Best Camera Phone 2018: Which phone takes the best pictures?

Want to know which Android or iOS device has the best camera? Well our roundup of the best camera phones should help you to make the right choice. Whether it’s the Pixel 2 from Google or the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, we’ve tested them all in a variety of conditions.

“How good is the camera?” is likely to be one of the most important questions you’ll ask yourself before you take the plunge and buy a new smartphone. And with good reason: you don’t want to be stuck with a duff snapper for 24 months.

Related: iPhone 9

Putting a smartphone’s camera through its paces is a significant part of the review process here at Trusted Reviews, and each model listed below is top-class not only for takin photos, but for video-recording too.

But what makes a good phone camera? Well, it certainly isn’t megapixel count – in fact, the majority of the devices in this list don’t feature more than 12 megapixels. More important are a wide aperture, around f/1.7 or f/1.8, and optical image stabilisation (OIS). Other aspects such as a secondary lens for portrait photos and an impressive selfie camera will be more or less important depending on your requirements.

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To see full picture galleries from all the phones below, click through to the full review. 

 

Score:

Camera features

  • 12-megapixel camera
  • f/1.8 aperture
  • OIS
  • 4K 30fps, 1080p 60fps video recording
  • 8-megapixel selfie camera
  • AR stickers

Our current favourite smartphone camera sits on both the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. This 12-megapixel f/1.8 camera doesn’t do anything radically different in terms of specs, but Google manages to use its fantastic AI and machine-learning to capture some terrific images.

A seemingly odd omission is the secondary sensor, a feature boasted by most of the other phones here, but in reality you’re unlikely to notice its absence. The Pixel 2 continues to offer the portrait modes found on the iPhone X and Note 8, and in some situations the results are actually better.

There’s also a portrait mode for selfies, and this is much better at cutting out hair and other intricate details when compared to the iPhone.

However, where the Pixel 2 really shines is in its handling of dynamic range. The range between the lightest and darkest point is exceptional, giving you shots with real depth. Low-light shots are excellent too – although on occasion we’ve found it brings a bit too much light into the darkest settings, giving images an unnatural look. This is rare, though, with most shots taken in all manner of conditions looking great.

Also included is optical image stabilisation – and excellent electronic image stabilisation, too, which makes for super-smooth video recording.

Also try: Google Pixel

Read the full Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL review

iPhone X

2 of 5

Score:

Camera features

  • 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture and OIS
  • 12-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.4 and OIS
  • 4K 60/30fps, 1080p 240/120/60/30/24fps video recording
  • AR support
  • 7-megapixel selfie camera

Apple’s iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone yet, but it’s also the one with the best camera.

While the primary 12-megapixel camera with an f/1.8 aperture and OIS is the same as you’ll find on the 8 and 8 Plus, the secondary telephoto sensor has been improved with a wider f/2.4 aperture and OIS. This results in better portrait shots – even in low-light – than you’d achieve with the iPhone 8 Plus.

In light of our tests, we’d put the iPhone X slightly below the Google Pixel 2 for image quality, and slightly above the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Pictures are reliably excellent with plenty of detail, bright colours and great dynamic range. The wide aperture lets in a good deal of light for shots once the sun goes down and the portrait mode is superb. At least it is on the rear-camera; the selfie portrait mode needs some work and is a little bit hit-or-miss at the moment.

The iPhone 7 camera tended to overexpose shots, and while the issue is certainly better here, you’ll find glare commonplace when shooting in super-bright conditions. The auto-HDR features will often compensate for this, but we didn’t find it quite as reliable as the Pixel 2.

Apple’s camera app is predictably minimal, with no manual control or deep settings to speak of. This will no doubt irk some, but there are plenty of decent options in the App Store if you feel the need to tweak ISO or shoot in Raw.

Video recording is where the iPhone X shines brightest, although the microphone is arguably the weakest part. Having the flexibility to shoot 4K at 60fps (the only phone on test able to do so) is great if you don’t want to sacrifice smoothness for detail, and being able to shoot 1080p slo-mo at a whopping 240fps is incredibly impressive for a phone.

Also try: iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone 7 Plus

Read the full iPhone X review

Score:

Camera features

  • 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with f/1.7 aperture and OIS
  • 12-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.4 and OIS
  • 4K 30fps, 1080p 60/30fps video recording
  • 8-megapixel selfie camera

For much of 2017, the Galaxy S8 possessed the best optics on any handset. But phones improve at a rapid rate and the changes Samsung added to the Note 8 instantly took it above its sibling.

The big addition here was the secondary telephoto sensor and the new portrait mode, both of which helped it to match the plus-sized iPhones for specs.

The Note 8, like the rest of Samsung’s flagships, takes very bright, colour-rich photographs. In particular, reds and greens are saturated far more than the competition – which will either be a plus or not, depending on your preference. Photos look excellent on Instagram, but slightly unnatural when printed out. Low-light shots are pleasant – although not to the level of the Pixel 2 or Mate 10 Pro thanks to some extra noise around detailed spots.

Video recording is great and the microphones impress here, making this a good pick if you’re a keen vlogger – a demographic that Samsung has specifically been targeting with the Note 8.

Also try: Samsung Galaxy S8 or Samsung Galaxy S9 (expected soon)

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

Score:

Camera features

  • 12-megapixel f/.1.6 primary camera and 20-megapixel monochrome secondary sensor, Leica optics
  • 4K 30fps, 1080p 60/30fps video recording
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera

The surprise hit of 2017 was easily the Huawei Mate 10 Pro: the best phone we’ve ever used from the Chinese brand – and one of the best phones of the year. Not only was it a demonstration that Huawei could craft a phone that was as appealing to the eye as a device from Samsung or Apple, but it had a camera that could compete with those models too.

Huawei has been pushing its Leica partnership for a number of years, but it wasn’t really until the Mate 10 Pro that we felt it worthy. The f/1.6 lens here captures some of the best low-light photos of the group, and the monochrome sensor offers up variety to your shots. While we wouldn’t suggest you buy this device for the monochrome sensor alone, it’s certainly a nice extra.

Other features include a bokeh-enhancing portrait mode – this isn’t as good as the Pixel 2 or iPhone X, though, with a slightly fake look – along with a heap of filters and other options. The manual mode is deep and the Ai-infused Kirin 960 CPU can automatically identify what you’re shooting.

The 8-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera is fine, and video (recorded either at 4K 30fps/1080p 60/30fps) looks good. However, it’s the Mate 10 Pro’s photography prowess that helps it stand out.

Also try: Huawei Mate 10

Read the full Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

HTC U11+

5 of 5

Score:

Camera features

  • 12-megapixel camera with f/1.7 aperture and OIS
  • 4K 30fps, 1080p 60/30fps video recording
  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera

The HTC U11 Plus was a good phone that simply hit the market too late. A minor update to the U11, the Plus version extended the display and included a bigger battery – but didn’t do much else.

However, what we do love about the U11 series is the camera. The 12-megapixel f.1.7 optically stabilised sensor on the rear of the device takes  true-to-life snaps, with great dynamic range and exceptional detail. Images aren’t as saturated as the Note 8, but if you appreciate realistic colours then you won’t go wrong here.

You do miss out on the portrait modes, but that’s probably something we can live with.

The 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera is one of the better ones on test, since it doesn’t give your face that smoothed-out look often seen with images taken with other handsets.

Also try: HTC U11

Read the full HTC U11+ review