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Best Camera Phones 2019 | Top Smartphone Cameras Reviewed
Phone advice | Feb 18, 2022
Best Camera Phones 2019
Our take on the best smartphone cameras right now!
Nowadays, smartphones are leading the way in the majority of tech fields, from super-fast connectivity to AI technology, it seems the only way is up for these handy devices. Cameras are also picking up the pace in smartphone tech - why lumber yourself with a digital camera, when you can take a just as professional-looking photo on your phone?
With the demand for a top-quality built-in camera only growing in importance, here we look at the best smartphone cameras of 2019.
What makes a good mobile phone camera?
Before we dive in to the top ten, let’s look at what actually makes a good camera – after all, it’s about much more than a few megapixels these days!
Here’s a useful list of features to look out for when searching for your next smartphone:
Low f-stop number and bright aperture
Often written as, for example, f/1.8, what’s referred to as the f-stop number relates to the camera’s aperture settings. Aperture is all about how much light the camera lets in, and the smaller the f-stop number, the wider the lens opens, and therefore the more light it lets in.
The ‘lower’ you’re able to set the aperture, the better the camera will be at performing in low light conditions.
Having more than one lens gives you the benefit of multiple cameras in one. Each lens might come with its own properties, such as wide-angle or telephoto.
Slow motion capabilities
Slow motion can be a great feature if you want to capture more exciting content.
Adding a bokeh effect simply means the main feature of your image is in clear detail, while the background is out-of-focus giving it a blurred effect. It can be a great way to add a touch of professionalism to your shots.
4K video recording
This means you’ll be able to record video in 4K, one step higher than High Definition (HD).
High number of megapixels
The higher the number of megapixels a camera is capable of shooting, the more detail the photos will hold. A high level of MP is ideal if you plan on printing your photos, but in smartphones, it’s not always the end of the world if there are fewer MPs, it’s the combination of features overall that help make it better.
The ten best camera phones right now
Looking for the latest and best camera phone? Check out our top ten.
Huawei P30 Pro
Excellent quality all-round, whether that’s in low light, shooting wide-angles or just about anything in between.
Top features: The P30 Pro has been rated number 1 by the experts behind the industry standard for camera quality - DxOMark. This quad-lens camera system is loaded up with a huge 40MP Super Sensing camera, an equally as impressive 20MP ultra-wide lens for squeezing in more of the action into one shot, and 8MP telephoto lens and a unique Time of Flight sensor.
The Time of Flight sensor of the P30 Pro is an innovative addition to the already multi-lens camera, and it's designed to specifically measure the depth of an object, resulting in professional level bokeh.
Pros: One of the best smartphone cameras on the market right now.
Cons: Handset design some may find tricky to hold.
Google Pixel 3
Known for being one of the best camera phones on the market right now, the Google Pixel 3 is certainly impressive.
Top features: With one of the most outstanding Portrait Mode results to date on a smartphone, the Pixel 3 certainly doesn't need a dual-lens set up. The single 12.2MP rear camera produces incredible results, with sharp images guaranteed in any environment.
The added Night Sight feature helps the Pixel 3 to perform in low light too. In fact, this device can shoot in complete darkness and still create a brilliant photo. The phone also boasts 4K30fps video capability and, on the front, there's a dual-lens 8MP camera with wide and ultra-wide shooting capabilities for that perfect group selfie.
Pros: Excellent quality and detail, incredibly good quality screen despite its standalone specs seeming less good in isolation.
Cons: It doesn’t have a wide-angle lens, but don’t let that detract from how good this camera is.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
This phone is generally an overall good all-rounder. It has a multiple lens True Vision camera, featuring dual aperture technology making it great in low light.
Top features: The triple-lens rear camera on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is loaded with the right specs to capture defined, detailed photos in any light. The 12MP telephoto lens is ideal for portrait photography, the 12MP wide-angle camera expands your horizons so you can fit more into the frame and the 16MP ultra-wide angle camera pushes the boundaries even more - perfect for group shots and landscape pictures.
The rear camera also has dual optical image stabilization for optimum focus, up to 10x digital zoom and the 12MP wide-angle lens offers dual-aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4 to ensure you're covered in daylight or low light.
Pros: Excellent detail, and excellent in a variety of light conditions.
Cons: Some may find the handset large.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
An excellent camera from a more than reliable brand, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus not only provides a bigger screen, but a great experience for budding smartphone photographers.
Tops features: There's a dual-lens 12MP+12MP camera system on the rear, with the wide 12MP lens offering dual aperture (that's both f/1.5 and f/2.4) for greater flexibility. As well as ensuring you can take amazing photos during the day and in darker settings, the other 12MP telephoto lens ensures creating portrait images is easy.
The S9 Plus has a built-in Live Focus feature too and bokeh filters to add depth, and you'll also be able to shoot in Super Slow-Mo at 960 fps with this device - ideal if you want to dabble in film as well as photography.
Pros: Performs well in low light (thanks to the f/1.5 aperture).
Cons: A relatively large handset.
Known for its easy-to-use iOS, the iPhone XS’s camera follows suit. If you want a fuss-free way to take excellent photos, this is likely to be the phone for you.
Top features: The iPhone XS also sports a dual-lens 12MP camera, and offers an innovative feature known as Depth Control. Depth Control enables the user to manually adjust the shooter's depth of field, meaning you have more control over the outcome of your shot - you can even switch it up after the shutter button has been pressed.
Apple's digital optical image stabilisation is on board the iPhone XS helps to keep your photos in focus too, and if you need to get closer to the action you can use 2x optical or 10x digital zoom.
Pros: Excellent video quality as well as photos.
Cons: It’s an Apple product, so it’s going to be pricey.
Huawei P20 Pro
Known for being one of the best smartphone cameras around at its time of release, the Huawei P20 Pro certainly set the bar high.
Top features: The predecessor of the Huawei P30 Pro, the Huawei P20 Pro also boasts one of the highest rated smartphone cameras to ever exist. This triple-lens camera system is made up of a 40MP+20MP+8MP setup, alongside a whopping 24MP camera on the front.
Powered by photography experts Lecia, the 40MP RGB sensor helps to capture more light, the 20MP monochrome sensor assists with depth simulation for a bokeh effect while also improving image quality when zooming by reducing noise levels,
Pros: Great in low light thanks to night model.
Cons: Could be sharper.
If you’re on a budget, you’re going to love this handset. For the price point, what you get in terms of camera tech is pretty impressive!
Key features: The dual 12MP+5MP camera setup on the Moto G6 is particularly impressive when you consider the handset's price. The 12MP lens has a wide aperture of f/1.8 to enable more light to enter the sensor, meaning you're less likely to struggle in darker conditions and bokeh is possible.
Built inside the Moto G6's camera is its unique object and landmark recognition feature too, which will identify whatever you point the camera at. The 8MP selfie camera and 1080p video feature are both great as well.
Pros: It’s cheap!
Cons: Some feel the camera is slow.
Samsung Galaxy S9
An excellent all-rounder, you can expect a quality performance in just about all aspects of smartphone photography with this handset.
Top features: The Samsung Galaxy S9 has a similar camera to its bigger brother, the Samsung Galaxy S9+. It's built with a single 12MP rear camera, but still features a dual aperture meaning the lens has two f stops: f/1.5 and f/2.4 - ideal for day and night.
There's a handy auto mode to make it easier than ever to point and shoot, and the 8MP front-facing camera is well-equipped to capture your best side.
Dual-aperture technology, excellent ‘auto’ mode, simple interface making it easy to use.
Pros: It’s excellent in low-light.
Cons: It’s the same as its predecessor.
iPhone 8 Plus
With Apple’s super user-friendly interface coupled with a highly rated selfie camera, Apple fans will love the usability of the iPhone 8 Plus’ camera.
Top features: The iPhone 8 Plus has dual 12MP cameras on the rear, sporting an f/2.8 telephoto camera and an optically stabilised camera with an aperture of f/1.9. With an updated sensor on board, Apple claim the iPhone 8 Plus is faster than all previous models before it, and the new image signal processor means you can expect incredible detail and more vibrant colours from each shot.
Auto HDR is loaded onto the 8 Plus' camera to ensure you always take a great shot, and the telephoto camera enables a 2x zoom without quality loss. Portrait Lighting uses face tracking to identify the subject of the photo and Portrait Mode recreates a bokeh effect beautifully for an all-round amazing professional image. The 8MP front-facing camera won't let you down either - ideal for selfies, group shots and FaceTime.
Pros: Great for selfie lovers.
Cons: Some may find the handset too large.
Sony Xperia XZ3
If being able to record top-quality videos is something that’s on your ‘must-have’ list, then this is the smartphone for you.
Top features: The XZ3 uses Sony's expert imaging technology to create the intelligent Motion Eye™ 19MP rear camera. Despite only having one lens, bokeh is still possible thanks to built-in AI software, as is Smart launch - a feature which preps the camera in advance when you hold the XZ3 in landscape mode to ensure you get the perfect photo.
Sony's Predictive Capture detects movement and smiles too when the camera is open, snapping images both before during and after you press the shutter button. You'll get to pick your favourite - ideal for candid moments. The XZ3 can also shoot in 4K HDR and 960fps Full HD Slow Motion, and the front camera measures an impressive 13MP as well.
Pros: Great for those who want to create an edgy bokeh effect in their photos, really impressive video capabilities.
Cons: Not so good when the lighting is dim.
So, there you have it, our take on the best smartphone cameras available. Fancy getting your hands on a used refurbished phone? Browse our full range today and find yourself a bargain.
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