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Notebookcheck's Top 10 Camera Smartphones

Staff (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 02/15/2018

Smile please! Here you will find the best smartphones for digital photography including a big picture comparison. Our list of the best camera smartphones is regularly updated, maintained, and commented on and should assist in purchasing decisions. Update February 2018.

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. Our ranking includes the best camera smartphones for digital photography. They performed well in our reviews and we have also included a big picture comparison of all Top 10 smartphones. We also recommend checking our following rankings for further information:

The following table shows an overview of the Top 10 camera smartphones (camera rating) as reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last 12 months. If ratings are equal, the latest review is listed first. The table can be sorted by clicking its headers and filtered by entering text in the text field above it.

Top 10 Camera Smartphones as of February 2018

Pos.DateCameraRatingImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionBest Price
106/201794%92%Samsung Galaxy S8 PlusSamsung Galaxy S8 Plus
Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa
ARM Mali-G71 MP20
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
8.1 mm172 g6.2"2960x1440
206/201794%92%Samsung Galaxy S8Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa
ARM Mali-G71 MP20
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
8 mm155 g5.8"2960x1440
309/201793%90%Samsung Galaxy Note 8Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa
ARM Mali-G71 MP20
6 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
8.6 mm195 g6.3"2960x1440
409/201792%89%LG V30LG V30
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (8998)
Qualcomm Adreno 540
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
7.3 mm158 g6"2880x1440
502/201791%90%LG G6LG G6
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro
Qualcomm Adreno 530
4 GB Memory, 32 GB UFS 2.0
7.9 mm163 g5.7"2880x1440
609/201790%89%Apple iPhone 8 PlusApple iPhone 8 Plus
Apple A11 Bionic
Apple A11 Bionic GPU
3 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
7.5 mm202 g5.5"1920x1080
711/201789%90%Apple iPhone XApple iPhone X
Apple A11 Bionic
Apple A11 Bionic GPU
3 GB Memory, 64 GB eMMC
7.7 mm174 g5.8"2436x1125
809/201789%91%Apple iPhone 8Apple iPhone 8
Apple A11 Bionic
Apple A11 Bionic GPU
2 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
7.3 mm148 g4.7"1334x750
903/201788%87%HTC U UltraHTC U Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro
Qualcomm Adreno 530
4 GB Memory, 64 GB eMMC
8 mm170 g5.7"2560x1440
1010/201787%90%Google Pixel 2Google Pixel 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (8998)
Qualcomm Adreno 540
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
7.8 mm143 g5"1920x1080

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Top 10 of the last months at the time of writing – current articles are listed first

1st and 2nd - Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy S8

At the top: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy S8 with excellent cameras
At the top: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy S8 with excellent cameras

Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus (here in review) and the Galaxy S8 (review) are listed individually in our ranking, but the two smartphones (5.8 & 6.2-inch) are equipped with identical camera modules. The main camera of the S8 uses a 12.2 MP dual-pixel sensor with a pixel size of 1.4 μm and an aperture of f/1.7 including optical image stabilization (OIS). Compared to the already excellent predecessor Galaxy S7, Samsung has managed to improve the picture brightness and sharpness at the edges even further. The camera is also better in low-light situations. The camera software provides plenty of options including a manual mode, and you can save RAW pictures. Videos are recorded at up to 3840x2160 pixels (4K UHD) and 30 FPS. We especially liked the natural color reproduction as well as the high sharpness during the review.

Sharpness Galaxy S8+
Sharpness Galaxy S8+
ColorChecker Galaxy S8+
ColorChecker Galaxy S8+
Full-size sample picture Galaxy S8+
Full-size sample picture Galaxy S8+

Pricecompare

Pricecompare

3rd - Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Big display meets very good camera
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Big display meets very good camera

Big smartphone, excellent camera. The Galaxy Note 8 (here in review) is Samsung's first smartphone with a dual-camera consisting of two 12 MP sensors including optical image stabilization. One of the sensors is identical to the S8 with the same f/1.7 aperture and 1.4 µm pixels, while the second camera unit is used as an optical zoom (f/2.4, 1.0 µm). It enables functions such as the portrait mode and Bokeh effect (soft, blurry background).

We liked the 2x zoom during our review, and the camera benefits from the automatic HDR function as well as the fast response times in practice. The low-light quality of the Note 8 is also good. Videos can be recorded at up to 3840x2160 pixels at 30 FPS (up to 10 minutes). The zoom lens of the Note 8 is an advantage compared the S8/S8+, but the low-light performance is not quite as good.

Sharpness Galaxy Note 8
Sharpness Galaxy Note 8
ColorChecker Galaxy Note 8
ColorChecker Galaxy Note 8
Full-size sample picture Galaxy Note 8
Full-size sample picture Galaxy Note 8

Pricecompare

4th - LG V30

LG can do high-end as well: V30 with dual-camera and real glass lenses
LG can do high-end as well: V30 with dual-camera and real glass lenses

The LG V30 (review) and the familiar G6 are equipped with similar dual-camera solutions, but the V30 features 16 and 13 MP sensors (G6: 13/13). LG also uses real glass lenses with better translucency compared to common plastic lenses. Both the main camera (f/1.6, 1.0 µm) as well as the additional wide-angle lens (f/1.9, 1.0µm) feature optical image stabilization.

The camera is especially good in normal lighting conditions, while the colors are a bit too bright in our test environment with controlled lighting conditions. The low-light performance is also decent compared to other cameras. Videos can be recorded in Full HD (1920x1080). The picture quality of the front camera (selfies) is okay, but the results were very bright.

Sharpness LG V30
Sharpness LG V30
ColorChecker LG V30
ColorChecker LG V30
Full-size sample picture LG V30
Full-size sample picture LG V30

Pricecompare

5th - LG G6

Almost a bargain by now: LG G6
Almost a bargain by now: LG G6

LG's most familiar smartphones are probably from the G-series, just like the current G6 (here in review). Its main camera features two sensors with a resolution of 13 MP each. The main sensor has an f/1.8 aperture, the wide-angle f/2.4. Only the main sensor of the dual-camera solution supports optical image stabilization. Ambitious photographers can use a manual mode (ISO 50 - 3200) with shutter speed (1/3200 - 30s) and manual white balance. It is also possible to save RAW files for optimized picture editing afterwards.

The big advantage of the LG G6 is the excellent sharpness, even in the zoom mode. The fast trigger speed and the automatic HDR mode are other useful features. The G6 also performs well in low-light scenarios, but there is still a gap compared to the Galaxy S8-series. It supports UHD video recording (30 FPS). The front camera (selfie cam) "only" takes pictures at 5 MP, but the quality of pictures and video recordings (FHD) is pretty good. The camera also supports an additional wide-angle function as well as an automatic HDR mode.

Sharpness LG G6
Sharpness LG G6
ColorChecker LG G6
ColorChecker LG G6
Full-size sample picture LG G6
Full-size sample picture LG G6

Pricecompare

6th - Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Video expert: Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Video expert: Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple has implemented a 7 MP camera for selfies at the front of the 5.5-inch smartphone. It features an f/2.2 aperture and an automatic HDR mode. The dual-camera is located at the back and uses one wide-angle lens (f/1.8) as well as one zoom lens (f/2.8), and both support optical image stabilization. Similar to other smartphones with this kind of setup, the dual-camera supports special features such as portrait mode ("Bokeh") and good results with the zoom mode.

Pictures taken with the iPhone 8 Plus (here in review) convince with natural colors, high dynamic range and sharpness. The automatic HDR mode as well as the comparatively good snapshot characteristics are advantages of the iPhone 8 Plus. However, there is noticeable picture noise in low-light situations. Videos can be recorded at up to UHD/4K and 60 FPS, which is a major advantage over the rest of the competition.

Sharpness Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Sharpness Apple iPhone 8 Plus
ColorChecker Apple iPhone 8 Plus
ColorChecker Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Pricecompare

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7th - Apple iPhone X

Notch for complex front camera: Apple iPhone X
Notch for complex front camera: Apple iPhone X

The Apple iPhone X (review) is equipped with a so called TrueDepth camera unit at the front. A regular 7 MP camera is combined with an infrared camera, several sensors as well as an infrared lighting unit and dot projector. All of this is required for Apple's Face-ID (unlocking via facial recognition). The module also takes good selfies and is roughly on par with the Apple iPhone 8 Plus.

The main camera at the back of the iPhone X also consists of two modules: one wide-angle and one zoom lens (f/1.8, f/2.4, dual-cam), both equipped with optical image stabilization. The picture quality is very good in daylight and we like the fast trigger speed in particular. The automatic HDR mode also improves the snapshot capabilities of the iPhone X. Pictures are crisp, but the edges are sometimes a bit softer. The natural color reproduction is obviously a positive aspect, but the iPhone X falls behind the rivals in low-light situations. The iPhone X also supports UHD video recording at 60 FPS, and even 240 FPS in Full HD. Drawback for experts: Apple's iPhone X does not support a manual mode and RAW files can only be saved via third-party apps.

Sharpness Apple iPhone X
Sharpness Apple iPhone X
ColorChecker Apple iPhone X
ColorChecker Apple iPhone X
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone X
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone X

Pricecompare

8th - Apple iPhone 8

One of the best cameras on a compact smartphone: Apple iPhone 8
One of the best cameras on a compact smartphone: Apple iPhone 8

The last high-end smartphone from Apple's current lineup also secures a spot in our ranking of best camera smartphones. We are talking about the Apple iPhone 8. It is one of the more compact devices with the 4.7-inch screen. Similar to the bigger sibling iPhone 8 Plus, the smartphone features a 7 MP camera at the front, which supports an automatic HDR mode. 

The main camera differs significantly from the iPhone 8 Plus, because Apple has only implemented a single-module solution and no dual-cam. The camera resolution is 12 MP with an f/1.8 aperture. The camera convinces with natural color reproduction, good snapshot capabilities (fast trigger speed, automatic HDR mode), and takes good pictures in daylight. The results can also be decent in low-light situations, but the sensor tends to create picture noise. Similar to the other Apple smartphones, the iPhone 8 also supports 4K video recording at 60 FPS. There is no manual mode and RAW files can only be saved via third-party apps.

Sharpness Apple iPhone 8
Sharpness Apple iPhone 8
ColorChecker Apple iPhone 8
ColorChecker Apple iPhone 8
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone 8
Full-size sample picture Apple iPhone 8

Pricecompare

9th - HTC U Ultra

A good selfie cam, too: HTC U Ultra
A good selfie cam, too: HTC U Ultra

HTC's U Ultra (review) also secures a spot in our Top 10 of the best camera smartphones. HTC has equipped the smartphone with a 12 MP camera and added important features such as optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and dual-LED flash. The pictures are very crisp and noticeably well illuminated. Videos can be recorded in 4K at 30 FPS. The front camera of the U Ultra is special: It uses a 16 MP sensor, so the resolution is higher compared to the rear module. The results are also good, but we noticed that the U Ultra tends to capture colors a bit too bright. The sharpness, however, does not cause any criticism.

Sharpness HTC U Ultra
Sharpness HTC U Ultra
ColorChecker HTC U Ultra
ColorChecker HTC U Ultra
Full-size sample picture HTC U Ultra
Full-size sample picture HTC U Ultra

Pricecompare

10th - Google Pixel 2

Available in two sizes: Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
Available in two sizes: Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

The camera equipment of the Google Pixel 2 (here in review) is identical to the bigger sibling Google Pixel 2 XL (review). The front camera uses an 8 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The sensor pixels are comparatively big a 1.4 µm, but this means that they can capture more light. It also supports a portrait mode with Bokeh effect. The quality of selfies taken with the Pixel 2 is very good.

Google's main camera in both models uses a 12.2 MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and 1.4 µm pixels. A laser autofocus is implemented as well. There is no dual-camera, but it still supports a portrait mode with Bokeh effect based on software calculations. The Pixel 2 takes very good pictures in daylight, and the Pixel 2 is even on par with the best smartphones in this comparison in low-light scenarios. There is no manual mode, and you cannot save RAW files either.

Sharpness Google Pixel 2
Sharpness Google Pixel 2
ColorChecker Google Pixel 2
ColorChecker Google Pixel 2
Full-size sample picture Google Pixel 2
Full-size sample picture Google Pixel 2

Pricecompare

Pricecompare

Top 10 Camera Smartphones Picture Comparison

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs LG G6 vs Huawei Mate 9

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.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6 vs Huawei P10 Plus

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs HTC U11 vs Nokia 8

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LG V30 vs Apple iPhone X vs Huawei P10

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LG G6 vs Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Huawei Mate 9

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Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs OnePlus 5

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Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Google Pixel 2 XL

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Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs OnePlus 5

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HTC U Ultra vs Apple iPhone 6s vs LG G4

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Google Pixel 2 vs Huawei Mate 10 Pro vs Apple iPhone X

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Camera Smartphones
Staff, 2018-02-15 (Update: 2018-02-16)