Product Reviews

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A young woman taking a selfie.

Best Smartphone Cameras

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

The smartphones featured below have the best camera performance among the dozens in CR's smartphone ratings. They might not match the image quality of a mirrorless or DSLR camera, but in many situations they come close. 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.

More on Smartphones

Many new phones also now 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.

There’s another thing to consider if you’re planning to shoot a lot with your phone: 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 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.

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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 X
• Apple iPhone 8
• Apple iPhone 8 Plus
• Samsung Galaxy S8+
• Apple iPhone 7
• Apple iPhone 6s Plus
• Samsung Galaxy S8
• Samsung Galaxy Note8
• Apple iPhone 7 Plus
• Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

These phones are among the top overall performers in our smartphone ratings. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is our highest-rated model (though the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are due to enter our labs in March). But our lead phone tester, Richard Fisco, notes that from a camera-quality standpoint, there’s very little variation among the top 10 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, S8+, and S8 Active phones use the same camera, but the S8+ appears a few spots ahead of the S8 and S8 Active.

Here’s a deeper look at what we found:

Smartphones in Our Ratings.
Current Smartphone Ratings