Best camera phones in 2024

There's more to the phones on this best camera phones list than just their sensor and megapixel count. These devices blend great hardware, software and a little AI magic to create amazing photos that you'll be happy to share immediately. And we test them all thoroughly to see who does it best. 

Our current top pick is the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which just beats out the Galaxy S24 Ultra in our 200-photo camera face-off. (For more on the changes Apple made to the cameras on the best iPhone, look at our 200-photo iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max face-off.) For a less expensive option, try the Google Pixel 8a, which costs a little less than $500 while still taking premium photos. (Our Pixel 8a vs. Nothing Phone 2a camera face-off shows how Google's phone compares to another low-cost option.)

After hundreds of hours of testing each camera in light, dark and other scenarios, and after many head-to-head photo comparisons between similar devices, these are the best camera phones you can buy right now.

Recent updates

The arrival of the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Galaxy Z Flip 6 could mean one — or both — of Samsung's new foldables cracks our list of the best camera phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 6 has the same camera setup as the Galaxy Z Fold 5, a current entry on our list. And as we saw in our Galaxy Z Flip 6 hands on, the new flip phone has a dramatically improved main camera. Stay tuned for addition testing, and check out our Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on for more initial impressions.

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

I'm the managing editor for mobile at Tom's Guide, and I've been covering technology since 1999. The launch of the original iPhone in 2007 meant I started covering phones. I joined Tom's Guide in 2015, and in that time, I've developed an expertise with Android phones, as you can see by the stack of Samsung, Google and Motorola device in my house. Go through my photo library, and you'll find plenty of images shot by a variety of phones in the name of the head-to-head testing we do to pick the best camera phones.

The best camera phones you can buy today

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

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. What's more the iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of two current iPhones with the horsepower to support Apple Intelligence, so you'll have access to AI-powered photo features like Clean Up when Apple releases those tools later this year.

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.

For head-to-head looks at how the cameras on the S24 Ultra perform against other Android phones, check out the Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. OnePlus 12 200-photo face-offs.

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.

Google has scheduled a hardware event for August 13, and we're expecting the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro to debut at that event. Stay tuned to see how those cameras compare to the current Pixel devices.

Read our full Pixel 8 Pro review.

The best low-cost camera phone

Best camera phone under $500

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2400x1080)
CPU: Tensor G3
RAM: 8GB **Storage / Expandable:** 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear cameras: 64MP (f/1.89) main; 13MP (f/2.2)
Front camera: 13MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.8 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:21

Reasons to buy

+
7 years of software & security updates
+
Useful AI features
+
Still a top-performing camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Few changes from Pixel 7a cameras
-
Slow charging speed

The Google Pixel 8a isn't a big leap forward from the Pixel 7a it replaces as Google's budget-priced phone. The new model uses the same 64MP main camera as its predecessor, and the photo-processing capabilities are at the same high level. While Pixel 7a owners have little reason to upgrade, newcomers looking for a low-cost camera phone will appreciate the high-quality output produced by the Pixel 8a.

The new Tensor G3 chipset powering the Pixel 8a also enables some very impressive photo editing tools already available on the Pixel 8 flagships. You can use Magic Editor to reposition and resize the subjects of your photos, while Best Take can swap in faces to ensure nobody's blinking when you take a group photo. 

Best of all, the Pixel 8a does feature improved battery life, long an area where previous Pixel phones have struggled. By besting the average smartphone by 1.5 hours on our battery test, you won't have to worry about losing power when you take the Pixel 8a on an extended photo shoot.

Read our full Google Pixel 8a 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. (To see how that works in practice, check our our iPhone 15 vs. Galaxy S24 zoom shot comparison.)

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)