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The Best Camera Phones to Buy in 2024

NextPit Best Camera Phones 2023
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Which phone will have the best camera in 2024? As we approach the end of the year, the most significant camera smartphones, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 8 Pro, are now available for purchase. We now have a comprehensive overview of the most powerful devices for your photos and videos in 2024.

The best camera phones in 2024 compared

Table of Contents:

Smartphones offer more than just good cameras. Below, you can read about our top camera phone picks. However, to learn more, you'll find links to detailed reviews of each phone. But first, let's explore what makes a camera phone great and understand some basic terms.

Buying guide: How to find the best camera phone?

Before we go into more detail about our selection of smartphones with the best cameras, we would first want to elaborate on a few basic smartphone camera features that you will come across time and again in our reviews.

What distinguishes a good camera from a bad one?

Detailed reproduction

When it comes to detailed reproduction of a scene, the more pixels the better. This is because you can print larger photos or crop them later and still end up with a pretty good quality image. While almost all current smartphones offer excellent quality with the main camera, it is the zoom performance that separates the wheat from the chaff. For example, if having powerful zoom is important to you, you should choose a smartphone with two zoom lenses.

Camera Zoom Comparison
A closer look: Different smartphones show significant differences in detail at 5x zoom. / © nextpit

Every smartphone has different strengths and weaknesses, that's for sure. This is why you should consider where you normally snap photos. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, for example, begins to see visual quality deteriorate more starting from 3x, where it can only shoot at native focal length again at 10x. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra, on the other hand, distributes its lenses more evenly across the entire focal length range.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra
These two charts illustrate the different philosophies of Samsung and Xiaomi in terms of effective megapixels and available sensor size in square millimeters as a function of focal lengths. Above, we photographed at 5x (approx. 125 mm)—where Samsung sees more and more deterioration, Xiaomi does otherwise. / © nextpit

If you do not need plenty of zoom performance but prefer to take panorama shots, then it is best to look out for a powerful camera module behind the ultra-wide angle lens. Of course, a good sensor for the main camera goes a long way, too. Large sensors, in particular, are less susceptible to image noise in low-light conditions.

Finally, the manufacturer's algorithms always play an important role. Major players like Apple, Samsung and Google—are traditionally ahead of the minnows in this department.

Colors: White balance

What is "white balance"? Your brain constantly analyzes the ambient light and answers this question for you every second, always ensuring that you can recognize colors relatively correctly. In cameras, image recognition algorithms must continuously handle this "white balance". This is easy to do so in daylight, but the difficulty ramps up in artificial or even mixed light conditions.

Camera Zoom Comparison
At 5x zoom, significant differences in highly detailed shots are noticeable in different smartphones. / © nextpit

In the subject shown above, cold evening light comes in through the window from the left, and warm artificial light shines on the office dog and the creamy white coat from the right. You can see for yourself here how the four different smartphones handle color temperatures differently. Apple and Samsung are clearly too cold in this picture, the Pixel 7 Pro is very neutral and the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is a bit too warm.

At the same time, you can see the challenge of achieving correct exposure in this picture: Just like the correct white balance, smartphones also have to accurately determine what is really bright and what is dark. Which image do you like best here? I look forward to hearing your opinions in the comments!

Colors: Skin tones

It doesn't matter if you're Caucasian, Asian, or African-American: everyone's skin tone is the same. What does change—in terms of colorimetry—however, is the amount of gray. This, in turn, means that we can determine what is a good color rendering and what is not, regardless of skin type.

Portrait comparison
The white point cloud shows the distribution of the color tones in the spectrometer. By the way, the sample area here is Camila's forehead, reference the so-called "skin tone" line between yellow and red. / © nextpit

So, what is "good" color reproduction? We can find an answer to this, for example, in the terrific Color Grading Handbook by Alexis Van Hurkman*: For Caucasians, Hurkman recommends a saturation of 40% and about 2° above the "skin tone" line. With this, the iPhone 14 Pro Max would be a tad too yellow-green here, and all smartphones except the Xiaomi 13 Ultra would be a bit too saturated.

Besides that, there are of course numerous other parameters to consider, but most of them can be adjusted. For example, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra flattens faces quite a bit with the default settings, but the effect can be changed in portrait mode.

How many cameras are good enough?

Obviously, the more cameras your smartphone has, the more flexible you can be when taking pictures. The main sensors, for example, usually have a focal length of 24 to 26 millimeters, which is equivalent to 35 mm. This corresponds to a relatively large angle of view and is well suited for landscape and city shots, for example.

For portraits or distant subjects, however, you need a telephoto zoom lens, usually between about 70 and 240 millimeters. The higher the resolution of the main camera, the more room you have for a digital zoom without having to rely on a real telephoto lens. It is unfortunate that the law of physics simply sets limits in this aspect. On the other hand, many smartphones offer an ultra-wide angle camera that is suitable for particularly wide subjects.

All other sensors for bokeh, macro, black-and-white, and others fall under the category of "data sheet padding" and have virtually no use.

Samsung Galaxy A53 camera module up close
Typical for a mid-range smartphone: Out of the four cameras, at best two are useful: low-resolution macro and bokeh sensors only benefit the specs sheet. / © nextpit

What do focal length and optical zoom mean?

The focal length of a camera is always shown in millimeters. The higher the number, the more "powerful the zoom", which translates to more magnification you get. The main cameras of smartphones usually range from 24 to 26 millimeters in 35 mm equivalent. Ultra-wide-angle cameras with "0.5x" have half the focal length and would be at 12 to 13 millimeters accordingly. A 3x telephoto zoom camera would then be 72 to 78 millimeters in 35 mm equivalent.

The optical zoom of a camera system is the ratio between the smallest and largest focal length. A camera system with 12 to 120 millimeters, therefore, has a 10x zoom. In the case of smartphones, however, the manufacturers usually calculate from the main camera—from 24 to 120 millimeters would therefore be a 5x zoom according to this calculation method, and an ultra-wide angle camera with 12 millimeters is 0.5x.

As if that weren't weird enough, manufacturers replace the upper optical focal length with an arbitrary maximum value for a digital zoom to calculate the zoom factor—and then come up with a 50x, 100x, or 200x zoom that has long since lost any meaning.

What does the sensor size mean?

Another important point for estimating the image quality is the size of the image sensors in smartphones. The larger the sensor, the more light it captures and, in turn, the better the image quality. The sensor size is usually specified in 1/1.2-inch format—the smaller the number under the fraction, the larger the sensor and the better the expected image quality.

Sensor size is also directly related to pixel size via resolution. Roughly speaking, the pixel size in microns is calculated by dividing the edge length of the sensor by the horizontal or vertical resolution. The larger the pixels, the more light they capture and the better the image quality.

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra
The Motorola Edge 30 Ultra has a large 200-megapixel sensor. / © nextpit

What is an aperture?

The term "aperture" describes the focal length of the optical system in relation to the diameter of the entrance pupil of the lens. It sounds complicated, but you only need to remember one thing here: The smaller the number, the more light is allowed into the sensor, and the less image noise you will theoretically have at night. Therefore, F1.6 is better than F2.0. The f-number is often also written as aperture ratio, then in the format f/2.0.

Of all the technical key data of smartphone cameras, however, one great unknown quantity remains: image processing in the smartphone. The quality of the algorithms that convert the raw data from the sensor into JPEG or HEIC images is often more important than the technical data of the smartphone camera.

Therefore, it is always worth taking a look at our sample photo galleries, which nextpit provides in their original size for all current smartphone reviews, apart from the spec sheet.

The best camera smartphones in 2024

If you're looking for a top-camera smartphone at the beginning of 2024, the Google Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are the best Android choices. For Apple enthusiasts, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the premier option for camera quality.

There are also excellent camera phones available for under $1,000. In this price range, Google leads with the Pixel 8, along with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a. For the first time on our list of camera phones, we've included a foldable device: the OnePlus Open. It earns the title of the most capable foldable phone for photography ever released. Let's take a closer look at these devices one by one.

The best camera smartphone 2024: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera module close up
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is equipped with a 50 MP main camera, which is complemented by two 48 MP lenses for ultra-wide-angle and telephoto shots. / © nextpit

Read the Google Pixel 8 Pro review

In our last camera blind test of the year, the nextpit community chose the Google Pixel 8 Pro as the best camera in a smartphone for 2024.

The Pixel flagship's 50 MP main camera features an f/1.68 aperture and a 1/1.31-inch sensor. It's accompanied by a 48 MP ultra-wide-angle camera with a 125.5-degree field of view, which can also handle macro photography.

The camera system is rounded off with a 5x telephoto zoom camera at 48 MP. Image stabilization is both optical and electronic. At the front, there's a 10.5 MP selfie camera in the punch hole.

A standout feature of all these cameras is their access to the company's advanced AI capabilities. The software, with tools like the Magic Eraser, Best Take, and the new Magic Editor, enhances your photos significantly. With more software updates on the horizon, the Pixel 8 Pro's camera is set to get even better over time.

Speaking of longevity: with a seven-year update guarantee, you can enjoy this smartphone for a long time. Naturally, its other specs are just as impressive. It features the latest Tensor 3 SoC, a 6.7-inch OLED display, 12 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of storage.

The device is encased in an IP68-certified housing and is equipped with a 30 W rechargeable battery boasting a capacity of 5,050 mAh. It goes without saying that the display runs on the brand-new Android 14 in its purest form.

If you're interested in purchasing it, the recommended retail price is $999.

The best Android alternative: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

A detailed look at the Galaxy S23 Ultra's cameras
Samsung's quad-camera module in the Galaxy S23 Ultra is terrific. / © nextpit

Read the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

If you want the ultimate flagship, then there is no way around the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which simply offers incredibly good performance in all aspects. Of course, this also applies to the excellent and enormously versatile camera with the bombastic 200 MP main sensor.

The 10x optical zoom is also really fun, although the large gap in the focal length range reduces its flexibility by quite a bit. There's also 8K video recording and plenty of exciting shooting modes.

The South Koreans also delivered great performance apart from the camera. From the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC to the fantastic QHD+ display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a powerful battery life, the Galaxy S23 Ultra really is "ultra" in all aspects.

This also applies to the software: Samsung's update policy of four years of Android updates and five years of security patches is simply top-notch.

The best camera iPhone from Apple: iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max camera module highlighted
If you're looking for the best camera in the Apple cosmos, you can't go past the iPhone 15 Pro Max. / © nextpit

Read the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the spearhead of camera smartphones from Apple. It has a triple camera, consisting of a main camera with 48 MP (f/1.78 aperture), an ultra-wide-angle camera with 12 MP (f/2.2 aperture), and a telephoto lens with 12 MP (f/2.8 aperture).

The telephoto lens has a 5x optical zoom, whereas in the previous generation you had to make do with a 3x zoom. There is also still a 12 MP selfie camera at the front.

Remarkable: Both the front and rear camera sensors can film in 4K at 60 fps. In addition to the versatility of the camera system, the quality of the telephoto zoom and the portrait mode were praised in our reviews.

Best camera smartphone up to $1,000: Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 camera module up close
The iconic camera bar has also been retained for the Pixel 8. / © nextpit

Read the Google Pixel 8 review

Of course, the basic 2023 model should not be missing from the big Pixel festival. The Pixel 8 "only" has a dual camera like its predecessor, but it is impressive. The main camera offers exactly the same key data as its Pro brother, i.e. 50 MP, f/1.68 aperture, and a pixel size of 1.2 μm.

The ultra-wide-angle camera with 12 MP and f/2.2 aperture, on the other hand, falls short, but of course without disappointing. At night, the fact that you can't keep up with the Pixel 8 Pro Cam with the ultra-wide angle is noticeable in a negative way, but apart from that, these images are almost as impressive as those of the main camera.

The 2x zoom is also impressive and, as is usually the case with Pixel phones, and Google also excels in the AI functions. The range of functions is identical to that of the large Pixel 8 Pro, but this also means that some of the previously announced functions are not yet ready for launch.

Here too, regardless of the cam, you get a powerful smartphone with a Tensor 3 chipset, 6.2-inch OLED display, 8 GB and up to 256 GB memory. Another big advantage over the competition here: Pure Android 14 and a tempting update promise of seven years!

Best camera smartphone up to $600: Google Pixel 7

The back of the Pixel 7 with the focus on the camera bar
The dual camera module of the Google Pixel 7 simulates a 2x optical zoom and zooms up to 8x digitally / © nextpit

Read the Google Pixel 7 review

Compared to the Pixel phones mentioned above, the Google Pixel 7 already has one more year under its belt. However, this also means that its price has fallen more sharply and it has therefore entered the $600 category.

As with the Pixel 8, Google combines a 50 MP main camera with a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle shooter. At 10.8 MP, the resolution at the front is even slightly higher than on the successor.

All cameras deliver 4K videos with 60 fps and the main camera impresses with brilliant images during the day and at night. Only the ultra-wide-angle photos at night are not as great as with the main camera.

The Tensor 2 powers this 6.3-inch device and, as with the Pixel 8, there is up to 256 GB of storage space and 8 GB of RAM. The battery, which has a capacity of 4,355 mAh, can be charged with up to 21 W.

Best camera smartphone up to $400: Google Pixel 6a

A person taking a picture with the Google Pixel 6a surround by lights
Are you looking for a phone with a good camera for less than $400? Then you are absolutely spot on with the Google Pixel 6a! / © nextpit

Read the Google Pixel 6a review

One thing that the camera in the Google Pixel 6a will not win is the prize for the smartphone with the most cameras under the $400 price bracket. The smartphone only has a dual camera configuration and does without the macro and bokeh sensors, which are both common and gimmicky in this price range.

In return, both cameras benefit from Google's sophisticated image processing algorithms and deliver really great photos—almost on the level of the major Pixels.

The Pixel 6a is user-friendly with its straightforward stock Android and reliable long-term updates. It delivers strong performance, thanks to the same Tensor SoC used in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Uniquely for its price, it's IP67 certified, making it dust and water-resistant. One thing to consider is its size: the Pixel 6a is quite compact.

Competition such as Xiaomi does better compared to the Pixel 6a would be the display. The display of the Pixel 6a has a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz. You will also not find wireless charging in this handset, with wired charging happening only at 18 watts.

The best camera foldable phone: OnePlus Open

OnePlus Open camera and cover screen highlighted
The Emerald Dusk color is very elegant, with its matte green derived from glass. / © nextpit

Read the OnePlus Open review

Foldable phones are really popular now. Gone are the days when they were just an exciting concept. Above all of them, we have the OnePlus Open—which is a great camera phone.

Photography fans will really like the camera made by Hasselblad. We've used it for a while and it's great. Its main part is the 48 MP Sony LYTIA-T808 camera. This camera has a big 1/1.43” CMOS sensor and a lens that lets in a lot of light (f/1.7 aperture), so pictures are very clear.

There's also a 64MP zoom camera that can zoom in 3 times without losing quality, 6 times using digital tricks, and up to 120 times with Ultra Res zoom, but this last one isn't as good. Plus, there's a 48MP wide-angle camera that can take wide pictures up to 114°, great for capturing big scenes.

The phone not only looks great but performs even better, and it's more affordable than its competitors. About its features—the OnePlus Open has a design similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 but with its own unique touch. It charges superfast, and its multitasking features, like the 'Recent fold' and OnePlus Canvas, really boost productivity.

In short, if you're in the market for a foldable phone this year that excels in photo and video performance, the OnePlus Open should be your top choice. It's budget-friendly, feature-rich, and simply enjoyable to use.

What do you think of our selection? What models did we miss out on that you think should be included? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments.

This article was updated in January 2024 with current pricing. The previous comments have been retained.

The current best Samsung phones to buy

  Editor's choice S23 with a bigger display 2023 flagship 2023 foldable flagship 2022 fodlable flagship 2023 compact foldable 2022 compact foldable Affordable flagship The popular mid-ranger
Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23+ Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Product Image Samsung Galaxy A54 Product Image
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23+
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Not yet tested
Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Review: Samsung Galaxy A54
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  • $999.99
  • $799.99
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  • $699.99
  • $449.99
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Go to comment (114)
Stefan Möllenhoff

Stefan Möllenhoff
Head of Content Production

I have been writing about technology since 2004 with a strong passion for smartphones, photography, and IoT, especially in the world of smart homes and AI ever since they debuted. I'm also an avid cook and bake pizza at least three times a week using my Ooni Koda 16. In order to compensate for all the consumed calories, I indulge in sporting activities on a daily basis while strapping on at least two fitness trackers. I am strongly convinced that you can DIY a lot of things if you put your mind to it - including a photovoltaic system and power station.

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  • 3
    Kris R Nov 12, 2021 Link to comment

    Really good article, thanks!
    An acquaintance of mine takes pictures on a pixel (he is a professional photographer) and the pictures turn out unreal)

  • 1
    Robert Vadra Nov 12, 2021 Link to comment

    Wonderful post

  • 2
    Ant Kan Dec 1, 2020 Link to comment

    I think Xiaomi is the best one to capture very nice photos without spend a lot of money.

    marco sarli

  • 8
    Adrian Palmer Edwards Nov 25, 2020 Link to comment

    How narrow minded can you be, every true photographer online says this new Sony Xperia 1 ll has the best camera by a mile, they all say it every single one. But, tech reviewers stick to what they are spoon fed, very narrow minded. People read these reviews before they spend $1k+ on a new smartphone, waste of time, by the way I have a Blackberry.

  • 2
    S K Oct 8, 2020 Link to comment

    this article is great with all the relevant information required for mobile photography.thanks


  • Dean L. 34
    Dean L. May 23, 2020 Link to comment

    I have a Sony alpha 6000 and love using it for taking pictures. Bottom line is I always have my phone with me which I probably take >90% of my pictures with. So I have both sides covered. The other key feature I love with my phone is I can shoot video and take pictures at the same time. Just my two pfennig...

    SorinDeactivated Accountmarco sarli

  • marco sarli 39
    marco sarli
    • Admin
    May 22, 2020 Link to comment

    If your interest is photography then you need a real camera

    Rusty H.SorinDean L.Deactivated Account

    • 12
      Franz Fifty May 22, 2020 Link to comment

      no, unless you can shoot with a "real" camera by taking it out of your pocket, point towards something and take great night pictures without a tripod... but since smartphone cameras have become more versatile and far superior in processing, that statement is not true anymore

      Dean L.Sorin

      • Rusty H. 33
        Rusty H. May 26, 2020 Link to comment

        I take night photos without a tripod. If your d-slr/lens has great stability, it can be done. I've taken some fantastic moon photos without a tripod. Now, if you are talking more than 1/2 second exposure, yeah, you'll need a tripod.

        Sorinmarco sarli

  • 46
    Deactivated Account May 22, 2020 Link to comment

    If you want the best pictures buy a DSLR camera. No smart phone with a tiny lens can ever compete with a real quality camera. They can replace the old point and shoot camera but that is about it

    SorinDean L.marco sarli

    • 12
      Franz Fifty May 22, 2020 Link to comment

      didn't know a DSLR can make phone calls or browse the internet..or did i miss something in an article talking about "camera PHONES"?


  • 49
    storm May 22, 2020 Link to comment

    You've managed to pick no phone of interest to me. A camera isn't everything.

    Rusty H.SorinDean L.marco sarliDeactivated Account

  • 3
    MirandaStown Aug 25, 2019 Link to comment

    Samsung phone models take truly superb photos and videos. The quality is excellent!


  • 4
    Deactivated Account May 31, 2018 Link to comment

    S9+'s Variable apeture is fire tho

  • 12
    harshatecordeon May 25, 2018 Link to comment

    i think Huawei is the best one to capture


  • Rusty H. 33
    Rusty H. May 25, 2018 Link to comment

    Another vote for the Mate9, VERY good camera. Using Camera FV-5 or Open camera, it does very well.

    marco sarliDean L.Sorin

  • CJ Brown 29
    CJ Brown Mar 21, 2017 Link to comment

    ZTE Axon 7
    20 Megapixel Back


    Dean L.Sorin

  • 10
    Marius Viney Mar 21, 2017 Link to comment

    What about the LG G5 camera?

    Dean L.Deactivated Account

  • 54
    Deactivated Account Mar 20, 2017 Link to comment

    The Mate 9 is doing very well, and also the nubia Z11, both have excellent cameras, but I can not say how good they are in comparison with the Pixel or Galaxy S7. But anyway they are better then my old S6 edge plus and the honor 5x :)

    SorinRusty H.

  • 46
    Deactivated Account Mar 20, 2017 Link to comment

    Really no LG phones. This is a very biased incomplete article.

    SorinMarius Viney

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