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Best phone camera 2023: The best Android and Apple smartphone cameras to buy

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Which phone has the best camera? We put the best Android and Apple phones to the test, to crown the ultimate champion

Here at Expert Reviews, we test hundreds of smartphones every year. From the most expensive flagships to the budget handsets you buy out of sheer necessity, we run a series of pretty rigorous benchmarks to make sure we're as informed as possible. As a result, we’ve snapped test pictures with every single phone that comes through our doors, so we know exactly which phones have the best cameras for your Instagram food/pet/holiday pics.

If you’re keen on taking pictures or video with your phone, or you simply want to know that you’ve got a smartphone that’s great for taking holiday snaps, then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find our regularly updated list of the best phone cameras on the market, and a helpful camera buying guide – so you know exactly what to look for when you’re browsing the Carphone Warehouse website.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is now nearly £80 cheaper

Crowned in our roundup below as the 'best phone camera yet', the Google Pixel 7 Pro sets a new benchmark for smartphone photography. It packs a 50-megapixel main camera, along with a 5x 45-megapixel telephoto and 12-megapixel ultrawide option. Whether shooting portraits, landscapes or low-light shots, the Pixel 7 Pro produces the best phone pictures around right now. While it ordinarily retails for £849, right now you can pick it up for just £771.
Amazon
Was £849
Now £771

The Sony Xperia 1 III hits it lowest price EVER

As noted below, Sony's recent smartphones have all come with some impressive camera specs, and though we picked a different model for our round-up below, the Xperia 1 III's camera set-up mightily impressed us when we originally reviewed it, with its trio of 12MP cameras delivering crisp, vivid results and boasting rarely seen features, like Variable Optical Zoom. Selling at £1,015 on average, a discount sees the phone drop to its lowest ever price on Amazon, just £675.
Amazon
was £1,015
now £675

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Best phone camera: At a glance


How to buy the best phone camera for you

Megapixels aren’t everything

The first thing you need to be wary of is that megapixels aren’t everything. Pop into Carphone Warehouse and you’ll see the megapixel count listed next to the phone, but that isn’t the de facto indication of whether a smartphone's camera is any good or not. Higher megapixels might look like a bonus, but it largely boils down to the tech inside.

Aperture is key

The thing you need to look out for? Aperture. A number listed with an f/ in front of it might look a little confusing at first glance, but it says a lot about the camera you’re holding. An f/1.4 aperture is wider than an aperture of f/2.0 for instance, which means that the camera will let in a lot more light and thus, greater potential for detail.

Don’t forget pixel and sensor size

Pixel and sensor size is just as important as that f-number. In short, the size of each individual pixel (measured in um) determines the quality of the image. Unlike aperture, bigger is better when it comes to pixel and sensor size. Got a big camera sensor? More information can be gathered, accruing better dynamic range and reduced visual noise, while a bigger pixel size lets more light in, performing better in low light.

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Best phone camera 2023

1. Google Pixel 7 Pro: The best phone camera yet

Price: £849 l Buy now from Amazon

Jumping to the top of the podium, the Pixel 7 Pro’s cameras are simply remarkable. Featuring a 50MP sensor as well as a pair of 12MP ultrawide and 48MP 5x optical zoom cameras, the Pixel 7 Pro's top-notch photographic capabilities yet again sit comfortably at the first position. And considering how well-priced this handset is, there's really not much point in choosing anything else. 

The Pixel 7's wide f/1.9 aperture and 2x faster shutter speed make it ideal for low-light photography and in good light, the Pixel 7 produced pictures with superb dynamic range and colour saturation, while the white balance was nice and accurate. Expanded features such as Magic Eraser let you remove unwanted objects and people from your picture with a simple tap, and “Face Unblur” does a great job at reducing smudginess on a moving subject as well.

Something else that makes this phone stand out is its portrait mode capabilities. Whether you use the front- or rear-facing camera, every portrait shot is captured beautifully, with nicely blurred backgrounds and crisp, definable edges around the subject. The Pixel 7 offers the best camera for your Instagram vanity shots and that tertiary 5x optical zoom camera is a real treat to play with, too.

The Pixel 7 Pro really does set a brand-new smartphone photography benchmark. Especially considering that it undercuts the cost of the rest of the flagship handsets on this list. 

Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 50MP, 12MP (wide), 48MP (5x telephoto zoom); Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 10.8MP


Also consider: Google Pixel 7

The regular Pixel 7, meanwhile, offers much the same camera system as the Pro at a much-reduced price. For £250 less than its bigger brother, you also get the excellent 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide but miss out on the 5x telephoto zoom lens.

If this isn't something you're fussed about, then the good news is that absolutely everything else is identical, with the same level of camera features and shooting modes in a more compact frame. 

Buy now from Amazon


2. Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Best for video

Price: £949 l Buy now from Amazon

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro is one of the most expensive phones on the list but it does a mighty fine job of taking reliable photos and crisp, steady 4K video at 60fps.

The 14 Pro has three cameras on the rear. The main camera yet again delivers sensor-shift stabilisation on a smartphone – keeping your videos as steady as can be – and is now in its second generation, with Apple improving the way it processes low- and mid-light images. The main camera has seen a huge resolution boost to a massive 48MP, with a 65% larger sensor, while the 12MP ultrawide sensor has doubled in size. The 12MP 3x telephoto module is the same as it was last year.

While still image quality is excellent – with the 14 Pro building on Apple’s excellent portrait mode – the best thing is the iPhone 14 Pro's video capabilities. Yet again capturing footage at 4K resolution at a maximum framerate of 60fps with support for Dolby Vision, no other smartphone’s video efforts come close when it comes to this level of quality. The Cinematic mode – which lets you shoot with a shallow depth of field with automatic focus transitions – has received a resolution bump to 4K, and the all-new Action Mode applies action camera-like stabilisation to your video. 

It’s an expensive choice, no doubt, but that’s the sky-high price you pay for excellent-quality video on the go.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 48MP, 12MP (wide), 12MP (3x telephoto zoom); Aperture: f/1.8, f/2.2, f/2.8; Stabilisation: sensor and optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps with Dolby Vision; Front camera: 12MP

3. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: The best telephoto camera

Price: From £945 l Buy now from Amazon

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra continues to raise the bar of what to expect in terms of smartphone photography.

Not only does it continue to be the only smartphone to support 8K resolution video recording (with remarkable results), but the Galaxy S22 Ultra's zoom capabilities are second to none. Offering a hybrid zoom range of up to 100x, the Galaxy S22 Ultra excels when it comes to telescopic photography, and the 108MP main camera is no slouch either. In our tests, we found that the Galaxy S22 Ultra was capable of capturing detail-rich images in well-lit environments, with superb dynamic range and rich, bold colours that look as if they’re going to leap straight off the screen. The phone's night mode also did an exceptional job at boosting the brightness of the image without adding pesky visual noise and blowing out street lights.

Useful photography features such as the ability to grab an image directly from any frame of an 8K video recording are also a huge bonus, as is the ability to capture in both JPEG and DNG formats simultaneously in the Expert RAW app on the Galaxy Store. So, if you need a flagship smartphone that can pretty much do it all in the camera department, as well as something that knocks it out of the park with telephoto images, then the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ideal candidate. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 108MP, 10MP (10x telephoto), 10MP (3x telephoto), 12MP (wide)Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 8K at 24fps; Front camera: 40MP

4. Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022): The best-value iPhone (with a great camera)

Price: £419 l Buy now from Amazon 

Apple might prefer its customers to spend more on the iPhone 13, but the lower asking price of the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is well worth a look when it comes to the camera department. Powered by the same top-end chipset as Apple's flagships – the A15 Bionic – the iPhone SE may only be fitted with a single 12MP rear camera, but image quality is frankly exceptional for the price.

It also finally benefits from Apple's Deep Fusion tech, which improves low-light images, as well as Smart HDR 4, which enables the camera to detect and adjust exposure for each face in group shots. The photos we've managed to capture with the iPhone SE have been very good across the board.

Once more, Apple's portrait mode brings out the very best of the 12MP sensor, with crisp details and a rich palette of colours. In low-light, in fact, the iPhone SE 3 surprisingly holds its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max, too. The A15 Bionic also allows for more even exposure levels and you can also record crisp 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR 4K video at 60fps.

In short, little comes close to the iPhone SE 3 at this price. Despite the lack of ultra-wide-angle and zoom options, the iPhone SE 3'scamera is an astonishingly capable one. 

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 12MP; Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 7MP

5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: The best budget camera

Price: £285 | Buy now from Amazon

Xiaomi continues its reign of technical wizardry with the release of the Redmi Note 11 Pro. Somehow, Xiaomi has managed to launch a budget phone with a massive 108MP camera, which is something that's frankly astounding for a phone this cheap, and it really impressed in testing.

For a mere fraction of what the most recent iPhone and Samsungs cost, this is a phone that manages to hold its own under scrutiny, taking Instagram-worthy pictures in a wide variety of lighting conditions and environments. Video recording is limited to only 1080p at 30fps, but for this little, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G barely manages to place a foot wrong elsewhere.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: electronic; Video resolution: 1080p at 30fps; Front camera: 16MP

6. OnePlus 10 Pro: The best-value camera

Price: £800 l Buy now from OnePlus

OnePlus may not have the same high level of brand recognition as the likes of Samsung and Apple in the UK, but its flagship beaters frequently gain a lot of praise as great alternatives, and the OnePlus 10 Pro is the culmination of its smartphone achievements so far. Its trio of cameras impressed in our tests, with consistent colour balance, plenty of detail and very little visual noise. Paired against the iPhone 13 Pro, it even edged it in some instances, capturing clean and crisp images in well-lit conditions.

The OnePlus 10 Pro's night shots have also much improved, although these do look a bit soft compared to the iPhone. Other improvements and new additions for this year include the ability to take still images in 10-bit colour and RAW+ capture, which is a Hasselblad-tuned mode that combines three RAW frames to create an image with even greater dynamic range than in a regular RAW format. The new ultra wide camera is also capable of capturing both 110-degree and 150-degree fisheye images.

Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review for more details 

Key specs - Rear camera: 48MP,  (wide), 50MP (ultrawide), 8MP (telephoto); Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 8K at 24fps; Front camera: 32MP

Buy now from OnePlus


7. Sony Xperia Pro-I: The best for photographic flexibility

Price: £1,225 l Buy now from Amazon

If there's one thing Sony has nailed in recent years, it's smartphone camera tech. After all, the company’s cameras are so good that many Android manufacturers use Sony sensors in their own handsets, and there's no sign that this will stop anytime soon, either. But, of course, the very best Sony has to offer comes in the form of its own Xperia Pro-I, a (very) high-priced flagship with one of the most comprehensive and well-thought-out camera offerings to date. 

Its trio of 12MP lenses might not seem out of the ordinary, but the new wide sensor is essentially the same huge 1in sensor as can be found in the legendary Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera line. In testing, we found that minimal processing was applied to images, with Sony preferring to present them as neutrally as possible – this approach pays off, especially when it comes to preserving shadow in certain HDR situations.

The Sony Xperia Pro-I is also set up with extensive manual control over your shots, with a full suite of modes built into the camera app. The dedicated two-stage shutter button is a huge bonus, too – we just wish it was cheaper.

Read our full Sony Xperia Pro-I review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 12MP, 12MP (telephoto), 12MP (ultrawide), depth; Aperture: f/2; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 120fps; Front camera: 8MP

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