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The Best Camera Smartphones

July 2021 update. Photography has become the defining feature of modern smartphones. Thanks to incredible leaps in camera technology smartphones are now at a point where they can easily replace traditional digital point-and-shoot cameras. Complex software algorithms ensure that even a spontaneous snapshot will look great. Below, you will find the best camera smartphones reviewed by us.
Mike Wobker (translated by Finn D. Boerne), 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 ...

The time of digital compact cameras is over. Smartphone cameras and their sensors as well as the corresponding miniature lenses, but especially the picture editing software have improved so much by now, that smartphone cameras can easily replace average compact cameras. At least the best smartphones, because there are still big differences in terms of picture quality. 

For this reason, we have this list of the best photo smartphones that are particularly well-suited for taking photos, and that have scored exceptionally well in this category in our tests. You will also find a photo comparison at the end of this article. Please also consider the following top lists before making any purchasing decisions:

The Best Camera Smartphones

Position
Camera Rating
Total Rating
Date
Image
Model
Height
Weight
Size
Resolution
185 %90 %
11/2020
Huawei Mate 40 ProHuawei Mate 40 Pro
HiSilicon Kirin 9000
ARM Mali-G78 MP24
8 GB Memory, 256 GB 
9.1 mm212 g6.76"2772x1344
284 %89 %
07/2020
Huawei P40 Pro PlusHuawei P40 Pro Plus
HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G
ARM Mali-G76 MP16
8 GB Memory, 512 GB 
9 mm226 g6.58"2640x1200
381 %90 %
02/2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 UltraSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Exynos 2100 5G
ARM Mali-G78 MP14
12 GB Memory, 128 GB 
8.9 mm227 g6.80"3200x1440
480 %89 %
12/2020
Apple iPhone 12 Pro MaxApple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple A14 Bionic
Apple A14 Bionic GPU
6 GB Memory, 128 GB NVMe
7.4 mm228 g6.70"2778x1284
580 %89 %
02/2021
Samsung Galaxy Note20 UltraSamsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Samsung Exynos 990
ARM Mali-G77 MP11
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.1 mm208 g6.90"3088x1440
679 %89 %
06/2021
New
Xiaomi Mi 11 UltraXiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.38 mm234 g6.81"3200x1440
779 %89 %
03/2021
Oppo Find X3 ProOppo Find X3 Pro
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.26 mm193 g6.70"3216x1440
878 %88 %
12/2020
New
Xiaomi Mi 10 UltraXiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
9.45 mm223 g6.67"2340x1080
977 %87 %
10/2020
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5GSamsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ (Plus)
Qualcomm Adreno 650
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
6.9 mm279 g7.60"2208x1768
1077 %87 %
04/2021
New
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
16 GB Memory, 512 GB 
9.9 mm259 g6.92"2460x1080

The table above contains an overview over the best camera smartphones reviewed by Notebookcheck over the course of the past 12 months as well as still relevant and available older products. In cases of identical score the more recent device is listed first. All prices in above table and price comparisons are updated daily and can thus differ.
Link: all devices in this class reviewed

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Editors' Comments

In diesem Monat fallen aufgrund ihres Alters das und sowie das aus dieser Liste heraus. Die altersbedingt frei gewordenen Plätze werden vom und dem aufgefüllt. Ganz neu steigt zudem das ein.

Due to their age the Huawei P30 Pro, P40 Pro, and OnePlus 8 Pro had to be removed from this list. In return, two of these spots were filled by the slightly older Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 and Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra while the final vacancy is filled by the brand-new Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

1st – Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Huawei Mate 40 Pro

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro's triple-camera array consists of a 23 mm wide angle with a sensor that we have already encountered in the P40 Pro, an 18 mm ultra-wide angle, and a 125 mm periscope camera. The latter translates into 5x optical zoom and is stabilized by an OIS. Digital zoom peaks at 50x. The ultra-wide angle sensor is brand-new and unlike its predecessor’s no longer utilizes pixel-binning. Instead, it features 1.6 µm large pixels.

The Mate 40 Pro achieved good or very good results on all lenses, and we were particularly impressed by the potent ultra-wide angle sensor. Our only gripe was the missing optical image stabilization for the wide-angle lens that is only available on the Plus model.

Mate 40 Pro: focus
Mate 40 Pro: focus
Mate 40 Pro: colors
Mate 40 Pro: colors
Mate 40 Pro: sample photo
Mate 40 Pro: sample photo

2nd – Huawei P40 Pro+

Huawei P40 Pro+

The Plus version of Huawei's P40 Pro is a well-made fine-tuned device. In addition to a larger internal storage and a ceramic backside it also supports wireless charging with up to 40 W. The camera was also upgraded, which is unmistakably obvious by the existence of a fourth lens. While the main camera, the ultra-wide angle, and the depth sensor are identical to its sibling the P40+’s zoom capabilities have been improved significantly. Thanks to a periscope zoom, the P40+ supports 10x optical, 20x hybrid, and 100x digital zoom. In addition, it also features a 3x optical zoom with the same OIS that can be found on all other lenses.

The penta-camera array performed very well in our test regardless of lighting conditions and offers enhanced versatility thanks to its improved zoom. The cameras are furthermore supported by smart software features that are capable of removing glare or other people in the background if so desired.

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Huawei P40 Pro Plus: focus
Huawei P40 Pro Plus: focus
Huawei P40 Pro Plus: colors
Huawei P40 Pro Plus: colors
Huawei P40 Pro Plus: sample photo
Huawei P40 Pro Plus: sample photo

Pricecompare

3rd – Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supports the brand-new HM3 sensor with a resolution of 108 MP. The main camera is further supported by two zoom lenses with 3x and 10x optical zoom, respectively, a 12 MP ultra-wide angle lens, and a laser autofocus sensor. Both zoom lenses and the wide-angle lens are stabilized by an OIS. Stabilization at the Ultra’s maximum zoom level of 100x was great and was most likely best in any smartphone at the time of writing.

Samsung’s image processing algorithms have been further refined for a better scene detection to improve night-time photography. Samsung also included powerful video features with up to 8k resolution. In return, HDR video remains an experimental feature.

Galaxy S21 Ultra: focus
Galaxy S21 Ultra: focus
Galaxy S21 Ultra: colors
Galaxy S21 Ultra: colors
Galaxy S21 Ultra: sample photo
Galaxy S21 Ultra: sample photo

4th – Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

When compared to its predecessor, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera updates seem fairly minor at first glance. It continues to feature a triple-camera array consisting of a wide-angle, an ultra-wide angle, and a telephoto lens each with a 12 MP sensor behind them. Zoom has been improved slightly to now 2.5x . Its special trick, however, is not the built-in LiDAR sensor but its new optical image stabilization technology. Instead of stabilizing the lens it now magnetically stabilizes the sensor itself, which is supposed to improve low-light photography and videos.

Generally speaking Apple’s iPhone offers a well-balanced and flexible camera producing very good to look at photos.

iPhone 12 Pro Max: focus
iPhone 12 Pro Max: focus
iPhone 12 Pro Max: colors
iPhone 12 Pro Max: colors
iPhone 12 Pro Max: sample photo
iPhone 12 Pro Max: sample photo

Pricecompare

5th – Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s triple-camera features the exact same 108 MP sensor that we already encountered in the Galaxy S20 Ultra but with a vastly improved autofocus. The ultra-high-resolution camera is furthermore accompanied by a good ultra-wide-angle lens as well as a 5x optical zoom. In direct comparison with Huawei’s king of the hill its 50x digital zoom performed even better.

All things considered the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers a good camera with an overzealous HDR feature and noticeable sharpening applied during post-processing. In return, its video feature with support for 8K was excellent.

Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Focus
Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Focus
Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Colors
Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Colors
Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Sample photo
Galaxy Note20 Ultra: Sample photo

Pricecompare

6th – Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

The Mi 11 Ultra is a powerful high-end smartphone by Xiaomi. It represents the pinnacle of Xiaomi’s current flagship lineup and feels very premium indeed. Its camera performs very well, particularly regarding colors. The 5x optical zoom does a great job enlarging objects without loss in quality, and thanks to its good optical image stabilization photos remain crisp and in focus. The large camera sensor is also excellent in capturing what little light there is when it gets dark to produce well-made low-light photos.

The Mi 11 Ultra is an excellent smartphone with a bright and colorful display.

 One of the highlights is the small display at the rear. Among other things it enables you to take selfies using the main camera. A total of 256 GB of internal storage should suffice for almost everybody, and the powerful high-end Qualcomm SoC paired with 12 GB of RAM make for an excellent experience when running any application whatsoever. The colorful 120 Hz OLED display did a fantastic job overall.

Xiaomi devices are not officially sold in North America.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: focus
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: focus
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: colors
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: colors
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: sample photo
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: sample photo

Pricecompare

7th – Oppo Find X3 Pro

Oppo Find X3 Pro
Oppo Find X3 Pro

The Find X3 Pro signifies Oppo’s entry into the high-end class of premium smartphones. In addition to its color-accurate OLED display and its high system performance it also impressed us with its camera performance. Its front-facing 32 MP sensor takes good-looking selfies, and its rear-facing camera array features a total of four cameras.

Its two 50 MP sensors are great at taking daylight photos with a homogenous depth-of-field in both wide and ultra-wide angle setups. Additional lenses include a telephoto lens with a 2x optical zoom as well as a microscope camera for unusually close-up macro photography.

Oppo also claims 10-bit color for its photos resulting in a wider range of available colors with more subtle and softer transitions. The Oppo Find X3 Pro is available in various colors with prices starting at slightly below $1,200 on Amazon.

Oppo Find X3 Pro: focus
Oppo Find X3 Pro: focus
Oppo Find X3 Pro: colors
Oppo Find X3 Pro: colors
Oppo Find X3 Pro: sample photo
Oppo Find X3 Pro: sample photo

Pricecompare

8th – Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra features a bright 120 Hz display and offers an excellent system performance. It comes with 128 GB of internal storage and support for fast charging with up to 120 W, thanks to which it 2,225 mAh battery can be fully charged in just 23 minutes.

Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Ultra can easily keep up with its flagship competitors.

The camera performed very well overall as well. Its 48 MP main sensor takes photos worthy of a true high-end smartphone, with popping colors and a good low-light performance. The phone also comes with an optical zoom.

Xiaomi devices are not officially sold in North America.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: focus
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: focus
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: colors
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: colors
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: sample photo
Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra: sample photo

Pricecompare

9th – Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G features a powerful triple camera with three 12 MP sensors, an ultra-wide angle, a telephoto, and a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, only the latter lens features optical image stabilization. The telephonto lens allows for a 2x optical zoom and an up to 10x digital zoom.

As is quite common for Samsung smartphones the Fold2 applied a fairly noticeable amount of sharpening in post-processing. In our review, the device’s camera array turned out to work pretty well overall with a minor weakness in the depth of field category.

The Fold2 can be purchased either directly through Samsung or via various retailers such as Amazon.

Galaxy Z Fold2: focus
Galaxy Z Fold2: focus
Galaxy Z Fold2: colors
Galaxy Z Fold2: colors
Galaxy Z Fold2: sample photo
Galaxy Z Fold2: sample photo

Pricecompare

10th – Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2

Initially designed and intended as gaming smartphone the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 offers a surprisingly good camera, not just a great front-facing camera that is ideal for streaming but also a very well performing main camera. Photos are very well lit with popping colors and high in details. It also performed very well overall in low-light situations.

Lenovo’s Legion Phone Duel 2 is a great smartphone with a great camera.

The remainder of the specs are not half-bad either. Not only are apps and games running very smoothly and without any issues, but the 144 Hz panel renders everything silky smooth. Popping colors and six user-configurable buttons are other highlights this gaming smartphone has to offer. In return, it lacks support for wireless charging and its active fan is very noticeable under load.

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 is not available in North America.

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: focus
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: focus
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: colors
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: colors
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: sample photo
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: sample photo

Pricecompare

Top 10 Camera Smartphones Picture Comparison

Huawei Mate 40 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra vs Huawei P40 Pro+

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelWeitwinkelUltraweitwinkelZoom (5-fach)Low-Light

Huawei P40 Pro+ vs Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Oppo Find X2 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Tageslicht-Szene 1Tageslicht-Szene 25-facher ZoomUltraweitwinkelLowlight-Umgebung

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Huawei Mate 40 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelWeitwinkelZoom (5-fach)

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 11 Pro Max vs OnePlus 8T

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Hauptobjektiv BlumeHauptobjektiv UmgebungHauptobjektiv Low LightUltraweitwinkel

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra vs Huawei P40 Pro+ vs Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelWeitwinkelLow-LightZoomUltraweitwinkel

Oppo Find X3 Pro vs Huawei P40 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelWeitwinkelUltraweitwinkel5-facher ZoomLow-Light

Samsung Galaxy Fold2 vs Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max vs OnePlus 8 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Hauptobjektiv BlumeHauptobjektiv UmgebungHauptobjektiv Low LightUltraweitwinkel

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelWeitwinkelLow LightUltraweitwinkel5x-Zoom

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra vs Vivo X51 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

WeitwinkelLow LightWeitwinkelUltaweitwinkel5x-Zoom
click to load images

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max vs OnePlus 9 Pro

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Hauptkamera BlumeHauptkamera UmgebungHauptkamera Low LightWeitwinkelkamera