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Best phone camera 2024: Tested Android and Apple cameras in the Prime Day sales

Which phone has the best camera? We put the best Android and Apple phones to the test, to crown the ultimate champion

Here at Expert Reviews, we’ve tested all of the best phone cameras, snapping pictures with around 50 new handsets last year alone. As such, we know exactly which phones have the right cameras for all of your photography needs.

From the most expensive flagships to the budget handsets you buy out of sheer necessity, we put each and every phone camera that comes across our desks through the same thorough testing process, vetting all available lenses in real-world scenarios before we decide whether or not to recommend them.

You can read a more detailed breakdown of our testing process just below, and we’ve also got a handy link that will jump you down to our buying guide, where you’ll find a quick rundown of all the terminology and features to look out for when shopping for a new smartphone camera. Otherwise, read on to see our regularly updated list of the best phone cameras on the market.

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Amazon Prime Day deal – Google Pixel 8 Pro

Our current favourite on this list, the Google Pixel 8 Pro, has received a healthy discount courtesy of the Amazon Prime Day sales. Until 17 July, you can buy one for just £616, which is its lowest price yet.

View deal at Amazon

Best phone camera: At a glance

Best phone cameraGoogle Pixel 8 Pro (~£899)Check price at Amazon
Best phone camera for videoiPhone 15 Pro Max (~£1149)Check price at John Lewis
Best telephoto phone cameraSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (~£1249)Check price at Amazon
Best budget phone camera Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G (~£187)Check price at Amazon

How we test smartphone cameras

Modern smartphones incorporate a variety of different lenses and shooting features, so while our testing methodology is broadly consistent across releases, the individual elements we need to test can vary from one review to another. That being said, our phone camera testing is as thorough as possible, putting the latest handsets through a variety of demanding shooting scenarios, including low-light conditions (both indoors and outdoors), night scenes, and portrait photography.

Testing the wide angle camera on a Google Pixel 8 smartphone

With every review, we make every effort to ensure that all camera features have been fully tested before delivering our final verdict. This may include ultrawide and zoomed shooting, macro photography, as well as various resolution, frame rate, and stabilisation settings for recording video.

We never test smartphone cameras in isolation. A comparator device – which can either be a rival product, or the review model’s predecessor – is always used for direct comparison in testing, with side-by-side images published as part of our full reviews. Wherever possible, we also discuss the stock camera app, being sure to mention any irritating quirks or any specific user-friendly features.

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The best phone cameras you can buy in 2024

1. Google Pixel 8 Pro: Best phone camera overall

Price when reviewed: £899 | Check price at Amazon

Best phone camera - Google Pixel 8 Pro in hand

  • Great for… phenomenal image quality and useful AI camera features
  • Not so great for… no 8K video and a middling ultrawide camera

It may come with an unwelcome price increase, but the Google Pixel 8 Pro still manages to snatch the gold as our favourite smartphone camera on the market. The rear array comprises a 50MP main camera and a pair of 48MP sensors, for ultrawide and telephoto shots up to 5x optical zoom, respectively, while the selfie camera is the same 10.5MP number found on the previous generation.

Image quality is nothing short of astonishing, with exquisite dynamic range, clear and colourful low-light shots and some of the best portrait photography in the game. The real power here, however, is in the software. Highlights include Audio Magic Eraser, which cuts out unwanted background noise from videos, and Best Take, which uses AI to swap out faces in group shots with previous images of the same person. Creepy? Sure, but it works surprisingly well.

We never like to see a generational price increase, but it’s hard to argue that the Google Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t earn the extra pounds with these phenomenal cameras. At the very least, it earns its place at the top of this list.

Read our full Google Pixel 8 Pro review

Key specs – Rear camera: 50MP, 48MP (wide), 48MP (5x telephoto zoom); Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: Optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 10.5MP

2. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: Best phone camera for video

Price when reviewed: £1,149 | Check price at John Lewis

Best phone camera - iPhone 15 Pro Max upright on a table

  • Great for… diverse video options and a new 5x telephoto camera
  • Not so great for… no main camera improvements and softer night shots

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of the priciest models to ever grace our best phone camera this list, but it makes  a strong case for its expense by offering a robust and feature-rich camera suite. As we saw with the previous generation, the highlight of the 15 Pro Max’s cameras is once again the video, shooting up to 4K at 60fps with support for Dolby Vision and offering sensor-shift optical stabilisation for rock-solid footage.

Some of the new video features are only going to appeal to the pros – the option to shoot in a flat Log colour profile and recording 60fps ProRes footage directly to external storage aren’t likely to be key selling points for most buyers – and there’s still no 8K capabilities, but otherwise, the video is outstanding. Pair that with the new periscope telephoto lens that offers improved 5x optical zoom photography and a main camera that ups the detail and downs the noise in low-light shots, and the few flaws are very easy to forgive.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Key specs – Rear camera: 48MP, 12MP (wide), 12MP (5x telephoto zoom); Aperture: f/1.8, f/2.2, f/2.8; Stabilisation: Sensor and optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps with Dolby Vision; Front camera: 12MP

Check price at John Lewis

3. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Best telephoto phone camera

Price when reviewed: £1,249 | Check price at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review - Phone face up on a book

  • Great for… incredible telephoto images and improved 8K stabilisation
  • Not so great for… expensive and Galaxy AI also available elsewhere

Samsung’s Ultra-branded flagship phones have held the crown as far as zoom capability goes for a while now, and the S24 iteration doesn’t break their streak. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra changes up the camera suite slightly, dropping the main telephoto lens from 10x to 5x, but making up for it with a boosted 50MP resolution.

This change doesn’t stop the S24 Ultra from offering hybrid zoom up to 100x, but it means the 3x to 10x range is where the real magic lies. Even in low light, these zoomed shots delivered remarkable clarity in our testing, with a noticeable lack of visual noise. Go beyond 10x and you’ll notice some strong over-sharpening, but the level of detail retained in the digital zooms is fantastic, cementing the S24 Ultra as being the best telephoto in the business.

While the hardware already impressed us, the Galaxy S24 Ultra also gets some useful new software features, thanks to the launch of Galaxy AI. These range from new portrait blur options and being able to remove the glare from subjects captured through windows, to frame interpolation for video recording and generative fill for rotating an image. It’s expansive and effective, giving users even more useful toys to play with.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

Key specs – Rear camera: 200MP, 50MP (5x telephoto), 10MP (3x telephoto), 12MP (wide); Aperture: f/1.7, f/3.4, f/2.4, f/2.2; Stabilisation: Optical; Video resolution: 8K at 30fps; Front camera: 12MP

4. Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022): Best-value iPhone (with a great camera)

Price when reviewed: £379 l Check price at John Lewis

  • Great for… detailed, colourful images and fully stabilised 4K/60fps video
  • Not so great for… only one rear camera and no night mode

Apple might prefer its customers to spend more on the latest iPhone 13, but the lower asking price of the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is well worth a look when it comes to the camera department. Powered by the same chipset as the iPhone 13 – the A15 Bionic – the iPhone SE may only be fitted with a single 12MP rear camera, but image quality is frankly exceptional for the price.

It also finally benefits from Apple’s Deep Fusion tech, which improves low-light images, as well as Smart HDR 4, which enables the camera to detect and adjust exposure for each face in group shots. The photos we’ve managed to capture with the iPhone SE have been very good across the board.

Once more, Apple’s portrait mode brings out the very best of the 12MP sensor, with crisp details and a rich palette of colours. In low-light, in fact, the iPhone SE 3 surprisingly holds its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max, too. The A15 Bionic also allows for more even exposure levels and you can also record crisp 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR 4K video at 60fps.

In our opinion, little comes close to the iPhone SE 3 at this price. Despite the lack of ultra-wide-angle and zoom options, the iPhone SE 3’scamera is an astonishingly capable one.

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review

Key specs – Rear camera: 12MP; Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: Optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 7MP

5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: Best budget phone camera

Price when reviewed: £187 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… impressive main camera for the price and solid digital zoom
  • Not so great for… no 4K video and middling night photography

Xiaomi continues its reign of technical wizardry with the release of the Redmi Note 11 Pro. Somehow, Xiaomi has managed to launch a budget phone with a massive 108MP camera, which is something that’s frankly astounding for a phone this cheap, and it really impressed us in our testing.

For a mere fraction of what the most recent iPhone and Samsungs handsets cost, this is a phone that manages to hold its own under scrutiny, taking Instagram-worthy pictures in a wide variety of lighting conditions and environments. Video recording is limited to only 1080p at 30fps, but for this little, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G barely manages to place a foot wrong elsewhere.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G review

Key specs – Rear camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: Electronic; Video resolution: 1080p at 30fps; Front camera: 16MP

6. Xiaomi 13T Pro: Best value phone camera

Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Mi

  • Great for… outstanding Leica main camera and rich low-light images
  • Not so great for… only a 2x telephoto and the ultrawide lens could be better

Leica is always an exciting name in photography circles, so it’s unsurprising that cameras bearing its branding are the real draw of the Xiaomi 13T Pro. The new 50MP main shooter shines in all lighting conditions, producing punchy and vibrant images in our tests with a fantastic level of sharpness, helped along by the 7P lens configuration.

Alongside this excellent main sensor is another 50MP lens that handles telephoto duties. The optical zoom only reaches 2x, but the images produced are once again sharp and vivid with well-balanced colouring, making it a great choice for portrait photography. The final rear camera is a 12MP ultrawide lens and, while this isn’t as impressive as the first two, it still retains the same colour temperature as its fellows, something that is far from a given when it comes to ultrawide shots.

Rounding out the suite is a solid selfie camera capable of maintaining natural skin tones and 8K video recording up to 24fps. It may not have the greatest reach on this list but, for flagship features at non-flagship prices, we are big fans of the Xiaomi 13T Pro.

Read our full Xiaomi 13T Pro review

Key specs – Rear camera: 50MP, 50MP (2x telephoto), 12MP (wide); Aperture: f/1.9, f/1.9, f/2.2; Stabilisation: Optical; Video resolution: 8K at 24fps; Front camera: 20MP

How to choose the best phone camera for you

Megapixels aren’t everything

The first thing you need to be wary of is that megapixels aren’t everything. Brands will often tout high pixel counts as a marker of quality, but that isn’t the de facto indication of whether a smartphone’s camera is any good or not. Higher megapixels might look like a bonus, but it largely boils down to the tech inside.

Aperture is key

The thing you need to look out for? Aperture. A number listed with an f/ in front of it might look a little confusing at first glance, but it says a lot about the camera you’re holding. An f/1.4 aperture is wider than an aperture of f/2.0 for instance, which means that the camera will let in a lot more light and thus, greater potential for detail.

Don’t forget pixel and sensor size

Pixel and sensor size is just as important as that f-number. In short, the size of each individual pixel (measured in um) determines the quality of the image. Unlike aperture, bigger is better when it comes to pixel and sensor size. Got a big camera sensor? More information can be gathered, accruing better dynamic range and reduced visual noise, while a bigger pixel size lets more light in, performing better in low light.

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