Best Smartphone Cameras 2017

Product Use case Rating
Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8+ Best Camera Phone 9
iPhone 7 Plus Best Zoom Camera Phone 9
Google Pixel Best Phone for HDR 9
LG V20 Best Phone for Video 8
Huawei Honor 8 Best Mid-Range Camera Phone 8
LG G6 Best Camera Phone For Landscapes 8
Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Best Budget Camera Phone 8

Based on our in-depth testing and photo comparisons, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are our current favorite smartphone cameras. The Galaxy S8 ($720 on Samsung) start out with the same 12-MP camera module as the one in the S7, then add in software enhancements, the most important of which is Samsung's new multi-frame image processing.  This gives the S8 and S8+ even better performance in low light and HDR photography than the S7, which was already quite superb. The S8 and S8+ plus also benefit from a sharper front camera, which has gone from 5 to 8 MP.

For those looking for a bit of extra reach, the iPhone 7 Plus is a clear winner thanks to its clever dual rear camera setup. By adding a camera with a f/2.8 56mm zoom lens in addition to the standard iPhone 7 camera, the Plus provides a true 2x optical zoom unlike other phones which have to resort to digital enhancement.

MORE: Galaxy S8 Camera Tests: Small Changes Make Big Difference

Google's Pixel is also a strong pick, especially for people who want fantastic high-dynamic range. The Pixel and Pixel XL's HDR+ mode makes is easy to tackle shots where you want to have good exposure on both the foreground and background, such as landscapes on a sunny day, and unlike the older Nexus 6P, the Pixel's HDR processing is almost completely lag-free.

We also really like the rear camera on the HTC U11, especially in low light, where it often captured clearer, less grainy shots than the Galaxy S8. And when taking food shots, we also liked the way the HTC U11 made a burger and onions rings even more appetizing thanks to a its richer colors and sharper details.

For people who like shooting landscapes, the LG G6 is the phone you want. In back, its dual 13-MP offers one lens with a standard angle of view, and another with a super-wide angle view -- perfect for capturing all those expansive vistas and big city views.

If you're looking for something a bit cheaper, check out Asus' ZenFone 3 Zoom, which features dual rear cameras, a 2.3x optical zoom and even a dedicated color correction sensor for just $330.

How We Test Phone Cameras

We put the market's leading handsets through a variety of common shooting situations, such as landscapes, portraits and selfies in daylight and at night.

Then, we analyzed each set of images on a color-calibrated monitor to see which smartphone had the best combination of color accuracy, clarity and contrast. Like the Galaxy S7 Edge before it, the Galaxy S8 stood out for its superior performance both in daylight and low light, but more so for its ability to swiftly focus on subjects.

In each of our smartphone reviews, we also factor in the phone's camera performance by testing it in bright, indoor and low-light conditions, as well as by recording and analyzing video clips.

Check out all of our top picks below.

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2 comments
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  • Esthil
    Were the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL used in these comparisons? I do not see them represented.

    Other reviews I have seen still place those as the top camera performers. We are hesitant to get off of the Windows Phone environment, as we are thoroughly invested in the setups of our devices, and without seeing any real proof that the competition can out-do the Lumias' cameras, I would be even more reluctant to switch.

    Thank you for the information!
    0