Best Camera Phones in 2021: Our Top Picks

Photos are memories we can look back on as the years go by. We have always been obsessed with snapping a moment, but we also want those captured life events to look as great as they felt. Here’s a list of the best camera phones available in 2021, so you can save crystal-clear memories to cherish forever. 

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What to look for in a good camera phone

The amount of megapixels

The higher the number of megapixels per camera, the stronger that camera is, so even if you’re comparing one rear camera against another, the smartphone with a 32MP camera will produce clearer and more detailed images than the one with a 12MP camera.
 

The amount of cameras

The above being said, if a phone has quad cameras that are 12MP each, and another has a dual camera that’s 16MP, the four 12MP cameras will probably create slightly richer pictures due to the number that can be utilised.
 

Types of camera lenses

Many phones have a Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto camera, which help to capture the edges of large landscape images. If you’re more of a selfie person, looking for a phone that has a Macro camera and Depth Sensor camera will come in handier as they’re designed to capture the nuances of portrait photos. 
 

AI

AI is being infiltrated into many aspects of our lives, from our kitchenware to our security. It’s also present in our smartphone cameras. If a phone has AI technology integrated into its camera system, you’ll usually benefit from photo suggestions and automatic tweaks to lighting, colour contrast, and facial features to create more professional-looking images.
 

Helpful features

The inclusion of helpful features like image and video stabilisation, as well as a host of additional qualities like panorama mode, night mode, and time-lapsing, will allow you to experiment with your photography whilst still being able to capture those important memories. Want to skateboard and record a video? Video stabilisation will help you keep the footage blur-free. Want to take a selfie under the stars? Night mode will snatch all of the best features without the glare of a flash.
 

The best camera phones in 2021

Check out the best of each brand, as well as the camera phones that are perfect for things like taking selfies and photos in dim light.

Best Apple

Apple are one of the most famous manufacturers in the world, selling over 200 million iPhones each year. They release a new collection every Autumn, and their most recent is the iPhone 12 series, launched in October 2020. Within that family, the 12 Pro Max sports the best cameras. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Release date: October 2020

Price: £906.67 - £1,154.17

Rear

Triple

12MP Ultra Wide

12MP Wide

12MP Telephoto

Front

Dual

12MP

12MP

Video

4K 


2.5x Optical Zoom in, 2x Optical Zoom out, 5x Optical Zoom range for capturing varying distances

12x Digital Zoom

Night mode for taking photos in dim lighting without the glare of the flash tool

Portrait mode and lighting with six effects - Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, and High-Key Light Mono

Auto image stabilisation to ensure photos come out clear and blur-free

Panorama imaging up to 63MP

Advanced red-eye correction to make sure selfies are error-free

Photo geo-tagging to remember where you were during that captured memory

Burst mode to take multiple photos at once, so you can capture even the most minor movements 

For more specs on the Pro Max, as well as others in the series, check out our guide on everything you need to know about the iPhone 12s. Alternatively, if you’re interested in an iPhone, but don’t want the newest addition, you can browse our blog to find out which iPhone is right for you.

 

Best Samsung 

Alongside Apple, Samsung are one of the most successful electronics companies in the world, headlining the Android devices. With huge screens, powerful cameras, and speedy processors, you might be interested in a Samsung as your next device. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Release date: January 2021

Price: £938.35 - £979.18

Rear

Quad

108MP Wide

12MP Ultra Wide

10MP Telephoto (3x)

10MP Telephoto (10x)

Front

40MP

Video

8K


Dual Optical Zoom, either up to 3x or 10x

Super Resolution Zoom up to a whopping 100x to capture details from far away

Optical image stabilisation automatically employed to eliminate blurs and shakes from the user

Laser AF sensor enhances the performance in close range and low lighting

Shot suggestions help turn the amateur photo enthusiast into a budding photographer

Panorama shots

Night mode for taking clear photos in dim lighting

Portrait mode to enhance the appearance of selfies

Slow-motion on videos for dramatic effect, and to capture the smallest moments

Blink detection so photos aren’t ruined by someone having their eyes closed on the best shot

Face filters and face retouch for editing

Scene optimiser supports 30 modes, like Face, Baby, Person, Dog, Cat, Food, People, Beaches, Sky, Mountain, Sunset, Sunrise, City, Snow, Waterfall, Vehicles, Flowers, Greenery, Shoes, and more

For more Samsung models, check out our guide on which Samsung smartphone is right for you?

 

Best Xiaomi 

Xiaomi are the fourth largest smartphone brand globally, achieved largely by their great-value smartphones which don’t sacrifice incredible features despite the price. With some of the best cameras around, you’re spoilt for choice.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro

Release date: November 2019

Price: £400 - £600

Rear

Penta (five)

108MP AI

12MP Portrait

20MP Ultra Wide

5MP Ultra Telephoto

2MP Macro

Front

32MP

Video

4K


Built-in AI technology is utilised as AI Beautify and AI Smart Slimming to enhance or edit photos to the user’s taste

AI scene detection includes 27 tags

Multiple focuses: Laser, Phase detection, and Contrast detection, to ensure photos look digitally correct

Moon mode makes sure that the dark lighting and the moon’s glare are evenly balanced so images come out clear and visible

Portrait mode can be utilised to blur the background so the image’s focus remains on the central figure

Panorama mode

Burst mode to capture multiple photos instantaneously 

Face recognition to keep people in focus

Distortion correction in Ultra Wide to make sure the edges aren’t blurred or shaky

Custom watermark for professional photos

Xiaomi have a range of other models available, all of which have a host of impressive specs and long battery lives.

 

Best Huawei 

The leading manufacturer in China, Huawei have been creating phones since 1987. The only thing to note about these models is that most don’t include Google services, like other Androids, due to a US trade ban.

Huawei P40 Pro

Release date: June 2020

Price: £699.99

Rear

Quad

50MP Ultra Vision

40MP Ultra Wide

12MP Telephoto

3D Depth Sensing Camera

Front

32MP

Video

4K


5x Optical Zoom, 10x Hybrid Zoom, and 50x Max Zoom to take photos both up close and far away

Image stabilisation to avoid shaky photos

Autofocus mode to instantly latch onto what you’re trying to capture

Night mode

Slow-motion and time-lapse on video recording

Cinematic features on video to help your footage appear more professional

RYYB colour filter array brings 40% more light, range, and low noise 

Ultra Vision Sensor picks up everything in a shot, regardless of the light conditions, depicting it all in sharp, vivid colour

AI Portrait Studio generates 45% better colour precision, lighting, and clarity for any individual or group selfie

Distortion correction

AI motion algorithm recognises the best few pictures from a moving picture and suggests these as the key focuses of the image

AI capability removes people to clear up your background

AI Remove Reflection helps avoid extra light glare from mirrors

If the P40 Pro has impressed you, there’s a lot more of Huawei to explore yet. 

 

Best OnePlus 

Like Huawei, OnePlus was also founded in China. It shares some of its manufacturing with OPPO, focusing on providing high-class phones for lower prices. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the most recent release at the time of writing, and the model with the best cameras.

OnePlus 9 Pro

Release date: April 2021

Price: From £829

Rear

Quad

48MP Main

50MP Ultra Wide

8MP Telephoto

2MP Monochrome

Front

16MP

Video

8K


Multi Autofocus to make sure you, or the most detailed parts of the landscape, are in hyper-focus and stand out from the crowd

Slow-motion and time lapse capabilities on video

Nightscape for capturing images in darkness

Smart Scene Recognition

Portrait mode

Panorama mode, so you can take one long, extended photo to capture an entire 360 view

Cat/Dog Face Focus so even your pets can be the star of the show

Take advantage of a multitude of filters you can apply onto photos

Super Stable mode

Sony sensors

Face Retouching for minor edits to remove anything you don’t want to appear or post on social media

 

Best OPPO 

OPPO produces sleek smartphones that can easily rival many of the household names in the market. With triple and quad lenses on many of their models, these are great options for someone on the hunt for a good-quality camera phone. 

OPPO Find X3 Pro

Release date: April 2021

Price: £1,099

Rear

Quad

50MP Wide

50MP Ultra Wide

13MP Telephoto

3MP Micro lens

Front

32MP

Video

4K


Cameras capture one billion colours

5x Hybrid Optical Zoom, and 20x Digital Zoom on the Telephoto camera

Night mode

Portrait mode

Slow-motion, dual-view, and time lapse all available to experiment with on video recording 

Panorama mode

Text scanner

Video stabilisation to ensure moving footage isn’t too blurry if the user is shaking or unable to hold the camera still

AI Beautification

 

Best Google 

Google, the household name behind all Android creations, have three phone series themselves: The Pixel 3 range, Pixel 4 range, and the Pixel 5. The Pixel 4a with 5G and the Pixel 5 have the same cameras, but the 5 is Google’s newest release, so check out some of its photographic features below.

Pixel 5

Release date: September 2020

Price: From £599

Rear

Dual

12.2MP Main

16MP Ultra Wide

Front

8MP

Video

4K


Night Sight lets you take low-light portraits in the dark, capturing all the little colourful details without the need for a flash

Colour enhancement keeps pictures vivid and rich

Portrait mode includes additional illumination on the people in the photo to ensure they remain the stars

Have fun with the Hollywood-inspired cinematic filters on videos

Unlimited photo storage with Google Photos

If you’d like to read more about the Pixel 3 or Pixel 4 range, check out our guide on Google phones.

 

Best for selfies

To take good selfies, you need to have relatively high megapixel front cameras. If the front camera/s are good, you’ll also be able to film yourself in high definition, like while vlogging or live-streaming

Motorola are an iconic brand - after all they launched the first ever handheld mobile: the DynaTAC 8000X. So, decades on, it’s no surprise that Motorola are in our top camera phones list.

Motorola Moto G 5G Plus

Release date: July 2020

Price: £249.99

Rear

Quad

48MP Main

5MP Macro

8MP Ultra Wide

2MP Depth

Front

Dual

16MP Ultra Wide

8MP 

Video

4K


Auto smile capture which will automatically take a screenshot when you smile, perfect to speed up selfie-taking

Shot optimisation to ensure every image you take is clear, detailed, and quality

Face beauty filter to enhance your features 

Live filter for moving photos that capture even more of the memory or selfie

Portrait mode and Portrait lighting so that selfies are well-lit and sharp, even in low-light conditions

Panorama mode

Night vision to take photos in the dark without the flash adding a glare

Slow-motion, time-lapse, and hyper-lapse video capabilities

Electronic video stabilisation to keep footage legible 

 

Best on a budget

If you’re on a budget, the last thing you want to do is blow all your money on an expensive smartphone. But if you’re in need of a new device, and want a good camera for a reasonable price tag, check out our recommendation below.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Release date: December 2019

Price: £268.68

Rear

Quad

48MP Wide

12MP Ultra Wide

5MP Macro

5MP Depth

Front

32MP

Video

4K


Different lenses allow clarity in both close-up images and those further away

Live Focus effects

Natural background blur (Bokeh) puts all the focus on the subject

Super steady stabilisation on images to ensure movement doesn’t blur the picture

Removes background noise so images look more professional

Selfie focus

If this price tag still isn’t cutting it for you, why not take a look at our top recommendations for the best phones under £100 and £200?

 

Best for night photography

Many devices are capable of shooting images and videography in low-light conditions, with most smartphones having a Night Mode feature, but it’s more than just that. You need a phone with a powerful camera as well as cinematic video capabilities, so what you’re capturing is as sharp and rich as it can be. For this job, we recommend the following Galaxy model below. 

Samsung Galaxy S21

Release date: January 2021

Price: £628.02 - £668.85 

Rear

Triple

12MP Ultra Wide

12MP Wide 

64MP Telephoto

Front

10MP

Video

8K


Night Mode

AI technology alters lighting, angles, and directions as you take photos to make sure everything is well-lit and in focus 

AI stabilisation (Super Steady feature) means you can record shake-free

Frames per second (abbreviated as fps) changes depending on light conditions, becoming lower in darker conditions to capture every detail

Powerful 8K recording makes footage (and images) look cinematic 

Can snap photos right out of video at 33MP

Auto focus

3x Hybrid Optic Zoom, and 30x Digital Zoom to shoot landscapes with as much detail as you want

Zoom Lock stabilises the shot while you’re zoomed in

Slow-motion

Single Take feature

Portrait mode is ideal for social media snaps

 

Best for unique photography

Nearly every phone has a camera, but that doesn’t always mean it will produce interesting photos. The OPPO model below features two intriguing lenses, one monochrome and one vintage, so you can experiment and take your photography skills to the next level.

OPPO Reno4 Z

Release date: October 2020

Price: £260.46

Rear

Quad

48MP Main

8MP Wide

2MP Monochrome

2MP Vintage Portrait Monochrome

Front

Dual

16MP Main

2MP Depth 

Video

4K rear


Vintage portrait monochrome lens adds an interesting element to any photo, instantly transporting you back into the past - handy for people who need to take old-timely images for a project or career 

Image stabilisation ensures your photos are steady and balanced

Ultra steady video recording so that any filming of yourself or friends will look professional

Panorama mode

Night mode so you can take selfies in the dark

Time-lapse and slow-motion recording on video

 

Discover more

That’s it for our camera phone recommendations - which is your favourite? Let us know on Twitter

Whether you get one of these or another smartphone, we offer a number of great-value SIM only deals you can pair with your new mobile. 

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