The Best Android Phones for 2022
Keep in mind that though some of the devices listed here may not show your carrier of choice, you can buy most of these phones unlocked and use them with multiple US carriers. Read on for what to look for, as well as our top picks for Android phones.
Whether you're looking for a big or small phone, entry-level or top-of-the-line, Android offers options for everyone. And unlike Apple's rigid release cycle, Google's hardware partners unleash an endless stream of new devices year-round. And therein lies the problem: With so many options out there, how do you settle on the right one? Lucky for you, we test and review nearly every smartphone available from all the major US carriers.
Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. See how we test. (Opens in a new window)
Samsung Galaxy S22+ Best Android Flagship 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It The Samsung Galaxy S22+ currently strikes the best balance of power, connectivity, and price for Android phones. With an excellent camera, a bright screen, a fast processor, and stellar 5G reception, it's the mainstream leader. Who It's For This is the no-brainer choice for anyone looking for a mainstream, high-quality Android phone right now. Just be careful to shop around for the best price with promotions and trade-ins; a lot of discounts are usually available for this phone. PROS Top-of-the-line performance
Top-of-the-line performance Excellent cellular reception
Excellent cellular reception True 3x zoom camera CONS Photos can look a little washed out
Photos can look a little washed out 45W charging doesn't make a big difference in speed Sold By List Price Price Amazon $999.99 $799.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Verizon $999.99 $999.99 See It (Opens in a new window) AT&T Wireless $999.99 $999.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Samsung Galaxy S22+ Review
Google Pixel 7 Best Software Experience 4.5 Outstanding Why We Picked It The Pixel 7 is fast, durable, and has great battery life, but the real draw here is the pure Google software. Pixel phones get new Android features first, and their applications tend to work harmoniously together in a way more similar to iPhones than other Android phones. However, you still get Android's open ecosystem that lets you sideload apps and make the phone your own. Who It's For This phone is perfect for photographers and anyone who wants stock Google software. The Pixel 7 is also perfect for anyone who doesn't want to spend tons of money on their phone, as it packs many flagship features at a reasonable price. PROS Fantastic value
Fantastic value Incredible cameras
Incredible cameras Excellent performance
Excellent performance Great-looking display
Great-looking display Smooth Android 13 experience CONS No telephoto camera Sold By List Price Price Best Buy $599.99 $599.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Amazon $599.00 $599.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Google Pixel 7 Review
Google Pixel 7 Pro Best High-End Pixel Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It The Pixel 7 Pro takes everything we like about the base Pixel 7 and makes it better. It adds a high-end telephoto camera, more RAM, and a bigger, faster screen. It maintains the stock Pixel software experience we love, which makes it worth considering for die-hard Android fans. Who It's For If you want a larger phone, the best-possible mobile camera, and demand the pure Android experience offered by Google Pixel phones, this is the one to buy. While the base Pixel 7 provides a better value, the Pixel 7 Pro takes everything to the nth degree. PROS Excellent photography features
Excellent photography features Powerful software tools
Powerful software tools Fast, pixel-rich display CONS Shorter battery life than the Pixel 7
Shorter battery life than the Pixel 7 Connectivity could be better Sold By List Price Price Best Buy $899.00 $899.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Google Pixel 7 Pro Review
Google Pixel 6a Best Affordable Pixel Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It Google's software is the choice of the techno-elite for its speed, elegance, and simplicity. The Pixel 6a brings you that software—along with years of Android updates before anyone else gets them—at an affordable price. Although the Pixel 6a is available from carriers, we encourage you to look at pairing an unlocked model with an alternative (but still reliable) carrier like Google Fi or US Mobile to save money. Who It's For Folks whose taste outpaces their budget. Google's Pixel phones aren't the best-selling Android models (Samsung models are more popular), but many people still prefer these phones because of the speed and elegance of their software. PROS Excellent overall value
Excellent overall value Fantastic battery life
Fantastic battery life Vibrant OLED display
Vibrant OLED display Solid camera CONS Lacks microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack
Lacks microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack Doesn't support wireless charging
Doesn't support wireless charging Weak cellular performance in some areas Sold By List Price Price Amazon $548.00 $398.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Verizon $499.99 $499.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Google Pixel 6a Review
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Best Foldable Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It Samsung leads the way in the foldable phone space and its excellent Galaxy Z Fold 4 offers the best experience yet. It has fantastic specs, the biggest screen, and the latest 5G connectivity, all of which propel it to the top of the market. Who It's For The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is ideal for people who like the idea of a large-screen device that folds downs into something more manageable. It's expensive and a bit bulky, but you won't find anything else quite like it. It’s a killer device for those who want or need to multitask, or wish to use a stylus with their device. PROS Fast and powerful
Fast and powerful Useful multi-window mode
Useful multi-window mode Excellent signal strength
Excellent signal strength Fully usable with one hand CONS Very expensive
Very expensive Heavy
Heavy Some applications are buggy Sold By List Price Price Amazon $1,919.99 $1,614.97 See It (Opens in a new window) Samsung $1,799.99 $1,799.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Best Buy $1,919.99 $1,919.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Review
Moto G Power (2022) Best Battery Life 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It Battery anxiety is real. Battery life is always one of the top concerns in every poll of smartphone users. The Moto G Power line packs a gigantic battery that lasts two or three days of regular use. Who It's For People who forget to charge their phones. The Moto G Power actually charges pretty slowly—you should charge it overnight—but you won't have to charge it nearly as often as most other phones. That's a big plus. PROS Long battery life
Long battery life Solid performance
Solid performance 90Hz refresh rate CONS Ships with Android 11
Ships with Android 11 Noticeable pixelation on 720p display
Noticeable pixelation on 720p display Underwhelming audio Sold By List Price Price Walmart $199.99 $164.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Amazon $199.99 $149.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Moto G Power (2022) Review
Moto G Pure Best Affordable Android Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It Many people want a basic smartphone for under $200. Although some more-powerful phones are discounted below this price, the Moto G Pure lists at $159.99. You can get it for even less through a carrier or buy an unlocked unit to use with your favorite low-cost cell phone plan. It has a bright screen, good battery life, and decent connectivity. It's reliable enough to make calls and get you online. Who It's For People on a tight budget, occasional phone users, or kids getting their first smartphone. Yes, the kids will probably ask for iPhones, but it's your wallet and they'll get used to Android quickly. PROS Good performance for the price
Good performance for the price Long battery life
Long battery life Solid LTE connectivity CONS Low amount of storage
Low amount of storage No fast charging Sold By List Price Price Verizon $149.99 $149.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Moto G Pure Review
OnePlus 10T Best Reception 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It The OnePlus 10T offers speedy performance and stellar cellular reception for a price that's lower than Samsung's flagships. It doesn't dethrone them, however. That's partially because the handset's camera performance isn't quite as good as the Galaxy S22's. But the device still keeps you connected in challenging network conditions and offers great gaming performance. Who It's For Performance buffs. The phone's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is the fastest available. Ditto the super-fast-charging battery, the 120Hz screen, and the Qualcomm X65 5G modem. The OnePlus 10T takes you a little out of the mainstream, but its speed more than makes up for that. PROS Powerful processor
Powerful processor Excellent cellular reception
Excellent cellular reception Fastest wired charging of any US phone CONS Camera quality isn't on par with flagships
Camera quality isn't on par with flagships No wireless charging support
No wireless charging support Current Android skin is overbearing and clunky Sold By List Price Price OnePlus $749.00 $649.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Amazon $729.00 $729.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our OnePlus 10T Review
OnePlus Nord N20 Best Value for Speedy Performance 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It OnePlus has become a major Android alternative to Samsung on T-Mobile because it delivers decently fast phones for a respectably low price. If you're upgrading from an old 4G phone, this device gets you onto T-Mobile's speedy, better-coverage 5G network, sometimes for zero dollars upfront. Who It's For T-Mobile or Metro users getting a discount. The OnePlus N20 is a good phone, not a great one, but the carrier promotions (T-Mobile wants you to use 5G) mean you can get a pretty great deal. PROS Smooth and elegant software
Smooth and elegant software Sharp design
Sharp design Excellent battery life
Excellent battery life Supports fast charging
Supports fast charging Features headphone jack and microSD card slot CONS Limited camera capabilities
Limited camera capabilities No upgrade path to OxygenOS 13 Sold By List Price Price T-Mobile $282.00 $282.00 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our OnePlus Nord N20 Review
Samsung Galaxy S22 Best Small Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It The Samsung Galaxy S22 series includes the nation's best-selling flagship Android phones; these models have fast processors, good cameras, and excellent cellular reception. The standard Galaxy S22 gets you similar performance to the Editor's Choice-winning S22+, but for less money and in a smaller body. Who It's For If you have trouble operating a big phone or fitting one in your pocket, this is the smallest flagship Android phone currently available. It isn't actually a small phone like the iPhone 13 mini or the old Samsung Galaxy S10e, but it's still your best bet. PROS Excellent signal strength
Excellent signal strength Premium power
Premium power True 3x zoom camera
True 3x zoom camera High-quality build and design CONS Short battery life Sold By List Price Price Amazon $799.99 $598.98 See It (Opens in a new window) Verizon $799.99 $799.99 See It (Opens in a new window) AT&T Wireless $799.99 $799.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Samsung Galaxy S22 Review
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Best for Artists and Photographers 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It The Galaxy S22 Ultra scratches two specific itches: It has a built-in S Pen stylus (like the now-defunct Galaxy Note lineup) and a 10x optical zoom camera, with digital zoom to 100x. Although there are some other stylus-compatible phones, they aren't flagships, and nothing else on the US market has that super-zoom camera. The S22 Ultra also has a terrific screen and class-leading cellular reception. Who It's For If you think you'll use one of its two special features, the stylus or the super-zoom camera, the Galaxy S22 Ultra should be your new phone. Artists and people who think visually tend to love the stylus; when I had one, I used it to take notes during meetings. The super-zoom camera can bring faraway things closer to you like no other phone does. PROS S Pen integration
S Pen integration Long battery life
Long battery life Bright screen
Bright screen Excellent reception in low-signal environments CONS Very large
Very large Expensive
Expensive Back scratches easily
Back scratches easily Few camera improvements over predecessor Sold By List Price Price Verizon $1,199.99 $1,199.99 See It (Opens in a new window) AT&T Wireless $1,199.99 $1,199.99 See It (Opens in a new window) T-Mobile $1,199.99 $1,199.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Best Pocket-Size Flip Phone 4.0 Excellent Why We Picked It We love that the Galaxy Z Flip 4 lets you access quick bits of information and key notifications from the outer screen without even opening the phone. And when you do open it, you get access to a large screen with the full Samsung Galaxy experience. Who It's For This handset is perfect for minimizing distractions and helping you spend more time in the real world. It's also great if you want to take creative selfies because the folding screen works as a tripod of sorts. Finally, if you like to wear tight pants with small pockets, the Galaxy Z Flip 4's verical folding design keeps it a lot more compact than the horizontal folding Galaxy Z Fold 4. PROS Standout design
Standout design Better battery life than previous model
Better battery life than previous model Excellent cellular reception
Excellent cellular reception Useful front screen CONS Less-capable cameras than other premium phones
Less-capable cameras than other premium phones Gaming performance throttles quickly Sold By List Price Price Amazon $999.99 $799.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Samsung $999.99 $999.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Best Buy $999.99 $899.99 See It (Opens in a new window) Read Our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Review
Buying Guide: The Best Android Phones for 2022
When to Buy a New Android Phone
The Android release cycle is perpetual and a new set of flagship phones arrive practically every month. We can expect to see fresh Galaxy S hardware from Samsung in February, which will be followed rapidly by new phones from OnePlus in April or May, and new foldables from Samsung in August. Let’s not forget the annual phone fest that is Mobile World Congress, which typically sees a slew of handsets announced the last week of February or early March.
What we’re saying here is that there's almost always a new Android phone available and no bad time to buy. Keep an eye on our latest Android reviews to find the right phone for you.
The Best 5G Android Phones
Support for 5G has now become fairly standard across all price points. Pretty much any $200+ phone you buy will include 5G. Phones costing below $200 may or may not have 5G, but don’t stress out about it too much, as 4G networks are robust and still offer excellent performance. Top-tier phones will support the latest 5G technologies and coverage bands.
Speaking of bands, if you want the very best network speeds look for a phone with C-band (band n77). On T-Mobile and Verizon, C-band offers several times the speed of 4G. The number of phones with C-band support is growing quickly, but you should confirm that the particular phone you're considering supports it. We detail whether a phone supports C-band in each of our reviews to make the process easier.
For more, you can find our favorite 5G handsets in our list of the best 5G phones.
What Is 5G? What Is 5G?
What Is the Best Cheap Android Phone?
This list has phones from under $200 to nearly $2,000. On the low end, Motorola-branded phones tend to be excellent values for the money. Of note: carrier-branded phones (which don't mention the name of their manufacturer) often aren't very good and are to be avoided.
Most of the phones available in the US cost $600 or more because they're sold on monthly payment plans that hide the cost over 24 to 36 months. But there's also a thriving market, mostly in the prepaid space, of phones that cost $300 or less. Take a look at lower-end OnePlus phones or models from Motorola and Nokia at prepaid carriers for decent quality at a low price.
The pandemic caused some phone makers to reevaluate their sky-high flagship phone prices. The OnePlus 10T is an excellent example of a phone that offers flagship performance for well under $1,000.
For more, see our stories on the best cheap phones, the best cheap phone plans, and nine tips to get the best price on a cell phone.
What Size Android Phone Is Right for You?
There's been a dramatic shift in Android phone shapes and sizes over the last few years. Many manufacturers have started to make their phones taller and narrower, resulting in one-hand-friendly models with improbably large screen sizes. We go into more detail on evolving form factors in our piece on how we need to measure phone screens now.
You can find Android phones with stated screen sizes from 3 inches (the Unihertz Jelly 2) to over 7 inches (the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4). With the new form factors, though, it's very important to look at the width of the phone as well as the width of the screen. A tall, narrow phone can be much easier to handle than something wider, but it's also a less common aspect ratio for apps to use.
In the end, don’t discount the value of handling several options in person at your local wireless shop.
Which Is the Best Android Version?
Generally speaking, the newest version of Android is the best version of Android. Android 13 is the most recent version of Google’s mobile platform at the time of this writing. Pixel phones already have access to Android 13, but most other phones do not. Android 13 should reach non-Google devices over the next six months, starting with Samsung’s flagships.
Whatever you do, don't buy a phone that comes with anything below Android 11; the older the Android software version, the more likely it is to have security flaws. Also, check how many rounds of full operating system upgrades and security patches the manufacturer promises; Google and Samsung tend to lead the pack for multi-year upgrades.
Last, remember that not all experiences on Android are the same. Device manufacturers such as OnePlus and Samsung ship phones with their own custom versions of Android. If you want a pure Google experience, opt for a Pixel device—they're the models that Google upgrades first. Motorola and Nokia also offer a mostly clean Android interface, though the companies lag on long-term software support. Samsung, OnePlus, TCL, and other phone makers ship their phones with skins that change to look and functionality of Android to some degree.
What About Oppo, Vivo, or Xiaomi?
Three out of the world's five biggest smartphone makers(Opens in a new window) don't sell phones in the US (at least, via carriers), and PCMag primarily serves US consumers. In the cases of Oppo and Vivo, it's because they've ceded the US market to their sibling brand OnePlus (Oppo and OnePlus have now essentially merged). Xiaomi has said several times that its business model, which relies heavily on advertising revenue and subscription services baked into its phones, won't work in the US. Huawei, once near the top of the list, has been battered by sanctions that prohibit the company from using US components or software in its smartphones. The same is mostly true for ZTE, once a mainstay of US prepaid carriers.
We do not recommend importing foreign phones for use in the US because they often perform poorly on US carrier networks. Let's not forget that you want your phone to function as a phone, and a poor connection will ruin the experience. When we tested the Oppo Find X5 Pro, for example, we couldn't get it to connect to T-Mobile's 5G system.
Is It Better to Buy an Android Phone Unlocked or Through a Carrier?
The US market is still dominated by carrier-sold phones, but buying your phone direct and unlocked gives you more freedom to switch carriers. Unlocked phones don't feature carrier bloatware and are something you buy upfront, so you don't have to worry about monthly payments.
You can buy every phone on this list directly, without any carrier involvement. But most people still buy their phones through carriers, which offer a single point for service and support, as well as monthly payment plans that dramatically lower the upfront price. Many even offer increased trade-in values on phones, even further lowering the price.
You should also make sure your carrier (especially if you're using an MVNO) supports a phone fully before buying it. While you can always switch from MVNO to MVNO without penalty, if you're happy with your current carrier it's best to make sure the phone you buy is fully supported.
With that in mind, choosing Android as your mobile operating system is only half the battle, as you still need to pick the right phone. If you're still on the fence, check out our list of the best phones, regardless of OS.
Best smartphones 2022: the best phones for music and movies
Best Smartphone Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best phones you can buy in 2022.
A smartphone has many uses but, for us, it's about great music and video. So, right here are the very best phones with incredible screens and amazing audio circuitry. HDR-compatibility, super-high pixel counts and next-generation panel technologies can make for an awesome display that will have you enjoying your commute so much that you'll be taking a longer route on purpose.
Just as crucially, some phones simply sound better than others and it's important to know which they are so that you can spend your hard earned on a mobile that's going to make your portable music life the best it can possibly be.
We know you can do a whole heap of things with even the best cheap phones nowadays, but for our reviews we focus first and foremost on sound quality and picture performance. So, while we thoroughly test a phone's battery, camera, usability, design and features, we will give extra weight to handsets that deliver great audio and video.
No matter if you're an Android or iOS loyalist, whether you're eyeing up a flagship phone such as the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, or Sony Xperia 1 IV, or more affordable options such as the iPhone 12 Mini or OnePlus 10 Pro, we've got you covered with the very best smartphones on the market.
How to choose the best smartphone for you
Picking the right smartphone that suits your needs best is harder than it sounds, and may in fact be a trickier task than picking the best TV or headphones. You use your smartphone every day, and for many of us it houses all the integral things we need to keep our day running smoothly. This is where the essentials come into play: a good battery life, a design that's comfortable to hold, and a screen that's not too big and not too small.
Many of us also acquire our smartphones through a contract, most commonly these run for 24 months, so you need to plan ahead. Will the phone you choose have a powerful enough processor and enough RAM to last for two years? Which software platform do you want, Apple's iOS that's exclusive to iPhones, or Google's Android platform that's used by the likes of Samsung, Sony and OnePlus? And does the phone have enough features to keep you going for that time, such as a versatile camera or micro SD card support to expand the memory.
However, if you're after the highest quality AV performance (as we are), then that's where things become more black and white. You'll want an OLED screen for inky blacks and vibrant colours, with a 18:9 or 21:9 aspect ratio and minimal bezels, ideal for watching content uninterrupted and as the the filmmaker indented. As standard, many phones come with either a 1080p or 1440p. or in some cases a 4K display on the highest-end models. As smartphone displays are much smaller than TVs and even tablets, they are often very pixel dense, meaning that the highest resolution isn't always paramount so don't be put off if your handset doesn't feature the highest spec screen.
Audio is equally important, and the audio landscape specifically on mobile phones has changed greatly in the last few years. Many now feature a stereo speaker setup that combines a loudspeaker and earpiece to create an often impressively loud and spacious sound. However what modern smartphones giveth, they must also taketh away as is the case with the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is an endangered beast on modern devices.
With all of these key factors in mind, many see it a daunting task to pick a new phone, dreading the day their contract is up; but fear not, we have some of our approved picks below to help you make your decision...
Apple's best (and biggest) smartphone sees major AV improvements over its predecessor (Image credit: Apple)
Let’s face it, for some reason camera quality in phones is sexier than picture and sound quality. Why else would a brand such as Apple focus each year on bigger sensors with more megapixels while giving nary a mention to screens, speakers or DACs?
The good news is that while Apple rarely shouts about AV upgrades, its new phones regularly contain them, and each new generation of iPhone generally includes better picture and/or sound quality.
That’s what makes the new iPhone 14 Pro Max so exciting: it’s the first new iPhone in ages with an AV upgrade that Apple has deemed worth shouting about. That upgrade is a big increase in brightness.
Interestingly then, it turns out that while the picture quality is certainly improved, it’s by less of a margin than the audio, which hits new highs for smartphone sound.
Not only do these upgrades make Apple’s new flagship model the best iPhone yet for portable movie and music lovers, it elevates it beyond the AV benchmark previously set by Sony’s Xperia 1 IV.
Read our full Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max review
Sony's budget Xperia packs seriously impressive picture performance into an affordable handset (Image credit: Sony)
Sony’s current lineup of smartphones is centred around the creation and consumption of media first and foremost. The range includes 4K resolution, OLED displays with a 21:9 aspect ratio and HDR support while fervently keeping the 3.5mm headphone port alive.
But what happens when you have to start cutting back on features to make devices like these more accessible? The Xperia 10 IV answers this question with pared back specs, a lower quality screen and a plastic build that reduces the price down significantly. However, despite this entry level Xperia cutting some corners, it still manages to provide the essence of what Sony is trying to achieve – providing a cinematic experience that fits into your pocket.
Sony’s budget handset really impresses where it counts. Many budget Android handsets only meet the goal of affordability by cutting major corners, but Sony has instead considered how to boil the essence of the Xperia line down without sacrificing crucial performance.
It may not be perfect, but with a screen that impresses for the price and satisfying headphone audio, the Xperia 10 IV offers excellent value for those looking for an entry level Android that doubles as a portable movie-watching companion.
Read the full Sony Xperia 10 IV review
(Image credit: Future)
The Sony Xperia Mk IV continues the brand’s reinvigorated take on the smartphone, providing the tools to both create and consume content that verges on professional level. But with the daunting task of outshining its predecessors, both of which received five stars and a smartphone Product of the Year Award from us, has Sony done enough to keep the momentum going?
While it may look strikingly similar to the previous generations, the IV makes meaningful, if not mind blowing improvements on the Sony Xperia 1 III. Upgraded internals and features ensure smooth day-to-day use, and most importantly an awesome AV experience.
While it may not be the most inspirational generation jump we’ve ever seen, it's still a phone that ticks all the boxes to make it an ideal companion for small screen AV use. The Xperia 1 IV is an excellent enthusiast choice for those looking to squeeze the best AV and music listening performance out of their smartphone.
Read the full Sony Xperia 1 IV review
(Image credit: Apple)
4. Apple iPhone 13 Apple takes the standard iPhone to another level Specifications Screen: 6.1in OLED Resolution: 2532 x 1170 Features: Siri assistant, 12MP wide and ultra-wide lenses Battery: 19hrs video, 75hrs audio Operating system: iOS 15 Dimensions: (hwd) 14.7 x 7.2 x 0.7cm Weight: 173g Today's Best Deals £724.99 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £749 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £859 (opens in new tab) at John Lewis (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Impressive OLED display + Musical sound + Slick and speedy interface Reasons to avoid - No charger in the box - Pricier than before
Another iPhone, another five-star review, there's nothing too surprising in that.
The iPhone 13 looks and feels very similar to its predecessor. Build quality is, of course, superb and the only noticeable outer differences are a reshuffle of the buttons and a different camera layout on the rear.
Inside is a new SoC, the A15 Bionic. It's made up of a new six-core CPU with a GPU that is reportedly 30 per cent faster than rivals. They help power new iOS 15 features such as Live Text in Camera and a new 3D Maps navigation feature as well as provide a typically slick and speedy user experience.
Apple claims that it has hiked up the maximum brightness of the 6.1 OLED display by 28 percent to a claimed 800 nits for SDR and 1200 nits for HDR content. That brings a little more punch without sacrificing detail in whiter elements of the picture. OLED’s inherent strengths help here too, obviously, with deep, rich blacks and amazing clarity that just draws you in.
On the audio side, you won’t be surprised to learn that it sounds just as good as its predecessor. Throw any genre its way and the iPhone just makes it interesting to listen to. It sounds exciting and dynamic, while maintaining an excellent handle on timing, sticking to the rhythm of a track. Bolstered by a terrific sense of weight, drive and power, it remains a force to be reckoned with.
Read the full Apple iPhone 13 review
Apple's standard iPhone 14 is brilliant, but the 13 is a cheaper and near identical alternative (Image credit: Apple)
5. Apple iPhone 14 It’s less iPhone 14 and more 'iPhone 13S', but perhaps that isn’t the end of the world Specifications Screen: 6.1-inch OLED Resolution: 2532 x 1170 Finishes: x5 (Midnight, Starlight, Product Red, Blue, Purple) OS: iOS 16 Battery size: 3279mAh Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB RAM: 6GB Today's Best Deals £849 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £950 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £959 (opens in new tab) at John Lewis (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Excellent display + Admirable headphone performance + Solid build quality Reasons to avoid - No upgrades to picture or sound - Familiar design - Notch is still present
Like clockwork, Apple has launched a plethora of new iPhones and, you guessed it, they’re the best iPhones yet. The iPhone 14 comes in practically every shape and size, with the Pro undoubtedly being the more exciting of the bunch with its “Dynamic Island” notch and upgraded internals.
But we’re here to talk about the standard, and cheapest iPhone 14, and while it may be a solid phone, it's also practically identical to its predecessor. Same chassis, same screen, same processor – so is this just an iPhone 13S, or an unenthusiastic placeholder for Apple while it gives the 14 Pro time to live in the limelight?
The iPhone 14 is an anomaly in the history of Apple’s smartphones. There have been plenty of instances when the yearly iPhone iteration has been uncannily similar to the previous year’s model, but it's never been this close. And even those previous models that have promised no picture and sound upgrades over their predecessors have often contained surprise, subtle improvements. The iPhone 14 does not follow this path: its AV performance is essentially identical to that of the iPhone 13.
We're not going to be too harsh on the iPhone 14 as it is truly a five-star device; both the picture and audio are thoroughly brilliant, but the fact that the iPhone 13 remains on Apple’s roster makes the 14 a harder sell if media consumption is your main priority.
That said, if you want the awesome picture and sound quality of last year with an even better camera, the iPhone 14 still makes perfect sense.
Read the full Apple iPhone 14 review
(Image credit: Samsung)
Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra smartphone boasts so many headline-grabbing specs, it’s tough to know which one to lead with.
For example, it is categorically the most powerful Ultra to date thanks to the arrival of a 4nm processor, aka the fastest CPU on a Galaxy device yet, but to Samsung’s avid fan base the fact that it's the first S-series device to feature a built-in S Pen will probably garner more attention, since it effectively merges Samsung’s S line with the now-defunct Note series.
Then there's the "completely different", four-lens camera system that Samsung says delivers the best low-light photography and smoothest video of any phone yet. And that’s before we mention its Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+, on the front and back of the device, which Samsung says makes it 12 per cent stronger than its predecessor.
Of course, we're drawn to the 120Hz AMOLED display, which Samsung says can hit a whopping 1750 nits at peak brightness, as well as the built-in Dolby Atmos speakers.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
(Image credit: Sony)
7. Sony Xperia 1 III A brilliant all-rounder that excels at audio and video Specifications Screen: 6.5in OLED Resolution: 1644 x 3840 Features: USB-C Operating system: Android 10 Battery: 4500mAh Dimensions: (hwd) 16.5 x 7 x 8cm Weight: 186g Today's Best Deals £782.11 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £1,199 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £1,199 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Detailed, natural screen + Class-leading sound + Excellent all-rounder Reasons to avoid - Unique design
How do you improve on a What Hi-Fi? Award-winning flagship smartphone? By not messing with it too much. That's very much the approach for Sony's latest and best digital Swiss Army Knife.
The design has had a tiny, glass-toughening tweak, the battery boosted, the 4K display now has a 120Hz refresh rate, and there’s an upgraded chipset and GPU. Photography fans will be pleased by the inclusion of a periscope lens too.
But crucially for us, Sony has eked out yet more performance from the Xperia 1 III screen and 3.5mm headphone jack which gives us even more reason to recommend it.
The sonic performance manages to deliver a little more punch and a little more detail compared to its predecessor. Bass notes sound a little tighter, meaning more control and agility, plus there's the kind of dynamics to rival any phone on the market and plenty of dedicated hi-res players too.
As well as a wired connection via the headphone jack you can use Sony’s LDAC technology and support for Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos. It’s an all-round entertainer.
Read the full Sony Xperia III review
(Image credit: Apple)
8. Apple iPhone 12 Apple takes the standard iPhone to another level Specifications Screen: 6.1in OLED Resolution: 2532 x 1170 Features: Siri assistant, 12MP wide and ultra-wide lenses Battery: 17hrs video, 65hrs audio Operating system: iOS 14 Dimensions: (hwd) 14.7 x 7.2 x 0.7cm Weight: 164g Today's Best Deals £649 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £650.49 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £778.09 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Impressive OLED display + Musical sound + Slick and speedy interface Reasons to avoid - No charger in the box - Pricier than before
The iPhone 12 is another model we can add to a successful line of phones from Apple. Although some new Apple products are undoubtedly more evolution than revolution, the current iPhone 12 sports a brand-new design, a new screen, is powered by a new processor, and is capable of performing some new party tricks over its predecessor (below) – including, for the first time, 5G support.
The addition of an excellent 6.1in OLED Super Retina XDR display (complete with HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG support) has elevated picture performance to another level and helps justify the slight price hike over its predecessor. As a daytime snapper, there isn’t much to grumble about, with the dual-camera producing nicely balanced pictures with even colours and a fine sense of realism. Sound quality is as good as it’s ever been, too. All these positives combined make for a highly tempting and typically Apple package.
Read the full iPhone 12 review.
(Image credit: Future)
9. Oppo Find X5 Pro This premium smartphone might not be mainstream, but could it be your next mobile? Specifications Screen: 6.7 inch AMOLED Resolution: 3216 x 1440 (QHD) OS: Android 12/Colour OS Skin Storage: 256GB Today's Best Deals £1,049 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £1,049 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £1,049 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Good HDR video + Bundled fast-charger + Nice design and solid user experience Reasons to avoid - Sound lacks dynamism and drive - Curved screen causes halo effect - Colour accuracy could be a little better
A premium device at a premium price, Oppo’s Find X5 Pro smartphone boasts the flashy design and standout camera that we all now expect of flagship phones. Our primary concerns, though, are picture and sound quality, and here it’s a bit more of a mixed bag.
Still, those determined to avoid the usual high-end options and instead go for something out of the ordinary will find much to like here, particularly if they’re willing to spend some time in the settings menu.
Oppo’s Find X5 Pro is a solid device in most ways. It's packed with features, user friendly software and it provides an enjoyable, if not mind blowing visual performance. However, it's marred by an audio experience that’s easily surpassed by the class leaders.
Still, if you’re determined to go with an outsider choice for your next phone and sound quality isn’t much of a priority, the Oppo Find X5 Pro is certainly worth a look.
Read the full Oppo Find X5 Pro review
(Image credit: Future)
10. OnePlus 10 Pro A lot of phone for the money, but what's it like as a portable movie and music player? Today's Best Deals £674.99 (opens in new tab) at Amazon (opens in new tab) £762.99 (opens in new tab) at (opens in new tab) £799 (opens in new tab) at Fonehouse (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Good value + Premium feel + Solid picture performance Reasons to avoid - Audio lacks energy and definition - HDR viewing could be better
Big, premium and considerably less expensive than other flagship phones, the OnePlus 10 Pro is every bit the standard-bearer you’d expect. OnePlus has made a name for itself as a purveyor of high-end smartphones at a price that more people can afford and this 6.7-inch, 5G Android mobile is no exception. Several hundred pounds/dollars cheaper than the rest of the top-end competition, it’s going to make a lot of buyers’ shortlists.
The good news is that, if you’re after an impressive spec sheet and all the mobile mod-cons, then you’re definitely fishing in the right stretch of the river. For us, though, it’s screen and sound that count most. So, if you need your pocket portable to be a top-notch player first, and all other things mobile a definite second, then this is the low-down you need.
Comparing this cut-price flagship phone to other top-end mobiles is a bit of a rough ride for the OnePlus 10 Pro. Even so, it stands up to the test in most departments. In terms of build quality, photography, user experience, battery life and most other features, it’s more or less right up there and all for a smaller outlay. And, while it can’t quite reach the same heights on the video front, what you get for the price difference is actually very comparable.
Listening to music, though, is where you’ll notice the biggest downgrade. The audio performance is just not in the same class as the best flagship phones, nor really quite good enough for the step-down in outlay either. It makes a perfectly passable listen but ‘passable’ doesn’t win you five stars.
Read the full OnePlus 10 Pro Review
How we test the best smartphones
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, a number of which are smartphones from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google, OnePlus and Sony. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the review process, ensuring consistency.
We spend time with the phones; we live with them, testing every feature and spec exhaustively, from screens to cameras, sound quality to battery life. We focus particularly on audio and video performance, so if you spend a lot of time listening to music or watching videos, you should read our reviews carefully before making that all-important buying decision.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy pages, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
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What's the best camera phone? We tested dozens, here are our top 8 picks
When was the last time you saw someone using a point-and-shoot camera? There’s a good chance it’s been a while. However, you probably see someone using their smartphone to take a picture on a daily basis. Smartphone cameras have become the go-to picture-taking method for many consumers, and cameras are becoming one of the most important factors when upgrading a device. If you find yourself looking for your next smartphone and want some guidance, we’re here to help. Here’s our list of the best camera phones available right now.
We’ve put each device through the wringer, testing the cameras in various situations to ensure we only recommend the best options. Let’s get into the results.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best camera phone available
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Ultra-premium build quality • Gorgeous screen • Solid performance Samsung has merged the Note and S series into one device The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra pushes productivity, power, and photography to the utmost to satisfy those seeking a premium experience. It combines outstanding performance, a stunning design, and an S Pen in one device. $899.99 at Amazon Save $300.00 $1,199.99 at Samsung $1,199.99 at AT&T $1,199.99 at Verizon
Samsung’s flagships land among the best all-around Android phones regularly, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see a Galaxy device immediately. However, instead of recommending the entire Galaxy S22 series, we have to stick with the one that rises above all others — the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Its sheer megapixel might on both the front and back, combined with in-depth control, make it the best camera phone for almost any user.
Before we get into the experience of what it’s like to use the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s cameras, it’s good to know what you’re working with. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes equipped with a well-rounded quad-camera setup that’s capped off by a 108MP primary sensor. It’s backed by Samsung’s powerful 12MP ultrawide lens and a pair of 10MP shooters — one telephoto and one periscope telephoto. Around the front, you’ll find a 40MP selfie camera tucked into the Infinity-O display.
Although megapixels only tell a portion of the story, the combination of lenses sets the Galaxy S22 Ultra up nicely to excel in almost any situation. We ran it through a gauntlet of situations in New York during our initial review, as well as a selection of challenges in the UK when tested against some of the other devices on this list, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra breezed through them all.
The phone returned clean, sharp images with decent HDR (but only when warranted) as well as Samsung’s standard color profile. The camera tends to be a bit punchier than reality, though not nearly as saturated as some brands. Red and green hues were particularly vibrant, but rarely to the point of overpowering the rest of the image. Despite its 108MP potential, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s primary camera bins by a factor of 9, dropping to 12MP for better low-light performance and more manageable image files. You can push it back to the full resolution as needed, but we found that it still performed admirably at its lower resolution.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra gets even better once you start to zoom, thanks to its telephoto duo. Its standard telephoto lens adds 3x optical zoom to the mix, while the periscope telephoto partner increases to 10x optical zoom. The result is that you can punch in much further on images without losing quality. Of course, as the third and fourth cameras in the setup, the telephoto shooters have much smaller lenses, but we didn’t notice too much drop-off in terms of color or clarity. No, 10x optical zoom won’t be as clean or as clear as 1x zoom from the primary camera, but it easily trumps hybrid and digital zoom from the phone’s closest rivals. Even Samsung’s ultrawide shooter keeps distortion to a minimum and is capable of nearly matching the primary shooter’s colors.
We enjoyed Samsung’s default camera app and its bevy of controls and shooting modes, but some users might want a little bit more. The optional Expert RAW app provides that extra punch, offering even more control over your white balance, aperture, and shutter speed, as well as exporting RAW files for deeper edits later. It’s not the most approachable app for camera newcomers, but it’s the best way to push the four sensors to their limits.
Technically, you can go all the way to 100x Space Zoom with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, though it’s unlikely that you’ll do so frequently. This is where Samsung turns to digital cropping to get results, and the final photos aren’t quite up to snuff most of the time. We mostly only ventured past 30x Space Zoom for curiosity’s sake, but you do start to lose details and rely on Samsung’s post-processing. Instense zooming shows off Samsung’s image stabilization, however, which can go a long way in cutting out your shaky hands. If nothing else, you can also use the insane zoom options as a magnifying glass to read signs and menus from further away.
Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra succeeds both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra with elite specs across the board.
We have to give Samsung a little credit for not only keeping the Galaxy S22 Ultra with a hefty 5,000mAh battery but also making the charging speed faster. It bumped from 25W wired speeds on the Galaxy S21 series to 45W wired speeds. In reality, that means you can fill the hefty cell in just about an hour, which is good because the battery life wasn’t always excellent in our testing. We expect this ties back to the power — and thermal — requirements of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which you’ll find onboard.
The upgraded chipset is paired with 8GB of RAM on the base configuration, though any upgrade brings you to 12GB instead. Samsung offers its premium flagship with up to 1TB of onboard storage, but it comes at a hefty price. Most people should be able to get by with one of the 128, 256, or 512GB configurations instead. Get better in the dark: Tips to improve low-light photography
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is not just the best camera phone you can buy. Its combination of specs, build quality, and productivity features make it one of the best Android devices, as long as you’re willing to meet the asking price.
What makes it stand out: Incredible zoom capabilities: Between its pair of telephoto zooms and cutting-edge software, the Galaxy S22 Ultra zooms better (and closer) than almost any other phone on the market — up to 100x.
Between its pair of telephoto zooms and cutting-edge software, the Galaxy S22 Ultra zooms better (and closer) than almost any other phone on the market — up to 100x. Unbeatable software support: Longer update commitments are becoming the norm, but Samsung still takes the cake. The Galaxy S22 series will receive four full Android version updates and five years of security patches, which carries it through to 2027.
Longer update commitments are becoming the norm, but Samsung still takes the cake. The Galaxy S22 series will receive four full Android version updates and five years of security patches, which carries it through to 2027. Ultra-premium design and build quality: Between the Armor Aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus Plus panels, it’s tough to find a more durable device on the market.
Between the Armor Aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus Plus panels, it’s tough to find a more durable device on the market. Solid performance: Although it runs hot, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 packs enough punch to perform. It’s at home on most 2022 flagships and combines nicely with up to 12GB of RAM.
Best of the rest: 7 other camera phones worth considering While we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as the best camera phone for most people, it’s not your only option. Smartphone cameras aren’t one size fits all, and you might prefer another brand’s experience instead. You’ll find excellent cameras throughout our list, but it’s important to find the one that works best for you. Here’s the best of the rest: Google Pixel 7 Pro: The Pixel 7 Pro offers Google’s most powerful camera yet, adding an updated Tensor G2 chip with new editing features to the already powerful trio of rear cameras.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max: If you’re willing to try iOS, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has Apple’s most advanced camera setup to date. It now features a 48MP main shooter, along with a host of other Pro-only upgrades.
Sony Xperia Pro-I and Xperia 1 IV: Sony’s flagships don’t come cheap, but they do bring a professional photography twist. You get in-depth controls as if you were using a DSLR or mirrorless device, and Sony is one of few brands to still rock a headphone jack in 2022.
Google Pixel 6a: Google’s Pixel 6a brings the same flagship-level image processing at a much more approachable price point. It carries the Tensor chip, a first for the mid-range series, and you get a pair of tried and true rear lenses.
Oppo Find X5 Pro: This flagship is one of our best Europe-only picks, thanks to its mix of space-age design and all-new Marisilicon X NPU. Oppo’s Find X5 Pro also packs Hasselblad tuning for improved color science — even in low light.
Vivo X80 Pro: The Vivo X80 Pro is the company’s most powerful and refined device yet. It’s another pick for the European audience, and it carries a very capable primary camera with Zeiss True Color for more accurate color recreation.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is best for excellent image-processing software
Google Pixel 7 Pro Best Google camera • High-quality display • Big battery The Pixel 7 Pro is the top-of-the-line phone on Google's roster. The Google Pixel 7 Pro takes the best features from the Pixel 6 Pro, and makes them even better. Enjoy numerous camera upgrades and some fun new software tricks, all for the same cost as the last-gen Pixel phone. $896.49 at Amazon $899.99 at Best Buy $899.99 at Verizon $899.99 at AT&T
The Google Pixel line is no longer an example of high-end image processing with modest hardware. After years of punching above its weight class with software alone, the Pixel 7 series packs the hard-earned muscles to compete with the best camera phones around. It builds on the upgrades of the Pixel 6 series and mixes in a bundle of new tricks thanks to the Tensor G2.
Google’s latest flagship keeps the same trio of lenses from its predecessor, and we’re not complaining. The Pixel 7 Pro’s 50MP primary sensor and 12MP ultrawide sensor still shine, and they’re both available on the standard Pixel 7, too. If you go Pro, you’ll also find a 48MP telephoto lens to round out the aluminum-coated camera bar. It still has ample room for all three lenses, though the swap from glass to aluminum offers a little more peace of mind in case your new Pixel 7 Pro should take a tumble.
Of course, how you use a camera is often the deciding factor above sheer specs, and the Pixel 7 Pro is no different. It still offers a slimmed-down approach to the camera interface, preferring to let the updated Tensor G2 chip do the bulk of the thinking. You can choose your shooting mode and your subject, but then the Pixel 7 Pro does the rest. Overall, it’s one of the best examples of KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) photography we’ve ever experienced. One look at the 200 images Rita took over the course of her first week with the phone, and you’ll see why it’s not such a bad thing. All our images in her gallery are straight out of the camera and deliver excellent color recreation and detail in tons of different settings.
We’re still waiting on the results of our next in-depth camera test, but it’s tough to see the Pixel 7 Pro giving up much room. Its predecessor edged the Galaxy S22 Ultra in recognizing scenarios where HDR is important, and we still love Google’s natural color profile over Samsung’s saturation. The previous Pixel 6 Pro had a penchant for oversharpening edges in some cases, but the Tensor G2 seems to have fixed some of that.
In fact, we went so far as to say that the Tensor G2 chip improves one feature that’s not easily replicated — reliability. It adds features like Photo Unblur and an automatic macro in the palm of your hand, in addition to existing options like Face Unblur and Real Tone. We found that Real Tone delivered accurate skin color recreation, even in difficult lighting scenarios. Further wrinkles like Action Pan and Long Exposure free up even more creativity — we loved freezing a subject in the middle of the action, and capturing a soft, flowy waterfall isn’t bad, either. In fact, you might find yourself missing the automatic long exposure feature when you switch to any other smartphone camera. The Pixel 7 Pro’s effortless processing and onboard smarts lend it the strength to compete against superior hardware and pick up software features long after launch.
Upgraded lenses and the new Tensor G2 chip give the Pixel 7 Pro more than enough muscle to compete on the camera scene.
Of course, the enhanced camera chops and price aren’t the only things landing Google on our list of the best camera phones. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro make the most of the new Tensor G2, which offers upgrades to the GPU and modem, fixing one of the biggest problems of the Pixel 6 series. Google’s Tensor G2 chip also comes with a suite of photo editing options, most notably the Magic Eraser. Just how fast is the Tensor G2? We benchmarked it!
Despite the Tensor G2’s solid list of upgrades, it does run into a familiar pitfall from the first generation — thermal management. Google’s flagships still run hot under heavy loads, and warm weather only makes it worse. This tends to hamstring the overall battery experience, even if Google’s wired charging is quicker than ever before (though still not the 30W speeds that Google vaguely boasts).
In an age where most of the best camera phones will cost you more than $1,000, the Pixel 7 Pro is still an excellent value. It’s available at $899, with its Pixel 7 sibling launching at just $599, a near mid-range price for a full flagship experience. You’ll have to spend a little more if you want extra storage, but you won’t scratch the asking price of most competitors.
What makes it stand out: Google’s Tensor G2 chip: Offers excellent post-processing and image editing capabilities like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur to bring images to life and keep your subject as the only focal point of your shot.
Offers excellent post-processing and image editing capabilities like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur to bring images to life and keep your subject as the only focal point of your shot. First-in-line updates: OEMs across the board are getting better at quick updates, but you still can’t beat Google. As the creator of Android, all Pixel devices remain at the top of the list regarding the latest and greatest software (and beta access).
OEMs across the board are getting better at quick updates, but you still can’t beat Google. As the creator of Android, all Pixel devices remain at the top of the list regarding the latest and greatest software (and beta access). Unique design: Android used to emphasize being together but not the same. Now, the Pixel 7 series is one of few examples to skip a corner-mounted camera array and adopt a boxy design to stand out.
The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best iOS camera experience
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max Large display • Powerful SoC • Advanced UI experience Apple's premium phone with a massive screen The iPhone 14 Pro Max is aimed at those who want the biggest and the best from Apple. It sports a large 6.7-inch display with the new Dynamic Island cutout, the latest A16 Bionic chipset, and an upgraded main camera. $1,099.00 at Best Buy $1,099.00 at AT&T $1,099.00 at Verizon
We are Android Authority, and most of this list is dedicated to Android camera phones, but it’s still impossible to leave Apple out entirely. The iPhone 14 Pro Max brings some of the first real camera upgrades to iOS in years, finally breaking free of the 12MP trio. We don’t have a true review of Apple’s largest iPhone, but you can check out our iPhone 14 Pro review instead.
After years of chasing modest megapixel counts and ignoring the idea of pixel binning, Apple caved. It adopted a 48MP sensor, which it’s taken to calling the main camera rather than the wide camera, and paired it with two familiar 12MP backups. That means you still get a powerful, flexible trio, and it still performs admirably against the best that Android has to offer. The iPhone 14 Pro Max follows the Pixel 7 Pro in terms of color recreation, keeping a relatively natural profile. Apple even claims a 6x optical zoom range, though it’s using the 0.5x ultrawide and 3x optical telephoto to get there.
Apple’s detail recreation is excellent, and the iPhone itself is best described as a creator’s toolkit. If you’re willing to shoot in RAW, you can export massive files straight from the main camera and edit them to your heart’s content in Lightroom. Apple also lets you set your photographic style upon setup, which means you can tweak your contrast and tint to match your personal style. We stuck with the true neutral profile for our tests, and it worked nicely.
We’ve focused primarily on still images through our top camera phone picks so far, but the iPhone shows its strength as a video camera option as well. It offers a special Cinematic mode for video, which adds digital bokeh and autofocuses on faces as they look at the camera. We found that the feature generally worked as advertised, though it can struggle with multiple faces at one time. You’ll also have to stump extra cash for professional costumes and lighting before you can make the iPhone 14 Pro Max a true go-to for your feature film. Apple’s ProRes video also delivers lossless compression, which makes editing your footage slightly more manageable, but it’s limited to 1080p on the 128GB device.
As for the phone itself, the design is classic iPhone. Apple has been rolling with the same flat-sided design for a few years now, with few overall changes as far back as the iPhone 11. The boxy edges don’t exactly blend comfortably into your hand, but the size remains easy to hold and feels familiar right out of the box. It’s as tough as ever, with a Ceramic Shield front and a stainless steel frame with its durable IP68 rating. That said, as you turn your attention to the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s display, it’s clear that Apple has a few tricks up its sleeve. The notch is finally gone in favor of a Dynamic Island, which is essentially a punch hole camera for Face ID surrounded by a black window that expands and contracts to show texts, emails, and let you manage your music playback.
Apple's flagship doesn't fall far from the tree, but it improves on an already excellent camera package.
Under the hood, you also get Apple’s latest A16 Bionic chipset, with 6GB of RAM and up to 1TB of onboard storage. All four iPhone 14 models now offer the same base RAM, though, as always, extra storage comes at a steep price. As you’d expect from a flagship chipset, the A16 Bionic puts up gaudy numbers, improving upon Apple’s recent processors by a good margin. It also does this with less RAM than many Android devices — especially those at the same price tag — which speaks to an impressive optimization process.
We can’t skip over the fact that the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a smaller battery than most of its competitors. It easily reaches a day and a half if you’re willing to part with some battery drains like the always-on display. Unfortunately, Apple’s modest wired and 15W wireless charging aren’t the fastest, and you’ll need a steady supply of Lightning cables if you’re moving from Android to iOS.
What makes it stand out: iOS at its best: Apple’s software has come a long way, and it’s best experienced with modern flagship power. iOS 16 packs new lock screen customizations, and there’s no denying the excellent optimization, especially when it comes to battery life.
Apple’s software has come a long way, and it’s best experienced with modern flagship power. iOS 16 packs new lock screen customizations, and there’s no denying the excellent optimization, especially when it comes to battery life. MagSafe capabilities: MagSafe isn’t a new term, but the unique magnetic attachments give the latest iPhone flagships several new wrinkles. From wireless charging to attaching a wallet to the back panel, there’s plenty of magnetic flexibility.
MagSafe isn’t a new term, but the unique magnetic attachments give the latest iPhone flagships several new wrinkles. From wireless charging to attaching a wallet to the back panel, there’s plenty of magnetic flexibility. Premium video capabilities: Every phone on this list has the potential for excellent still images, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max leaps to the top when it comes to video. Features like Cinematic mode and ProRes deliver smart autofocus and lossless exporting for your home masterpiece.
The Sony Xperia Pro-I is the best for professional camera controls
Sony Xperia Pro-I Fast performance • Pro-friendly photo capture • Gorgeous 4K-ish screen A powerful, pro-grade imaging phone The Sony Xperia Pro-I is aimed at imaging and video experts rather than typical smartphone buyers. $1,098.00 at Amazon Save $701.99 $1,598.00 at Amazon Save $201.99 $1,598.00 at B&H Save $201.99
There’s no denying Sony’s place among the best camera phones, though it comes with a few caveats. Depending on where you live, we’re recommending different devices in the lineup. Really, it comes down to a matter of price and availability, but both options deliver impressive quality and high-end camera controls.
Up first is Sony’s Xperia Pro-I, which is the better choice for users in the United States. It’s taken up the mantle as Sony’s professional-grade imaging smartphone, following on the heels of the original Xperia Pro. The Xperia Pro-I also adopts a slightly different design from the brand’s other flagships, shifting the camera array from the corner into the center to give the massive camera sensor enough room to perform. Just be ready for the enormous price tag to match — the Sony Xperia Pro-I will set you back $1,799 for 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
As Sony’s pro-focused camera phone (with all of the irony that entails), you get a pro-focused camera interface as well. The in-app controls and Zeiss optics feel like they were shaved straight off of a full-frame shooter, as does the control over the camera aperture. You can pull up a virtual PASM dial, which the app will then explain to you before you can dive in. As soon as you choose a mode other than Automatic, the app opens options for autofocus, flash, exposure compensation, and so much more. Like Samsung’s Expert RAW, it can be overwhelming for beginners but can feel like a secret weapon for camera pros.
Interestingly, Sony’s Photo Pro app also dictates that you have to use the hardware shutter button rather than the software version. It’s rare to see a physical shutter button on a phone these days, let alone mandate it. We also found Sony’s approach to zoom more complicated than necessary. Instead of pinching to zoom across the entire range, you have to zoom based on each lens. The 16mm equivalent only lets you punch in up to 24mm before you have to switch lenses to zoom to 50mm, and so on. It’s true to how a full-frame camera’s zoom would function, but feels like an extra hoop to jump through on a smartphone.
Sony chose a massive primary sensor, which is capable of letting in a ton of light and giving your images some juicy bokeh. Unfortunately, the tight form factor means that the phone can’t use the entirety of its massive sensor, but it sounds good on a spec sheet.
Sony's large sensor and Zeiss glass come with a ridiculous price tag to match.
In terms of actual performance, the Xperia Pro-I follows the Pixel 6 Pro down the road of natural results, almost to a fault. The color recreation is incredibly close to reality, and sometimes comes out muted as a result. They may not be what every smartphone photographer is after, but if you’re willing to put in a little editing legwork, you can bring them to life. We captured some of our samples in 12-bit RAW, which we could then ship to Lightroom and tweak to our hearts’ content.
A few of our sample shots came out underexposed as well, though some of this could be attributed to the Xperia Pro-I’s aperture. It’s not as wide as some class leaders, which means less light reaches the sensor despite its massive size. You might also be surprised to hear that Sony’s photography flagship skips a traditional portrait mode. Instead, it tries to make up for it with bokeh when set to f/2.0. It doesn’t blur the background to the extent of portrait mode, but it’s enough to set your subject apart nicely.
Overall, we enjoyed using the Xperia Pro-I throughout our testing. Sony’s tall, thin design is familiar at this point, and the 21:9 aspect ratio is longer than most competitors. It’s as tall as the Pixel 6, though not nearly as wide. Premium build materials like Gorilla Glass Victus and a textured side rail complement the rear camera (which is the focal point of the design) nicely.
It’s not exactly a perk related to the Xperia cameras, but the phone picks up another use if you’re a Sony photographer already. You can now hook it to your camera rig to serve as a sharp external monitor while you capture photos and videos. How often do you get to run around with a 4K viewfinder? We’d guess not very. It’s as simple as using the USB-C port, and you can upload shots right to Instagram without ever running back to a laptop.
We could continue all day about the tech that Sony packed into its Xperia Pro-I, but it might be best to read up on our thorough breakdown in our review. It’s packed with samples and detailed information on the advanced features and controls.
What makes it stand out: Premium design: Sony didn’t skimp on any of the materials for the Xperia Pro-I. It blends Gorilla Glass and a textured frame for a great in-hand feel, and the Zeiss camera takes the starring role on the back panel.
Sony didn’t skimp on any of the materials for the Xperia Pro-I. It blends Gorilla Glass and a textured frame for a great in-hand feel, and the Zeiss camera takes the starring role on the back panel. Excellent camera controls: The Xperia Pro-I packs professional-grade controls for both photo and video in Sony’s dedicated apps. You can access different dials in both Photo Pro and Cinema Pro, depending on what you want to create. The Sony Xperia 1 IV is a better pick for shoppers outside of the US, and it all comes down to the asking price. While you can get Sony’s latest flagship for £1,299 in the UK and €1,399 in mainland Europe, it costs a whopping $1,599 in the US. It’s more affordable across the board than the Xperia Pro-I, though the difference is far more noticeable in international markets.
Sony’s Xperia 1 IV features many of the same camera capabilities as its expensive sibling, though it skips the claims of a massive primary sensor. It once again offers a trio of 12MP shooters with wide, ultrawide, and periscope zoom coverage. However, one of our favorite updates is the newfound support for Sony’s eye-tracking and object detection. We were particularly impressed by the autofocus, which is easily at the top of the list for smartphones, and it outweighs some mirrorless cameras, too. The Xperia 1 IV errs on the side of realism when it comes to color recreation, though we have to say it feels a bit punchier than in years past.
Sony Xperia 1 IV Stellar video capture • Superb camera autofocus • Unique creator apps See review $1,599.00 at Amazon See review
The Google Pixel 6a is the best camera phone if you’re on a budget
Google Pixel 6a Powerful Tensor chip • Compact design • Excellent image processing Pixel 6a pulls some of the best Pixel 6 features at a more affordable price. The Pixel 6a pulls some of the best Pixel 6 features into a smaller and more affordable package. It sports Google's powerful Tensor chipset, great cameras, and excellent software. $449.00 at Amazon $299.00 at Amazon Save $150.00 $449.00 at Visible $449.00 at Verizon $449.00 at AT&T
Google’s Pixel 6a is a unique entry on our list of the best camera phones you can buy. It costs just $449, yet it packs updated in-house internals and top-notch image processing that you expect from its premium siblings. The Pixel 6a might not stack up favorably across the board compared to heavy hitters on this list, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value.
The Pixel 6a takes Google's new design language and compresses it into a palm-friendly 6.1-inch body.
Despite taking on the Pixel 6’s design language, the Pixel 6a offers a camera experience that’s reminiscent of previous generations. For starters, it brings back the tried and true 12.2MP primary sensor that dates all the way back to the Pixel 3. It immediately feels familiar, delivering results that we’ve raved about over the years thanks to Google’s excellent post-processing. The camera is no longer as tack-sharp as the competition, but it’s reliable as can be. Google’s ultrawide camera tells a similar story. There’s some distortion around the edges, which is to be expected, but the color recreation and details are excellent.
Of course, the secret weapon that pushes the familiar camera package above its predecessors is Google’s Tensor chip. This is the first time we’ve seen it come to a mid-range device, and it brings an extra processing punch. It’s quicker to deliver final results than the Pixel 5 was, and it blends all of the latest retouching features. In fact, Magic Eraser picked up a new Camouflage option with the launch of the Pixel 6a. We’ve had plenty of fun erasing unwanted images from objects, but Camouflage takes a different approach. Instead of erasing objects, it simply recolors them to blend in with the background. We made good use of it, especially in scenes with complicated backgrounds where the traditional magic eraser struggled to recreate details.
We’ve seen plenty of other budget-friendly phones push for more lenses or more megapixels, but the Pixel devices have put brains over brawn since the beginning. Samsung’s Galaxy A53, for example, packs four rear cameras and a 64MP primary shooter, yet its color recreation and features are no more powerful than the Pixel’s. In fact, we prefer Google’s slimmed-down approach to the massive camera bump on the Galaxy A53, which adds a dedicated macro lens mostly for the imposing effect.
Pixel UI is one of our favorites when it comes to achieving a nearly-stock Android experience. It’s light and smooth, with very little bloatware, and it’s always at the front of the line when it comes to software updates. You can feel the impact of Material You throughout, with customizable widgets and first-party app icons that adapt to your wallpaper.
We immediately fell in love with the phone’s smaller form factor during our time with it. Where the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro were large at 6.4 and 6.7 inches, the Pixel 6a is a manageable 6.1 inches. It’s much easier to reach across with one finger, and the flat display is comfortable to hold for long stretches. Google’s budget phone skips the premium Gorilla Glass back panel in favor of a 3D thermoformed composite, which is a fancy way to say plastic. The display, however, is Gorilla Glass 3, which is good but lags behind the similarly priced competition. See also: The best budget Android phones
One of the Pixel 6a’s main drawbacks comes in its battery life. The plastic back eliminates the potential for wireless charging, while the 18W wired charging is significantly slower than many rivals. Further, the Tensor’s struggles with thermal management mean that when your battery starts to tick away, it can be tough to slow down. We turned to Battery Saver early and often through our review period, which turned out to be a lifesaver.
What makes it stand out: Unbeatable price: Most camera phones on our list start at $899 or above, yet the Pixel 6a packs a flagship-level experience for about half that price.
Most camera phones on our list start at $899 or above, yet the Pixel 6a packs a flagship-level experience for about half that price. Pocket-friendly design: Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are large, boxy devices. The Pixel 6a compresses the best features into a smaller, more manageable package.
Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are large, boxy devices. The Pixel 6a compresses the best features into a smaller, more manageable package. Tensor-powered processing: The same powerful Tensor chip from Google’s latest flagships is right at home on the Pixel 6a. That means it’s capable of matching the image processing potential with Real Tone and Face Unblur, though it skips a few of the most advanced features like Motion Mode.
The Oppo Find X5 Pro is the best-looking camera phone
Oppo Find X5 Pro Exquisite design • Brilliant 120Hz display • Fast charging A mix of beauty and power The Oppo Find X5 Pro is a thing of beauty, but there's more to the phone than looks alone. It has all the power you need and supports fast charging that gets the battery from zero to full in around 30 minutes. Then there's the great display, an excellent low-light camera, and more. $1,405.00 at Amazon
Style isn’t always a defining factor when buying a great camera phone, but when it looks as good as the Oppo Find X5 Pro, it’s worth mentioning. The flagship is a direct successor to the equally stylish Find X3 Pro, even if it swaps the mirrored finish for a serene white one. You’ll notice the brand skipped a Find X4 model, as the number four is considered unlucky in China. Unlucky or not, the fourth Find flagship is a showcase for the best that Oppo has going right now. However, this is a Europe-only recommendation, as it’s not easy to bring to the US right now.
Oppo’s well-rounded approach to photography is what earns the Find X5 Pro its place on our list. It skips the lenses for lenses’ sake approach, instead sporting just three rear cameras. Two are 50MP Sony IMX766 lenses, one wide and one ultrawide, and both deliver solid results for casual use. The third is a 13MP telephoto, which is just as capable of holding its own. It may come across as odd to praise the removal of a lens, but Oppo’s decision to skip the 60x super macro from the Find X3 Pro means the two existing lenses have more freedom to breathe.
The Find X5 Pro was the fourth horseman in our ultimate camera test, and it often wound up in second or third position behind the top two phones on our list. We found that the phone had no problems nailing exposure and white balance in outdoor situations, along with decent details. Its 2x zoom results are on par with its standard snaps, thanks to its telephoto lens. However, it does fall behind a few rivals once you stretch to 5x and 10x zoom as the 2x telephoto turns to digital cropping.
Despite its Hasselblad co-branding and premium color science, we also found that the Find X5 Pro leaned heavily on saturated colors to make images more appealing. A few of our test images show Oppo’s sky as a completely different shade of blue as compared to its top competitors. The Find X5 Pro makes up some ground in its application of HDR, however, only coming up short of the Pixel 6 Pro based on its color profile. It rarely crushes shadows and often manages to find details where the iPhone and Galaxy S22 Ultra come up short.
Oppo, like OnePlus, has turned to Hasselblad for a dose of color science.
Oppo’s selfie camera performed better than most during our time with it as well. It inserts an extra white pixel into the standard RGB filter to help with light capture, and we found that it wasn’t just a claim for the spec sheet. Our samples were well exposed with minimal noise, though the details can be a bit soft. We did appreciate the ability to tune the Find X5 Pro’s bokeh for portrait mode, which isn’t always a guarantee.
No matter the hardware muscle, Oppo’s Marisilicon X NPU steals much of the fanfare. It’s the brains behind the brawn, and the chip is essentially designed to run Oppo’s AI imaging algorithms on the camera’s RAW data to improve noise reduction and low light performance. Regardless of the technical jargon, the chip combines impressively with both of Oppo’s lenses to deliver great night mode images. We tested its mettle on the ultrawide, standard, and zoom settings and had no qualms with the results — which is especially impressive for the zoom option. You’ll need night mode for any luck in the dark, as Oppo’s cameras tended to struggle without the feature active.
Moving beyond the camera, Oppo’s 80W wired SuperVOOC fast charging and 50W wireless charging can both fill the 5,000mAh cell in a hurry. We also achieved somewhere in the range of six to eight hours of screen on time with reasonably heavy use, landing among the best Android phones on the market. The results are good considering the power requirements of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. Like previous Oppo flagships, the device comes tuned to a lower performance setting out of the box to maximize that battery potential. It delivers great results in terms of graphical performance, even if the raw numbers don’t always add up. Read next: Proprietary charging used to be a necessary evil, now it’s just evil
What makes it stand out: Space-age style: Oppo introduced an almost Star Wars-esque style with its Find X3 Pro, and it’s nice to see a return. The camera array once again seems to melt into the back of the phone, even if the Hasselblad branding is a bit large.
Oppo introduced an almost Star Wars-esque style with its Find X3 Pro, and it’s nice to see a return. The camera array once again seems to melt into the back of the phone, even if the Hasselblad branding is a bit large. Excellent charging and battery life: 80W wired charging is excellent, regardless of battery size. Oppo’s 50W wireless speeds are remarkable, too, and the 5,000mAh cell lasts for hours upon hours.
80W wired charging is excellent, regardless of battery size. Oppo’s 50W wireless speeds are remarkable, too, and the 5,000mAh cell lasts for hours upon hours. MariSilicon magic: Like Google, Oppo has realized that the best smarts are behind the camera. The MariSilicon X NPU offers excellent processing capabilities, especially in low-light situations. It buoys the already impressive trio of cameras even further towards the top.
The Vivo X80 Pro is one of the best co-branded camera phones
Vivo X80 Pro Best in-display fingerprint sensor • Great battery life • Capable main camera Vivo's flagship phone for 2022 The Vivo X80 Pro doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's still a welcome upgrade over its already great predecessor. Rs86,999.00 at Vivo
The last entry on our list of the best camera phones right now is another Europe-only offering in the Vivo X80 Pro. Like the Find X5 Pro, it adds updates to an already impressive flagship — the Vivo X70 Pro. It brings a standard set of changes for 2022, like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, faster wired and wireless charging, and a 120Hz QHD+ display.
In our review, we were quick to point out that the camera has been a particular strength for Vivo over the last few years, and the X80 Pro carries the torch for another year. There aren’t too many changes to the overall setup, though the micro-gimbal stabilization has migrated from the ultrawide lens to the 2x telephoto. Depending on which peripheral lens you prefer, you might love or hate this. If you’re not entirely sure what this means, essentially the lens and sensor are able to tilt on the X or Y axis to stabilize your images or videos. One thing you might not love is the massive camera housing. It’s about the same size as the one found on the Vivo X70 Pro and stretches across the entire back panel.
The camera bump may be huge, but Vivo's lenses put it to good use.
The hefty camera bump houses a 50MP main camera, a 48MP ultrawide option, 12MP telephoto (with micro-gimbal stabilization), and an 8MP periscope. Overall, the flexibility is excellent, as are the daytime images through the primary camera. The saturation is pleasant if a little heavy, but you can toggle Zeiss True Color if you want more realistic hues. Noise is minimal, though there were occasions where the results had less resolvable detail.
Vivo’s ultrawide lens doesn’t suffer too much despite the loss of micro-gimbal stabilization. It’s still plenty sharp with minimal noise and healthy amounts of detail. The ultrawide occasionally boosts contrast and crushes black hues here and there, but we’re sore about the lack of distortion correction, even in post-processing. It does don the mantle of macro support, which is common among most of the phones on this list. You might, however, find yourself turning Vivo’s Super Macro mode off entirely, given that many of our images came out artificially over-sharpened.
If you want to test Vivo’s low-light chops, you’ll need a pitch-black scenario. We found that the primary camera adapts far better than the ultrawide, maintaining details where its complement struggles. The X80 Pro even has its take on Google’s Action Pan, called Sports Pan, though it only works in scenes where it can recognize human forms.
Overall, the Vivo X80 Pro is another strong step forward for a brand rapidly building a name in smartphone photography. Did we mention it still comes with a charger in the box?
What makes it stand out: Bundled charger: We just mentioned it, but the X80 Pro still comes with a charger in the box. It supports Vivo’s proprietary 80W speeds, and we found it was able to fill the battery in just 37 minutes.
We just mentioned it, but the X80 Pro still comes with a charger in the box. It supports Vivo’s proprietary 80W speeds, and we found it was able to fill the battery in just 37 minutes. Fingerprint sensor: In-display fingerprint readers are the go-to for most flagships, so it’s saying something when one stands out. We found the X80 Pro’s unit fast and reliable throughout our testing.
In-display fingerprint readers are the go-to for most flagships, so it’s saying something when one stands out. We found the X80 Pro’s unit fast and reliable throughout our testing. Steady as she goes: Moving the micro-gimbal stabilization to the telephoto camera helps to keep your shots in focus as you zoom in further. Hand shake can easily ruin a zoomed-in image, so we’re happy with any help we can get.
What to look for in a good camera phone If you’ve read through our picks for the best camera phones and still have some questions, we don’t blame you. There’s a wide world of options, and it can be tough to know where to start. With that in mind, we have a few simple points to consider: How many cameras do you need? There’s a popular trend where smartphone makers slap as many cameras onto a phone as they can to make you think it’s better. You might find four lenses on a $300 device, but you may never use them all, and they may not hold a candle to a pair of higher-quality lenses. No matter what, you can ignore devices that pass off macro cameras and depth sensors as extra lenses to fill space. A good ultrawide camera can take the place of a macro, and depth information rarely requires its own sensor.
There’s a popular trend where smartphone makers slap as many cameras onto a phone as they can to make you think it’s better. You might find four lenses on a $300 device, but you may never use them all, and they may not hold a candle to a pair of higher-quality lenses. No matter what, you can ignore devices that pass off macro cameras and depth sensors as extra lenses to fill space. A good ultrawide camera can take the place of a macro, and depth information rarely requires its own sensor. What type of cameras do you need? Picking up from the point above, it’s good to consider the type of images you want to capture. If you’re into landscapes, you might want a sweeping ultrawide lens to bring in every last detail. However, you might find yourself looking for a telephoto lens if you’re hoping to capture some wildlife. Some of the best cameras, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro, offer both types of lenses, which makes them better as all-around performers.
Picking up from the point above, it’s good to consider the type of images you want to capture. If you’re into landscapes, you might want a sweeping ultrawide lens to bring in every last detail. However, you might find yourself looking for a telephoto lens if you’re hoping to capture some wildlife. Some of the best cameras, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro, offer both types of lenses, which makes them better as all-around performers. Megapixels aren’t everything: Just like the fact that four cameras aren’t always better than three, 108MP isn’t always better than 12MP. Many cameras with massive megapixel counts bin down to smaller images by default, while some 12MP lenses take advantage of larger sensors for excellent results. Google stuck with a 12.2MP primary sensor for years before adopting (and binning) a larger sensor for the Pixel 6 series.
Just like the fact that four cameras aren’t always better than three, 108MP isn’t always better than 12MP. Many cameras with massive megapixel counts bin down to smaller images by default, while some 12MP lenses take advantage of larger sensors for excellent results. Google stuck with a 12.2MP primary sensor for years before adopting (and binning) a larger sensor for the Pixel 6 series. Do you want manual controls? If you’re coming from the world of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, you might like a little more control in your life. Some phones offer in-depth apps that let you tweak your aperture, white balance, and exposure compensation. If none of those terms sound familiar, you might be after a device with a more straightforward setup. The Pixel 6 Pro, for example, lets you control portrait mode and a few basic effects but limits your manual power in favor of the Tensor’s smarts. If you’d rather do it all yourself, the Xperia Pro-I is a perfect example of a mighty manual setup — it doesn’t even have a dedicated portrait mode.
If you’re coming from the world of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, you might like a little more control in your life. Some phones offer in-depth apps that let you tweak your aperture, white balance, and exposure compensation. If none of those terms sound familiar, you might be after a device with a more straightforward setup. The Pixel 6 Pro, for example, lets you control portrait mode and a few basic effects but limits your manual power in favor of the Tensor’s smarts. If you’d rather do it all yourself, the Xperia Pro-I is a perfect example of a mighty manual setup — it doesn’t even have a dedicated portrait mode. Software matters a lot: Sticking with the Pixel example, one of the reasons that Google didn’t update its hardware very often was because the processing software is just that good. Two phones may share the same image sensor yet produce completely different results, which all comes back to the onboard software. Powerful software also leads to better editing control over colors and object removal.
Sticking with the Pixel example, one of the reasons that Google didn’t update its hardware very often was because the processing software is just that good. Two phones may share the same image sensor yet produce completely different results, which all comes back to the onboard software. Powerful software also leads to better editing control over colors and object removal. Do you need RAW capture? A few smartphones, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max offer the option to export your photos as RAW files. You’ll typically want a phone with this option if you plan to edit your shots later on in a program like Lightroom, as it gives you more control over the image data to recover highlights and shadows. The Oppo Find X5 Pro also runs RAW data through its MariSilicon X chip as part of its processing method.
Which smartphone has the best selfie camera? Most phones with excellent rear cameras have strong selfie options as well. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and Pixel 6 Pro stand out as especially good, and you can check out our full list of recommendations here.
Does a higher megapixel count mean a better camera? No, not necessarily. The iPhone 13 Pro Max carries three 12MP lenses, yet it’s one of the best cameras you can get, thanks to its processing power. Google’s Pixel line has also historically stuck to lower megapixel sensors and let it machine learning do the work.
Do you need a 108MP camera? No. Most smartphones will combine pixels from a larger camera in a process known as pixel binning. This turns a 64MP or 108MP camera into the equivalent of a 12MP camera for better low-light performance and smaller image files.
Are Android cameras or iPhone cameras better? This is a difficult question to answer, as there are so many more Android cameras to choose from. There are many more Android flagships to choose from, but the iPhone has a consistently excellent camera setup year in and year out.
Will smartphone cameras replace DSLRs? Large, heavy DSLRs have already fallen in popularity over the last few years and will likely be replaced by smartphones for average users. Professional photographers, however, will continue to rely on dedicated cameras with larger sensors for commercial work and wedding photography.