Taking good quality photos isn't reserved for professional photographers and this is why when choosing a new smartphone, the camera characteristics can be a decisive factor. However, this can be complicated because different companies use different technologies, which translates into a variety of approaches to photography. In addition to this, there are the user's personal preferences and needs. In this article we have chosen some of the best phone cameras.
Why do new phones have so many cameras?
As technology progresses quickly, we are no longer surprised by phones with multiple cameras. However, do we really need them and why are they there? Adding cameras to a device allows the manufacturer to integrate different lenses with different purposes. For example, wide lenses are used for getting more area into your photo, whereas telephoto cameras are there for optical zoom. Sometimes, cameras can also work together to give you an optimal experience.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has four rear cameras (one 108MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera, one 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and two 10MP f/2.4 and f/4.9 telephoto cameras) and one 40MP selfie camera. Samsung’s latest HM3 sensor is used in the main camera and compared to older models, it features an improved performance when it comes to HDR, low light, and autofocus. It also comes with a Low noise mode.
The default settings are enough to make good-quality photos. The white balance and color rendering are very accurate and can be adjusted manually if they appear over-sharpened. The noise level is pretty much non-existent. Regarding the night shots, in particular, the Night mode is quite helpful, as it decreases the noise and allows good detail levels and color saturation, among others. The camera app has a Portrait mode and Director’s view that shows live images from all four cameras at once, so you can choose the best one.
A disadvantage of this model is that the ultra-wide camera often results in overprocessed photos. In addition to that, Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is quite expensive.
iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro was released in September 2021 and has one of the best cameras available on a phone. The iPhone 13 Pro has a 12MP camera system with Telephoto ( ƒ/2.8 aperture) , Wide (ƒ/1.5 aperture) and Ultra Wide (ƒ/1.8 aperture and 120° field of view) cameras. There is a 3x optical zoom in, a 2x optical zoom out, a 6x optical zoom range, and a digital zoom of up to 15x.
The main camera (wide-angle) provides photos with low noise levels, good sharpness, as well as exact white balance. The colors are also very accurate and the contrast is high. The dynamic range is okay. Regarding the ultra-wide angle camera, the photos come out with good contrast and realistic white balance and colors. The telephoto lens, on the other hand, provides great details, good contrast, a balanced dynamic range with a well-controlled HDR. In addition, the colors and white balance are very accurate. The iPhone 13 Pro has an excellent night mode which uses the built in LiDAR scanner to help with night time portraits. For a full list of camera specs, check out the iPhone 13 Pro on the Apple Website.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Keeping the tradition, Huawei Mate 40 Pro comes with three rear cameras (50 MP, f/1.9 wide-angle camera, one 12 MP, f/3.4 periscope telephoto camera, and one 20 MP, f/1.8 ultrawide camera) and one 13 MP, f/2.4 ultrawide selfie camera.
There’s a Pro mode for photos (but not videos) that allows users to manually adjust the settings. In addition, there are also Portrait and Aperture modes - the first one gives users the possibility to enable or disable the background blur, whereas with the latter they can choose the simulated aperture from f/0.95 to f/16.
Both wide-angle and telephoto cameras give amazing results with warmed-up and vivid colors, low noise, and great dynamic range. The rendering of the textures is also very accurate. When it comes to the ultrawide-angle camera, it gives sharp images with fine details. The colors are accurate and the noise levels are basically non-existent.
In the same order, nighttime shots are great as well: the colors are vivid and preserved, the highlights and shadows are well-balanced, and there is no blurry halo around the light sources. Once again, the photos are noise-free. The Night mode doesn’t offer much but it still helps.
On the downside, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro price is not what we would have loved - but it is less expensive than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro has four rear cameras (one 48 MP, f/1.8 wide-angle camera, one 8 MP, f/2.4 telephoto camera, one 50 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide-angle camera, and one 2 MP, f/2.4 monochrome camera) and one 16 MP, f/2.4 wide-angle selfie camera.
This model is based on the partnership with the Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad and can be seen right from the moment you open the camera app - the shutter button is now orange, just like on Hasselblad cameras. Other than the design, on a more technical level, the Swedish company has worked on the color calibration.
The main OpenPlus 9 Pro camera has a wide focal length and vibrant rendering of the blue and green colors. The contrast is also very high and the processor performs very well compared to older models in low-light environments. The ultrawide-angle camera is impressive and perspective distortion is corrected by the freeform lens before the image touches the sensor. The telephoto snapper is also good and the photos turn out very detailed. The monochrome camera isn’t a camera by itself - its function is to assist the main camera for monochrome pictures.
Low-light photos are also amazing, with fine details and great colors. Enabling the Nightscape mode improves this performance even further!
If the camera is the only feature that matters to you when choosing a phone, then we recommend having a look at the OnePlus 8 Pro - although an older model, it has a better camera performance regarding details precision, noise level, and white balance accuracy.
Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5 is the only model on the list that comes with two rear cameras (one 12.2 MP, f/1.7 wide-angle camera and one 16 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide) and one 8 MP, f/2.0 selfie camera.
The main camera offers some very good quality photos with great details, contrast, and dynamic range. Another good thing about the wide-angle camera is the sharpness, as well as the low noise levels. The ultra wide-angle camera has the same quality performance that results in accurate colors and great sharpness. Despite the lack of a telephoto camera, Google’s HDR+ algorithm allows taking outstanding shots. In addition, the phone uses the main camera for the Portrait mode to create the famous bokeh effect. This results in vibrant colors, good contrast, and accurate white balance. The main camera performs better than the ultrawide for photos in low-light conditions and the Night Sight mode helps by reducing the noise levels.
Although the Google Pixel 5 price makes the phone rather affordable (compared to the most models on the list), it seems that the biggest disadvantage are the nighttime photos.
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