Ranking the top 10 best camera smartphones for this year is quite a challenge, given how serious most smartphone makers have gotten when it comes to the cameras on their devices. The issue is no longer one of how many pixels or even how many lenses the phones have. Software and other features play significant roles too. After reading a plethora of reviews, we’ve come up with our own list of the top 10 best camera smartphones for 2019.
Huawei P30 Pro
Even though Huawei isn’t the most popular smartphone maker in the U.S., it has still captured a lot of attention with its P30 Pro, and it’s easy to see why. The P30 Pro was released in April, and it features a 40-megapixel wide angle lens with f/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization, a 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with f.2.2 aperture, and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with f/3.4 aperture and optical image stabilization. The rear camera also sports a time-of-flight sensor, and the selfie camera is 32 megapixels.
Multiple reviewers have praised the P30 Pro’s ability to capture photos in low light. Many have also highlighted the phone’s telephoto lens for its extremely detailed zoom capability. One other thing that makes the P30 Pro stand out from the rest is its use of a red-yellow-yellow-blue sensor, which is an improvement over the standard red-green-blue sensor most smartphone cameras have. This sensor makes the phone able to capture more detail and fewer shadows than its competitors.
The Huawei P30 Pro is priced at $750.
Google Pixel 3/ XL
Google has made a name for itself in the world of smartphone cameras with the pixel line, and the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are no exceptions. Just about the only thing that could make these cameras better is more lenses. Unlike the others on this list of the top 10 best smartphone cameras, the Pixel 3 line-up has only a single-lens rear camera.
The Pixel 3 sports a 12.2-megapixel rear-facing camera with f/1.8 aperture and 8-megapixel selfie camera with f/1.8 aperture. It does have optical image stabilization. Despite having only one lens, the Google Pixel 3 manages to capture more detail than other cameras on this list thanks to Google’s top-of-the-line image processing. The Pixel 3a packs essentially the same camera in a less expensive phone. When the Pixel 4 comes out, possibly later this year, we expect an even more impressive smartphone camera from Google.
The Pixel 3 is priced at $800.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus was released in March and features a triple-lens rear camera with a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. The apertures for the rear camera are f/1.5, f/2.4 and f/2.2. The dual-lens selfie camera features 10-megapixel and 8-megapixel lenses.
Like the Pixel, the Galaxy S10 Plus and its smaller sibling feature exceptional software for high-quality image processing. The camera also features several modes like the bokeh mode called Color Point, which provides a number of manual adjustments to get just the shot you want. The phone’s digital image stabilization works very well, and 4K video comes out looking brilliant.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is priced at $900.
iPhone XS/ XS Max
The iPhone XS and its larger sibling were released in October, but they remain toward the top of the list in terms of smartphone cameras. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, while the selfie camera has a 7-megapixel lens. The rear sensors both have optical image stabilization. The telephoto lens enables more detail to be captured in photos taken from farther away. The controls are very minimalist like Apple’s products generally are, which means you don’t get as many manual controls as you do with the other phones on this list.
The iPhone XS started at $1,000, while the iPhone XS Max launched at $1,100.
Asus ZenFone 6
The Asus ZenFone 6 was released in April, and its rear camera features a 48-megapixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture and 13-megapixel sensor with f/2.4 aperture. One of the more interesting things about the ZenFone 6 is that the rear camera flips around to capture selfies as well. Anyone who loves taking selfies may particularly be interested in this phone because the selfies are captured using the main camera instead of a lesser-quality front-facing camera.
The ZenFone 6 is priced around $500.
OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro was released in May, and its rear camera features a 48-megapixel lens with f/1.6 aperture, an 8-megapixel lens with f/2.4 aperture, and 16-megapixel lens with f/2.2 aperture. The selfie camera has a 16-megapixel lens. While daytime photos taken with the camera are magnificent, one place in which the OnePlus 7 Pro comes up short is in low-light shooting. Still, the camera on this phone is good enough to place it among the 10 best camera smartphones for this year.
The OnePlus 7 Pro starts at $700.
Sony Xperia 1
The Sony Xperia 1, which was revealed in April, features three 12-megapixel sensors on the back with f/1.6, f/2.4, and f/2.4 apertures. The selfie camera is 8 megapixels.
The Xperia 1 earns a place among the top 10 best camera smartphones for this year because of its video shooting capabilities and its manual settings for photos. When the phone’s automatic settings were compared to the Galaxy S10 Plus, its photos were not nearly as detailed or accurate in colors. However, photography enthusiasts who prefer to make a lot of manual adjustments will appreciate being able to do so on this camera.
The Xperia 1 is also an excellent choice for those who shoot a lot of videos. In fact, videographers may find this to be their go-to device because it can capture cinema-style videos in 21:9 ratios. The phone also features Premiere Pro and Davinci Resolve for processing videos as well.
The phone will be priced at $950 when it becomes available in the U.S. this month.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the older phones on this list because it came out in August 2018, but it still has an exceptional camera. It features a pair of 12-megapixel sensors with f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures on the rear lens and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.
Low-light shots come out very clear, and the scene optimizer feature does an excellent job of making adjustments to the white balance and color settings according to various subjects like sunsets, flowers and more. Photos captured with the Note 9 tend are quite detailed, and the S Pen can be used as a remote to take photos, which is a nice addition.
The Galaxy Note 9 is priced at $716, a significant markdown from its launch price as Samsung prepares for its successor, which is expected next month.
Huawei P20 Pro
The Huawei P20 Pro was released in April and features a triple-lens rear camera with 40-megapixel, 20-megapixel and 8-megapixel sensors. The rear camera’s apertures are f/1.8, f/1.6 and f/2.4. The selfie camera has a 24-megapixel lens. The 20-megapixel lens is a black and white sensor designed to improve image processing by decreasing noise in images. The 3x zoom lens enables users to zoom without the need for digital zoom, which means zoomed-in photos tend to have much greater detail than phones which depend fully on digital zoom.
The phone is priced at around $525 on Amazon.
The Xiaomi Mi9 is one of the more affordable phones on this list. It was released in April. The rear camera features a 48-megapixel lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 16-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture, and a 12-megapixel lens with f/2.2 aperture. The selfie camera sports a 20-megapixel lens. Daylight photos come out very clear, although low-light photos leave something to be desired. Portrait mode is also excellent thanks to the phone’s processor. There’s also no optical image stabilization, which means the shutter speeds are shorter.
The Mi9 is priced around $485 on Amazon.