Thanks to recent smartphone releases, you don't need to own a DSLR camera to achieve professional-looking shots - if you own the right handset of course. Whether you're a budding photographer, aspiring movie-maker or simply an Instagram user looking to improve the quality of your feed, you're sure to find which smartphone has the best camera for you.
iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max
Two of Apple’s latest handsets, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, are both equipped with a trio of advanced camera lenses, including a 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide, and 12MP telephoto lens. If you’re taking a quick family photo or a scenic landscape shot, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can handle a range of photographic styles with ease. Plus, the 3x optical zoom in and 2x optical zoom out make it possible for you to capture those long-distance shots in crystal clear quality, without any blurriness.
Night Mode is another excellent feature to appear in iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max’s camera repertoire. By simply switching to Night Mode, it will automatically adjust your photograph’s brightness so that it’s clearly visible – even in the dead of night – so, you’re able to take detailed photographs at any time of the day.
Another highly rated feature to take full advantage of is the dedicated Cinematic Mode. This makes it possible for you to record videos with a shallow depth of field and add unique subtleties to your content, like automatic focus transitions from one subject to another. When combined with the 4K video recording at either 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, you’ll have the license to create aesthetically pleasing content, with just the swipe of a finger. The sensor-shift optical image stabilisation is there to help keep your content in focus too, perfect for aspiring vloggers and filmmakers.
There’s also the impressive Portrait Lighting mode, which permits you to experiment with six different effects – Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, and High‑Key Light Mono – for professional-grade results.
Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 6’s camera setup is comprised of three superb rear lenses, including a 50MP wide lens, 49MP telephoto lens and 12MP ultra-wide lens. This dynamic camera system can capture everything from stunning panoramic shots to vivid close ups, courtesy of the excellent 20x Super Res Zoom.
Similarly to iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max’s Night Mode, Google Pixel 6’s Night Sight feature allows you take high quality photographs in low-light surroundings. That means you can take detailed images between dusk and dawn, by balancing the light and dark. Pixel 6 automatically adjusts your photograph’s exposure ensuring your photo is as clear as day.
On top of this, the highly intelligent Magic Eraser setting is a brand-new feature that gives you the freedom to remove photobombers or background objects that are ruining your photo’s aesthetic. This gives you full control over your content, enabling you to correct what isn’t quite right after the photo has been taken.
Another camera feature to get excited about is the useful Motion Mode. There are two features for you to investigate, Long Exposure and Action Pan. Simply put, Long Exposure blurs anything moving in an image, whilst Action Pan captures fast-moving objects in the foreground and adds a bokeh effect to the background.
You’ll also notice additions to the dedicated editing suite, with Google Photos now allowing you to alter the blur or Portrait Light post-shoot.
Honor 50 is designed with four rear cameras to help you master a range of photography techniques. The camera setup includes a 108MP wide lens, 8MP ultra-wide lens and dual 2MP lens that, when activated, effortlessly produce high-definition images. The outstanding 8MP ultra-wide lens is handy for those group photos with friends, ensuring everyone is in the frame. Not only that, the 32MP selfie lens offers a natural looking depth to your images, making self-portraits appear bold and vibrant. The OLED display accentuates the colours and sharpness, which is ideal for video calls too.
Meanwhile, Honor 50’s Pro Mode gives you full access to a range of settings, like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and exposure. This enables you to tinker with a photograph’s style in whatever way you please, so you can create and edit all from one handset.
For keen videographers, you can enjoy an outstanding video recording quality that goes up to 4K at 30fps, or 1080p at 60fps if you prefer. You can capture super smooth content, from a gorgeous sunset to a quick clip at a concert, the Honor 50 can adapt to suit your surroundings in an instant.
Another sophisticated feature to experiment with is the multi-video setting. Record split-screen or picture-in-picture content by using a combination of the front and rear lenses simultaneously. This gives you the ability to record a significant event, and record your reaction at the same time, so you can share with your friends and family.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
New for 2021, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the must-have handset from the S21 series if you're after the best possible camera. Never one to hold back, Samsung has added its finest photography tech onto this handset, including a wide 40MP selfie camera and an outstanding rear camera system.
On the back of the handset, you'll find an amazing 108MP main lens leading the way. With plenty of megapixels to ensure even the finest details can be captured, this lens is able to pick up colour with incredible accuracy - even in low light. The accompanying 12MP ultra-wide lens is perfect for landscape photos or group shots, and thanks to a number of zoom-related features - including an even smoother dual zoom system and zoom lock to keep your shots steady - snapping from far away has never been easier.
The device showcases a new Bright Night sensor for improved Night Mode, and there's a dual 10MP+10MP telephoto lens for refined portraits and greater depth control. To complete the rear camera, the added Laser AF sensor helps to keep your snaps in focus, for a sharper, refined photo.
We can't forget the S21 Ultra's amazing 8K video capabilities either. You can record in 8K and 12-bit RAW video directly on the handset, and with 8K Video Snap you can even take high-quality still photos from any of your recordings. If you'll be shooting action scenes, you can also enable Super Steady Mode, which will counteract any shakiness to give you smooth, stable footage.
Sony Xperia 5 II
Partnering with both Alpha and Leica for this release, Sony has ensured there's a really impressive rear camera on the Sony Xperia 5 II. You'll find a trio of lenses on the back of the device, each measuring 12MP.
The first lens in Sony's triple-lens camera system is the 24mm main lens, with an aperture of F1.7 and an 82-degree field of view. Next up there's the 70mm telephoto lens, which has been designed to specifically give you greater control over depth in your images - an essential if you're after a blurred background in a portrait, or you want to capture the smallest details using a macro shot. Last up, the 16mm, 12MP ultra-wide lens. With its 124-degree field of view, fitting everyone into the frame or capturing the true beauty of a cityscape is easy.
Every lens has Leica anti-reflective coating, and HDR makes sure none of your pictures look overexposed. Real-time eye tracking works for both people and animals - the device will automatically focus on your subject, so you don't have to worry about setting it manually and potentially missing out on the perfect shot.
Sony has a lot to offer when it comes to video. There's a wind filter to keep sound crystal clear, while on the rear you can film in 4K in 120fps. A smartphone first, this means you can take 4K slow-motion videos directly on the device.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini
With advanced dual-lens cameras on the rear, and a brilliant 12MP True Depth camera on the front, budding photographers won't be let down by iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini. Pulling out all the stops for this 2020 release, Apple has added identical specs to both handsets - meaning fans of smaller smartphones won't have to miss out on the latest camera tech.
On the back there's a dual-lens camera system, with a 12MP wide lens and 12MP ultra wide lens. Upgraded from previous iPhone models, the main wide lens now uses a f/1.6 aperture, enabling the rear camera to take in 27% more light. Combined with Night Mode on both lenses and Apple's new Deep Fusion technology, capturing photos in low-light conditions has never been easier.
And that's not all, you'll also find Optical Image Stabilisation on both iPhones, 2x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom, and Apple's own Portrait Mode and Depth Control. Zoom in without sacrificing photo quality, experiment with new styles and explore the bokeh blurred background effect. You can even shoot with confidence, knowing Smart HDR 3 has your back. New for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, the feature will automatically adjust your camera's settings, fixing the white balance and enhancing details and colours for the best results.
4K Dolby Vision HDR up to 30fps is now possible with any of the iPhone 12 series. A first for smartphones, this professional 10-bit HDR video format means you can expect to produce outstanding, cinematic videos directly from your phone. There's end-to-end support too, so you can record in real-time then edit and play back video all in Dolby Vision.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
If you've been enticed by iPhone 12, but you're after more advanced camera specs, then you're sure to love iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Featuring a triple-lens camera (reserved only for Apple's Pro models), you can shoot like a professional straight from your smartphone.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are both packed with Apple's finest smartphone photography specs. There's a 12MP wide lens, 12MP ultra wide lens and a final 12MP telephoto lens, with all three equipped with Night Mode for beautifully clear and vibrant results. iPhone 12 Pro Max, however, has a larger sensor on its wide lens, resulting in a huge 87% improvement when shooting in darker environments. Pro Max is also capable of some seriously impressive zoom capabilities: you can look forward to 5x optical zoom, 12x digital zoom, 2.5x zoom in and 2x zoom out. Even when shooting from far away, you can expect nothing less than super detail shots.
iPhone 12 Pro has plenty to offer too. It sees a 27% improvement in low-light, and has its own cutting-edge zoom specs, with a 4x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom and 2x zoom in and zoom out. You'll have everything you need to take up-close macro shots or photos from far away, and exclusive Apple features like Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3 and Apple ProRAW help you to take your smartphone photography and edits further.
Just like iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, you can record with the outstanding 4K Dolby Vision. For Pro models, there's a choice between 30fps or 60fps, and the specs don’t stop there. As well as shooting in real time in 10-bit HDR quality, you can edit Dolby Vision directly on the devices, and even play your homemade film for friends via AirPlay.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
If it's state-of-the-art camera specs you're looking for from your next smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra has it covered. Not only can you record in breathtaking 8K on this smartphone, its triple-lens rear camera system comes with an impressive 108MP main lens, as well as a stunning 12MP ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens with up to 50x Space Zoom.
With all the tech you could need to get creative with your photography on board, taking photos and recording is always a pleasure. Capable of capturing any moment with absolute clarity, you can expect vibrant colours and refined details in any environment. Thanks to a built-in Night Mode, you can snap away freely in darker conditions; low-light levels are no longer a problem.
Samsung photography tech like Flaw Detection and Live Focus ensure you have more control over the shots you take too. Flaw Detection will automatically notify you if something is wrong with your image (for example, if somebody blinks or if there's a smudge on your lens), while Live Focus allows you to adjust the amount of background blur in a photo, either before, during or after you take a photo or a video.
Other exciting photography features to expect on the include Pro Video Mode, Video Snap (which will let you take a 33MP still from any 8K video) and Super Steady, which helps keep footage smooth and stable even when things get a little shaky on your end.
iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Featured on both iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max is a rear triple-lens camera system, and an upgraded 12MP True Depth front-facing camera. An Apple first, and part of the iPhone 2019 launch, you can expect to capture stunning, professional-looking photos on either device.
The rear triple-lens camera is made up of a 12MP Wide lens, which can activate autofocus faster than ever, a 12MP Ultra Wide lens that takes images with a 120-degree field of view, and a 12MP Telephoto lens for close-up shots and focused snaps. The Ultra Wide lens is another first for iPhone users, taking in up to 4x more of the environment around you than the other lenses.
With Apple's advanced A13 Bionic chip, you'll be able to switch between each of the three lenses manually and at speed. An all-new Night Mode has been added to the Camera app, letting you snap photos in almost complete darkness, for well-lit, defined images even without a flash.
Portrait Mode has new effects like High-Key Light Mono mode, adjusting the intensity of light on the subject in your photo is now possible with Portrait Lighting and Smart HDR is now better than ever.
The 12 front-facing camera on both phones features a True Depth lens, designed to give you more control over the amount of blur in each selfie. You can also try out the all-new slow-motion selfies – or ‘slofies’ which provide hours of fun and are great for sharing on social media.
Video is equally impressive. Not only can you shoot in 4K at 60fps using the rear camera, you can even edit your videos directly in Apple's camera app. If you zoom in on an object, you'll notice the audio will zoom in too - sound will be crystal clear, even from far away.
Huawei P40 Pro
Huawei's P series has an established reputation for featuring some of the very best smartphone cameras, and the premium flagship for 2020 - the Huawei P40 Pro - keeps up this tradition. Working once again with Leica, the P40 Pro has an Ultra Vision Leica Quad Camera, crafted with a 50MP SuperSensing main camera, 40MP ultra-wide Cine camera, 12MP telephoto camera and a 3D Depth Sensing camera.
Taking each of the four cameras in turn, the main 50MP SuperSensing camera not only captures moments in an incredible resolution thanks to the huge megapixel count, it also uses a 1/1.28 inch Ultra Vision Sensor to take in more light when faced with dark conditions. The 40MP Cine camera, meanwhile, is essential for shooting at a wider angle, fitting more of your surroundings into one shot. Dubbed as the 'Cine' lens, the 40MP lens is also responsible for providing the P40 Pro's ultra slow-mo video, telephoto video and timelapse video capabilities - meaning you can record and flick between cinematic effects at your leisure.
Next up, the 12MP telephoto camera. Enabling the P40 Pro's many zoom features, you'll have access to an outstanding 50x Max Zoom on this handset, alongside 10x Hybrid Zoom and 5x Optical Zoom. Whether you need to photograph something at a distance, or you take a shot and suddenly realise there's something you'd love to focus on in the background, the P40 Pro's telephoto camera makes sure you won't lose out on picture quality when you zoom in. Finally, the 3D Depth Sensing Camera. This is a must for bokeh - the professional, blurred background effect - and this lens will help you to take portrait shots that focus on your subject with absolute clarity.
We can't write about the P40 Pro's rear camera without mentioning its many AI features. Alongside an intelligent Night Mode designed to brighten up pictures taken in the darkest of conditions, you'll also find something called AI Golden Snap on the P40 Pro. The first in this trio of AI effects, AI Golden Snap Best Moment can be activated to ensure you'll get the perfect still shot when you're trying to photograph something that's moving. It'll take a moving 4K image, then select one to three of the best frames for you to choose from. Golden Snap AI Remove Passersby and Golden Snap AI Remove Reflection can both be accessed via Gallery Edit on the handset, and function in very similar ways. Remove Passersby will help you reduce unwanted objects or people, while Remove Reflection will help you diminish reflections from your snaps - such as those taken when you're standing near a window or a mirror.
The Huawei P40 Pro has a brilliant 32MP selfie camera as well, adding to this device's all-round fantastic camera offering.
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