The best camera phone in 2023: what’s the best smartphone for photography?

The best camera phone in 2023: what’s the best smartphone for photography?
best camera phone - close-up of smartphone being used to photograph a night scene



(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best camera phones offer a tantalizing combination of the pinnacle of imaging technology with pin-sharp displays and lightning-fast internet connectivity. In fact, some handsets can deliver better photographs than the ‘proper’ camera you might otherwise be tempted to pick up.

As camera phone technology progresses, you might find it tricky to keep up to date on the latest handsets available. Our phone rumors hub will keep you up to date with the latest leaks and smartphone news. But to help you find the best camera phone for you right now, we’ve rounded up a selection of the latest models with a range of budgets in mind.

Camera phone technology can really boil down to one simple concept – pure and simple convenience. Not only will the best camera phones feature powerful imaging sensors (for example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an awesome 200MP sensor – higher than most of the best professional cameras), but they’ll also have incredible computational photography features that take a matter of milliseconds to process the images you capture and improve aspects such as sharpness, white balance and more. 

Do also read our guide to the Best cell phone providers in the US

While the best camera phones might not yet be able to beat the best DSLRs or mirrorless cameras for sheer image quality, the one area that camera phones beat out traditional cameras in is their size. Even the best compact cameras can still take up most of your pocket (if they even fit in!), but the best fold phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are incredibly compact. 

No matter whether you’re looking for a high-end camera phone that will help you capture great social media content, or you’re simply looking for an everyday handset that will capture beautiful family snaps, we’ve rounded up the best camera phones currently available below…

best camera phone: Our top picks

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best overall for Price and Performance
The Pixel 7 Pro is simply the best camera phone you can buy at its price, it’s that simple. It wipes the floor with the similarly priced iPhone 14 and beats the much pricier iPhone 14 Pro in a few key areas too. 

Samsung S23 Ultra

2. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Highest resolution camera
In our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, we concluded that this is one pretty phone. Samsung has doubled down on the clean minimal style this year, and it has really paid off, with a cool sophisticated style, that is also distinctly different from the other big manufacturers, with an impressive 200MP camera.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Best iPhone overall
The iPhone 14 Pro is a serious, pocketable powerhouse. Yes, it’s thick, but its relatively compact footprint and ample camera and power mix make it an enticing option, especially for photographers with its 48MP RAW photos.

The best camera phone in 2023

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A photo of the Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Best over all for Price and Performance

Specifications

Release date: February 2022

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

Front camera: 10.8MP (f/2.2)

OIS: Yes

Weight: 7.5 ounces (212g)

Dimensions: 6.4 x 3 x 0.3 inches (162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9 mm)

Storage: 28GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+

Impressively specced camera mix

+

Supports wireless charging

+

IP68 water resistant

Reasons to avoid

Much pricier than Pixel 7

Divisive designed camera bump

Slower charging than competition

The Pixel 7 Pro is simply the best camera phone you can buy at its price, it’s that simple. It wipes the floor with the similarly priced iPhone 14 and beats the much pricier iPhone 14 Pro in a few key areas too. 

While the 7 Pro’s RAW capture isn’t particularly impressive, and some traditionalists might not like how Google processes photos, the camera mix is still mind-bogglingly good as far as point-and-shoot photography goes.

With a sleek design, a mighty screen, and excellent future-proofing by way of continued software support, you do get a lot for your money here. So even though the phone had a couple of small hiccups in our time with it – specifically when it came to connectivity, as a package, you’ll be hard-pressed to get a better value flagship phone than the Pixel 7 Pro.

Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review for more details

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra - one of the best camera phones

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

Highest resolution camera

Specifications

Rear cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom)

Front camera: 12MP

Dimensions: 78.1 X 163.4 X 8.9mm

Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+

200MP camera sensor

+

50MP RAW capture app

+

Latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for Galaxy

+

Beautiful large screen with S Pen

Reasons to avoid

Too much emphasis on the wider Galaxy ecosystem

One UI still feels like rehashing work Google has already done

In our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, we concluded that this is one pretty phone. Samsung has doubled down on the clean minimal style this year, and it has really paid off, with a cool sophisticated style, that is also distinctly different from the other big manufacturers. 

The screen is big, bright, and colorful with a near-bezeless curved screen, that is a joy to behold. On the rear of the phone, the camera cutout has been replaced by each lens sitting alone nearly flush with the device. The S Pen continues to be tucked in the bottom of the phone ready for note-taking at a moment’s notice. 

Meanwhile, this Android phone does have power! With the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, you can expect to fly through daily tasks, mobile gaming, and content creation.  When it comes to photography, Samsung is not playing around. With a new 200MP camera sensor, which can now capture 50MP RAW photos, and new AI processing algorithms specializing in new nighttime and astrophotography, this phone packs some serious chops when it comes to photography.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for more details

A photo of the iPhone 14 Pro - one of the best camera phones

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Best overall for Apple

Specifications

Release date: September 2022

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)

OIS: Yes

Weight: 207g

Dimensions: 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.9 mm

Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent camera performance

+

RAW photos are loaded with detail

+

Premium IP68 design

+

Powerful internals

Reasons to avoid

No SIM slot for US customers

Telephoto camera isn’t class-leading

Very expensive

The iPhone 14 Pro is a serious, pocketable powerhouse. Yes, it’s thick, but its relatively compact footprint and ample camera and power mix make it an enticing option, especially for photographers.

While it’s a shame there’s no pro mode for manual photography, the 14 Pro’s 48MP RAW photos capture excellent results. The automatic mode’s photo processing is also one of the best if not the best, we’ve seen on a phone. Additionally, while the lack of a periscope zoom is a bugbear when using the Pro, on smaller phones, there’s less of an expectation for a far-reaching zoom.

So while the new iPhone 14 Pro is expensive, it’s a mighty phone with a brilliant camera, that’s powerful and lasts a full day. If you’re an Apple fan who likes more compact phones, the iPhone 14 is a no-brainer. But if you consider yourself a power user who needs a superior battery and the very best watching experience, then you should think about picking up the 14 Pro Max.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review for more details

A photo of the Google Pixel 7

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Best safe bet for camera quality

Specifications

Release date: February 2022

Rear cameras: 50MP f/1.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide

Front camera: 10.8MP(f/2.2)

OIS: Yes

Weight: 6.9 ounces / 195g

Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches

Storage: 128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+

Great main camera

+

Supports wireless charging

+

More premium design than Pixel 6

+

IP68 water resistant

Reasons to avoid

Battery life can be inconsistent

Ultra-wide lacks autofocus

No telephoto camera

No manual photo mode

The Google Pixel 7 is a very safe bet for photographers who want a balanced phone. Yes, you have to sacrifice a little manual control – no pro mode or access to 50MP RAW photos isn’t ideal. But for a point-and-shoot mobile, nothing in the Pixel’s price range can best it.

Google’s photo processing is tasteful and still ekes out loads of shadow detail, the large sensor does great things with close-up photos, blurring out the background naturally, and lowlight scenes, brightening things up reliably. The phone won’t be for photography purists, but it will likely check everyone else’s boxes from a camera point of view.

As for the rest of the phone – sure, more consistent battery performance would have been ideal in our week with the phone. The inclusion of wireless charging and IP68 water resistance is both a boon at the price, though, and after our third day with the phone, it always kept us alive from morning to night.

Read our full Google Pixel 7 review for more details

George Cairns iPhone 14 review

(Image credit: George Cairns)

Best for the everyday shooter

Specifications

Release date: September 2022

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

Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)

OIS: Yes

Weight: 6.07 ounces / 172g

Dimensions: 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.31 inches

Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Reasons to buy

+

More affordable than the Pro versions

+

Action mode for smooth handheld clips

+

Effective Portrait mode blur

Reasons to avoid

No Macro mode

No option to shoot in RAW

No Sim tray in the US

From a photography point of view, the iPhone 14 is a great piece of kit, especially if you just want to point, shoot and share great-looking shots via social media without doing much post-processing.

However, the more serious photographer will miss the ability to shoot in RAW (.dng) format so that they can enjoy fine-tuning the look of their images in a digital darkroom such as Adobe Camera Raw. 

Images on the iPhone 14’s Super Retina XDR display look great, but you may need to view them on a larger display if you want to discover and remove noise artifacts or retouch a portrait more effectively. In this instance, you might consider paying an extra £100 for the iPhone 14 Plus, which has the same camera specs but boasts a larger 6.7” display (and it provides an extra 6 hours of video playback). The iPhone 14 should be more attractive to those who want to upgrade from an iPhone 12 or older as they will notice a bigger difference in performance and features than those upgrading from an iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14’s new Action mode produces amazingly smooth handheld footage which alleviates the need to stabilize it in a non-linear editing app, but serious filmmakers may also want the option to shoot in HDR Dolby Vision, which will lead them in the direction of the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max.  The iPhone 14’s lack of a Telephoto camera and Macro mode will also cause many photographers to cough up the extra cash for a Pro model iPhone.

Read our full iPhone 14 review for more details

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 foldable smartphone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

6. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

The best foldable phone

Specifications

Release date: July 2023

Rear cameras: 50 MP (wide), (telephoto 3x), 12 MP (ultrawide)

Front camera: 10MP, 4MP

OIS: Yes

Weight: 253 g

Dimensions: Unfolded: 154.9 x 129.9 x 6.1 mm Folded: 154.9 x 67.1 x 13.4 mm

Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Powerful and feature-rich

+

Expert RAW compatible

+

S pen support

+

Water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

S Pen not included

Screen clings onto fingerprints

Samsung’s raised its prices for 2023 compared to the previous Fold 4 and matched the Pixel Fold’s asking price directly. But Galaxy Z Fold 4 owners who dropped the best part of $2000 on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Fold 4 shouldn’t look at the Z Fold 5 and feel like they’re missing any killer features, but that doesn’t stop the new phone from being a powerhouse.

Samsung has not really overhauled its Z Fold line with its latest release. But while the Z Fold 5 is very similar to the Z Fold 4, it’s still one of the most fully-featured folding phones out there, with its S Pen support and foldable-optimized interface helping it shine, while it carries forward the competent camera system of its predecessor. If you are already invested in the Samsung ecosystem then this phone also fits perfectly in with your other Samsung devices.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands-on review for more details.

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 foldable smartphone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

7. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The best flip phone

Specifications

Release date: July 2023

Rear cameras: 12 MP (wide), 12 MP (ultrawide)

Front camera: 10MP

OIS: Yes

Weight: 187 g

Dimensions: Unfolded: 165.1 x 71.9 x 6.9 mm Folded: 85.1 x 71.9 x 15.1 mm

Storage: 256GB/512GB

Reasons to buy

+

Larger cover screen

+

Better cameras

+

Improved hinge

Reasons to avoid

Side notch on cover screen

Samsung’s strange side-notch on the Z Flip 5 might not look as good as Motorola’s RAZR 40 Ultra cover screen, but if it makes room for better camera hardware, we’re here for it. The fact the Z Flip 5 upgrades the cover-screen functionality to run third-party apps, levels up the line’s power, and zaps the hinge gap of old Samsung clamshells all means this is the most exciting Z Flip since the first debuted in 2021.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands-on review for more details.

A photo of the Google Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The best cameras on a foldable phone

Specifications

Release date: June 2023

Rear cameras: 48 MP (wide), 10.8MP (telephoto 3x), 10.8 MP (ultrawide)

Front camera: 8MP (internal), 9.5MP (cover)

OIS: Yes

Weight: 283 g

Dimensions: Unfolded: 158.7 x 139.7 x 5.8 mm Folded: 139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1 mm

Storage: 256GB/512GB

Reasons to buy

+

Comfortable cover screen size

+

Relatively strong camera system

+

Smooth performance and clean interface

+

IPX8 water resistant

Reasons to avoid

Runs hot with demanding tasks

Doesn’t unfold completely flat

No native manual camera support

It’s very expensive

On the one hand, the Pixel Fold is a very first-gen device. It doesn’t unfold completely flat, and there are plenty of mainstream Android apps that don’t look great on it – or any unfolded folding phone (or Android tablet, for that matter).

But in the Pixel Fold’s favor, it’s an IPX8-rated foldable with a very sturdy hinge – so durability is where it needs to be, at least on paper. Its cameras also benefit from the Pixel treatment, so while its hardware isn’t best-in-class, its photos are consistently balanced. Most noteworthy, the Pixel Fold’s periscope camera is a welcome win over its main competition, the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and its shooting modes are very user-friendly.

Read our full Google Pixel Fold review for more details.

Best camera phone: Sony Xperia 1 III

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

Best on the market for cinematographers

Specifications

Release date: August 2021

Rear camera: 12MP (24mm f/1.7) + 12MP (70mm f/2.3, 105mm f/2.8) + 12MP (16mm f/2.2)

Front camera: 8MP (f/2)

Rear camera aperture: f/1.7 + f/2.3 + f/2.8 + f/2.2

Dimensions: 165 x 71 x 8.2 mm

Storage: 128GB/256GB

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent pro video features

+

Stunning screen

+

Plenty of power and storage

Reasons to avoid

Screen could be brighter

Expensive

Weaker zoom than competition

The Sony Xperia 1 III is the only choice for video pros and cinema buffs who want to get manual with their smartphone videography. It’s able to shoot footage at up to 21:9 for cinema-style capture, offers full manual control, and features a beautiful flat color profile, perfect for post-processing in Premiere Pro or

Da Vinci Resolve

.

Thankfully, almost everything else about this phone is excellent too, with a striking 21:9, 4K HDR screen, a clean UI, and a snappy chipset ensuring plenty of power under the hood. Sony photography fans will also appreciate all the Alpha elements that have made their way into the Xperia camera UI. 

If want the ultimate cinema experience, both from a content creation and consumption point of view, the Xperia 1 III is it.

Read our full Sony Xperia 1 III review for more details 

A photo of the OnePlus 11 smartphone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Great underdog for photo processing power

Specifications

Release date: Feb 2023

Rear camera: Main camera 50MP, telephoto 32MP, ultra-wide 48MP (f/2.2)

Front camera: 16MP

OIS: Yes

Weight: 205g

Dimensions: 163 x 73.9 x 8.6mm

Storage: 128/256/512GB

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent photo processing

+

Latest Qualcomm power

+

Brilliant screen quality

+

Fast charging and great battery

Reasons to avoid

No wireless charging

Poor telephoto reach

Fingerprint magnet (green version)

If we could use one word to describe the OnePlus 11 5G, it would be “balanced”. The phone balances a very fair price with a rich feature set and a powerful camera system, and importantly – doesn’t pull up any real red flags. 

By going back to its roots, OnePlus has created a phone that doesn’t need to compete on every single feature. It costs less than the incredibly expensive iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, so its zoom range can afford to be pared back, and the lack of wireless charging isn’t a deal-breaker.

In the core areas, you need your smartphone to be great – design, screen, primary camera, performance, and battery life – OnePlus absolutely nails it. While in the past, therefore, we weren’t sold on OnePlus being absorbed into Oppo, if this phone’s anything to go by, the future is once again bright for this once plucky upstart.

Read our full OnePlus 11 Pro 5G review for more details

best camera phone - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Flagship quality at a lower price

Specifications

Release date: February 2022

Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide

Front camera: 40MP

OIS: Yes

Weight: 228 g

Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm

Storage: 128GB/256GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Superior rear cameras

+

Sophisticated digital zoom

+

40MP selfie camera

+

Stylus control

Reasons to avoid

A little pricey

No microSD card slot

While not the latest Galaxy Ultra model, last year’s flagship’s four-camera system is still top-notch, featuring wide, ultra-wide, telephoto, and super-zoom sensors. The first of these boasts a 108MP sensor, with an f/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel AF, and an 85-degree field of view. The 12MP ultra-wide camera features an f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view. There’s also one 10MP telephoto with an equivalent three times zoom (f/2.4) and another 10MP telephoto with a 10 times zoom (f/4.9). And that’s not to mention the selfie camera, with its 40MP resolution, f/2.2 aperture, and 8K video capture at 24fps. 

More broadly, this is a large, stylish, and powerful smartphone. Its 6.8-inch AMOLED screen is to die for, with smooth motion, vivid colors, impressive brightness, and 500 pixels per inch resolution.

The S Pen stylus is brilliant and gives you the kind of productivity you previously only got with a Galaxy Note. There’s a powerful 5,000 mAh battery to keep it going for hours, and the design and look of the phone are simple but, to our eyes, very stylish. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review for more details

best camera phone - iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Best-last gen Apple device for photography

Specifications

Release date: September 2021

Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5, 12MP f/1.8 ultrawide, 12MP f/2.8 telephoto

Front camera: 12MP

OIS: Yes

Weight: 204g

Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm

Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Extensively upgraded cameras

+

120Hz screen refresh rate

Reasons to avoid

Still ‘only’ 3x optical zoom

The latest iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are now the best iPhones for photographers, but the previous iPhone 13 is still a force to be reckoned with. Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro got a useful new macro mode, along with an improvement to low light shooting with the ultra-wide camera, plus a clever Cinematic video mode that’s nice to have if you’re a budding movie-maker.

As for camera hardware, Apple went with a triple-lens setup for the iPhone 13 Pro, giving us a standard, ultra-wide and telephoto lens. We have the same focal lengths as the iPhone 12 Pro for the 26mm (equivalent) standard lens and 13mm (0.5x) ultra-wide optic, but the telephoto lens has been extended to a 3x (78mm) offering, compared with the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x lens.

Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro still produces fantastic image and video quality, and now it’s a previous-generation handset, and there are discounted deals to be had.

Read our full iPhone 13 Pro review for more details

best camera phone - Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Last-gen performance at half the price

Specifications

Release date: October 2021

Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm f/1.8 Ultra Wide, 12MP 26mm f/1.5 Wide, 12MP 77mm f/2.8 telephoto

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth

OIS: Yes

Weight: 240g

Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm

Storage: 128 / 256 / 512GB / 1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Automatic macro mode

+

Superb Cinematic mode

+

77mm telephoto lens

+

RAW capture

Reasons to avoid

Could be too big for some

Outclassed by iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is now a generation old, but you’d barely know it. Compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, it shares the same cameras and tech but boasts a bigger screen (6.7 inches versus 6.1 inches). 

The Pro Max also has a slightly longer battery life of up to 28 hours of video playback versus up to 22 hours on the smaller ’13 Pro. It might be tempting to pick the Pro Max over the regular Pro model just to get ‘the best of everything’. 

The regular Pro costs enough, so why not take that last step and get the bigger screen? Well, some may simply find it too big to be comfortable to use every day. There’s no doubt the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a truly stunning camera phone, whether you shoot stills or video, and now it’s a last-gen handset, you can find some tempting deals.

Read our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review for more details


What’s the best camera phone?

If you’re looking for the best camera phone that offers the best price and performance on the market there is no arguing with the Google Pixel 7 Pro, but we understand not everyone is a fan of Android, so if love Apple devices, I’d recommend the Apple iPhone 14 Pro.

Which is better, Apple or Android?

Well, this is a question that has and will be debated seemingly forever. The truth is, they are both fantastic operating systems, that provide nearly all of the exact same functionality, just in slightly different ways, and both have all the major apps you are likely to use. There is no better OS, the one to pick is just the one that you enjoy using more on a day-to-day basis.

How we test camera phones

As a photography website, we pay special attention to the photo and video quality of camera phones. We rate resolution, noise and color rendition in the context of what rival cameras can do, and where there are any special features, such as ‘night modes’ or ‘portrait modes’, we check that these perform as the makers describe.

Camera phones are all-round digital assistants too, of course, so we also check general handling, usability, and practicality – such as battery life.

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Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.

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