The best camera phone 2023: top mobiles for photography

Best camera phones hero image
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

You'll want to own the best camera phone if you're someone who loves to capture content on the move, and today's array of highly capable camera phones means you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune for the privilege. 

Camera phones have come a long way since their humble beginnings, and while they still can't quite live up to the best cameras (especially APS-C and full-frame mirrorless cameras), top-notch mobile snappers can still deliver high-quality footage and images for you to treasure, show off or even sell.

Some mobile cameras, for instance, have optical zoom lenses that use folded optics to let you see distant subjects (including the moon) clearly. Others use computational techniques to help improve the snaps you take from the main camera, while a handful have image stabilization so impressive that you'd think the footage was shot using a gimbal.

It's worth noting, too, that different phones offer different strengths. The best Samsung phones offer more lenses and sensors than their competitors, while the best iPhones optimize the scene and lighting. And sure, while it's true that the best phones overall invariably deliver the best mobile photography, there are cheaper models out there that also take great photos – good news for newbie content creators who are on a tight budget.

Below, you'll find a list of the best camera phones we've tested. Each entry includes a link to the model's full review, alongside a brief breakdown of their specs. Oh, and since the November sales season is now upon us, we'd suggest taking a look at our Black Friday phone deals roundup if you're keen to pick up one of the best camera phones at a cut price.

The best camera phone 2023

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Peer Hoffmann)
The best camera phone overall


Release date: February 2023
Weight: 234g
Dimensions: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 200MP (wide) + 10MP (telephoto, 3x optical) + 10MP (telephoto, 10x optical) + 12MP (ultrawide, 120-degree)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

Giant 200MP sensor
Great 'Nightography' capabilities
Integrated Expert RAW shooting supports up to 50MP

Reasons to avoid

Smaller sensors aren't groundbreaking
Comes at a (very expensive) price

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the reigning best camera phone because of it's incredible versatility. It boasts so many lenses and features that there is simply no photo it can't shoot. Other devices may produce slightly better images in some situations, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra can handle every situation well, from close-ups to night photos to ultrazoom distances. 

While the 12MP ultrawide and dual 3x and 10x 10MP telephoto sensors on the back of the S23 Ultra feel decidedly familiar, the phone shrugs off the primary 108MP resolution sensor seen on previous entries in the series and replaces it – for the first time on a Samsung phone – with a whopping 200MP primary camera to deliver a consistently impressive photography experience.

Such a change in hardware can sometimes result in a drop in quality for some manufacturers, but much as with Google's move to a new 50MP primary sensor on its Pixel 6 series and Apple's shift from a 12MP to a 48MP primary sensor the year after, with the iPhone 14 Pro line, it's clear that Samsung's camera team ensured that the output from the S23 Ultra's 200MP Adaptive Pixel Sensor offers just as consistent and impressive an experience as its predecessor, right out of the gate.

For users who want to get more granular with the Ultra's photography experience, the Expert RAW mode – integrated into the camera UI – supports an output of up to 50MP. The Ultra also lets you snap 200MP stills (as jpegs), if you want to play with the full sensor's available detail.

Samsung also continues to work closely with big social brands like Snap, TikTok and Instagram to ensure that the S23 Ultra benefits from higher fidelity image and video quality, as well as tighter integration with creative features within each social app, something rival Android phone makers miss out on.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review