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The best camera phone in 2021: which is the best smartphone for photography?

The best camera phones are pushing the boundaries of technology and are often capable of delivering better results than the ‘proper’ camera in your kit bag. As screens get larger, camera phone sensors get more advanced and chipsets get more powerful, it can be tricky to keep track of the latest and greatest handsets. Luckily, we’ve rounded up the best for you right here.

The best camera phones don’t just deliver pure power – they’re also a perfect package of convenience, with countless apps at your fingertips. However, one of the most impressive aspects of these handsets is their megapixel count. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has an impressive 108MP sensor, 8K video and a 100x digital zoom – specs that traditional cameras just haven’t achieved yet.

However, the S20 Ultra isn’t an outlier. Beefy sensors are becoming the norm for flagship phones, with the Motorola Edge+Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5GXiaomi Mi Note 10 following suit. While phones aren’t yet able to beat the best DSLRs or the best mirrorless cameras for image quality, the technology is moving so quickly that it almost feels like it’s only a matter of time.

However, the most significant advantage that camera phones hold over cameras is how small they are in comparison. Even the best compact cameras can still prove annoyingly bulky, but folding phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and the Motorola Razr are making massive strides in compact technology.

Meanwhile, one of the most exciting aspects of camera phones is the advent of 5G, with 5G phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the OnePlus Nord hitting the market this year.

Smartphone technology moves quickly, so this list is constantly changing. As we move towards the end of 2020, 5G is set to become the next big thing, so make sure to check out our best 5G phone for photography guide if you live somewhere with 5G infrastructure.

The best camera phone in 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

If you’re looking for the best camera phone, look no further

Release date: January 2021 | Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide | Front camera: 40MP | OIS: Yes | Weight: 227 g | Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm | Storage: 128/256/512GB

If you’re looking for a handset with an excellent camera, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could be exactly what you’re looking for. This camera phone features four rear cameras, including a 108MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom and one with an f/4.9 aperture and a huge 10x optical zoom. It’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is pretty big, offering a 6.8″ screen size that users with smaller hands might struggle to maneuver. The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display features a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and gaming experiences, HDR10+ support, 1500-nit peak brightness and a 1440 x 3200 resolution.

 

iPhone 12 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple iPhone 12 Pro

New photo features make the iPhone 12 Pro a force to be reckoned with

Release date: October 2020 | Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm f/2.4, 12MP 26mm f/1.6, 12MP 52mm f/2 | Front camera: 12MP, f/2.2 TrueDepth camera | Dual OIS: Yes | Weight: 189 g | Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm | Storage: 128/256/512GB

The iPhone 12 Pro is one of the best camera phones currently available, featuring an impressive triple camera unit, including an ultra wide f/2.4 camera, a wide f/1.6 camera and a telephoto f/2 camera. Meanwhile, the front-facing TrueDepth camera features a 12MP sensor as well. There are plenty of new features on the iPhone 12 Pro, such as a LiDAR scanner – which will mean faster focusing in low light situations. The iPhone 12 Pro will also be able to use the new Apple ProRAW file format, which means users will be able to combine the great computational photography effects Apple is known for with the power of RAW files. Combined with the addition of 5G and the new Ceramic Shield display that has a 4x better drop performance, you just can’t go wrong with the new iPhone 12 Pro!

 

(Image credit: Andrew Williams/Digital Camera World)

3. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

A tech spec behemoth with 108MP, 100x zoom and 8K video

Release date: March 2020 | Rear cameras: 108MP (primary f/1.8, 26mm, OIS), 12MP (ultra wide angle f/2.2, 13mm), 48MP (telephoto f/3.5, 103mm), ToF depth-sensing camera | Front camera: 40MP (f/2.2, 26mm) | OIS: Yes | Weight: 222 g | Dimensions: 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm | Storage: 128 / 256 / 512 GB

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