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Best Smartphone Cameras

There are lots of good ones, but these are tops for photos and video

A woman taking a selfie with her smartphone camera.

Their photos might not have the image quality of a mirrorless or DSLR camera, but in many situations, the best smartphone cameras rated by Consumer Reports come close. Those featured below have the best camera performance among the dozens of models in CR’s ratings. And when it comes to portability and photo-sharing options, they make dedicated digital cameras seem cumbersome. 

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.

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

Another thing to consider if you’re planning to shoot a lot with your phone is storage. 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. There’s a real advantage to choosing a phone that accepts microSD memory cards. Cards with 64GB of storage are easy to install and cost as little as $20 at most retailers.

If you buy a phone that lacks this advantage—like Apple's iPhones—consider a model with at least 64GB of internal storage.


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10 Best Smartphone Cameras

When we took a close look at our ratings, these 10 phones were at the top for camera quality. (For more details, see the table below.)

Apple iPhone XS Max
• Apple iPhone XS
• Apple iPhone X
• Apple iPhone 8
• Apple iPhone 8 Plus
• Samsung Galaxy Note9
• Samsung Galaxy S9+
• Samsung Galaxy S8+
• Apple iPhone 7
• Apple iPhone 6s Plus

It’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy S9—which is one of the top performers in our overall ratings—did not make this list. That’s because its camera-related scores fell just short of the others’. The popular Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL also failed to make the list.

But that doesn’t mean those phones have subpar cameras. Our lead phone tester, 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.

As a prime illustration of this, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones use the same camera, but the S8+ made the list while the S8 did not.

Here’s a deeper look at what we found:

72
Smartphones in Our Ratings.
Current Smartphone Ratings

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