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Best camera phones 2022: The top picks we’ve tested and reviewed

Trusted Reviews rates and ranks the top smartphones to give our definitive verdict on which phone has the best camera for you.

If you consider the camera to be the most important spec when choosing a new phone, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested a wide range of camera phones to determine which ones are the best for photography and which you should avoid altogether. 

While we’d still recommend any serious photographer or videographer invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera, it’s hard to argue that smartphone cameras haven’t made leaps over the years. 

In fact, for most people looking to capture their memories on camera, the sensors on a good smartphone will produce decent quality images with the added convenience of letting you share them on social media with just a tap. 

You don’t even need to splash out on an expensive flagship like the Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max to get a great camera phone. In the same way, buying a high-end handset won’t guarantee you a great camera – the Nothing Phone (1) and the OnePlus 10T are good examples of phones that offer admirable performance but fail to match the camera performance of their rivals.

When we review a smartphone, we look at the design, screen, specs, battery and, of course, the camera. This involves using the device as their main phone for a week and putting it through a range of lab and real-world tests, including snapping photos in low light, portrait mode and testing the video quality.

Keep reading to find all the best camera phones available right or head to our other mobile best guides to discover the best phones, best Androids phones and best iPhones available right now.

Best camera phones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test mobile phones

We review a smartphone’s camera based on our experience with it, not a manufacturer’s claims or boasts. We shoot sample images and video in varying conditions to properly test its skills and we include sample images in our review wherever possible. 

If a smartphone has a specific camera setting – a night mode, for example – we’ll test it thoroughly, while always comparing it to what else is on the market.

iPhone 14 Pro

The best for video
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Pros

  • Great screen that gets very bright outdoors
  • Versatile camera system for both photography and videography
  • Always-on display and Dynamic Island are both neat tricks
  • Additional safety features are always welcome

Cons

  • Not the quickest to charge
  • Zoom photography isn’t on the level of the competition
  • Only really a day of battery life

We think the iPhone 14 Pro is the best all-round camera phone. It’s reliable in all conditions, captures the best video out of any other phone on this list, and boasts three distinct cameras for versatility, with each capturing different focal lengths.

However, it’s not actually the best camera phone across every specific area. We much prefer the zoom skills on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, for one thing, as it captures a much clearer overall image when you zoom in to a subject. But that said, when taken as a whole, the iPhone 14 Pro comes out top.

In terms of the overall spec of the camera hardware, the iPhone 14 Pro makes some drastic changes to the formula we’ve been familiar with for a number of years. It’s the first iPhone to move on from the 12-megapixel sensor, switch to a 48MP version for its main wide camera. This works in a similar way to the S22 Ultra and others, binning down images to 12MP but utilising the larger amount pixels. You can shoot 48MP shots if you want, but this is a separate mode.

When compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Oppo Find X5 Pro, the shots from the iPhone are a little more realistic and skins tones feel more natural. There is some minor oversharpening on the iPhone, though for the most part the image processing churns out reliable images.

There’s a dedicated Night Mode for shooting in darker surroundings, and the effects are great, with plenty of detail retained and dark spots kept mostly free of noise. That said, it would still be nice to be able to turn the Night Mode on and off as you please, since with this phone it just bursts into life automatically when the camera can’t pick up enough light. Night Mode is much quicker this year and the 14 Pro is capable of some of the best night shots around.

The excellent results continue when we look at video capture. While it still doesn’t shoot video in the same 8K resolution as the S22 Ultra, the 4K capture we recorded was well stabilised without looking fake, and packed the same great colour reproduction as the photos. The Cinematic Mode now supports 4K, and there’s a new Action Mode that ups the stabilisation.

On top of the camera itself, you’ll also be treated to good battery life, so you won’t run out of juice on a busy shooting day, and a gorgeous display to view the images back on.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: iPhone 14 Pro review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Best for zooming
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Pros

  • Stunning display with fantastic detail and brightness
  • Versatile camera system with impressive zoom
  • Good low-light camera performance
  • Fast charging
  • Promise of many years of updates

Cons

  • Battery life should be better
  • Design a step backward
  • You need to buy the fast charger separately

We were impressed with all the cameras present on Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra flagship, however it was the phone’s zooming skills that really set it apart most from its rivals. None of the other phones on this list can zoom 10x while keeping as much detail, with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Oppo Find X5 Pro churning out much blurrier results in our comparison tests.

The other cameras capture pleasing images too, whether you’re shooting with the 108-megapixel main camera with its f/1.8 lens or the 12-megapixel ultrawide. We found that colours are more vibrant and saturated than the iPhone 13 Pro or the Pixel 6 Pro, giving everything an amped-up look, and it’s particularly noticeable when you’re shooting plants or bright skies. While it might be a bonus for some who like the look, we generally preferred our images to be a little more true-to-life.

The camera app is packed with modes to choose from and low-light performance is a big upgrade over the S21 Ultra we reviewed last year; dark scenes are clearer, and noise has been noticeably reduced. 8K video remains a niche feature we doubt many will really want to use, but it’s there just in case you have an 8K TV and want to show it off.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best for stills
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Pros

  • Excellent camera and loads of clever camera tricks
  • The best version of Android on the market
  • Priced well for the European market

Cons

  • Charging could, and should, be faster
  • Very glossy finish and some odd design elements
  • Not a huge upgrade on the Pixel 6 Pro

If you’re purely wanting a phone camera for stills photography we think the Pixel 7 Pro is the one to go for, just like the Pixel 6 Pro before it.

While it disappoints a bit with video capture and lacks some of the versatility of the iPhone 14 Pro or the S22 Ultra, the beautiful images it captures are rich in detail and vibrancy and are the most pleasing of all the phones on this list. The way it utilises HDR to level out contrast and exposure is fantastic, ensuring photos taken on sunny days really “pop”. We’ve taken hundreds of snaps on the Pixel 7 Pro and very rarely get a dud.

Google’s Night Mode remains strong – though not the quickest to capture – and does a great job at producing bright and detailed images in low light.

The zoom skills of this phone are better than the Oppo Find X5 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro, but can’t compare to the S22 Ultra. Google’s software can only get you so far, and the better zoom hardware on the Samsung just produces clearer images. It’s a similar story too for the ultrawide, which produces adequate images that sit somewhere in the middle in terms of quality.

The Pixel 7 Pro also impressed our reviewer with its numerous camera tricks. Magic Eraser is even better with the Tensor G2 chip, easily removing photobombers from photos.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full review: Pixel 7 Pro review

Oppo Find X5 Pro

Best ultrawide
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Pros

  • Great screen
  • Strong main and ultrawide cameras
  • Charges very quickly

Cons

  • The shiny back is a miss
  • Poor camera zoom
  • Software needs more polish

Oppo has consistently impressed us with its phones in recent years, with the firm’s ever-improving cameras being one of the biggest reasons why. The Find X5 Pro disappoints with its zoom performance, but it boasts the strongest ultrawide camera we have tested.

While other phones on this list use inferior sensors for their ultrawides, the Find X5 Pro uses the same hardware for both the wide and ultrawide camera, giving you far superior results. Not only are pictures more detailed with better colours, but they lack the distorted edges and strong fish-eye effect we found on the S22 Ultra’s ultrawide camera.

This is the first Oppo phone to use the brand’s own MariSilicon X NPU and it helps the phone have greater control over the image quality. When compared to the outgoing Find X3 Pro – which has very much the same camera hardware – the images here are more detailed, with nicer colour reproduction. Low-light performance has greatly improved too.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: Oppo Find X5 Pro review

Google Pixel 6a

The best value camera phone
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Pros

  • Lovely small form-factor
  • Reliable camera for the price
  • Google’s excellent software

Cons

  • 60Hz display feels slow compared to the rivals
  • Slow to fully charge

Google’s Pixel line has consistently impressed us with its camera performance since we reviewed the first generation Pixel all the way back in 2016. Despite changes in hardware this has largely been fueled by the line’s advanced processing, which uses Google’s AI and machine learning to create best in class imaging quality year-on-year, based on our testing.

The Pixel 6a continues this legacy, but brings the brand’s camera quality to an atypically low price point. The phone features the same rear camera setup as the regular Pixel 6. It’s also powered by the same Google-made Tensor chip, which lets it offer a few Pixel-specific features you can’t get elsewhere. The most useful we’ve found is Magic Eraser, which lets you use the 6a’s AI smarts to remove unwanted photobombers and elements from your photo in the main camera app.

This plus the 6a’s small hand friendly design and fantastic image processing powers let it deliver unparalleled image quality that blew every other phone we’ve tested out of the water when it came to camera performance when we reviewed it.

Low light photos hold better contrast and remain noise free. Regular photos look realistic, featuring neutral, accurate colours and remain blissfully free of the rookie mistakes we experience on other phones at this price, like oversharpening. This earns it a place in this list as our recommended camera phone for buyers looking for the best value option.

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: Pixel 6a review

Realme 9 Pro Plus

Best cheap camera phone
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Pros

  • Excellent main camera for the money
  • Solid performance
  • Fast 60W charging

Cons

  • Drab design in two of three colours
  • Realme UI isn’t a slick Android skin

Our pick for the best cheap phone is the Realme 9 Pro Plus, which costs less than £350 yet delivers excellent photographic results.

This model is a significant upgrade over the Realme 8 Pro as it includes the same excellent 50-megapixel main sensor that you’ll find on the Oppo Find X5 Pro. Shots are remarkably clear and crisp in daylight, and while night shots can seem over-brightened they do still retain an impressive level of clarity that separates it from all other handsets at this price point.

Admittedly the remaining sensors on the handset, namely an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 2-megapixel macro sensor, are just bog standard and not anything special. But just getting your hands on a flagship-level sensor at this price is the bargain that makes this phone worth your consideration.

We reckon that you simply won’t get a better main camera performance for this price.

Reviewer: Jon Mundy

Full review: Realme 9 Pro Plus

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FAQs

What is an optical zoom?

Optical zoom is a camera phone feature that allows you to take images of your subject from afar without allowing the quality to suffer as you might see with digital zoom.

What is a telephoto camera?

Having a telephoto lens on your phone lets you to get very close to your subject without reducing the quality of your image.

What is OIS?

OIS – or optical image stablisation – uses a gyroscope to compensate for shake, keeping your videos stable and your images crisp even in low light.

Specs Comparison

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours
Stated Power

Trusted Reviews test data

Yiu can see all the test data for the smartphones in this list in the below chart.

Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
Max brightness
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (intensive)
30 minute gaming (light)
1 hour music streaming (online)
1 hour music streaming (offline)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
3D Mark – Wild Life
3D Mark – Wild Life Stress Test
3D Mark – Sling Shot Extreme

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