This article is from 2019. Check our updated review Top 12 Best Smartphone Cameras for Photography in 2022
It’s that time of the year, once again. That time when we review the best smartphone cameras. Those of you who want to buy a new flagship phone with a killer camera or perhaps a bit cheaper phone with a decent camera, you’ve come to the right place. You don’t always need a full-size DSLR to make amazing photos. Here you can read 5 reasons why some phone cameras are better than a DSLR camera.
What are the best smartphone cameras for photography to consider today? It is tough to pick the smartphone that has the best camera but with our smartphone camera guide, this decision will be easy.
The smartphone cameras have seen a drastic improvement in 2019, making them far more versatile and viable, even when we talk about night photography.
Without further ado, let’s jump right onto the topic and see our individual review for every smartphone camera on the list.
Table of Content
Top 7 Best Smartphone Cameras for Photography in 2019
1. Huawei P30 Pro
- 3G HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 - 4G LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 6(900), 7(2600), 8(900), 9(1800), 12(700), 17(700), 18(800), 19(800), 20(800), 26(850), 28(700), 32(1500), 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300)
Huawei P30 Pro comes with a monstrosity of a camera. This phone redefined the whole smartphone industry when it came out, thanks to its triple, yet powerful camera system. The first camera is 40MP and comes with OIS. On top of that, the P30 Pro also has an 8MP telephoto camera, with 5x optical zoom and up to 50x hybrid zoom, alongside OIS. Next, we have the ultra-wide 20MP lens.
This camera is able to capture a broader field of view but doesn’t come with OIS. Finally, Huawei included a TOF sensor, which is here to make the portraits better by making the Bokeh effect much smoother. Huawei once again worked with Leica, which is a prestigious company when it comes to optics. Also, read if this phone camera can really photograph the moon.
The video recording is now much more improved. P30 Pro can shoot 4K videos at 30fps and it also has an OIS. There’s an ability to shoot slow-motion 960fps 720p videos but in our opinion, Samsung does it a bit better. On the front, there’s a single 32MP front-facing camera, able to shoot 1080p videos at 30fps. The front camera isn’t anything impressive but it does the job perfectly fine for a flagship device.
2. Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Updated Camera Features: Get the more powerful S10 with a software update that gives you all new features including Single Take AI, Pro Video and more
- High-quality camera lenses: With a full set of pro lenses, including ultrawide for stunning landscapes and micro-zoom for epic details, Galaxy S10+ is a studio in your pocket, featuring live video bokeh, precision audio focus and super-stabilization
- Photos and video with one tap: capture multiple images and video all at once, in one tap. Lenses, effects and filters capture the best of every moment, every time
Samsung really did a great job when it comes to innovations. They completely ditched the notch design for a punch-hole design. This means that there is a small cut-out at the front, where two front-facing cameras reside. Speaking of front-facing cameras, this is THE BEST front-facing camera in 2019. One is 10MP and we also have one ultra-wide 8MP camera. These cameras are able to shoot 4K videos at 30fps, which is the first front-facing camera that can do such a thing. Not to forget to mention the super-steady mode, in which Samsung makes videos without a hint of shaking. That’s some cool technology right there!
Moving to the back, we once again see a triple camera array. A 12MP wide, 12MP telephoto and 16MP ultra-wide cameras are on the back. The first two have OIS, while the ultra-wide one doesn’t have it. Unlike Huawei, Samsung offers only 2x optical zoom for a telephoto camera but the ultra-wide camera is probably the highlight of this camera setup. It can capture so much into the frame that you simply wouldn’t believe us. You have to see it to believe it.
Coupled with the astonishing video quality, Galaxy S10 is on the top of their game when it comes to the cameras. This phone is a real deal, my friends!
3. OnePlus 7 Pro
- OnePlus 7 Pro, US Version model GM1917 with US warranty, Operating System: OxygenOS based on Android 9 (Pie), CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (Octa-core, 7nm processor), 8GB Memory 256GB Storage, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor, Dual SIM – This factory unlocked phone is compatible worldwide. In US it’s compatible with carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, H20, Simple Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Metro PCS, Cricket, Straight Talk GSM, Tracfone GSM, Ting GSM, Project Fi GSM and other prepaid carriers.
- Display Size: 6.67 inches QHD+ AMOLED Display | Resolution: 1440 x 3120 pixels, Aspect Ratio: 19.5:9 | Type: AMOLED | Cover Glass: 3D Corning Gorilla Glass. 90Hz Refresh Rate: delivers a fluid viewing experience that makes everything you do faster and smoother. HDR 10+. In-display fingerprint sensor - Simply touch the screen to unlock your device in just 0.21 seconds
- Triple Rear Camera: 48MP Main (f/1.6) + 16MP Ultra Wide Angle (f/2.2) + 8MP Telephoto (f/2.4). Dual LED Flash, Video: 4K resolution at 30/60 fps | 1080p resolution at 30/60 fps | Super Slow Motion: 1080p videos at 240 fps | 720p video at 480 fps, Time-Lapse, Video Editor. Pop-up front camera: 16MP, Video: 1080p resolution at 30 fps | Time-Lapse
OnePlus 7 Pro released in May 2019 and it’s one of the prettiest phones out there. It sports bezel-less design with no notch. Instead, this phone packs a motorized pop-up front-facing camera. With its 90Hz display, OnePlus 7 Pro is one beastly phone, being able to fight against much more expensive flagships at a slightly lower price. Its 48MP main camera is one of the best for the price and it includes OIS. Of course, there’s a telephoto camera that packs 8MP, with 3x optical zoom and OIS. Finally, an ultra-wide 16MP camera doesn’t have OIS but is able to make some pretty cool photos. While the phone can record 2160p videos at 30/60fps, it has no video recording with the ultra-wide camera.
As this is a motorized front-facing camera, we have the only one here and it’s a 16MP camera. The great thing about this camera is its EIS, which is ideal for bloggers who want to record themselves and not get a shaky video. It can shoot 1080p videos at 30fps, which should be enough for the modest users.
4. OnePlus 7
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OnePlus 7 is a cut-down version of the aforementioned flagship. This phone has a small notch, unlike the Pro variant, which comes with a pop-up camera. Needless to say, the cameras here are just as awesome, despite the lack of telephoto and ultra-wide cameras. So, we have one 48MP camera with OIS and the other one is 5MP depth sensor. Before you jump to a conclusion, let us say that this camera is really awesome. It’s able to shoot 4K videos at both 30 and 60 fps and we also have gyro-EIS to accompany the great video quality.
Since we have a dew-drop notch above, there’s only one front camera – a 16MP snapper. The highlight of this camera is the EIS, which isn’t a common thing in front cameras nowadays.
All in all, OnePlus 7 has a pretty decent camera for the price. It’s not on the flagship level but having in mind the cost of OnePlus 7 versus top-of-the-line flagships, it’s more than excellent.
5. Xiaomi Mi9
- 3G HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 - 4G LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 20(800), 28(700), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300) - Dual Nano-SIM slots - Supports 2.4G Wi-Fi / 5G Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi Direct / Wi-Fi Display > (ensure to check compatibility with your carrier before purchase)
- 128GB + 6GB RAM - Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 flagship processor, Octa-core processor, up to 2.84 GHz - Android 9.0 (Pie); MIUI 10 - Improved In-screen Fingerprint Sensor - Non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery - TÜV Rhineland Certiﬁed Safe Fast-Charge System
- 6.39" AMOLED Full Screen Display*, 2340 x 1080 FHD+ 403 PPI, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, Anti-oil and anti-fingerprint protective coating - Holographic glass design
Xiaomi Mi9 is the most affordable flagship on this list. Yet, it still manages to fight against much more expensive phones. It comes with a jaw-dropping AMOLED display and has three cameras on the back. A 48MP, 12MP, and 16MP wide, telephoto, and ultra-wide cameras respectively. The interesting thing is that we don’t have any OIS on any of these cameras. A telephoto camera has a 2x optical zoom, which is okay, given the price. As for the image quality, Mi9 is able to produce stunning photos. Having in mind that it support Google’s Camera app, you can now have even more amazing photos, almost as if you were using some of the Pixel phones.
Now, let’s see the video recording. Mi9 can shoot 2160p videos at 30 and 60fps, as well as slow-mo 960fps, 1080p videos. Without proper image stabilization, they aren’t as good as the phone we’ve mentioned above. Moving to the front, there is a 20MP camera which is, once again, without OIS or EIS.
The interesting thing is that Xiaomi ditched a 3.5mm jack in this phone, which isn’t anything to brag about. But, if you want a cheap and reliable FLAGSHIP device, this is a great phone for you.
6. Samsung Galaxy A80
Samsung showed the whole world what their name means for the smartphone industry. With the recent roster of highly-affordable mid-range devices, they returned their title as the kings of this business. Galaxy A80 is by no means a flagship device. It’s a mid-ranger and a VERY good one. It comes with a motorized pop-up camera, so we have a bezel-less display. The main camera is 48MP and we also have an 8MP ultra-wide camera. Samsung also added a TOF 3D sensor, which is nice, considering this is a mid-range device. Not to forget to mention that this phone comes with a brand new mid-range Snapdragon 730 chip.
What about video quality? Well, 2160p at 30 fps… Does it sound good? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that there is an EIS at 1080p at both 30 and 60fps.
The front camera is the same as the rear camera. Basically, it’s a pop-up mechanism that rotates, allowing you to use the same camera for both purposes. You can now shoot 48MP selfies and record 4K selfie videos. Isn’t that beautiful?
Check out the current price for Samsung Galaxy A80 on Amazon.
7. Nokia 9 PureView
- A revolutionary, next generation camera with an incredible five cameras and Zeiss Optics complete with two color sensors that provide accurate vibrant color images and three panchromatic sensors that allow the array to collect up to 10-times the amount of light resulting in sharp, incredibly atmospheric still shots with blur effects and Google Photos integration alongside rich and vibrant UHD 4K HDR video with spatial audio capture.
- Exceptional detail and dynamic range for exceptional photography with control over every element of your image starting with incredible detail and texture from all 5 cameras that automatically adjusts the exposure across the scene or allows for complete control down to the smallest detail with the custom build Pro camera UI. Images can be saved as “raw” DNG format images with unparalleled dynamic range, details and low noise that can be edited directly on your Device with Adobe light room for advanced editing control, retaining the dynamic range that you would ordinarily lose in a jpg.
- Built to protect everything that makes it great with a resilient and durable 6000 Series aluminum chassis, that houses a next generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform and imaging co-processor complete with Qualcomm Bluetooth audio, and integrated Qi wireless charging.
If you’ve read our review of the Nokia 9 PureView, you know that we have a love-hate relationship with this phone. The reason for that is the last-year Snapdragon 845 chip, instead of 855, as well as a bit disappointing camera.
Wait, why is this on the list then?
Because if you have, in some cases, more than 30 seconds to spend waiting for the photo to be processed, you’ll have an AMAZING photo. I’m confident enough to say that it can go hand-to-hand with the quality of Pixel 3 XL. Basically, Nokia 9 comes with a total of 5 cameras on the back and one front-facing camera. These 5 12MP cameras on the back are all the same, except for 3 BW cameras and 2 RGB cameras. They work simultaneously, alongside 3D TOF sensor, for better depth sensing.
As they work at the same time, the phone needs more time to process the photo but as a benefit, you get a photo that’s fully editable, which is excellent for nit-pickers.
As for the video recording, we have 2160p and 1080p at 30 fps, with no OIS, unfortunately. The front-facing snapper is 20MP and is also able to record 4k and 1080p videos at the same framerate. If you want to know more about Nokia 9 PureView, read our separate review: Nokia 9 PureView – A Photographer’s Best Friend… Or Not?
Top 3 Best Budget Smartphone Cameras for Photography in 2019
1. Google Pixel 3a
- Capture stunning photos with features like night sight, portrait mode, and HDR Plus.
- Save every photo with free, unlimited storage at high quality through Google photos.
- The Google assistant is the easiest way to get things done – including screening calls.
It’s hard to believe that Google has some budget phones. With their recent lineup, one particular phone caught our attention. Google Pixel 3a. This thing is a beast and its price isn’t going to empty your wallet. Arguably, it’s not the most beautiful phone and its Snapdragon 670 isn’t the most powerful out there. But… BUT… We’re not here to talk about its CPU. We’re here for the camera. Once again, Google put a single camera on the back and this single camera is able to bring the fight to the most expensive devices with unrelenting force, despite its plastic design and big bezels.
A 12.2 MP camera might not sound very impressive but Google’s software makes up for everything that lacks in the hardware department. With this software, Pixel 3a can now capture amazing night shots with precise color reproduction. The video quality is also amazing and we have 2160p and 1080p video recording. The first is at 30fps, while the latter is at 30/60/120fps. The front-facing 8MP camera is also great, although there isn’t any image stabilization.
Oh, we almost forgot to mention that this thing has an OLED screen. This is simply brilliant at this price.
2. Redmi Note 7
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Redmi Note 7 needs no special introduction. Those who buy budget devices already know what a beastly device this is. Snapdragon 660 is the heart of this phone and as we know, this chip is pretty fast. Now, what about the camera? Well, we have a 48MP camera accompanied by a 5MP depth sensor. No ultra-wide or telephoto cameras here. But, Note 7 doesn’t need any of that and it would be silly to expect such thing for a phone this cheap. The photos look quite nice, the color accuracy is spot-on, and you can also download Google’s Camera app. This will allow you to extend its possibilities even more.
As for the video quality, it can record 2160p videos at 30fps. We even have the EIS with 1080p videos at 30/60/120fps. Finally, we have a single front-facing 13MP camera. Although it looks kinda bland on the paper, it’s very good when using it. Redmi Note 7 is the best budget phone on the market in the first half of 2019. That’s something to note!
3. Motorola Moto G7 Plus
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Before its release, Motorola promised some cool camera features on, at the time, upcoming G7 Plus. When it released in March 2019, this phone was a bit hit and miss. Snapdragon 636 wasn’t (and still isn’t) strong enough for the price and a battery of 3000mAh is simply lackluster. But, when we turn the phone, we see two cameras. One is 16MP and the other is 5MP depth sensor. This camera, despite looking average on the paper, has some cool features in it. The first one is OIS, which places Moto G7 at a very important spot. This is the FIRST budget smartphone to come with the OIS, rather than EIS, which most budget phones have.
On top of that, Motorola is capable of recording 4k videos at 30fps and we also have stabilized 1080p videos at 30/60/120fps. The front-facing camera is another strong feature of Moto G7 Plus. It’s a 12MP camera that’s able to record 4k and 1080p videos at 30fps. To make things better, Motorola included a fast, 27W charger that will charge the battery from 0 to 100 percent in less than 2 hours.
Let’s digress. If you want a true flagship experience in terms of camera and performance, you want to go for the first seven phones. These phones are fast, have great cameras, and are going to last you more than a couple of years. However, beware that you’ll need to spend much more money on them. For example, the phones from our budget category are up to 4 times cheaper than some of the high-end phones! Needless to say that in some cases, differences can range from mild to very noticeable.
If you have more cash to spend and you really want to take outstanding photos, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and Huawei P30 Pro are your best options. As for the budget devices, their cameras are great in their price segment. Going for either of these is a good decision.
That’s it for now. Now go take some pretty photos and hope that 2020 will bring even more innovations in the smartphone industry. If that happens, we will all have capable phones at our disposal, at an affordable price.
Until then, enjoy the smartphone photography. It’s easy, enjoyable, and everyone can do it!