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Best Camera on a Phone (2022): Best Smartphones for Mobile Photography

In terms of photography, smartphones are getting better by the day, not only in hardware but also in software. Usually, the competition boils down to Apple vs. Google, which is more or less the case here too, but there are other contenders that can keep up, particularly Samsung.

On that note, we’ve narrowed down our picks for the best camera phone to the iPhone 13 Pro with its improved sensors and the Google Pixel 6 Pro with the return of a telephoto lens. Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for its zoom and ability to take low-light photos, and the Google Pixel 6a for its standout performance despite its low sticker price.

Best Camera on a Phone Comparison Chart

ModelImageHighlightsPrice
Apple iPhone 13 ProBest Camera on a PhoneProduces the best images in general with features like Cinematic mode and Photographic StylesCheck Price at Apple.com
Google Pixel 6 ProBest Camera on a PhoneOffers unrivaled computational photography with its Tensor chip and features such as Magic Eraser and Face UnblurCheck Price at Google.com
Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraBest Camera on a PhoneFeatures a telephoto periscope that offers 10x optical zoom, impressive low-light photographyCheck Price at Samsung.com
Google Pixel 6aBest Camera on a PhoneBenefits from the same smart features as the Google Pixel 6 Pro but at a more affordable priceCheck Price at Google.com

Phone with the Best Camera — Apple iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro has the same camera hardware and software as the iPhone 13 Pro Max but in a smaller device.

Phone with the Best Camera Apple iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and the iPhone 13 Pro (right).

Compared to the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro improved a lot in the camera department. First off, the size of its wide and ultrawide sensors got an increase, and the latter even has autofocus now. On top of that, the telephoto now has 3x optical zoom, building on its predecessor’s 2x offering.

Also, it has a new macro mode that uses its ultrawide sensor and sensor-shift optical image stabilization with its main camera. Beyond hardware, it does a better job at taking low-light shots as well, and it features ProRes for high-detail video recording. Speaking of, there’s a Cinematic mode that basically allows for shallow depth of field and selective focus to capture professional-like clips. Moreover, it has Photographic Styles that essentially lets you apply real-time filters with four presets to choose from: Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool.

It’s worth mentioning that the iPhone 13 Pro Max has the same camera capabilities but only in a bigger and pricier package. In other words, it has the same features and 12-megapixel triple-camera setup, but the iPhone 13 Pro is smaller and more affordable.

Best Android Phone Camera — Google Pixel 6 Pro

The Google Pixel 6 Pro uses plenty of smarts to improve the images it produces.

Best Android Phone Camera Google Pixel 6 Pro
Here’s the front and back of the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Going from the Pixel 4 to the Pixel 5, the telephoto lens got dropped, but it made a return on the Pixel 6 Pro—not on the Pixel 6, though, and much less on the Pixel 6a. That telephoto module packs 48 megapixels and offers 4x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom. It works in tandem with a 50-megapixel main camera with OIS, laser autofocus and a larger size to capture 150 percent more light, as well as a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor with a 114-degree field of view.

Features like Night Sight and computational photography, owing to its Tensor chip under the hood, set it apart from the pack and allow it to go head-to-head with the likes of the iPhone 13 Pro. Also, it even has nifty tools such as Magic Eraser that makes removing unwanted objects from a photo a breeze and Face Unblur that ensures the subject’s face isn’t out of focus even when they’re moving.

Best Samsung Camera Phone — Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

With its periscope telephoto module, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offers 10x optical zoom.

Best Samsung Camera Phone Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
A closer look at the lenses of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (in photo).

Boasting a quad-camera setup, the Galaxy S22 Ultra features 108-megapixel wide, 10-megapixel periscope telephoto, 10-megapixel telephoto and 12-megapixel ultrawide lenses. 

Notably, its telephoto sensor features 3x optical zoom, and its telephoto periscope takes it up a notch to 10x. Also, the main camera is topped with Super Clear Glass, which is technically Gorilla Glass DX. Not only does it provide protection from scratches and such, but it also prevents flares. Couple that with Samsung’s Night mode and Adaptive Pixel technologies and a larger sensor to let more light in, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is capable of taking clear shots in low-light environments.

Among its other highlights include Auto Framing that can keep up to 10 subjects in focus at a time. There’s also AI Stereo Depth Map that uses artificial intelligence, as its name suggests, that sharply distinguishes the subject from the background in Portrait mode. Last but not least, it has Single Take, a feature introduced on the Galaxy S20 lineup.

Best Budget Camera Phone — Google Pixel 6a

Basically, the Google Pixel 6a has the same smarts as the Pixel 6 Pro, but it lacks a telephoto module and its main camera isn’t as capable.

Best Budget Camera Phone Google Pixel 6a
The Google Pixel 6a is available in Charcoal, Chalk and Sage.

In contrast to its bigger siblings, the Google Pixel 6a’s primary camera only has 12.2 megapixels, and unlike the Pixel 6 Pro, it doesn’t have a telephoto lens. However, in its defense, it does have dual pixel phase-detection autofocus and OIS.

More importantly, it’s powered by the same Tensor processor, meaning it has more or less the same computation technology prowess and artificial intelligence features as the top-of-the-line model. Long story short, it has things like Magic Eraser, Face Unblur and Night Sight, to name a few.

It should be noted that the iPhone SE (2022) is a decent iOS alternative here, but the lack of a night mode keeps it from taking the Pixel 6a’s spot as the best budget camera phone.

Verdict

Smartphones such as the iPhone 13 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro prove that mobile photography has a bright future.

And that’s our list of the best phone cameras available. To recap, we think that the iPhone 13 Pro—or iPhone 13 Pro Max, for that matter, since it has the same shooting capabilities—is the best phone camera overall. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is a close second, thanks to its numerous machine learning-based camera features. 

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is your best bet if you’re a fan of the brand. After all, it sports two telephoto lenses with excellent zoom and delivers exceptional results in low-light photography. Lastly, the Google Pixel 6a is hard to go wrong with if you’re on a budget, as it’s capable of producing remarkable photos and videos without breaking the bank.

FAQs

📌 What phone has the best camera?

The iPhone 13 Pro is generally regarded as having the best camera on a phone. It has a 12-megapixel triple-camera configuration that’s composed of wide, ultrawide and telephoto modules, as well as features like Cinematic mode, Photographic Styles and ProRes.

📌 Which Samsung phone has the best camera?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is considered as the best camera phone in the brand’s selection. It features Single Take and Auto Framing, as well as a quad-camera setup, one of which is a telephoto periscope that offers 10x optical zoom.

📌 Which Android phone has the best camera?

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is the camera phone to beat in the Android space, featuring a 50-megapixel primary lens. Also, it completes its triple-camera setup with a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor and a 48-megapixel telephoto module with 4x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom.

📌 Which is the best budget camera phone?

The Google Pixel 6a may not have a primary sensor as capable as its pricier siblings, but it does have the same camera features because it’s running on the same Tensor chip. By the same token, it has the same computational photography that enhances shots, particularly low-light images.

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.