Choosing the best camera phone isn't as easy as you'd think - we can't easily point our finger at the latest Samsung Galaxy or iPhone and say 'that one'. That's because, while loads of phones are great for taking pictures, different models have different strengths.
If you look at our list of the best Samsung phones, you'll find models with fantastic hardware and some cool software modes, while our ranking of the best iPhones has handsets with incredibly AI optimization, and if you're looking for unique lenses and sensors that you won't find elsewhere, our guide to the best Huawei phone is best for you.
That is to say, different manufacturers prioritize different parts of the smartphone photography experience, but in this list of the best camera phones, you'll find the real top picks from loads of different companies.
Here at TechRadar, we test every single smartphone that's worth your time and money, and our testing process involves loads of photography. So we know what these devices are like for selfies, night photography and zoom shots, and we've played with all the unique modes they offer.
This list shows you the best camera phones we've used - ones that are easy to use, and produce great results. It's a ranking that's constantly changing, with new photography powerhouses being released all the time, so keep checking back when new models go up for sale to see where they rank.
Best camera phone 2022
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are stunning camera phones, each packing a 12MP f/1.5 main sensor with big 1.9µm pixels, a 12MP f/1.8 ultra-wide, and a 12MP f/2.8 telephoto, with 3x optical zoom. They both have the same cameras, and their key difference is the phone screen size, which is why we've bundled them into one.
While they don’t have the lens numbers or optical zoom length of some phones on this list, their performance is sublime, and while they lack a dedicated macro lens, they’re still competent at taking close-up photos.
Low light performance particularly impressed us in our tests, and that's something that iPhones are known for, but whatever type of shot you’re aiming for, the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max should be able to do it justice.
Apple's smart AI optimization is out in force here, with the company's Deep Fusion used to tweak your pictures to make them as wonderful as possible.
The new Photographic Styles feature and Cinematic mode both impress too, though we suspect they might not be massively used by most buyers. But with an improved Portrait mode, the return of ProRAW, and a great point-and-shoot experience, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are photography beasts.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra builds on the success of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. It offers a vast array of lenses. These include two 10MP telephoto lenses: one is f/2.4 with a 36-degree field of view (FOV) and the other is f/4.9 with an 11-degree FOV. There’s also a 12MP ultrawide with a 120-degree FOV, and then there’s the 108MP main wide camera (f/1.8) with an 85-degree FOV.
With these four rear cameras, not to mention the super-high-res front one, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best handset on this list for versatility - you can jump between a wide field of view or a super-zoomed in one easily.
It's not just the lenses that help here though, with the software helping out massively. Samsung has improved on optical image stabilization, digital image stabilization, and image processing. You'll notice this particularly when zooming in.
3x and 10x optical zoom looks solid and offers clear images of distant objects that enable you to crop in on details with little pixelation. However, 30x and 100x Space Zoom images are truly special compared to before, and you won't find the iPhone above to get even close to 100x.
If you like to edit your snaps, you might also appreciate the S Pen stylus, which we found to be more precise than a finger so could be really useful in image editing apps.
The addition of Adaptive Pixel plus Auto-Focus Assist further help to ensure this is a remarkable camera phone.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Google has a habit of delivering excellent photography experiences on its phones, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro is no exception. In fact, its hardware and software have both seen huge upgrades from the Pixel 5, so much so that you should just forget its older phones if you're a photo fan.
The phone has a 50MP f/1.9 main sensor with 1.2µm pixels, and in our tests we found it capable of taking excellent photos, with good detail, and colors that were true to life.
That’s joined by a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera with a 114-degree field of view, and a 48MP f/3.5 telephoto snapper which offers 4x optical zoom, both of which performed well in our tests, if not quite as well as the Samsung above.
But the Pixel 6 Pro also benefits from software that you won’t see on rival handsets, such as a Magic Eraser that can remove unwanted aspects from photos, Motion mode for long exposure shots, and Real Tone, which more accurately captures the skin tones of people of color.
Using these modes, you can take incredible pictures, and that's why the handset is number three on this list. Google's reliance on software has paid off big time.
Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review
While Huawei's phones can be a mixed bag for general consumers, as camera phones they're terrific, and the P50 Pro continues this.
The main cameras on this phone are great, with the 50MP wide snapper joining forces with the 40MP black-and-white one to capture wonderful shots - that's whether you're close or far from the subject, in well-light conditions or snapping at night, and relying on the AI optimization or not.
There's also the high-res zoom camera, and useful ultrawide snapper, to ensure you can take a range of different pictures at ease.
Video recording goes up to 4K and 60fps, a combination of resolution and framerate that we don't always see in phones, and you can also shoot 4K video on some of the other lenses (other than the main one) too.
As a camera phone, this is great - photographers will love it. As an everyday mobile, you might be phased by the lack of apps (due to Google's Play Store not being available), and that might pose a problem for people who like their photo editing apps (though lots of options, including social media platforms, can be side-loaded).
So we can't rank the Huawei P50 Pro up alongside the Galaxy Ultra or iPhone Pro, because it's harder to use as a general smartphone - but when looking simply at photography, it's in the big leagues.
Read our full Huawei P50 Pro review
The camera on the Oppo Find X5 Pro is both one of its strong suits and one of its weak suits, as it depends on which lens you’re using.
The main 50MP f/1.7 snapper is superb, as is the 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide one. Both cameras are capable of taking bright, detailed, colorful pictures. But switch to the 13MP f/2.4 telephoto camera and things go downhill, with its 2x optical zoom being dwarfed by most rivals.
Still, if you’re not overly interested in zoom shots then the Oppo Find X5 Pro comes highly recommended for photo fiends, and it’s helped out by its MariSilicon X neural processing chip, and by the company’s collaboration with camera brand Hasselblad.
This collaboration brings tweaks to Pro photography mode, and also a dedicated XPan mode that recreates the experience of using Hasselblad's cult classic camera.
You can also record video with excellent stabilization at 1080p, or without that perk at 4K, and there’s a capable 32MP selfie camera on the front.
Overall this isn’t quite the most comprehensive or versatile camera setup you’ll find on a phone, but for most photo types and even for video, the Oppo Find X5 Pro does an exceptional job. If Oppo wants to compete with Samsung or Apple in those top spots though, it'll need a better zoom solution in the future.
Read our full Oppo Find X5 Pro review
The Xiaomi 12 Pro has a camera setup that’s easy to remember, as the rear houses a trio of 50MP sensors. There’s an f/1.9 main one, an f/2.2 ultra-wide one, and an f/1.9 telephoto one (offering 2x optical zoom).
Of those, the first two impress, and especially the main snapper. This uses a 1/1.28-inch Sony IMX707 sensor which is larger than the sensors in even most top-end smartphones, and results in sumptuous shots full of depth, detail, impressive sharpness, and natural colors.
The ultra-wide snapper has a smaller sensor but is still capable of accurate color capture and a wide 115-degree field of view. Finally, the 2x optical zoom snapper is fine at that range, but 2x leaves it behind the optical reach of many rival phones. Still, optical zoom can make up for that.
Still, video capture is strong (as long as the lighting is good), with decent stabilization kicking in even at 8K resolution, so for most photo types and for shooting video, the Xiaomi 12 Pro impresses.
Xiaomi also offers loads of photo and video modes that will appeal to people looking for a great entry to a social media pipeline. Its Sky editing modes, Clone photo or video and Dolly Zoom video options will all let you take novel snaps or shots that you won't quite find from other rivals.
Read our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review
OnePlus' phones are a mixed bag in the camera department: the devices can often have rough edges when it comes to the photography experience, but it's hard to deny that when they work, they work really well.
The 48MP main camera here is great, especially in well-lit conditions, though it carries its weight in the dark too. We found pictures, whether they were close-ups or cinematic vistas, looked great.
The ultrawide camera is useful too, though you're not getting the full 50MP - the lens is actually a super-wide one used for fisheye shots, but if you want normal ultrawide snaps, it's cropped quite a bit.
With 3.3x optical zoom, the OnePlus beats other phones from Oppo and Xiaomi on this list with its range, though the 8MP sensor might leave a bit to be desired.
We found that the OnePlus 10 Pro could, when given the opportunity, beat Portrait snaps that would give a Samsung phone a run for its money - but sometimes they had small bokeh errors too.
Video recording goes up to 8K, though for the AI and stabilization features you'll have to stick to 1080p. There are loads of modes too like fisheye, tilt-shift, XPan (mentioned in the Oppo section above) and more.
We found the OnePlus 10 Pro cameras good but not great - this list is for the best camera phones though, and we've included this entry as a great phone with a decent camera. So if you're looking for a device with a good camera but that excels in other departments too, this is a good pick.
Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has exactly the same camera hardware as the S22 Ultra, which sits near the top of this list of the best camera phones. So why isn't it at the top spot too, then? Well, because of other changes.
For an accurate explanation of the S21 Ultra's photography chops, the S22 Ultra's entry still stands. But there have been software tweaks to fix smaller issues we had like with autofocus and battery drain.
Plus, this phone is compatible with the S Pen stylus, but one doesn't actually come with the phone, so you're less likely to use it. That means you could miss out on its useful image markup, drawing and remote shutter tools.
With the phone being a year older, it also likely won't be supported by Android updates for as long.
Still, this is an awesome camera phone, with top Samsung modes like Single Take adding to the versatile and impressive experience.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
If you want a Samsung camera phone but feel the Ultra is too top-end for you, then the Galaxy S22 (or Plus, with the same cameras) might be a better choice - but as the smaller and more affordable member of the line, the S22 is our favorite.
This phone has a powerful 50MP main camera which is great for taking colorful pictures, even in low-light conditions, and the software can jump in when necessary to add some vibrancy and saturation.
The ultrawide and telephoto cameras also help you capture a wider or closer subject if you need to, giving you an added edge of versatility to help you capture your subject in the best possible way.
Samsung's phones remain fantastic for Portrait mode shots, and that mode is back here - including other favorites like Color Point, Single Take and Dual Video.
Plus, there's also video recording at 8K, or 4K at 60fps, another top-end feature that not all handsets offer.
This phone doesn't stack against high-priced rivals found higher on this list, but with a lower price tag than most, it could be a preferable choice to many buyers.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review
The iPhone 13 has just two rear cameras – a 12MP f/1.6 main one and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide (with a 120-degree field of view), but both of them perform well, and they’re an upgrade on the iPhone 12’s snappers.
For one thing, you get bigger 1.7µm pixels on the main camera, which in our review we found made a noticeable difference to the picture quality. There’s also sensor shift OIS, which does an excellent job of stabilizing images so they come out sharp even when the phone isn’t held perfectly still.
In general we found images also had less noise than those taken with an iPhone 12, and when it comes to video we were quite fond of the new Cinematic mode, which adds a bokeh effect and smartly shifts the focus between subjects.
With a new Photographic Styles mode for stills too, plus a capable 12MP f/2.2 front-facing camera, there’s a lot to like here, it’s just a shame there’s no telephoto lens. For that you’ll have to opt for a Pro model – or a different company’s phones.
Sure, the iPhone 13 doesn't quite have all the bells and whistles of the other devices on this list - there's no zoom camera, no macro camera, and perhaps fewer photography modes than you'll find on the Samsung, Xiaomi or OnePlus rivals above. But for standard pictures it's great.
Read our full iPhone 13 review
How we tested
We've fully reviewed every phone on this list and that includes extensively testing all of their cameras, so we know exactly how they perform. That allows us to look beyond specs and create a ranking based on how these camera phones are in practice. We've also considered price, value and features when deciding on a ranking.
What should I look for when buying a camera phone?
When choosing a camera phone you should consider the types of photo you want to take. If you want to photograph wildlife or other things you can't easily get close to then a telephoto lens is essential, while for landscapes a good ultra-wide is your friend. Check out our reviews to see how camera phones perform in practice too, as some sound better than they are.
Which phone has the best camera?
The best camera phone changes regularly, but our current top pick will be sitting in the number one spot of this guide. That doesn't mean it will be the best choice for everyone though - consider what you actually need from your camera phone before choosing one.
- Turn your snaps into a beautiful photo book - we've picked out the best