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The Best Camera Smartphones

December 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
181 %90.6 %
10/2021
Apple iPhone 13 ProApple iPhone 13 Pro
Apple A15 Bionic
Apple A15 GPU 5-Core
6 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
7.65 mm203 g6.10"2532x1170
280.6 %90.2 %
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
379.8 %88.6 %
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
479.2 %89.1 %
06/2021
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
579.2 %87.2 %
11/2021
new
Google Pixel 6Google Pixel 6
Google Tensor
ARM Mali-G78 MP20
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
8.9 mm207 g6.40"2400x1080
678.8 %88.7 %
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
778.2 %88.6 %
10/2021
Apple iPhone 13Apple iPhone 13
Apple A15 Bionic
Apple A15 GPU 4-Core
4 GB Memory, 128 GB NVMe
7.7 mm173 g6.10"2532x1170
877.8 %88.7 %
09/2021
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5GSamsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 660
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
6.4 mm271 g7.60"2208x1768
977.8 %88.1 %
12/2020
Xiaomi Mi 10 UltraXiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
9.45 mm223 g6.67"2340x1080
1077.4 %87.4 %
04/2021
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

This month, we say hello to the Google Pixel 6. Due to its advanced age, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro had to be removed from this list whose very top it occupied until the last day and is therefore still worth a closer look.

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1st – Apple iPhone 13 Pro / Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Apple iPhone 13 Pro

In direct comparison with the iPhone 12 Pro the Apple iPhone 13 Pro lacks major innovations. Instead, Apple focused on finetuning and improving the existing designs, for example by adding a 120 Hz display. From a technical point of view the display is the best currently available in a smartphone as it offers high brightness, a high color accuracy, and integrated DC dimming.

Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro is a well-done evolutionary step forward.

Thanks to its larger battery the iPhone 13 Pro features amazing stamina, and its camera updates are quite significant as well, particularly when recording videos where Apple continues to provide state of the art camera technology. Thus, the iPhone 13 Pro is an amazing albeit quite expensive smartphone. If you are looking for a larger display the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max might be worth a closer look as it features the exact same hardware.

All iPhone 13 models can be purchased either directly through Apple or through official resellers, such as Amazon.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro: focus
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: focus
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: colors
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: colors
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: sample photo
Apple iPhone 13 Pro: sample photo

Pricecompare

2nd – 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
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3rd – 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

4th – 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

5th – Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 6

The Google Pixel 6 is a powerful smartphone offering numerous positive feats in an attractively priced package, particularly in regard to display and camera. Its bright and color-accurate panel runs at up to 90 Hz.

The Pixel 6 is a well-made Google smartphone playing in the big boy league.

In addition, it supports wireless as well as reverse wireless charging, its IP68 certification ensures protection against ingress of dust and water, and Google promises to provide this phone with at least 5 years of security updates. It is thus not only well protected but also a long-term solution, which is a feature seldom to be found in the Android kingdom. If you are looking for an even more high-end solution you may want to take a look at the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

The device is sold directly through Google’s own store with prices starting at $599.

Google Pixel 6: focus
Google Pixel 6: focus
Google Pixel 6: colors
Google Pixel 6: colors
Google Pixel 6: sample photo
Google Pixel 6: sample photo

Pricecompare

6th – 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

7th – Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13
Apple iPhone 13

The iPhone 13 is an evolution of its predecessor, and an overall improvement of an already pretty good smartphone. Among others, it features a longer battery life, a brighter display, better speakers, and a smaller notch. New iOS features and a faster system performance are the icing on the cake.

The Apple iPhone 13 offers a bright display and high performance.

The case design remained unchanged and continues to be good looking and well built. Its IP certification promises protection against ingress of dust and water. The device’s Wi-Fi modem is very fast, and the cellular modem supports an modern communication standards.

All iPhone 13 models can be purchased either directly through Apple or through official resellers, such as Amazon.

Apple iPhone 13: focus
Apple iPhone 13: focus
Apple iPhone 13: colors
Apple iPhone 13: colors
Apple iPhone 13: sample photo
Apple iPhone 13: sample photo

Pricecompare

8th – Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

The GZF35G is a powerful piece of technology no longer aimed exclusively at enthusiasts and early adopters. This third generation foldable smartphone offers the sophisticated benefits of a high-end smartphone paired with the capabilities of a foldable display. It also supports Samsung’s S-Pen, which makes sense given its size.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is a powerful piece of technology capable of giving even future competitors a run for their money.

There aren’t really that many flaws with the Fold 3 other than maybe the fact that when folded it half it is quite bulky, particularly around the cameras. Its main camera is great and, even though it lacks a super high-resolution sensor, very capable of keeping up with its competitors. Its ultra-wide-angle lens on the other hand is low in detail, and should have performed better considering the price range the device occupies.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is available on Amazon with prices starting at $1,600.

Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: focus
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: focus
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: colors
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: colors
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: sample photo
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G: sample photo

Pricecompare

9th – 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

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

Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Vivo X60 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)UltraweitwinkelLow-Light

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

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

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 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.

HauptkameraHauptkameraUltraweitwinkel5-facher ZoomLow-Light

Galaxy Z Fold3 5G vs Vivo X60 Pro vs OnePlus Nord CE

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

Apple iPhone 13 vs OnePlus 9 Pro vs Motorola Moto Edge 20 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

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
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Mike Wobker (Update: 2021-12- 8)