- Samsung S21 Ultra
- OnePlus 9 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
Phone cameras have revolutionised the world of photography, primarily making it a lot more accessible for people that don’t want to carry around a dedicated camera. Not all phone cameras are created equal however, some just do much better than others because the phone was designed to have a top-tier camera.
If you’re looking to get the best selfies or great shots, we’ve drawn up a list of the best camera phones in 2021 to help you out.
- 1440×3200 120Hz screen
- 10x optical zoom
- Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2
- Front camera: 40MP f/2.2
- 4K60 and 8K24 video
The Samsung S21 Ultra has four rear cameras and a single front-facing selfie camera. The headline of the rear cameras is the 108MP f/1.8 main camera although by default it uses 9-to-1 pixel binning which reduces the resolution to 12MP but increases the quality of the picture by essentially using bigger more sensitive pixels. It also features two 10MP telephoto cameras with f/2.4 and f/4.9 apertures designed for 3x and 10x optical zooms respectively. A 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera is also included.
The selfie cam has a 40MP f/2.2 sensor. Both the front and back cameras can record video in 4K60 while the back camera can even record in 8K24. The phone itself features a 6.8-inch AMOLED 1440×3200 120Hz screen that features HDR10+. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 888 in the US or an Exynos 2100 in the rest of the world. The 5000mAh battery and up to 512GB of storage give plenty of space and time to take photos and videos.
- 1344×2772 90Hz screen
- IP68 water resistance rating
- Rear cameras: 50MP f/1.9, 12MP f/3.4, 20MP f/1.8
- Front cameras: 13MP f/2.4, TOF sensor
- 4K60 video
The Huawei Mate 40 Pro features a trio of rear cameras and a single front-facing camera, augmented by a TOF sensor. The main rear camera is the 50MP f/1.9 wide-angle. This is joined by a 12MP f/3.4 periscope telephoto camera and a 20MP f/1.8 ultrawide camera. The selfie cam is a 13MP f/2.4 and is accompanied by a TOF sensor.
The inclusion of a TOF sensor does help to add features to the selfie cam because it can tell the difference between foreground and background objects. Unfortunately, it has also led to the hole punch of the selfie cam being rather elongated, basically being a notch. Another big problem this phone faces is the lack of Google services, including the Play Store. The replacement store AppGallery just doesn’t have anything like the range of apps and is lacking some big names. The IP68 water resistance rating is a very nice addition though.
- 1284×2778 60Hz screen
- Dolby Vision HDR
- Foreground and background detection in both front and back cameras.
- Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.6, 12MP f/2.2, 12MP f/2.4, TOF 3D LiDAR
- Front camera: 12MP f/2.2
- 4K60 video
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the latest, greatest, and most expensive iPhone to date. To keep with its premium placing and price tag, its camera set up is also the best Apple offer, although the upgrade over the iPhone 12 Pro is minimal. The rear has 3 cameras and a LIDAR sensor used for Augmented reality and range detection. The main wide-angle, telephoto, and ultrawide cameras are all 12MP and have apertures of f/1.6, f/2.2, and f/2.4 respectively. The main difference to the 12 Pro is increased sensor size allowing for more light to be collected so pictures are clearer, especially in low-light conditions.
Video can be captured in up to 4K60 in Dolby Vision HDR. The screen has a resolution of 1284×2778 and runs at just 60Hz. It’s available in capacities of up to 512GB and comes with a 3687mAh battery, the largest in any iPhone. The phone is very expensive, at $1100, it also doesn’t come with any expandability as per usual for iPhones.
- 1440×3088 120Hz screen
- 5x optical zoom
- Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/3.0, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
- Front camera: 10MP f/2.2
- 4K60 and 8K24 video
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a very similar camera configuration to the S21 ultra. The 108MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera is the same, as is the 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide. The Note 20 Ultra doesn’t have the dual telephoto cameras, instead, it has a single 10MP telephoto with an f/3.0 aperture. The selfie camera is also slightly different at 10MP with an f/2.2 aperture.
The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 865 Plus in the US and the Exynos 990 elsewhere. It features a 1440×3088 120Hz screen, a 4500mAh battery and comes with up to 512GB of storage. Video can be recorded in 4K60 on both the front and back cameras, while the back camera also offers 8K24.
- 1440×3216 120Hz screen
- IP68 water resistance
- Ultrafast wired and wireless charging
- Rear cameras: 48MP f/1.8, 8MP f/2.4, 50MP f/2.2, 2MP f/2.4
- Front camera: 16MP f/2.4
- 4K120 and 8K30 video
The OnePlus 9 Pro features four rear cameras, the main one is a 48MP f/1.8 wide-angle. This is complemented by an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto and a 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide-angle camera. A 2MP f2.4 monochrome camera is also included to boost black and white photos. The selfie camera is 16MP with an f/2.4 aperture.
Video can be recorded in 4K120 and 8K30 by the rear cameras, although the front camera is limited to 1080p30. The 9 Pro can fast charge both when plugged in at 65W or wirelessly at 50W, giving a full 4500mAh charge in 29 minutes and 43 minutes respectively. It is limited to “just” 256GB of storage but the 4K120 and 8K30 video are likely to use a lot of storage very quickly.
Those were our recommendations for the best camera phones in 2021. Is camera quality a key selling point to you when picking a mobile phone? What do you think the best camera phone on the market is?