Best camera phones in 2024

When we pick the best camera phones, we're looking at more than just hardware specs — how your shot ends up looking is just as important. And that means putting cameras to the test to see how they benefit from photo-processing features and computational photography. For that reason, every phone we test goes through head-to-head photo face-offs, allowing us to see how a phone's camera output compares to what its closest competitors can do.

Our head-to-head camera testing covers photos in a variety of conditions — outdoors, low-light, portrait shots, selfies and more. That helps us find camera phones that meld the best sensors and computational photography and AI to extract the best possible light, color and detail out of every scenario. All those comparison also allow us to highlight, with confidence, what we determine to be the best camera phones.

Our latest top pick is the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which just beats out the Galaxy S24 Ultra in our 200-photo camera face-off. (Looking for more camera comparisons? We've also had 200-photo camera face-offs with the Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Pixel 8 Pro as well as the standard iPhone 15 vs. Galaxy S24.)

After hundreds of hours of testing and many head-to-head photo comparisons, these are the best camera phones you can buy right now.

The quick list

Here's a summary of the best camera phones you can buy right now based on our head-to-head testing of each phone's camera capabilities. Keep scrolling to find the in-depth reviews of every camera phone featured here.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is the managing editor for mobile at Tom's Guide. He's been covering technology since 1999, and started covering smartphones with the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. Since joining Tom's Guide from Macworld in 2015, he's developed an expertise in Android phones as evidenced by the stack of Samsung, Google and Motorola phones in his Northern California home. And his digital photo library is stuffed with images he's taken as part of head-to-head camera testing for phone reviews.

The best camera phones you can buy today

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The best overall

Best camera phone overall

Specifications

Display size: 6.7-inch OLED (2796 x 1290)
CPU: A17 Pro
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.78) main with 2x optical zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 5x optical zoom
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:02

Reasons to buy

+
Longer 5x zoom
+
Best-in-class A17 Pro chip
+
Super-long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow charging compared to other phones
-
More expensive than iPhone 14 Pro Max

The improved zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max draws all the attention, but it's not the only boost Apple gave to the photo features on its premium phone. Smart HDR gets an update that improves dynamic range while portrait and nights shots see some software-powered improvements as well. It's no wonder that the iPhone 15 Pro Max excels at both portrait shots and low-light photos in a way that tops what Samsung's best camera phone can do.

As for that improved zoom lens, the tetraprism design lets the iPhone 15 Pro Max deliver a 5x zoom, compared to a 3x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro. The Galaxy S24 Ultra now features a 5x telephoto lens, too, though it uses cropping and a high-resolution sensor to go up to a 10x zoom if need be.

Even if the S24 Ultra can zoom a littler farther, there's a lot to like about the iPhone 15 Pro Max's cameras, from the anti-reflecting coating on the ultrawide lens to the outstanding quality of video capture. iPhone users who want the best camera phone should be prepared to pay up for this model.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review.

The best Android camera phone

Best Android camera phone

Specifications

Display size: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED (3120 x 1440)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
RAM: 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 200MP main (f/1.7), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 50MP 5x telephoto f/3.4), 10MP 3x telephoto (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 8.2 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 16:45 (adaptive)

Reasons to buy

+
Practical AI features
+
Sharp main camera
+
Long-lasting battery

Reasons to avoid

-
Less detailed 5x telephoto camera
-
$100 price hike over S23 Ultra

If you’ve used a Galaxy S Ultra lately, you know exactly the kind of camera performance to expect from the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The camera setup is the same as before by and large, with the exception of larger pixels that are capable of capturing more light. As a result, colors are a bit brighter in images captured by the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

The other big change to this year’s phone involves one of the telephoto lenses, as a a 10MP sensor gives way to a 50MP one. That means more detail in zoom shots, but the new setup also scales back the optical zoom from 10x to 5x. The Galaxy S24 Ultra can still support a 10x zoom by shooting images at full 50MP resolution and then cropping in on an area of detail. It works well, though we’ve spotted some softer areas in the S24 Ultra’s images compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. As a result, the S24 Ultra yields one of its traditional edges over the iPhone.

We do like the AI tools Samsung includes for photo-editing, like the ability to resize and move around the subjects of a photo with the help of generative AI. Then again, those features are also available on Samsung’s less expensive S24 models and the One UI 6.1 updated added them to the Galaxy S23 phones as well as Samsung's latest foldables.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

The best Google camera phone

Going head-to-head with Apple and Samsung

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED (2992 x 1334; 1-120Hz)
CPU: Tensor G3
RAM: 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.68) main, 48MP (f/1.95) ultrawide, 48MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 5x optical zoom
Front camera: 10.5MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7.5 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:03

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible camera features
+
Unique AI-assisted experiences
+
Much brighter display

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak Tensor G3 graphics processing
-
Battery life is still underwhelming

Coming in hot right behind the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the Pixel 8 Pro, Google’s latest flagship. This phone improves upon its predecessor in many key ways, while also giving us a glimpse into the future with artificial intelligence powering unique experiences. The Pixel 8 Pro keeps a similar triple camera arrangement, but its Tensor G3 powers cool new features such as Best Take, Magic Editor, and Audio Magic Eraser. A Video Boost feature exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro is now live, too.

When it comes to capturing photos, this year's model adds Pro Controls for the first time ever in the series — giving users more controls typically found on dedicated mirrorless cameras. This means adjusting common parameters like the ISO, shutter speed, color temperature, and focus.

If that's not enough, the magic of the Pixel 8 Pro is on full display with its various Google AI assisted features. Most notably, we love how Google Assistant sounds more human than ever before when screening phone calls. Not only that, but also the contextual responses that Google Assistant is able to provide when we're unable to take those phone calls.

Read our full Pixel 8 Pro review.

The best camera phone value

The best camera phone value

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Tensor G2
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear cameras: 64MP main (f/1.89), 13MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera: 13MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.8 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:05

Reasons to buy

+
Upgraded 64MP main camera
+
Tensor G2 chip powers excellent photo features
+
Bright 90Hz display

Reasons to avoid

-
Bezels around display are pretty noticeable
-
Dark colors can affect some pictures

Google's Pixel 7a continues the fine tradition of Pixel A phones offering a superlative camera experience, except this time the hardware deserves as much credit as Google's computational photography and AI-powered photo processing. For this model, Google has done away with the 12.2MP main camera and added a 64MP sensor that's physically larger than before. That means more light provinding more detail to shots, and the result is a camera phone that's neck and neck with the Galaxy A54 among budget devices.

The Pixel 7a tends to favor dark colors which don't always serve it well in every scenario. But low-light photos are excellent and the portrait mode is tops, making this a great camera phone for the money.

The Tensor G2 chipset powers a number of impressive features like the Magic Eraser tool for removing unwanted people and Photo Unblur for cleaning up older images. And a bright 6.1-inch display lets you see your photos clearly, even in bright light.

Our only caution to budget-minded shoppers consider the Pixel 7a is that the Pixel 8a release is right around the corner. We're expecting to see it at the Google I/O conference in May.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.

The best iPhone value

Best iPhone camera value

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2556 x 1179)
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.6) main with 2x zoom, 12MP (f/2.4) ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 6 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:05

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent main camera performance
+
Outstanding battery life for its size
+
Brighter Super Retina XDR display

Reasons to avoid

-
No change to its battery recharge speed
-
60Hz refresh rate

The iPhone 15 takes a big leap forward by inheriting the 48MP main camera Apple introduced to the iPhone 14 Pro lineup. But that main camera does more than just capture more detailed shots. If you use the default settings, you're getting a 24MP image that balances detail with lighting and color. The main camera also enables you to zoom in by 2x without any noise or blur creeping into the image as a workaround for the lack of a dedicated telephoto lens.

The same software improvements available to the iPhone 15 Pro Max are on display here, so you get the better Smart HDR, portrait mode and Night sight features. Best of all, the iPhone 15 starts at $799 — $400 less than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so you're getting premium camera features for less.

Read our full iPhone 15 review.

Most improved camera phone

Most improved camera phone

Specifications

Display size: 6.82-inch AMOLED (3168 x 1440)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
RAM: 12GB, 16gB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.6), 48MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 64MP 3x telephoto (f/2.6)
Front camera: 32MP (f/2.4)
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): Testing in progress

Reasons to buy

+
Sharper 3x periscope camera
+
Responsive performance
+
Bright, high-contrast display

Reasons to avoid

-
Underexposed low light photos
-
Lacks AI chops of the Pixel 8, Galaxy S24 camera phones

You can’t claim that cameras are a weak area for OnePlus flagships anymore, certainly not after the OnePlus 12 captured images that could stand up well against anything captured by top Samsung and Apple camera phones. Credit goes to the fourth generation Hasselblad camera that OnePlus has included on this year’s phone after once again teaming up with the lens specialist to fine tune its optics.

The biggest change this year is to the telephoto lens, which not only features a 64MP sensor on the OnePlus 12 but also extends its optical zoom capabilities to 3x. The result is sharper, more detailed zoom shots that compare more favorably to other top camera phones.

The OnePlus 12 does occasionally struggle with exposure on low-light images and at launch it lacks some of the AI-powered editing tools you’ll find on the latest Samsung and Google flagships. But along with the Galaxy S24, this is one of the cheaper options when it comes to a flagship phone equipped with a telephoto lens.

Read our full OnePlus 12 review.

The best value Samsung camera phone

Best Samsung camera phone value

Specifications

Display size: 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP 3x telephoto (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 5.9 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 13:28 (adaptive)

Reasons to buy

+
Clever Galaxy AI features
+
Bright, colorful photos
+
Better battery life than Galaxy S23

Reasons to avoid

-
No major camera changes
-
Snapdragon chipset only available in North American models

As impressive as the Galaxy S24 Ultra's cameras are, that's a pretty costly phone at $1,299. For $500 less, the Galaxy S24 delivers high-quality photos and the same Galaxy AI photo editing features found on the Ultra. You may not get a 200MP sensor for the main camera, but the S24's 50MP shooter is perfectly capable of capturing detailed, colorful photos. The Galaxy S24 is one of the few phones under $800 that offers a telephoto lens.

Truth be told, Samsung didn't change much with the camera hardware from the Galaxy S23, but the Galaxy S24 does support all the Galaxy AI found on other new Samsung flagships. That includes edit suggestions where the S24 will suggest possible edits to improve your pictures. A generative editing tool lets you resize and move objects or erase them entirely.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 review.

The best Apple camera phone for less

Pro cameras for less

Specifications