Best camera phones 2023

Best camera phones 2023

The battle among the best camera phones comes down to more than mere hardware specs — how your shot ends up looking is just as important. And that means putting cameras to the test to see how they benefit from photo-processing features and computational photography. For that reason, every phone we test goes through head-to-head photo face-offs, allowing us to see how a phone’s camera output compares to what its closest competitors can do.

Our head-to-head camera testing covers photos in a variety of conditions — outdoors, low-light, portrait shots, selfies and more. That helps us find camera phones that meld the best sensors and computational photography and AI to extract the best possible light, color and detail out of every scenario.

Some of our head-to-head testing includes an iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Google Pixel 7 Pro camera shootout to show how two of our top-rated camera phones compare. We also look at how the Galaxy S23, iPhone 14 and Pixel 7 handle low-light photos.

After hundreds of hours of testing and many head-to-head photo comparisons, these are the best camera phones you can buy right now.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is the managing editor for mobile at Tom’s Guide. He’s been covering technology since 1999, and started covering smartphones with the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. Since joining Tom’s Guide from Macworld in 2015, he’s developed an expertise in Android phones as evidenced by the stack of Samsung, Google and Motorola phones in his Northern California home. And his digital photo library is stuffed with images he’s taken as part of head-to-head camera testing for phone reviews.

The quick list

Here’s a summary of the best camera phones you can buy right now based on our head-to-head testing of each phone’s camera capabilities. Keep scrolling to find the in-depth reviews of every camera phone featured here.

best camera phones Galaxy S23 UltraBest Overall

1. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best camera phone overall

Samsung’s ultimate phone edges out some formidable rivals thanks to a pair of telephoto cameras that take excellent zoom shots. And the 200MP main camera gives photographers added flexibility while producing stellar results of its own.

Read more below

best camera phones iphone 14 pro maxBest iPhone cameras

Best Apple camera phone

Apple’s pro phones saw upgrades to both the main and ultrawide cameras, and the resulting photos are vibrant and detailed. We also appreciate the new Photonic Engine, which bolsters image processing in tough lighting.

Read more below

best camera phones Google Pixel 7 proSmartest camera phone

Best computational photography

The Pixel 7 Pro’s Tensor G2 chipset powers some powerful photo-editing features like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur. The 5x optical zoom capabilities of the telephoto lens on Google’s flagship phone outmuscles the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 3x zoom.

Read more below

Google Pixel 7a best camera phonesBest value

4. Google Pixel 7a review

Best camera phone value

With a 64MP main camera and Google’s usual flair for computational photography, you might think the Pixel 7a is a premium camera phone. At $499, though, it’s a very affordable model that still produces photos that beat pricier handsets.

Read more below

Galaxy A54Cheapest camera phone

A camera phone for bargain hunters

For less than $450, the Galaxy A54 captures some excellent low-light photos, and its 50MP sensor deserves the credit. It’s the same sensor found in the more expensive Galaxy S23, giving this more affordable midrange phone some serious photographic capabilities. 

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best camera phones iphone 14 proPro cameras for less

Apple’s best cameras for less

If an iPhone 14 Pro Max is outside your budget, consider the iPhone 14 Pro, which costs $100 less but features the same camera as the Max. You’ll give the Max’s larger 6.7-inch screen for photo editing, but some people may prefer all that power in a more compact device.

Read more below

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5Best foldable camera

7. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review

Best foldable camera phone

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 re-establishes Samsung as the top maker of foldable phones, and the cameras on this device are a big reason why. You get bright, vibrant images from the Fold when compared to the output from rival foldable handsets.

Read more below

best phones iphone 14iPhone alternative

Affordable Apple camera phone

You give up a telephoto lens with the Apple 14, but you get a still-great camera phone for less than $800. And like other iPhone 14 models, this one benefits from the Photonic Engine for souped-up computational photography.

Read more below

best camera phones Samsung galaxy s23Best cheap telephoto

Best telephoto lens on the cheap

Normally, you have to pay up to get a telephoto lens, but the $799 Galaxy S23 features one. In addition to optical zooms, you can expect excellent photos from this camera phone, including more accurate colors than we’ve seen from Samsung.

Read more below

The full list: Best camera phones in detal

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera close up

(Image credit: Future)

The ultimate camera phone you can buy

Specifications

Display size: 6.8-inch Super AMOLED (3088 x 1440)

CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

RAM: 8GB, 12GB

Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No

Rear cameras: 200 MP (f/1.7), 12MP (f/2.2), 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto, 10MP (f/2.4) 10x telephoto

Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)

Weight: 8.3 ounces

Battery life: 13:09 (60Hz) / 12:22 (adaptive)

Reasons to buy

+

Powerful 200MP camera

+

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip beats iPhone on graphics

+

Awesome display

Reasons to avoid

Very expensive

Curved screen can get in way

Our crown for the best camera phone belongs to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This beast can do it all with its 200MP main sensor, 30x optical zoom, excellent selfies, and the still-amazing 100x digital Space Zoom. This new Ultra does what the likes of Apple and Google cannot.

New this year is the astrophotography mode, too, allowing for stunning shots of the night sky, including the moon. You can also shoot in 50MP RAW or use the full 200MP in the regular camera app. The upgraded stabilization also makes the Galaxy S23 Ultra a fantastic video phone with the ability to shoot at up to 8K 30 fps.

Of course, all of this comes at a hefty $1,199 asking price, so be prepared to shell out some cash for the privilege. But if you want the best camera experience in 2023 so far, this is it.

Read our full Galaxy S23 Ultra review.

The best Apple camera phone

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

An equally great camera phone

Specifications

Display size: 6.7-inch OLED (2796 x 1290)

CPU: A16 Bionic

RAM: 6GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No

Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8) main with 2x optical zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 3x optical zoom

Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)

Weight: 8.5 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:42

Reasons to buy

+

Best-in-class cameras

+

Excellent battery life

+

Immersive 6.7-inch display

+

Impressive Action mode for video

Reasons to avoid

Still just 20W charging

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is everything you could ever want in a smartphone, including the best-in-class performance and cameras. The new 48MP main sensor is extremely powerful, offering crystal clear images with beautiful colors and lighting. The ultrawide lens also saw a bump in size, so it lets in more light. The telephoto sticks to 3x, which we think is a bit low given the competition.

The main sensor also sports 2x optical zoom on its own, letting you get that quad-pixel quality on a zoomed image. There’s Apple’s new Photonic Engine, which improves on the phone maker’s computational photography for mid- and low-light scenes. All told, you won’t find better all around cameras on a smartphone.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review.

The best Google camera phone

Google Pixel 7 Pro back view

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Going head-to-head with Apple and Samsung

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED (3120 x 1440; 10-120Hz)

CPU: Tensor G2

RAM: 12GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No

Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.85) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 48MP (f/3.5) with 5x optical zoom

Front camera: 10.8MP (f/2.2)

Weight: 7.3 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 6:31

Reasons to buy

+

Incredible cameras

+

Awesome Tensor features

+

More powerful chipset

Reasons to avoid

Colors are a bit dull in telephoto

Subpar battery life

Coming in hot right behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the Pixel 7 Pro, Google’s latest flagship. This phone improves upon its predecessor in many key ways (except for battery life), including offering a 5x optical zoom on its telephoto lens. The Pixel 7 Pro keeps the same 50MP main and 12MP ultrawide sensors as the Pixel 6 Pro, but that’s just fine.

From the main and ultrawide cameras, pictures look stunning, matching and/or besting the iPhone 14 Pro (which shares the same camera system as the iPhone 14 Pro Max) in a lot of scenarios. Apple still had the upper hand on color reproduction in telephoto images, even if it tops out at 3x optical zoom.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s 10.8MP front camera also lags behind Apple, especially in dimmer settings. We noticed some extra face smoothing in our testing, while the iPhone reproduced more facial details. Even so, the Pixel 7 Pro is an incredible camera phone, certainly the best in the Android camp.

Read our full Pixel 7 Pro review.

The best camera phone value

Google Pixel 7a

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The best camera phone value

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)

CPU: Tensor G2

RAM: 8GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No

Rear cameras: 64MP main (f/1.89), 13MP ultrawide (f/2.2)

Front camera: 13MP (f/2.2)

Weight: 6.8 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:05

Reasons to buy

+

Upgraded 64MP main camera

+

Tensor G2 chip powers excellent photo features

+

Bright 90Hz display

Reasons to avoid

Bezels around display are pretty noticeable

Dark colors can affect some pictures

Google’s Pixel 7a continues the fine tradition of Pixel A phones offering a superlative camera experience, except this time the hardware deserves as much credit as Google’s computational photography and AI-powered photo processing. For this model, Google has done away with the 12.2MP main camera and added a 64MP sensor that’s physically larger than before. That means more light provinding more detail to shots, and the result is a camera phone that’s neck and neck with the Galaxy A54 among budget devices.

The Pixel 7a tends to favor dark colors which don’t always serve it well in every scenario. But low-light photos are excellent and the portrait mode is tops, making this a great camera phone for the money.

The Tensor G2 chipset powers a number of impressive features like the Magic Eraser tool for removing unwanted people and Photo Unblur for cleaning up older images. And a bright 6.1-inch display lets you see your photos clearly, even in bright light.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.

The best low-cost camera phone

Samsung Galaxy A54 review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

A lower-cost camera phone alternative

Specifications

Display: 6.4-inch AMOLED (2340 x 1080; 60Hz)

CPU: Exynos 1380

RAM: 6GB, 8GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / Yes

Rear : : 50MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4)

Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2)

Weight: 7.1 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:20 (adaptive); 11:46 (60Hz)

Reasons to buy

+

Improved 50MP main camera

+

Excellent shots in low light

+

Bright, colorful display

Reasons to avoid

No telephoto lens

Processor isn’t the fastest

Samsung has equipped its midrange phone with a much better camera, giving the Galaxy A54 the same 50MP main shooter that comes with the Galaxy S23. The result is some impressive photos, particularly when you consider that the Galaxy A54 costs $449.

In our Google Pixel 7a vs. Samsung Galaxy A54 camera face-off, the Pixel 7a finished slightly ahead due to more consistent camera performance. But don’t sell the Galaxy A54 short. Its large main sensor captures lots of light for more detailed and colorful storage. Samsung’s phone also has a solid portrait mode.

Other features like expandable storage and a long-lasting battery make this phone appealing to mobile photographers. And its $449 starting price means you don’t have to pay big bucks for a very good camera phone.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review.

The best Apple camera phone for less

iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Same cameras as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, just more compact

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2556 x 1179)

CPU: A16 Bionic

RAM: 6GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No

Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8) main with 2x optical zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 3x optical zoom

Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)

Weight: 7.3 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:13

Reasons to buy

+

Gorgeous and bright 120Hz display

+

Incredible performance

+

Spectacular cameras

+

Dynamic Island is a good notch replacement

Reasons to avoid

Still just 20W charging

If you’re put off by both the size and price of the iPhone 14 Pro Max but still want the same capable cameras, then look no further than the iPhone 14 Pro. With its more compact 6.1-inch display, this phone is one powerful beast. And with the new 48MP main sensor, the iPhone 14 Pro can take some beautiful photos.

The ultrawide camera also got an upgrade to allow in more light for better-lit pictures. The telephoto lens sticks to 3x — and we wish it was at least 4x to match the competition — but the main camera has its own 2x optical zoom, too. All told, the iPhone 14 Pro is the best compact camera phone.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review.

The best foldable camera phone

Samsung Galaxy Fold 5

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Best foldable camera phone

Specifications

Display: 7.6-inch AMOLED (2176 x 1812; 120Hz), inner; 6.2-inch AMOLED (2316 x 904; 120Hz), outer

CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

RAM: 12GB

Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoom

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2), outer; 4MP (f/1.8), under-display

Weight: 8.9 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:15 (Adaptive) / 11:25 (60Hz)

Reasons to buy

+

Strong cameras

+

Improved multitaskin

+

Binge redesign makes new phone easier to use

Reasons to avoid

Front display still narrow

Disappointing under-display camera

Finding the best camera on a foldable device boils down to a comparison between Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 and the Google Pixel Fold. The two phones are evenly matched for mobile photography — in our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Google Pixel Fold face-off, we thought Google’s phone handled zooming and low-light situations better. Yet, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 won the day with brighter, vibrant images.

Credit the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset and its photo-processing powers because Samsung made no hardware changes to the cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4. You still get a 50MP main shooter coupled with 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto lenses. The unique folding design lets you use those rear cameras for self portraits too — something we’d recommend over the disappointing 4MP under-display camera.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 silicon also helps the Galaxy Z Fold 5 post the best battery life of any foldable, so you won’t have to worry about running out of power as the perfect shot comes along.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review.

The best Apple camera phone for most people

iPhone 14

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The iPhone for everyone also has awesome cameras

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2532 x 1170)

CPU: A15 Bionic

RAM: 6GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No

Rear cameras: 12MP (f/1.5) main, 12MP (f/2.4) ultrawide

Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)

Weight: 6 ounces

Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:41

Reasons to buy

+

Impressive dual cameras

+

Incredible performance

+

Comprehensive 5G coverage

+

New Photonic Engine

Reasons to avoid

Slow charging

While it might lack the new 48MP sensor present on the Pro models, the iPhone 14 is still a great camera phone. It packs a faster aperture for better lighting, plus an upgraded ultrawide sensor. In short, the photos that the iPhone 14 puts out are a step above last year.

Details and dynamic range give the iPhone 14 a leg up over many of its similarly-priced competitors, such as the Galaxy S22. (Samsung’s phone has the advantage in zoom, however.) But for $799, the iPhone 14 offers a great camera experience.

Trying to decide if you should get the iPhone 14 or save $100 by opting for the iPhone 13 and its reduced price? Our iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 13 camera shootout shows the changes Apple made to its cameras in the course of a year produce different images.

Read our full iPhone 14 review.

The most affordable Galaxy flagship cameras

Samsung Galaxy S23 review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

An affordable flagship with a telephoto lens

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch Super AMOLED (2340 x 1080)

CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

RAM: 8GB

Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No

Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.8), 12MP (f/2.2), 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto

Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)

Weight: 5.9 ounces

Battery life: 10:27 (adaptive)

Reasons to buy

+

Telephoto lens

+

Improved coloring in photos

+

Better battery life than predecessor

Reasons to avoid

Less base storage than other S23 models

Disappointing front camera

The Galaxy S23 offers something you won’t find on a comparably priced iPhone — a telephoto lens. And thanks to its support for 3x optical and 30x digital, that camera lets you get up close for very detailed shots. In fact, the entire rear camera setup of the Galaxy S23 impresses. Like the other S23 phones, it boasts improved night photography and does a much better job of handling colors without over-saturation. The difference is that at $799, the Galaxy S23 is the least expensive of Samsung’s flagships.

We were less impressed with the new front camera, which produced some lackluster selfies when compared to what other top camera phones are capable of. At least, the Galaxy S23 features better battery life thanks to its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset. That helped the Galaxy S23 last 2.5 hours longer than the Galaxy S22 did on our battery test, giving you more time out in the world to shoot photos with this phone.

If you don’t mind paying up for a device with a bigger screen, the $999 Galaxy S23 Plus has the same camera setup as the standard S23 and produces equally impressive results.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 review.

How to pick the best camera phone

There are many factors to consider if camera quality factors heavily into your smartphone purchasing decision. A good way to start is by asking yourself what kinds of photos you see yourself taking. Not all multi-lens cameras are created equal — some have ultrawide lenses for stunning landscapes, others have telephotos for zoomed-in shallow-depth-of-field portraits, and others still have both. The newest flagships from the likes of Samsung and Huawei even have periscope-style lenses that can achieve up to 10x lossless zoom, rivaling the power of DSLRs.

Something else to consider: Megapixels don’t matter as much as aperture. Cameras with a wider aperture (lower ƒ-stop numbers translate to wider lenses) let in more light, which greatly helps produce better shots in the dark. The high-megapixel sensors found in the latest devices are nice, but it’s a common misconception that pixel count directly translates to better-looking photos. 

Do you need a portrait mode that allows for bokeh backgrounds? That’s where the subject of the photo is in sharp focus, while an artistic blur blankets the rest of the scene. Although it started as a feature exclusive to multi-camera phones, even cheaper phones like the single-lens iPhone SE 2022 can now capture bokeh-effect portraits. Some devices even let you adjust the strength of the blur before and after you take a shot.

Front camera specs are important, too. In a world where we’re taking more selfies than ever, you shouldn’t overlook a phone’s front camera. Many front cameras, like the ones on the iPhone 14 and Pixel 7, can actually perform the same portrait mode effects that rear cameras pull off. Some phones feature two front cameras, with the second lens pulling in more background details, though that feature has gone out of fashion recently.

Finally, don’t forget about video. Your cameras shoot more than just still images. Consider what resolution the camera captures video at along with the frame rate. A word to the wise, though: Be wary that ratcheting up the resolution will result in clips that take up much more space on your smartphone’s internal storage.

How we test camera phones

When we evaluate the best camera phones, we pick phones of comparable prices and capabilities and put them through a range of head-to-head comparisons. We pick common shooting situations — landscapes, indoor and outdoor shots, portraits and selfies in daylight and at night. We also test out each camera lens, including ultrawide angle and telephoto lenses if the phone features those. 

In addition to testing the rear lenses of each phone, we also test the front camera, snapping selfies in both standard and portrait mode. We then compare the results to similar camera phones.

Photos used in our comparisons are taken with the default settings on each camera. Even if a phone offers manual controls, we don’t test those, as we want to replicate the experience the typical smartphone user would have using the camera app on a device.

In each of our smartphone reviews, we also factor in any special features, such as dual lenses and what they enable, Portrait Modes, and other special modes, before we come to a conclusion.

Camera testing is the most relevant evaluation for picking the best camera phones, but our smartphone reviews include other testing, such as performance testing, battery testing and display testing. You can see the full results of those tests — outlined in our explanation of how Tom’s Guide tests and reviews smartphones — when we rate the best phones overall.

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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide. He’s been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He’s been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he’s been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

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