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The Best Camera Smartphones

February 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.
Daniel Schmidt, 👁 J. Simon Leitner, Felicitas Krohn (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

Pos.
Date
Camera
Rating
Image
Model
Height
Weight
Size
Resolution
Best Price
1
11/2020
85 %90 %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
2
07/2020
84 %89 %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
3
04/2020
83 %89 %Huawei P40 ProHuawei P40 Pro
HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G
ARM Mali-G76 MP16
8 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.95 mm209 g6.58"2640x1200
4
03/2019
81 %88 %Huawei P30 ProHuawei P30 Pro
HiSilicon Kirin 980
ARM Mali-G76 MP10
8 GB Memory, 256 GB UFS 2.1
8.41 mm192 g6.47"2340x1080
5
02/2021
Neu
81 %90 %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
6
12/2020
80 %89 %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
7
02/2021
80 %89 %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
8
10/2019
79 %86 %Samsung Galaxy FoldSamsung Galaxy Fold
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Qualcomm Adreno 640
12 GB Memory, 512 GB 
6.9 mm276 g7.30"2152x1536
9
04/2020
78 %88 %Samsung Galaxy S20+Samsung Galaxy S20+
Samsung Exynos 990
ARM Mali-G77 MP11
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
7.8 mm188 g6.70"3200x1440
10
04/2020
78 %88 %OnePlus 8 ProOnePlus 8 Pro
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Qualcomm Adreno 650
12 GB Memory, 256 GB 
8.5 mm199 g6.78"3168x1440
11
04/2020
77 %87 %Huawei P40Huawei P40
HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G
ARM Mali-G76 MP16
8 GB Memory, 128 GB 
8.5 mm175 g6.10"2340x1080

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.

Editors' Comments

The Galaxy S21 Ultra makes an entry. The Xiaomi M11 is another hot candidate for this list.

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.

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 – Huawei P40 Pro

Huawei P40 Pro
Huawei P40 Pro

The Huawei P40 Pro features a quad-camera with a brand-new 50 MP sensor, which just so happened to be the largest camera sensor in any smartphone at the time of writing. Unlike Huawei’s main Korean competitor, the Chinese manufacturer prefers larger pixels to jamming as many of those tiny pixels as possible into a photo, mainly in order to improve low-light photo quality. The secondary ultra wide angle lens features a 40 MP sensor, the same that was already included in the Mate and is not just the smartphone’s main sensor for video recordings but also allows for great panoramas. Further sensors include a 5 MP periscope zoom with 10x hybrid and 50x digital zoom, and final sensor for depth of field information. All three photo sensors feature optical image stabilization.

In our test, the P40 Pro’s quad camera took great photos regardless of lighting conditions, and its zoom made it even more versatile than ever. The cameras are supported in software by very clever and useful features, such as for example an algorithm to reduce reflections or one that allows you to remove people in the background.

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

Pricecompare

4th - Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro with quad-camera
Huawei P30 Pro with quad-camera

The Leica quad-camera of the Huawei P30 Pro consists of four lenses: one ultra wide-angle (16 mm, f/2.2, 20 MP), the main camera (27 mm, f/1.6, 40 MP, 1/1.7" sensor, RYYG filter, OIS), one tele lens (125 mm, f/3.4, 8 MP, OIS), and the TOF camera. The main camera also offers a 10x hybrid zoom (270 mm) as well as a seamless 50x digital zoom (up to 1,343 mm). The Huawei P30 Pro offers an unbelievable range of focal length and is currently the most flexible camera in a smartphone.

The picture quality is really good and can beat the competition clearly, especially in low-light situations. The P30 also captures a lot of light in video recordings, but this affects the picture quality noticeably.

The previous models Huawei P20 Pro and the smaller P20 smartphone or its successor P30, respectively, are also strong alternatives.

Sharpness Huawei P30 Pro (40 MP)
Sharpness Huawei P30 Pro (40 MP)
ColorChecker Huawei P30 Pro
ColorChecker Huawei P30 Pro
Full-size sample picture Huawei P30 Pro
Full-size sample picture Huawei P30 Pro

Pricecompare

5th – 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

6th – 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

7th – 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

8th - Samsung Galaxy Fold

Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G

Contrary to some other Galaxy S or Galaxy Note model, the most expensive Samsung smartphone is not equipped with a quad, but only a triple-camera. The specs are very similar to the Galaxy S10+ and both offer an additional ultra wide-angle as well as a telephoto.

The picture quality is on par with the Galaxy S10+, and the naked eye can only notice slight color differences. The rating is a bit lower for the Samsung Galaxy Fold because the sample pictures show slightly more unnatural colors.

Galaxy Fold: Sharpness
Galaxy Fold: ColorChecker
Galaxy Fold: Full-size sample picture

Pricecompare

9th – Samsung Galaxy S20+

Samsung Galaxy S20+
Samsung Galaxy S20+

The Samsung Galaxy S20+ features a quad camera with a rather spartan 12 MP main sensor. However, right next to it is the zoom lens with a whopping 64 MP and a 30x zoom. Further lenses include an ultra wide angle and a depth of field sensor.

Photo quality was decent overall, but the smartphone’s zoom features where incapable of keeping up with its competitors. Nevertheless, the camera setup offered by Samsung is not half bad and offers a very balanced mix of lenses and sensors.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: focus
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: focus
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: colors
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: colors
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: sample photo
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: sample photo

Pricecompare

10th – OnePlus 8 Pro

OnePlus 8 Pro
OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro's quad-camera features, among other things, two 48 MP sensors, one of which is equipped with an ultra-wide angle lens. It is furthermore equipped with a 3x hybrid zoom as well as a color filter lens. The built-in macro mode allows for a object distance of just 3 cm (1.2 inches). All things considered the photos turned out good but not great. Nevertheless, the camera’s usability spectrum is very wide.

Videos are recorded in UHD with up to 60 FPS, and you can choose between a 16:9 and a wider 21:9 aspect ratio. Autofocus was decent overall, but we did notice some pumping occasionally.

OnePlus 8 Pro: focus
OnePlus 8 Pro: focus
OnePlus 8 Pro: colors
OnePlus 8 Pro: colors
OnePlus 8 Pro: sample photo
OnePlus 8 Pro: sample photo

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

Huawei P 40 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs 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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3Scene 4

Huawei P30 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs Apple iPhone XS

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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

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

Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Apple iPhone 11 Pro vs Huawei P30 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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

LG G8s ThinQ vs Apple iPhone XS Max vs OnePlus 6T

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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Samsung Galaxy S20+ vs iPhone 11 Pro Max vs OnePlus 6T

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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Huawei P40 vs Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

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.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
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Daniel Schmidt (Update: 2021-02-16)