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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.

They might not produce photos with the image quality of a mirrorless or DSLR camera, or a good point-and-shoot, but in certain situations smartphone cameras 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. 

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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Most new phones also offer two or more rear-mounted cameras in addition to one or even two front-facing selfie cameras. One rear 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 64 gigabytes of storage are easy to install and cost as little as $12 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

• Samsung Galaxy S10+

• Apple iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10e

• Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone XR

LG G7 ThinQ

It’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy Note9—which is one of the top performers overall in our ratings—did not make this list. That’s because its camera-related scores fell just short of the others’. The popular Google Pixel 3 XL also failed to make this list.

But that doesn’t mean those phones have 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.

Here’s a deeper look at what we found.

35
Smartphones Rated
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