Best Smartphone Cameras

There are lots of good phones, but these are tops for photos and videos

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cell phone camera testing Photo: Consumer Reports

Smartphone cameras might not produce photos with the image quality of a great mirrorless, SLR, or advanced point-and-shoot camera, but in certain situations they come close.

Those featured below have been singled out by Consumer Reports’ testers as the best smartphone cameras in our ratings. When it comes to portability and photo-sharing options, they make dedicated digital cameras seem cumbersome. And as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you.

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Smartphones these days tend to have high-resolution sensors (12 megapixels or more) to produce sharp cropped or enlarged prints. They have optical image stabilizers to help minimize blurriness from a shaky hand. And they can capture spur-of-the-moment video with high-definition clarity.

Most new phones offer two or more rear-mounted cameras in addition to a front-facing selfie camera. One rear camera delivers typical shots, and the others work as a zoom or wide-angle lens. Some phones use the cameras together to produce a stylish bokeh effect, which blurs the background while leaving the subject in sharp focus.

Storage is another thing to consider if you’re planning to shoot a lot with your phone. Images and video captured by the best smartphone cameras are relatively large, up to 5 megabytes per still image and several hundred megabytes per minute of video. If you’re a shutterbug, there’s a real advantage to choosing a phone that accepts microSD memory cards, although that option is becoming rarer in new phones. If your phone does have this expandable storage, cards with 64 gigabytes of storage are easy to install and cost as little as $10 at most retailers.

If you buy a phone that lacks this advantage—Apple’s iPhones have fixed storage limits, for example, because they don’t support storage cards—you can probably get by with 64GB of internal storage, especially if you’re comfortable using cloud storage. But if you’d rather play it safe, a smartphone with 128GB should do.


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CR Smartphone Camera Rankings

It’s worth noting that some of the most popular smartphones—including the Samsung Galaxy S21, iPhone 11, and Google Pixel 6 Pro—failed to make the top 10 list below.

But just because a phone doesn’t make the cut here doesn’t mean it has subpar cameras. Our head of electronics testing, Richard Fisco, says that from a camera-quality standpoint, there’s very little variation among the top-tier smartphones.

In fact, the differences among this group are so small that they could be chalked up to variations in our test samples, he says.

In computing Overall Scores for cameras, our expert testers rate the quality of the still images taken with a smartphone’s rear cameras, examining resolution, dynamic range, color accuracy, and visual noise. They also evaluate the quality of a phone’s front, or selfie, camera and the rear camera’s video quality.

Many models, including the iPhone 13 Pro, can shoot in 4K ultra-high definition, giving your home movies a professional touch. And the S21 and S22 phones shoot in 8K, though you can play back the footage at that resolution only on the phone itself or on one of Samsung’s 8K TVs.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.