Finest digicam telephone 2021: Take the perfect images and movies

One space that differentiates smartphones at present is digicam know-how. The cameras on telephones are optimized for images, movies, telephoto topics, ultra-wide landscapes, selfies, and extra. It is not simply {hardware} both, as some with fundamental {hardware} have superior software program algorithms and AI to offer optimum imaging experiences.

Digicam functionality is carefully associated to the value of a telephone in most situations. Nevertheless, we additionally see inexpensive and mid-range telephones with cameras able to capturing good high quality photographs and movies, particularly since most individuals solely share captured content material on social media platforms and by way of digital messaging.

Best phone for video

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Show: 6.7-inch OLED (2,778 x 1,284-pixel decision) at 458 ppi | CPU: Apple A15 Bionic chip | RAM: TBD| Inside Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Rear cameras: 12MP huge, 12MP ultra-wide (120-degree subject of view), 12MP telephoto (6x optical zoom) | Entrance digicam: 12MP | Weight: 240g | Mud/water resistance: IP68

Apple’s greatest and most feature-rich iPhone is a mouthful, the iPhone 13 Professional Max. Apple listened to clients and whereas the telephone appears to be like nearly the identical as final yr’s 12 Professional Max it’s a tad thicker with a bigger capability battery and longer battery life.

The show now helps a refresh fee as much as 120 Hz whereas optical zoom on the telephoto digicam is improved to 6x. Macro pictures and cinematic video modes are new options within the digicam system which are certain to please photographers and videographers alike.

Apple continues to actively enhance iOS 15 whereas additionally providing 1TB of inside storage so you possibly can seize content material to your coronary heart’s delight.


  •    Beautiful show 
  •    Flawless efficiency
  •    Lengthy battery life
  •    Excellent cameras


  •    Costly
  •    Large and heavy

Best foldable camera phone



Essential show: 7.6 inches (2,208 x 1,768-pixel decision) Dynamic 120Hz AMOLED | Cowl display: 6.2 inches (720 x 1680-pixel decision) AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 12GB LPDDR5 | Inside Storage: 256GB/512GB, UFS 3.1 | Rear cameras: 12MP rear f/2.4 telephoto, 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide cameras (123-degree field-of-view) | Entrance cameras: 4MP below show sensor on the primary show and 10MP digicam on the quilt show | Weight: 271g

The 2020 Galaxy Z Fold 2 set the bar for foldable gadgets that additionally function mini tablets. At first look, the Z Fold 3 might look like only a minor replace to the Z Fold 2, however at a beginning worth $200 much less Samsung offers S Pen help and IPX8 water resistance. These have been two options many have requested for and Samsung delivered as soon as once more.

Along with a few new options, the quilt show decision and refresh fee have been up to date so that you get a high-resolution show with 120 Hz help constructed of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The principle show has improved panels and a display screen protector that present an 80% enhance in its sturdiness. The three important cameras are mainly the identical, however the brand new below show digicam is a step ahead in cell know-how.


  • An modern engineering marvel
  • Armor Aluminum materials for a lighter and sleeker telephone
  • Excessive IPX8 water resistance
  • S Pen help
  • Improved software program optimized for foldables


  • Nonetheless costly, however $200 lower than final yr
  • S Pen buy individually

Best for consistent point-and-shoot



Show: 6.7 inches (3,120 x 1,440-pixel decision) OLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 12GB | Inside Storage: 128/256/512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP rear f/1.85 huge, 48MP telephoto with 4x optical, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (114-degree field-of-view) | Entrance digicam: 11.1MP f/2.2 | Weight: 210g

Google’s latest Pixel 6 Professional and Pixel 6 launched in October and produce with it the promise of wonderful pictures. Google has lengthy carried out effectively with its cameras because of software program algorithms and enhancements, however this yr additionally provides in {hardware} parts with upgraded cameras and a Google Tensor processor.

The telephone is targeted on the digicam expertise and the potential is there for this to be the perfect digicam telephone available on the market, however we’ll should see as gadgets get into the arms of reviewers. Not like previous Pixel telephones that all the time had one thing disappointing, Google might have lastly launched a flagship worthy of that title.

Android 12 powers the telephone and you may relaxation assured of updates for years. The brand new OS is targeted on matching your colours and kinds whereas additionally working to optimized the expertise on your wants.


  •    New digicam experiences and superior software program enhancements.
  •    Excessive-quality {hardware} options
  •    Inexpensive worth for a flagship.


  •    Restricted availability.

Best for professionals


Show: 6.5 inches (3,840 x 1,644-pixel decision) OLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 8GB | Inside Storage: 256GB | Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.7,  12MP f/2.4 and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (124-degree field-of-view) | Entrance digicam: 8MP f/2.0 | Weight: 181g

Most individuals use the automated settings of their smartphone digicam, however for many who wish to take issues to the following degree, there’s the Sony Xperia 1 II (aka mark two). The telephone was developed with assist from Sony’s Alpha 9 digicam engineers, and homeowners now have an especially highly effective digicam within the Sony Xperia 1 II.

See the complete overview: Sony Xperia 1 II overview

Whereas many smartphones have fundamental software program to regulate your cameras, Sony offers software program that provides customers full management over each perform within the triple digicam array. The improved Cinema Professional person interface has straightforward to regulate options like framing guides, shutter velocity, contact autofocus, autoexposure, handbook white steadiness, and rather more. Professionals will love diving into the huge quantity of choices within the digicam software program.

Three cameras with ZEISS optics and Actual-time Eye AF are offered on the Sony Xperia 1 II. The telephone helps 20 fps steady burst capturing, an autofocus system that includes 247 phase-detection AF factors protecting almost 70% of the sensor, and rather more.


  •    Intensive means for the person to regulate the cameras.
  •    Acquainted Sony Alpha digicam expertise.
  •    Superior choices for video recording.


  •    Costly.
  •    The operation could also be too difficult for some.

Best microlens camera


Show: 6.7-inch (3,216 x 1,440-pixel decision ) OLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | Inside Storage: 256GB | Rear cameras: 50MP f/1.8 huge, 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide (110-degree subject of view), 13MP f/2.4 5x optical telephoto, and 3MP microlens with 60x magnification | Entrance digicam: 32MP | Weight: 193g

Along with the entire nice smartphone options on the Discover X3 Professional, the rear quad-camera system is attention-grabbing because it opens up a brand new space for creativity whereas additionally providing extra coloration help than native Android code. Oppo labored onerous to offer a compelling digicam expertise via {hardware} and software program.

See the complete overview: Oppo Discover X3 Professional overview

The microlens digicam is exclusive on the Oppo Discover X3 Professional, and it is fairly wonderful to seize objects that the bare eye can not see. If you seize topics with this lens, you uncover one other dimension of frequent topics, and this digicam helps open up a world of creativity.

Even with out the distinctive microlens digicam, the Oppo Discover X3 Professional has a few of the highest decision cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone at present.


  •    Excessive-quality rear quad-camera system.
  •    Distinctive microscope digicam expertise.
  •    Very succesful digicam software program.


  •    Costly.
  •    Not available within the US.

Best camera phone with a stylus


Show: 6.9 inches (3,088 x 1,440-pixel decision) 120Hz Infinity-O AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus | RAM: 12GB LPDDR5 | Inside Storage: 128GB storage (with microSD card) | Rear cameras: 12MP rear f/3.0 telephoto, 108MP f/1.8 wide-angle digicam, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide digicam (120-degree field-of-view) | Entrance digicam: 10MP f/2.2 digicam | Weight: 208g | Mud/water resistance: IP68

You could be questioning why a stylus is vital for smartphone pictures. On a Samsung Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely 5G, the S Pen offers very high quality accuracy on the subject of enhancing your photographs and movies on the telephone itself.

See the complete overview: Samsung Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely 5G overview.   

The Galaxy Be aware 20 gadgets carry the whole lot we noticed on the Galaxy S20 collection together with some enhancements within the cameras. The 108MP digicam offers one of many highest decision cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone.

Some might not just like the outcomes of Samsung’s cameras, the place photographs are a bit extra vibrant than actuality. The cameras seize photographs shortly and have an intensive variety of accessible modes for each capturing state of affairs.


  •    Highest decision wide-angle digicam.
  •    Excessive-quality outcomes from level and shoot strategy.
  •    S Pen stylus for detailed enhancing.


  •    Costly.
  •    Large telephone.

Best phone for selfies


Show: 6.5 inches (3×200 x 1×440-pixel decision) 120Hz Infinity-O AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 6GB LPDDR5 | Inside Storage: 128GB storage (with microSD card) | Rear cameras: 8MP rear f/2.4 telephoto, 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle digicam, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide digicam (123-degree field-of-view) | Entrance digicam: 32MP f/2.2 digicam | Weight: 190g | Mud/water resistance: IP68

Whereas the Samsung Galaxy S20 collection launched in early 2020 offers compelling choices, they’re flagship telephones priced within the $1,000-and-higher vary. With the intention to provide clients one other different, Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Version) 5G telephone. The S20 FE is obtainable in six beautiful colours to fit your type.

See the complete overview: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Version) overview (CNET)

The place are the compromises? There actually are no, but the $700 worth is the place we see telephones within the higher mid-range with much less succesful specs seem. We typically see front-facing cameras within the 8-10MP vary, however Samsung features a 32MP shooter on the S20 FE. Together with Samsung’s full-featured software program, you possibly can seize glorious selfie images and movies with this inexpensive telephone.


  •    Excessive-resolution front-facing digicam.
  •    Highly effective digicam software program.
  •    Inexpensive telephone.


Best telephoto camera phone


Show: 6.8 inches (3,200 x 1,440-pixel decision) 120Hz Infinity-O AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 12GB/16GB LPDDR5 | Inside Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Rear cameras: 10MP rear f/4.9 telephoto with 10x optical zoom and second 10MP f/2.4 telephoto with 3x optical zoom, 108MP wide-angle digicam, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide digicam (120-degree field-of-view) | Entrance digicam: 40MP f/2.2 digicam | Weight: 229g | Mud/water resistance: IP68

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G is among the greatest total smartphones at present and clearly the perfect that Samsung has to supply. With a $200 worth lower at launch, in comparison with the Galaxy S20 Extremely, the telephone can be one of many extra inexpensive high-end flagship choices.

Along with the most recent and biggest specs, the S21 Extremely 5G offers help for Samsung’s S Pen, so you might be now not restricted to only the Be aware line in order for you stylus help.

See the complete overview: Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G overview

In case your job requires you to zoom into topics from far-off, no different telephone beats the S21 Extremely when it comes to telephoto functionality and high quality. Zooming as much as 30x (via two telephoto cameras) offers good high quality photographs, however even past this degree of zoom, there are sensible causes to see particulars of the topics you might be capturing.


  •    Two very succesful telephoto rear cameras.
  •    Highly effective digicam software program.
  •    Two different high-powered cameras.


  •    Costly.
  •    Large and heavy telephone.

OnePlus 9 Professional

Finest telephone for macro pictures


Show: 6.7 inches (3,216 x 1,440-pixel decision) 120Hz AMOLED | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 | Inside Storage: 128GB/256GB | Rear cameras: 8MP rear f/2.4 telephoto, 48MP f/1.8 wide-angle digicam, and 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide digicam, 2MP monochrome digicam | Entrance digicam: 16MP f/2.4 digicam | Weight: 197g

OnePlus was the “flagship killer” model however has since advanced into higher-priced flagships immediately difficult the likes of Samsung and Apple. In comparison with Samsung, OnePlus affords an expertise that’s free from adverts and bloatware whereas additionally now offering some attention-grabbing options comparable to reverse wi-fi charging and adaptive 120Hz shows.

See the complete overview: OnePlus 9 Professional overview

The Hasselblad digicam partnership was a significant space introduced and lined on the launch occasion however solely software program enhancements are current on this first gadget with the Hasselblad branding. That mentioned, digicam efficiency has been nice and clearly improved over what OnePlus offered prior to now.

One space in digicam know-how that OnePlus has offered for years is macro pictures. OnePlus included a devoted macro lens on previous telephones, however the OnePlus 9 Professional makes use of the 50MP ultra-wide digicam with a macro mode to offer unbelievable photographs of shut topics. Macro pictures can present some very attention-grabbing and artistic outcomes, so discover this mode together with your new OnePlus telephone.


  •    Glorious macro mode outcomes.
  •    Very succesful cameras with strong efficiency.
  •    Inexpensive for a high-end flagship.


  •    Restricted Hasselblad affect.

Best phone for thermal imaging


Show: 5.7-inch OLED (2,160 x 1,080-pixel decision) | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 | RAM: 6GB | Inside Storage: 128GB | Rear cameras: 12MP huge and FLIR Lepton 3.5 infrared thermal imaging digicam | Entrance digicam: 8MP | Weight: 248g | Mud/water resistance: IP68/69

The Bullitt Group has launched a couple of Cat-branded telephones prior to now which are constructed for fieldwork. Whereas the telephones have mid-range specs, they’re extraordinarily succesful and have distinctive options that make them helpful to professionals.

That is the third technology telephone with an built-in FLIR thermal digicam, and that’s clearly a spotlight for this rugged smartphone. There’s a 4x enhance within the variety of thermal pixels over the past FLIR mannequin and permits customers to range the depth of MSX. Customers can monitor a customized temperature vary between -4°F to +752°F and alert the person when one thing falls out of the established vary.

See the complete overview: Cat S62 Professional full overview

The Cat S62 Professional is constructed for work, so with the FLIR digicam, you should utilize the telephone in nearly any atmosphere and seize thermal outcomes on your atmosphere.


  •    Distinctive FLIR thermal imaging digicam.
  •    Superior software program for optimum outcomes.
  •    Rugged building.
  •    Inexpensive worth.


  •    Heavy telephone.
  •    Mid-range processor.

Which telephone has the perfect digicam?

There are a lot of good smartphones within the record above, and the perfect one for one particular person does not imply the perfect digicam for everybody. That mentioned, the Apple iPhone 13 Professional Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G are the 2 total greatest digicam telephones accessible at present that cowl a broad vary of capturing situations.

Can a smartphone digicam compete with a DSLR?

It has been mentioned that the perfect digicam is the one that you just all the time have with you and in at present’s world, that’s actually your smartphone. Smartphones was a superb different simply because they have been in your pocket, however at present’s smartphones have superior imaging know-how and software program, to allow them to actually problem devoted cameras.

As a result of their restricted dimensions, primarily the thickness of the telephone, smartphones can not match the complete functionality of a DSLR, and you’ll not discover professionals utilizing a smartphone for weddings, graduations, sporting occasions, or different comparable actions. 

Nevertheless, many people have given up our point-and-shoot cameras and discover smartphones completely able to serving as our main digicam. Given that folks do not print images as a lot whereas sharing them on social media and on-line companies, a smartphone is completely succesful.

Must you obtain extra digicam apps?

Whereas every telephone has one, or extra, apps put in to regulate the digicam expertise; many apps can be found on the Apple App Retailer and Google Play Retailer to reinforce the experiences. Apps can be found to increase your creativity, add additional handbook controls, incorporate filters and rather more. 

Lots of the accessible apps are free or have trial variations, so you possibly can obtain, set up, and check apps as you consider the boundaries of your smartphone cameras. 

Many articles cowl the preferred and purposeful functions, so give some a attempt to see what your smartphone digicam can do.

How are you going to take the perfect images together with your telephone?

CNET has assembled an intensive article that guides you thru numerous facets of smartphone pictures, together with totally different situations, apps, and extra.

Second makes numerous lenses that connect to your smartphone to reinforce the aptitude of your cameras. Nonetheless, the corporate additionally has a massive assortment of on-line classes to give you superior pictures classes.

How did we select these digicam telephones?

The method to make our picks consists of testing the telephones for weeks, studying evaluations from different web sites and publications, researching reviewer guides and producer web sites, speaking with colleagues and different customers who’ve hands-on expertise with the telephones, after which choosing the right from the entire accessible selections. 

Whereas we’ve our personal typical digicam use situations, choosing one in every of these telephones for your self will closely rely on the first utilization of the cameras in your telephone. We focus our time on journey and flower images with some video content material.

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