The smartphones featured below have the best camera performance among the dozens of devices in our cell-phone ratings. They might not match the image quality of a mirrorless or DSLR camera, or the top point-and-shoots, but they can produce great photos in many situations. And you can’t beat the best smartphone cameras for portability and sharing options.

These days, you can count on smartphones 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.

They Keep On Going
These devices are your best bet for all-day use

One new trend is for phones to include two rear-mounted cameras (in addition to the selfie camera on the front). One camera handles most shots while the other works either as a zoom or wide-angle lens. Some phones use both cameras together to produce stylish effects such as a blurred background—what photographers call bokeh.

It’s an intriguing and promising idea. So far, however, only a handful of phones have two cameras, and our testing indicates that secondary cameras don’t do much to improve image or video quality overall. That’s why, for now, we score only the performance of the phones’ main cameras and front-facing, or selfie, cameras.

There’s another thing to consider if you’re planning to shoot a lot with your phone: storage. Images and videos captured by the best smartphone cameras are relatively large, up to 5 megabytes per still image and several hundred megabytes per minute for videos. 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, consider a model with at least 64GB of internal storage.

7 Best Smartphone Cameras

When we took a close look at our ratings, these seven phones rose to the top for camera quality. (For more details, see the table farther down.)

• Samsung Galaxy S8+
• Google Pixel
• Google Pixel XL
• Samsung Galaxy S8
• LG V20
Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Several of these are among the top overall performers in our smartphone ratings, and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is our highest-rated model. But our lead phone tester, Richard Fisco, notes that from a camera-quality standpoint, there’s very little variation among the top seven smartphones.

In fact, the discrepancies 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 those two phones don’t appear next to each other in the chart. (The Google Pixel and Pixel XL share their camera technology, as well.)

Here is a deeper look at what we found: 

Stunning Still Images

All of the top seven phones did very well in our still image-quality tests, which evaluate resolution, dynamic range, color accuracy, and visual noise. The all-around top performer in that area was the Google Pixel, which just nudged past its larger sibling with the same camera. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ likewise share a camera, but the S8+ did a little better in our tests. Regardless, all of the listed cameras are top choices for still images.

When it comes to front-facing—or selfie—cameras, the Samsung and Google phones received top ratings. The phones made by those companies also have the highest resolution. And they, along with the Apple phones, boast excellent quality for capturing every nook and cranny of your smiling face.

Video Stars

All of these smartphones took videos that will look great on YouTube or Facebook. Both Samsungs and iPhones took very good HD (1080p) video, the format most people use. And all of these smartphones can record at a resolution fast enough to feed an Ultra HDTV. (If you’re reading this article on your smartphone, we recommend that you rotate it to landscape mode to view the table below better.)

Specs: Why These Phones Are Great Cameras Too

Rank

Model

Still-Image QualityVideo QualityRear Camera Resolution (megapixels)Optical Image StabilizerFront Camera Resolution (megapixels)

Memory Card Slot

1

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Very good

Very good

12.2

Yes

8.0

Yes

2

Google Pixel

Excellent

Good

12.3

No

8.0

No

3

Google Pixel XL

Very good

Good

12.3

No

8.0

No

4

Samsung Galaxy S8

Very good

Very good

12.2

Yes

8.0

Yes

5

LG V20

Very good

Good

16.3

Yes

5.0

Yes

6

Apple iPhone 7

Very good

Very good

12.2Yes

7.2

No

7

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Very good

Very good

12.2

Yes

7.2

No