The top smartphones you can buy right now in 2023 all have amazing cameras, with companies like Apple, Google and Samsung all packing their best phones with multiple cameras that can take incredible images. But the more camera lenses a phone has doesn’t mean it’s any better at actually taking great-looking shots. Top phones like theand also pack bigger image sensors and huge improvements in software for AI-powered computational photography. Then there’s the ‘s camera, which can take some of the best zoom photos it’s possible to get from a phone.
As you read through comparisons of cameras on phones, it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t a “perfect” phone camera. There are definitely phones that excel at a specific feature when compared with others — the zoom on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, for example — but that might not be a feature worth paying for if you have little interest in zoom photos. And don’t be fooled into thinking that more megapixels in a camera means better photos. We look at how these cameras perform in real-life situations: how they balance exposures, how they handle colors and how easy they are to use.
Read our guide to help find the best phone camera for your needs.
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro might come with a steep asking price, but it ticks almost every box you could want from a camera setup on a phone. Its main 48-megapixel sensor takes superb images, with crisp details and beautiful, natural colors, its wide-angle lens is one of the best around and it excels at night photos, delivering bright and clear shots when there’s minimal light.
Its 3x zoom lens falls short of rivals like Samsung’s 10x zoom on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but 3x is still enough to help you find interesting compositions in your landscape or get a slightly more close up photo of a cute dog you found in the park.
Its video skills are superb too, with rock-solid image stabilization, 4K resolutions and Apple ProRes support for those of you wanting to get the absolute best-looking footage when editing in software like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve.
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Google’s Pixel 7 Pro has impressed us in a number of ways from its slick new design to its extremely user-friendly software. But it’s the camera that’s really stood out, with the Pixel 7 Pro delivering superb shots in a variety of conditions. Its main sensor captures shots with superb dynamic range and vibrant colors while its 5x optical zoom gives extra reach than the iPhone 14 Pro is able to manage.
And while its night mode shots aren’t as good as the iPhone’s, it’s a great camera overall that’ll suit both photography amateurs — and those looking to take more artistic images — well and at a cost that undercuts its rivals.
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The Galaxy S23 is a lot, but in a good way. Samsung made improvements to the camera’s resolution (200 megapixels compared to 108 megapixels), color tones and dynamic range, while retaining the impressive 10x optical zoom as its predecessor. There’s also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung’s phones, which brings faster performance compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Starting at $1,200, it may be an understatement to call this phone expensive. But those willing to pay more for a giant screen and a high-quality, versatile camera won’t be disappointed. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Apple’s video capture has always been top notch and the iPhone 14 Pro Max keeps that going. The resolution might top out at 4K — rather than 6K or 8K seen on some Android phones — but its overall quality is second to none. Exposure and dynamic range is beautiful, detail is superb and image stabilization has been given a huge boost with the new Action Mode. Then there’s the Cinematic Mode which provides deeper focus control for focus pulling between two characters in a scene.
But it also lets you shoot in Apple’s ProRes video codec. This generates huge video files, but it gives more scope for professionals to add color grades in post production software without sacrificing quality, meaning that the iPhone 14 Pro Max could be a legitimate part of a professional filmmaker’s kitbag. And while the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max differ only in size, the extra screen real estate of the Max model will not only help you monitor your footage more easily, but it gives you more to physically hold on to when you’re out and about which could help you keep it more stable while filming.
While Google’s latest Pixel 7 and 7 Pro might steal the headlines with their flashy new design and Tensor G2 processor, the Pixel 6A offers a lot of what Google’s latest Pixel phones have boasted but in a smaller and more affordable package. It has just two rear cameras (a standard zoom and an ultrawide) with both taking great-looking images that look better than almost any other phone at this price — including Samsung’s Galaxy A53.
If photography is critical to you and you want features like long zooms and crystal clear night mode images then you’ll want to splash a bit more cash on the most recent Pixel 7 Pro. But for the money, few other camera phones come close.
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Sony’s Xperia Pro-I comes with a pretty lofty price tag but it packs some serious photographic skills for those of you truly focused on your mobile imaging game. It has a huge 1-inch image sensor — the same size seen in Sony’s excellent RX100 line of compact cameras — that lets it capture more light and achieve better dynamic range than many of its rivals.
It’s packed with a variety of manual controls for you to craft your photos as you would with a regular DSLR or mirrorless camera too. It’s a great phone to look towards if you basically want a camera that can make phone calls, but its high price means it’s not the best choice for most people.
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