that many premium smartphones now support shooting "raw" images, so you can take complete control over image processing.

Here we highlight some of the best camera phones we've reviewed, up until now, and what makes them unique so you can make a more informed purchase next time you upgrade/buy a new smartphone. You'll also find more in-depth comments on each of the smartphones featured in the Smartphone reviews section.

1. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S9plus (7)

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus features an ultra bright f/1.5 - f/2.4 aperture lens, and the S9 Plus has a second telephoto camera. Both feature a 12-megapixel sensor and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and the front selfie camera is an 8mp f/1.7 camera with Auto Focus (AF), which is still quite rare. The screen is an impressive 6.2inch Quad HD+ screen that dominates the front of the phone, whilst maintaining a similar size to other phones with 5.5 or 6inch screens. The phone can capture high-speed video at 960fps, 4K video at 60fps as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It's dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen and back on the phone, it's ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO1250 can be used, and using the manual mode you can shoot raw images.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.5-2.4 lens, 26mm equivalent, telephoto f/2.4 lens, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K 60fps video, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

2. Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8 In Hand

The Samsung Galaxy S8 uses the same, already excellent, camera as the S7, with a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual pixel technology and a bright f/1.7 aperture, and improves the phone with an upgraded 8mp selfie camera with Auto Focus (AF). The screen is an impressive 5.8inch Quad HD+ screen that dominates the front of the phone, whilst maintaining the same compact size as the previous phone! The phone can capture 4K video as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It's dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen and back on the phone, it's ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO800 are selectable in manual mode.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

3. Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate10 Pro With Leica (7)

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is Huawei's top of the range flagship smartphone, not only does it feature dual Leica f/1.6 cameras with colour and black and white sensors, but also features a top of the range processor, that includes a "Neural Processing Unit" designed to speed up "Artificial Intelligence" (AI), for both smartphone and camera features. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a large smartphone, thanks to a 6inch screen, and it's set up with a 12mp f/1.6 colour camera, and a 20mp f/1.6 black and white camera, both lenses equivalent to 27mm in 35mm terms. The main 12mp colour camera features optical image stabilisation, and there is prominent Leica branding next to the cameras on the back, as well as a Dual LED flash. The camera can record 4K (UHD) video, as well as high-speed video at 120fps at FullHD resolution.

If you're looking for a large smartphone, with an emphasis on the camera(s) included, then the Mate 10 Pro certainly offers a complete package.

Camera features at a glance: Dual cameras 12mp colour, 20mp black and white, f/1.6 lenses, 27mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

4. Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL In Hand (3)

The Google Pixel 2 XL ticks all the boxes for a flagship smartphone, with a large 18:9 screen, waterproof body and optical image stabilisation. It also makes up for the lack of a second camera by producing some excellent images. It's a shame there's no headphone socket, and we'd like to see more manual control in the default camera app, as settings for the ISO speed and raw shooting would be useful, without having to download other apps. Saying that, for most people, the Google Pixel 2 XL will be a great camera as it's easy to use and produces great results.

Overall, the Google Pixel 2 XL delivers impressive portrait shots and images with high levels of detail, thanks to clever technology.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp f/1.8 camera, 1.4um pixels, OIS, Dual pixel autofocus, dual LED flash, HDR+ shooting, 4K/FullHD Video, water and dust resistant.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK 

5. Apple iPhone X

The Apple iPhone X marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and the iPhone X's camera which builds on the dual camera of the iPhone 7 Plus, but features updated cameras, with both the wide-angle (28mm equivalent) and telephoto (56mm equivalent) lenses now featuring Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), a brighter aperture for the telephoto lens (f/2.4 instead of f/2.8), and a larger sensor. Both dual cameras feature 12-megapixels, same as the iPhone 8 Plus, and the wide-angle lens features an f/1.8 aperture.

The front 'selfie' camera has 7-megapixels as well as an aperture of f/2.2 and you can use Portrait Mode to create 'bokeh' in the background of your self-portraits.

Some other features worth mentioning include the 5.8" super retina HD screen which is surrounded by a smaller bezel so the smartphone remains a reasonable size, a water and dust resistant design and those who capture video can now do so in 4K up to 60fps. As with previous iPhone models, there's no headphone socket.

The iPhone X is unmistakably a premium smartphone that's built well, feels solid and looks really great.

Camera features at a glance: Dual 12mp wide-angle and telephoto lenses, f/1.8 & f/2.4, 28mm and 56mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

6. HTC U11

HTC U11 Blue (1)
The HTC U11 offers an excellent rear camera, with a 12mp sensor, f/1.7 aperture lens and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). There's also the option to squeeze the sides of the smartphone to activate the camera, as well as take photos. There's a 16mp selfie camera, but it is fixed focus. 4K video recording is possible, and the smartphone has a number of microphones in order to record 3D sound. The HTC U11 is also waterproof, meaning you can get a number of underwater shots, without having to buy another case for it. However, it's important to protect the phone, as it has a glass front and back. ISO speeds of ISO100 and ISO800 can be manually selected, but the camera will use higher ISO speeds when needed in auto or scene modes.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

7. Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7 Underwater
Samsung Galaxy S7 Underwater

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual pixel technology and a bright f/1.7 aperture. It has a quad HD screen, for crystal clear viewing and can capture 4K video as well as 9-megapixel stills when in video mode. It's also dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 mins. With the ability to expand the memory with a microSD card and tough Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the screen and back on the phone, it's ideal for those who love to get out and about and take lots of images, no matter the weather. It operates at a very impressive speed and you can use the volume control as a shutter button. ISO speeds from ISO50 to ISO800 are selectable in manual mode.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.7 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK  

9. Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

The iPhone 8 Plus' rear camera is the same 12MP camera you find on the iPhone X and it also features the same two lenses: wide-angle (28mm equivalent) and telephoto (56mm equivalent). Optical image stabilisation is built in but it's not Dual, as you find on the iPhone X, and the telephoto lens isn't quite as bright, offering a maximum aperture of f/2.8 when it's f/2.4 on the iPhone X. Even though it's not quite as bright, low light performance should still be better than past iPhones could offer.

As well as the large sensor which Apple says has been re-engineered, there's a new image signal processor built in to improve the quality of colours and textures in images. There's also a new A11 processor, a glass back design which allows for wireless charging and the same portrait lighting modes found on the iPhone X (currently in BETA). WIth Portrait Mode, you can create 'bokeh' in the background of your portraits, adjust the lighting of the scene or 'cut' your subjects out so they appear on a black background.

The front 'selfie' camera on the iPhone 8 Plus as 7-megapixels as well as an aperture of f/2.2, retina flash and it can be used to capture video in 1080p HD.

The native camera app is still annoyingly basic and for some photographers, it just won't offer enough in the way of manual control to keep them happy. Yes, low light performance has been improved slightly but not enough to make it groundbreaking and the built-in portrait modes do give portraits a more pro feel, when used under the right conditions, but these two things alone aren't enough to compete with the likes of the Mate 10 Pro with all of its manual bells and whistles.

Other great features include the iPhone 8 Plus' water and dust resistant design, 4K video and the range of apps which are available for iOS.

Camera features at a glance: 12MP camera, f/2.8 max aperture, CMOS sensor, 28-56mm equivalent, 4K video.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK 

9. HTC 10

10


Sporting a 12Mp camera and 4K video, the HTC 10 sits at the top of the range in the HTC smartphone lineup. On the front, you'll find a 5.2-inch screen with a QuadHD resolution. Designed to have better than usual low-light performance, the camera has a 12Mp sensor for better low-light performance, as well as a bright f/1.8 lens with optical image stabilisation, and an ISO range of ISO100 to ISO3200. Even the front selfie camera has optical image stabilisation! The app itself is as clear, responsive and easy to use. Plenty of manual control is provided in Pro mode which is accessed via the mode icon located alongside the shutter release icon. Detail and colour reproduction in shots are good and overall, it's capable of producing natural-looking images. HDR capture does a decent job of boosting dynamic range and even its low-light performance is commendable. A MicroSD card slot gives expansion options to store more photos and video.

Camera features at a glance: 12mp, f/1.8 lens, 26mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

10. Huawei P9 - Co-engineered with Leica

Huawei P9 Front

The standout feature on the Huawei P9 is most definitely its cameras as it features 2x camera with f/2.2 Leica lenses, one camera is colour and the other black and white. The phone also has a 5.2inch screen and is capable of recording FullHD video. The P9 looks great and for the most part, performs really well. The camera produces great results and it's actually bursting with features (once you find them). Those who use their smartphones for taking photos regularly, particularly selfies, will find the auto mode really easy to use and will be more than happy with the shots it produces. Plus, if you do want to dabble with a bit of manual photography, there are the options to do so, including an ISO range from ISO100 to ISO3200. You can expand the storage with a MicroSD card.

Camera features at a glance: 2x 12mp (Colour, Black and White), f/2.2 Leica lens, 28mm equivalent, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), FullHD video, MicroSD slot, raw.

Overall Score:

Buy On Amazon UK

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