Best Smartphone Camera: These Are The Best Camera Phones in 2021

HD cameras in smartphones have consistently outperformed HD system cameras in everyday life. With the best mobile camera, you can take pictures like a pro and everything you need to find space in your pocket. You can do without bulky lenses with confidence.

For example, our top camera 2021 phone, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, has the three most essential lenses installed simultaneously. Here you’ll find a wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle, and a telephoto zoom lens on the back of a compact device, which can do more than take pictures.

It becomes clear why professionals in the future will only use expensive camera systems.

We at Purdroid want to keep you updated. We are always honest with you, and we also communicate the flaws of the complementary products and technologies openly and honestly. In this article, we will also tell you about the advantages of the camera over camera phones.

In the following paragraphs, you will find out whether a triple camera or a dual camera is more suitable for you and why a large number of megapixels is not everything.

#1 Huawei Mate 40 Pro

With the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, the Chinese are entering their current flagship cell phone in the race for the best high-end smartphone on the market. As with the previous series, Huawei wants to record with a large screen and a long battery life.

The user looks at a 6.7-inch OLED display with a smooth 90Hz refresh rate starting with the screen. Huawei emphasizes the screen’s power with a high display resolution of 2772 x 1344 pixels and excellent illumination of up to 925 cd / m². The Mate 40 Pro fulfills the previous core competencies of Huawei’s high-end hardware.

Battery life is also solid (slightly weaker than its predecessor) and is around 11 hours in everyday use, with a total capacity of 4400mAh. The Mate 40 Pro can also record with a speedy power supply, fully charging the smartphone within 55 minutes. Alternatively, it can be charged wirelessly.

Performance and speed are also decent, with a proprietary product from Huawei in the form of an octa-core processor, which, combined with 8GB of RAM, guarantees a super fast.

The Mate 40 Pro also has a 13MP Ultra HD front camera, which ensures excellent selfies are taken. The triple camera on the back is imposing. With the help of 50MP, 5x optical, and digital zoom, as well as wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle sensors, you can take beautiful photos and videos.

In addition, the Mate 40 Pro scores the best quality of the glass casing, which fits snugly over the metal casing.

Pro

  • for every
  • Powerful Triple Camera
  • Excellent display quality and brightness
  • Fast download
  • powerful processor
  • Expandable Storage
  • IP68 certification (water protection)
  • 5G compatibility
  • Impeccable artistry

Contra

  • No support from Google services
  • Battery life is weaker than before

#2 Huawei P40 Pro Plus

It follows closely in our application Huawei P40 Pro Plus, as a convenient and inexpensive alternative to the Mate 40 Pro. The 2.9GHz processor combined with 8GB of RAM ensures smooth display and running of apps, games, etc.

The 5G mobile has a 6.58-inch OLED screen with a fast refresh rate of 90Hz and a density of 2640 x 1200 pixels. A solid brightness complements the FHD + quality achieved in this way. The display convinces expert standards and delights the user with its ultra-clear display.

The 50MP primary camera’s photo and video recordings can be enjoyed on the true-color screen. The primary camera on the P40 Pro Plus especially shines with its unique zoom features.

In the high-end segment, 512GB of internal storage is undoubtedly more than the competition. Additionally, this can be expanded using an external memory card. Minor flaw: the Chinese manufacturer relies only on the internal memory card, Nano Memory Card (NM).

Huawei Pro 40 Plus can also score as a result of its energy-saving consumption. The 4200mAh battery has a long life and can be charged quickly wirelessly or using the Quick Charge power supply.

Pro

  • for every
  • 5G compatibility
  • HD color screen
  • Excellent zoom camera
  • IP68 certification (water protection)

Contra

  • No support from Google services
  • It can only be expanded with a Huawei memory card

#3 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is processed to a high standard. In addition to the noble metal frame, the South Koreans offer optimum protection against scratches and other impairments. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus intercepted these.

Minor flaw: by raising the camera at the back, the primary cell phone with an uneven center of gravity rests on the table and quickly slides back and forth. Speaking of cameras: The user always enjoys excellent photos with the 40MP front camera and the typical S21 108MP primary camera.

The 6.8-inch OLED display regulates a refresh rate between 10 and 120 Hz depending on the content displayed. Therefore, nothing stands in the way of the smooth running of your games, videos, and applications. The screen brightness is also flawless, with a value of 1265 cd/m² measured in tests. However, in some games, Samsung throttles the image quality.

Like other S21 models, the S21 Ultra 5G scores excellent processor performance. With 2.9GHz and 12GB RAM, the system speed is very high, and you won’t lose any time.

The pure power consumption of the device is sometimes relatively high, but the Apple competitor counteracts it with a 5,000 mAh battery. Battery life varies greatly depending on whether communication and media functions are turned on or off. In general, however, it is at the level of a flagship cell phone.

Pro

  • for every
  • Powerful display with extreme brightness and resolution
  • high system speed
  • perfect camera
  • 5G compatibility
  • Large battery capacity

Contra

  • Storage space cannot be expanded
  • Display limits in games

#4 Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Since October, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max flagship phones have been on the market. On the first day of its release on the market, the devices were already teasing an estimated 1.7 to 2 million Apple fans and tech enthusiasts.

The two 5G Pro variants differ mainly in size and weight. The 12 Pro Max stands for maximum size (for display) at 6.7 inches and 226g, while the 12 Pro with 6.1 inches at 187g is slightly smaller and lighter. Depending on whether size or ease of use is more important to you, you can choose two options.

The processing of the iPhone 12 Pro (Max) is exceptionally high quality, thanks to stainless steel and glass. There is a resistant Ceramic Shield display glass on the front, while the back features a matte glass and stainless steel frame. Minor flaw: the frame is slightly scratched.

New in the iPhone 12 Pro (Max) is a magnet on the back, which is supposed to prevent wireless charging cases or apps from slipping off.

As indicated by expert test reports and benchmarks, iPhone 12 Pro with Apple A14 Bionic has the most powerful system on a chip (SoC) on a mobile device. It is, therefore, at the most advanced level in terms of processor performance and speed.

The device is impressive with its 12MP camera with 4x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom (Pro) or 5x optical zoom and 12x (Pro Max), ensuring high-quality photo and video recordings. It can be stored on up to 512GB of internal storage.

If you’re interested in the differences between the current iPhone 12 models, check out our great iPhone 12 comparison.

Pro

  • for every
  • 5G compatibility
  • Excellent therapist
  • Perfect cameras
  • noble artistry
  • Different versions with similar performance
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Wireless charging
  • IP68 certification (water repellent)

Contra

  • Scratch-resistant stainless steel frame
  • Storage space cannot be expanded.

#5 Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G

In terms of screen brightness, no one beats the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G so fast. The Dynamic AMOLED screen measures 6.9 inches and achieves a peak brightness of 1350 cd/m²—unfortunately, the 120Hz refresh rate paired with a lowered Full HD+ resolution. Alternatively, you can switch to 60Hz at a higher QHD+ resolution.

This creates a bright user interface with fast image reproduction or high resolution, providing the necessary performance thanks to a 2.7 GHz processor combined with 12 GB of RAM. Therefore, the Note20 Ultra 5G also scores points for gamers. Combined with the 120Hz screen and good speakers, mobile gaming is fun.

If you want a compact and light smartphone, you are unfortunately mistaken for the Galaxy Note model. By contrast, the flagship 208G cell phone is covered in an excellently crafted casing of matte glass.

The device is also based on the new Gorilla Glass Victus, robust protection against damage as the first smartphone.

The front camera produces 10MP shots with good resolution. The primary camera of 108 (!!) megapixels is imposing in broad daylight. The camera is also convincing in low-light conditions. It automatically switches to night mode once there is not enough light.

With this size, the 4,500mAh battery ties in with other high-end smartphones from Samsung, Apple, and Co., but the runtime is disguised only if the calling functions are turned off during operation. With moderate usage behavior, the battery will last well for a day. However, if too much is reported, he will not be able to do so.

Pro

  • for every
  • Excellent show
  • good speakers
  • Top Triple Camera
  • expandable memory
  • 5G compatibility
  • IP68 certification (water protection)
  • Excellent artistry

Contra

  • High refresh rate only with lower resolution
  • Battery run times are not at a high level

#6 OnePlus 9 Pro

Who it’s for: The OnePlus 9 Pro is the perfect smartphone for you if you’re a photo lover of high-quality smartphones at an affordable price.

Why we recommend it: In addition to the fair price policy, the OnePlus 9 Pro impresses with photo software from the traditional Swedish manufacturer Hasselblad.

The primary sensor of the camera has 48MP and an open aperture of f/1.8 that ensures images that are rich in color and detail. The sizeable open gap also allows you to take pictures with excellent background blur. The 50MP ultra-wide angle lens is hidden behind another lens.

There is space for stills and 8K videos on the essential equipment’s optional 128 or 256 GB built-in memory. With the Snapdragon 888, the OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the fastest processors on the market.

Eight cores with operating rates between 1.8GHz and 2.8GHz, along with 12GB of RAM, ensure that everything flows smoothly over the 6.7-inch AMOLED display. The resolution of 3216 x 1440 pixels with a refresh rate of 120 Hz makes the OnePlus 9 Pro eye-catching.

Weaknesses, but not deal breakers: At full 8K resolution, videos can only be recorded at 30 frames per second.

Pro

  • for every
  • Slim, almost pure Android
  • Great battery life
  • High-speed charging time
  • high-speed processor
  • Good photo results

Contra

  • Long pregnancy leads to noticeable suffocation
  • Games at only 60 frames per second

#7 Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

The South Korean manufacturer Samsung ranked three times in our ranking of the best high-end mobile phones. Regarding artistry and housing, Samsung follows the current trend with the Galaxy S21 5G, away from rounded screen edges back toward nearly borderless displays. Unfortunately, only plastic was used for the back instead of glass.

Like all other models in the S21 series, the 6.8-inch AMOLED display offers a smooth 120Hz refresh rate with a reasonably average display resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels. Depending on the content, the refresh rate varies between 48 and 120 Hz. The screen offers a smooth, but above all, bright resolution of media content.

With an ultra-fast Exynos 2100 processor, applications and software content load quickly. In some lab tests, the device outperformed the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Unfortunately, fast performance is not always available, especially in demanding games. The device is not always compatible with games.

In contrast, battery life is not at all advanced. It has a capacity of only 4000 mAh, which is enough for average battery life.

However, the Galaxy S21 5G manages to spin the U with a 108MP quad camera. If you like beautiful photos and videos, you can enjoy high-quality, high-contrast color photos from the primary camera.

Pro

  • for every
  • Bright screen 120Hz
  • Excellent processor performance
  • Excellent camera
  • 5G compatibility

Contra

  • plastic back
  • The total version is not always available
  • Medium battery life
  • Storage space cannot be expanded.

#8 Google Pixel 5

Google Pixel 5 is the first Google Pixel phone that doesn’t have the best built-in processor. Because instead of the high-end Snapdragon 8XX series, you “only” get the lower-end Snapdragon 765G. But this is not a defect!

Because in combination with pure Stock Android 11, fast internal memory (128 GB), and massive 8 GB RAM, the performance is quite enough. There is absolutely nothing to complain about!

With the Google Pixel 5, it doesn’t rely on pure hardware; instead, the Pixel 5 shines with its perfect overall package:

The device is beautifully compact, has a perfect OLED screen with 90Hz, water resistance, excellent battery life with a battery that can be charged wirelessly, an excellent pixel model camera, and of course, pure Android 11 with at least three years update guarantee!

And don’t forget that Google was able to price the Pixel 5 lower because it didn’t use the best and, therefore, the most expensive hardware. A perfect decision because the Pixel 5 is still a super-fast Android smartphone.

Pro

  • for every
  • Pure stock Android 11 with 3-year update warranty
  • Compact and relatively lightweight (151 g)
  • Bright OLED 90Hz
  • Perfect cameras
  • 5G modem
  • Waterproof (IP-68)
  • Great battery life
  • Dual SIM (Caution: Only one SIM slot, the other SIM must be an eSIM)
  • High-speed system performance…

Contra

…but not a high-end processor like other high-end smartphones

  • Larger width than the previous Pixel 4 (70.4 vs. 68.8 mm)
  • Memory cannot be expanded
  • No jack connection

#9 Apple iPhone 12 Mini

The Holy Grail for all small smartphone lovers is here: Apple iPhone 12 Mini is redefining the world of small smartphones!

Because never before has a smartphone so compact and still packed with the latest technology come out. Unlike the cheaper iPhone SE, with the 12 minis, you get everything a big Apple iPhone can do in a tiny dwelling.

The iPhone 12 Mini has a very high resolution and a borderless Full HD+ display, the latest and fastest Apple processor, a bigger battery than the SE, a perfect dual camera, water-resistance, and, last but not least, it already supports 5G. This makes it the best small smartphone to date!

How much memory should you use? If you take photos and stream your music (via Spotify, for example), the 64GB version will suffice.

If you also want to store music on the device and shoot many long videos, it is better to use the 128GB or 256GB version. Then you will not be upset if, after a few months, you find out that the memory is not enough.

If you’re interested in the differences between the current iPhone 12 models, check out our great iPhone 12 comparison.

Pro

  • for every
  • Ultra-compact structure
  • Five different colors to choose from
  • Super Retina OLED display is very sharp and bright
  • High-speed devices
  • Great picture quality
  • Good battery life
  • 5G modem
  • Lots of internal storage to choose from (64, 128, or 256 GB)
  • Waterproof (IP-68)

Contra

No headphone jack

Is there a professional test for a cell phone camera?

If you feed any search engine the search query “professional camera test,” you will be overwhelmed by the results. To choose for you, we’ve tackled the various shows for you and, after thorough research, we can recommend the audition from YouTuber Marques Brownlee.

In the video, you will also find detailed instructions on checking the quality of your smartphone camera if it is still needed because 16 flagship smartphone cameras are already tested in the video.

Attention spoilers, the models from our rating, work very well!

Our opinion is backed by another provider of professional cell phone camera tests. At DXOMARK, you will find detailed tests on the camera phones that we have provided.

A simple test at home is to arrange as colorful an idea as possible. Also, make sure the subject is well lit. Then the test can start. Shoot the same issue with different smartphone cameras under the same conditions.

It is essential that the distance to the subject or lighting conditions does not change and that you always shoot without flash and any filters. To compare results, download images from all phones directly to a large screen computer.

If you look at the results, pay attention to the color saturation and sharpness. Cameras tend to blur and blur, especially at the edges of the image. Next, enlarge an exceptionally detailed object in the figure and compare the respective photos again.

A test board specially developed for the characteristics of system cameras is ideal for such testing. A popular template used by professional photographers can also be found here.

Buying Guide

Indeed you already have an idea of ​​what your next cell phone should be. But if the camera should play a significant role for you when buying it, it’s worth thinking outside the box and not blindly reaching for the successor of your current model.

Of course, the cameras of all top models are robust. Since you’re reading this article, we suppose you’d like to take a closer look at mobile photography. So it makes sense for you to know the differences between the best mobile cameras in detail.

In our buying guide, we explain what’s essential for photography enthusiasts when buying a smartphone.

Differences in camera systems

One of the differences seen in camera smartphones is the number of lenses on the back of the device. There has been an actual arms race between manufacturers of mobile phones and devices with up to five cameras in the past few years.

Manufacturers quickly realized that more does not mean more. The number of cameras in modern mobile phones has settled at three. As a result, there are often smartphones with a so-called triple camera system on the shelves, but what’s the difference behind the lenses in question?

Different focal lengths are hidden behind other camera modules. The focal length can determine the section of the image to be photographed.

Like our model with the best mobile camera, Huawei Mate 40 Pro, most phones with high-end cameras have telephoto zoom, wide-angle, and wide-angle lenses.

The individual areas of application of the lenses in question are self-explanatory based on their names. Some models have additional lenses for close-up shots or a thermal imaging camera. Instead, these are tricks that steal the computing power required from the most critical functions of a camera phone.

Megapixels are not everything.

Another typical sign of the previously mentioned “more is more” culture of smartphone manufacturers in the competition for the most significant number of megapixels for the best camera phones.

However, if you look at the megapixel density of smartphone cameras in our ranking, you may notice that megapixels alone do not make a cell phone the best camera phone. The difference between Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Google Pixel 5 is enormous.

Not only does it have one more miniature lens, but it also has 38 megapixels less than our 2021 higher camera phone. Were we wrong and accidentally put the Google Pixel 5 in our top 10? not at all. The photos on the Google smartphone convince us.

Unlike other manufacturers, Google relies more on HDR+ for the Pixel 5 than it does on pixels in its camera. We explain exactly what this means in the section on the program below.

The number of cameras – the more, the better?

We briefly touched on the fact that the trend in quantity (as many lenses as possible) is slowly fading away. When producing their smartphones, manufacturers now place more value on the quality of camera sensors than their number.

Before buying a phone with a camera, you should ask yourself where the camera will be used in the future. Do you use your smartphone camera only for casual shots, or are you active and want to capture breathtaking panoramic images in your photos?

If so, a wide-angle cell phone, if not an ultra-wide-angle lens, is the best option. However, you won’t find much use for wide-angle lenses if you are a blogger and only present your followers with close-ups.

In this case, a lens with a good zoom is suitable for bringing the subjects closer to the lens from a distance. Current models usually combine a healthy mix of the most valuable lenses.

However, the entire computing capacity of a smartphone has to be divided between all the different camera systems. So it makes sense to know the purpose of a mobile phone camera before buying.

The importance of software in phones equipped with cameras

The Google Pixel 5 clearly shows that the number of megapixels alone does not create good photos. The secret behind every good cell phone photo is called HDR. The acronym stands for High Dynamic Range.

With this technique, many images are taken in quick succession by solving them at once. Each of these photos is born with different exposure and different contrast.

To deliver a particularly well-lit, high-contrast, and sharp image, the software selects individual parts of the images and combines them to form a perfect vision. Google promises users an exceptionally reliable HDR algorithm in its software and puts another advantage behind it.

A cell phone camera will not be able to take good pictures without good software. This is a tiny sensor that captures all the information such as light, color, and contrast. The image sensor of a mobile phone camera can only extrapolate and reproduce all the information with sufficient computing power and appropriate software.

This is also why classic cameras continue to be used. When creating professional images, all image information must be captured on the sensor to enable versatile post-processing.

Which camera phone has the enormous zoom?

When we talk about zooming, there are two basic categories that we can break down into. On the one hand, there is the digital zoom, and on the other hand, the optical zoom.

Digital zoom relies on a software-assisted magnification of the image section. This means that the smartphone computes an image, stores it in a buffer, and artificially enlarges the idea to create screenshots.

This technique can be compared to enlarging the final image and harms sharpness. With optical zoom, the lens is brought closer to the subject to be photographed by mechanically expanding the lens.

However, since the lens expansion area is limited in a thin smartphone case, manufacturers usually use digital zoom.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G combines digital zoom and optical zoom, thus up to 100x magnification. Therefore, in our review, the device can still achieve acceptable results at the most significant possible magnification.

You can find the best optical zoom in our leaderboard for the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. Here you can mechanically enlarge the image section 5 times without losing quality.

Which smartphone takes the best selfies?

Bloggers and self-lovers have always appreciated the front camera in their smartphones. While the average consumer only uses the camera on the front of the device to recognize faces in daily life.

The question of the best selfie camera is easy to answer. Because in our rating, we rated the quality of all installed cameras. Our top 3 cameras not only have excellent main cameras, but the selfie cameras also feature high resolution.

In the Huawei Mate 40 Pro miracle camera, the Chinese did not mess with the front camera and built a 13MP wide-angle selfie camera on the screen.

The front camera of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Ultra is at the back, which takes 10MP photos. The sensor is supported by autofocus.

But if you attach great importance to the selfie camera, then the Huawei P40 Pro Plus with its 32MP camera on the front will inspire you.

The front camera resolves with a quality that puts the primary cameras of many devices in the shadows. The high-density aperture allows you to take beautiful selfies even in poor lighting conditions.

The large aperture also makes it possible to take pictures with excellent background blur. The professional here talks about the bokeh effect.

What is the smallest camera phone?

It won’t surprise you that the iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest camera phone in our ranking. This is not only because it is the only model that the Mini has been included in our top 10, but also because of its highly compact size!

But don’t be fooled; iPhone 12 Mini takes excellent photos thanks to the cutting-edge software.

Summary

This test was able to show that it is not essential to get the most megapixels, get the most magnification or have the most lenses on a cell phone.

Instead, it relies on good interaction between the individual components combined with sophisticated software to obtain breathtaking images. With the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, the Chinese have skillfully demonstrated that Huawei has the necessary knowledge to coordinate hardware and software.

But other mobile phones that display images are also able to provide high-quality results. To find a suitable machine for your needs, it is advisable to conduct a preliminary analysis of your needs.

By the way, you will not only find powerful camera technology in the flagship models of the respective manufacturers. In the category of smartphones and mid-range smartphones with a value of up to 300 euros, you will also find devices with cameras that take great pictures.

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