The camera is one of the most important parts of modern smartphones. If you are going to pay the flagship price, you might expect a phone that can take beautiful photos in return. So let’s look at the best camera phones of 2021.
We tested each camera in multiple real scenes-for example, low light, portrait, landscape, light, and dark conditions, and compared the results. In every comment we quote and link to in this guide, you can find a dedicated section for each phone camera, including sample images.
In the past year, we reviewed countless phones, from cutting-edge flagships to the best budget snappers, and classified them through them to bring you only the most valuable camera phones.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: The best camera phone with versatility
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of our favorite smartphones on the market for various reasons, including those incredibly versatile cameras.
The four settings include a 108MP (f/1.8) wide-angle sensor, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide-angle sensor, a 10MP (f/2.4) 3x zoom sensor, and a 10MP (f/4.9) 10x zoom sensor. From the front of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, you can see a 40MP selfie front camera, and you can also shoot up to 8K video.
The main lens takes 12MP photos by default, but if you are willing to sacrifice some storage space, you can easily switch to 108MP. The 108MP sensor can generate images with natural details, with a soft bokeh effect, and blur the background to highlight the subject.
Although this camera still has the rich color of Samsung, the color has faded compared with previous generations. The front camera even has an option to take more natural images.
The other main features of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra include a fast Qualcomm Xiaolong 888 processor, an amazing WQHD+/120Hz display, and plenty of storage space and RAM. If you are willing to spend a lot of money on your next phone, this is a great choice.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro: Huawei is here again.
Over the years, Huawei has been releasing some of the best camera phones, so it’s no surprise to see the Huawei Mate 40 Pro at the top of the list.
On the back of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, you can see many cameras. At the helm is a 50 MP pixel f/1.9 camera. This sensor is the same as the one that comes with the excellent Huawei P40 Pro Plus. There is also a 12 MP f/3.4 5x zoom periscope camera similar to the Huawei P40 Pro and a 20 MP f/1.8 ultra-wide-angle camera.
The photos taken on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro show features similar to a typical Leica appearance (you will see the brand’s logo on the camera module). In my tests, I said that the images taken with this phone were “warm, rich and lively, not as mottled and over-processed as some photos taken by Samsung phones”.
Even in backlit scenes, the dynamic range is very powerful. The low-light performance also continued this theme and achieved very good results during the test.
The battery life is very long, and the charging speed is very fast, thanks to the 66w charger. You also have an excellent 6.76-inch 90Hz display and a powerful Kirin 9000 chipset.
iPhone 12 Pro Max: The biggest iPhone takes some amazing photos.
If you want the best iPhone 12 camera experience, choose the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Compared with the smaller Pro model, it has a larger sensor and can perform low-light shooting better and faster. In addition, the additional optical zoom (2.5x instead of 2x) provides more shooting freedom, but the zoom can not match the Huawei P40 Pro and Samsung Note 20 Ultra.
I won’t say that these pictures are always better than 12 Pro (or even 12). However, if you are shooting an active subject, you can get better photos here.
There are also benefits to having a larger phone. The battery life has been improved, and the 6.7-inch display is ideal for editing snapshots and as a large viewfinder. Everything else is the same as the iPhone 12 Pro.
OPPO Find X3 Pro: Another reliable camera system from OPPO
The camera on the Oppo Find X2 Pro left a deep impression on us, so the latest generation of mobile phones is not bad for taking pictures. The OPPO Find X3 Pro has an atypical 50MP wide camera and a 50MP ultra-wide camera. Both use the new Sony IMX 766 sensor for the best quality.
The combination of “primary” sensors is great. During the test, they consistently captured reliable pictures under all conditions. The image is vibrant and colorful, and the distortion of the ultra-wide-angle is kept to a minimum. The color adjustment must have some similarities with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, with the emphasis on strong green and red.
The main sensor is also capable of shooting under low light conditions. When the light is really at its lowest level, it has a multiple exposure night mode. The photos I took in near darkness were bright and detailed.
In addition to these two great cameras, you also have a good 13MP telephoto camera for zoom lenses and a 3MP for 60x magnification microscope lens. The latter is just a gimmick, but a clever and interesting gimmick, and compared to its predecessor, the OPPO Find X2 Pro, the zoom is a bit disappointing.
Oppo used a periscope lens last time to provide excellent zoom, and it has been abandoned here, which may make the phone slimmer.
The rest of the phone is impressive, just like a camera. There is a lovely 6.7-inch 1440p OLED display that supports HDR and high brightness. Inside you have a Snapdragon 888 chipset with 5G, 12GB RAM, and 256GB of storage space, a 4500mAh battery, and you charge it through 65w charging.