Best Smartphone Cameras

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

A smartphone camera being tested by Consumer Reports.

Smartphone cameras might not produce photos with the image quality of a great point-and-shoot, 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.

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 offer two or more rear-mounted cameras in addition to one or two front-facing selfie cameras. 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. 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—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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10 Best Smartphone Cameras

When we took a close look at our ratings, these 10 phones were at the top for camera quality: 

• Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G

• Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Apple iPhone 12 Mini

• Apple iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Samsung S21+ 5G

• Apple iPhone 11

It’s worth noting that the popular iPhone SE and Google Pixel 5 failed to make the list.

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.

Here’s a deeper look at what we found.

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