The 9 Best Smartphone Cameras of 2019

These picks give digital cameras a run for their money

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S10 at Amazon, "The camera system is undeniably the best you're going to find on any smartphone today."
  • Runner-Up, Best Overall: Huawei P30 Pro at Newegg, "The recently-launched P30 Pro takes mobile photography to a whole new level."
  • Best Budget: Xiaomi Pocophone F1 at Amazon, "Like all Xiaomi’s smartphones, the Pocophone F1 offers a lot of bang for the buck."
  • Best Low Light: Google Pixel 3 at Amazon, "Lets you capture vibrant and detailed photos even in pitch-dark conditions."
  • Best For Videos: LG V40 ThinQ at Amazon, "A vastly underrated mobile device, with video-recording capabilities unlike any other smartphone."
  • Best Zoom: Motorola Moto Z3 Play at Amazon, "The Hasselblad True Zoom add-on instantly transforms Motorola Moto Z3 Play into a ‘superzoom’ digital camera."
  • Best With iOS: Apple iPhone XS at Amazon, "Supports everything from advanced ‘Portrait Mode’ photos to Full-HD video capture."
  • Best For Selfies: LG G8 ThinQ at Best Buy, "Able to capture extremely detailed selfies, with best-in-class edge detection and advanced depth mapping."
  • Best Wide-Angle: Samsung Galaxy S10e at Amazon, "The ultra-wide lens allows you to capture a whole bunch of detail in every shot."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10

Courtesy of Amazon

Samsung's Galaxy S-series devices have always been synonymous with a top-tier mobile camera experience (among other things), and the Galaxy S10 is no different. Versatile and feature-packed, the camera system on Samsung's latest flagship is undeniably the best you're going to find on any smartphone today.

At the back, Samsung Galaxy S10 comes with a triple-lens camera setup. It's comprised of a 12-megapixel primary module with dual aperture (f/1.5 and f/2.4), another 12-megapixel (telephoto) sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, and a third 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) unit with an f/2.2 aperture. The primary and telephoto sensors feature super-fast autofocus and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), allowing the S10 to capture lifelike photos in all kinds of lighting conditions. The Galaxy S10's camera app lets you effortlessly switch between the three lenses (via pinch-to-zoom gestures), and the integrated 'Scene Optimizer' can recognize up to 30 different scenes (e.g. Sunset, Food, and Mountain) for automatic adjustment of camera settings.

As far as videos are concerned, the Galaxy S10 can shoot 4K (2160p) videos at 60fps and 720p super slow-mo videos at an astounding 960fps, complete with HDR10+ support. Even the 10-megapixel (f/1.9) selfie camera can record 4K (2160p) videos at 30fps and comes with everything from live focus to automatic face detection to help you up your selfie game.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro

Courtesy of Newegg

Over the past few years, Huawei’s P series smartphones have come to be renowned for their excellent imaging capabilities. That said, its recently-launched P30 Pro takes mobile photography to a whole new level. If you’re in the market for a powerhouse camera smartphone, look no further.

Huawei P30 Pro features a quad-lens rear camera system, developed in collaboration with Leica. This includes a massive 40-megapixel primary lens with an f/1.6 aperture, a 20-megapixel (ultra-wide) sensor having an f/2.2 aperture, a unique 8-megapixel (telephoto) unit with an f/3.4 aperture, and a fourth ToF (Time of Flight) camera. The primary SuperSpectrum sensor uses a new RYYB (red yellow, yellow blue) color filter (instead of the traditional RGB or red, green blue one), allowing up to 40 percent more light to be captured.

Then there’s the ultra-wide lens, which lets you capture macro mode photos from as close as 2.5cm. However, the true highlight of the P30 Pro’s rear camera setup is its periscopic telephoto lens. With up to 5x optical zoom (and up to 10x hybrid zoom), it brings your subjects closer than ever. The primary and telephoto sensors are optically stabilized and come with Phase-Detection Autofocus (PDAF), a system that improves how often the focus refreshes.

With the ToF camera, you not only get increased focusing speeds but also better Portrait Mode photos. Huawei P30 Pro can shoot 4K (2160p) videos at 30fps, and its camera app comes with more settings than you’ll probably ever need. There’s also a 32-megapixel (f/2.0) selfie camera included in the mix.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best Huawei phones.

Best Budget: Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Although its product portfolio is quite expansive, Xiaomi is primarily renowned for its smartphones, which offer tremendous value for money. Back in August 2018, the Chinese company unveiled Pocophone F1, the first smartphone under its newly-formed Poco sub-brand. Like all Xiaomi’s smartphones, the Pocophone F1 offers a lot of bang for the buck. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the best budget camera smartphones out there.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 comes with a dual-lens rear camera setup, comprised of a 12-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.9 aperture, and a five-megapixel secondary depth sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. The primary lens features dual-pixel PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus), and standard features like HDR (high dynamic range) are included in the mix as well. During our testing, we found the smartphone’s camera performance to be excellent. Photos shot in daylight (and similar well-lit conditions) came out great, with ample sharpness and resolved detail. Low light photos also turned out to be generally very good, with Auto HDR helping things further.

The camera app comes with multiple modes (e.g. Portrait, Night) that can be selected via simple swipe gestures. It also includes features such as automatic face recognition and AI-based beautification. For videos, the Pocophone F1 can record 4K (2160p) videos at 60fps and 720p super slow-mo videos at 960fps. The smartphone’s selfie camera is a 20-megapixel unit with an f/2.0 aperture. It can record Full-HD (1080p) videos at 30fps and supports HDR as well.

Check out our guide to the best Xiaomi phones you can buy today. 

Best Low Light: Google Pixel 3

Launched in October 2018, Google’s Pixel 3 comes with the same class-leading mobile photography chops as its predecessors; the third-generation Pixel absolutely shines in low light camera performance. For those who love taking pictures at night, this is the smartphone camera to get.

The primary camera setup on Google Pixel 3 is a single-lens affair. There’s just a 12.2-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, helped by dual-pixel PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). While this hardware may seem a bit humble in comparison to the multi-lens camera setups that other flagship smartphones come with, Google’s advanced image-processing algorithms and automatic HDR enhancements make all the difference here, allowing for stunning photos. However, the real magic happens at night.

Thanks to Google’s revolutionary Night Sight technology, the Pixel 3 lets you capture vibrant and detailed photos even in pitch-dark conditions, and that too without a flash or a tripod. It works by constantly adapting to shooting conditions (e.g. available light, subject movement), adjusting settings such as exposure value(s) accordingly. Night Sight also uses machine learning to balance colors, resulting in natural-looking photos. And for videos, the Pixel 3 can record 4K (2160p) videos at 30fps and 720p videos at 240fps. Interestingly, the smartphone has a dual-lens selfie camera setup, comprised of two 8-megapixel (f/1.8 and f/2.2) lenses.

Best for Videos: LG V40 ThinQ

There’s no denying the fact that LG makes some amazing smartphones. The V40 ThinQ is one such vastly-underrated mobile device, with video-recording capabilities unlike any other smartphone out there.

The tri-lens rear camera setup of LG V40 ThinQ includes a 12-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.5 aperture, a 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) module with an f/1.9 aperture, and a 12-megapixel (telephoto) unit having an f/2.4 aperture. The standard and telephoto lenses are optically-stabilized, with PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus) helping in steady shots even with 2x optical zoom.

Complementing the imaging hardware is LG’s feature-rich camera app, which comes with everything from AI-based image composition to extensive manual controls for audio/video. It even packs a unique Triple Shot mode, which allows the smartphone to capture a shot with each of the three lenses and join them in the form of a small video with zoom-in transitions. LG V40 ThinQ can capture 4K (2160p) videos at up to 60fps and Full-HD (1080p) videos at up to 240fps, complete with 24-bit/192kHz stereo sound and HDR support.

The Cine Video mode even allows different color grading filters and point zoom effects to be applied to videos. For selfies, the V40 ThinQ features two lenses – an eight-megapixel (f/1.9) and a five-megapixel (f/2.2).

Best Zoom: Motorola Moto Z3 Play (With Hasselblad True Zoom Mod)

While smartphone cameras are indeed getting better by the day, they still don’t come with true zoom lenses. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get closer to faraway subjects and capture great-looking photos. Motorola’s Moto Z3 Play can help you do just that, provided you modify it the right way.

Part of Motorola’s modular Z series, the Moto Z3 Play features a dual-lens rear camera system, comprised of a 12-megapixel (f/1.7) sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary depth sensor. You also get dual-pixel PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus), and 4K (2160p) video recording at 30fps. Now, on its own, this camera setup is quite modest. However, things change completely when the smartphone is paired with Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

One of the most-powerful Moto Mods out there, Hasselblad True Zoom add-on instantly transforms Motorola Moto Z3 Play into a superzoom digital camera. It comes with 10x optical zoom (along with 4x digital zoom), allowing you to capture sharp and detailed photos even from a distance.

The 12-megapixel zoom lens is helped by a bright Xenon flash, and there’s macro mode support as well. The Pro mode (in the camera app) lets you easily adjust everything from shutter speeds to ISO values. With Hasselblad True Zoom mod, you can even use Motorola Moto Z3 Play to shoot photos in RAW format. Motorola Moto Z3 Play’s eight-megapixel selfie camera can record Full-HD (1080p) videos.

Best With iOS: Apple iPhone XS

Even though the world of Android offers numerous feature-laden camera smartphones, they aren’t any good for those who are already deeply-invested into (or simply prefer) the iOS ecosystem. If that includes you, there are a handful of Apple’s iPhones that you can choose from. However, we recommend the iPhone XS.

The Apple iPhone XS comes with a twin-lens primary camera setup, made up of a 12-megapixel (wide) sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, and a 12-megapixel (telephoto) unit with an f/2.4 aperture. Both modules feature PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), and you also get 2x optical zoom. The imaging hardware is powered by an ISP (Image Signal Processor), which works in conjunction with a neural engine and advanced algorithms to help you shoot some incredible photos.

Features like Smart HDR bring out more details in shadows and highlights of images, and you can manually adjust the depth of field to add bokeh effect to photos. Larger pixels allow more light to be captured by the image sensor(s), enhancing the low light performance of the smartphone even further.

Talking about videos, the iPhone XS can record 4K (2160p) videos at 60fps and Full-HD (1080p) videos at up to 240fps, complete with HDR and stereo sound. You also get a seven-megapixel TrueDepth selfie camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and it supports everything from advanced Portrait Mode photos (with different lighting effects) to Full-HD (1080p) video capture at up to 60fps.

Best for Selfies: LG G8 ThinQ

LG G8 ThinQ

Courtesy of Best Buy

Many smartphones today come with features designed to help people take better selfies. LG’s G8 ThinQ is one such smartphone; it comes with a single-lens selfie camera, comprised of an eight-megapixel sensor with an f/.7 aperture. While that may not seem much on its own, the smartphone also features a ToF (Time of Flight) camera up front. This secondary lens uses an Infineon REAL3 sensor chip, designed to better isolate subjects from the surrounding environment. As a result, LG G8 ThinQ’s front-facing camera is able to capture extremely detailed selfies, with best-in-class edge detection and advanced depth mapping.

On the back, LG’s G-series flagship sports a dual-lens primary camera system. Made up of a 12-megapixel (standard) sensor with an f/1.5 aperture and a 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) unit with an f/1.9 aperture, the G8 ThinQ’s rear camera setup is among the best out there. It shoots vibrant photos in all kinds of conditions, with the camera app’s built-in AI Cam making things even better. Speaking of the app, it comes with multiple modes, extensive manual controls, studio lighting effects, and much more. As for videos, LG G8 ThinQ can record 4K (2160p) video at up to 60fps and 720p video at up to 240fps. There’s also support for HDR10 and 24-bit/192kHz stereo sound.

Read more reviews of the best LG phones available to purchase online.

Best Wide-Angle: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Most smartphones today come with (at least) dual-lens camera setups. These generally include a primary sensor and a telephoto lens for achieving optical zoom. While that’s great, an ultra-wide lens is always better, since it lets you capture more detail into every photo. If that’s the kind of versatility you desire in your next smartphone’s camera, Samsung’s Galaxy S10e is exactly what you need.

The rear camera system of the Galaxy S10e uses two lenses: a 12-megapixel primary sensor with dual aperture (f/1.5 and f/2.4), and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide module with an f/2.2 aperture. With its expansive 123-degree Field Of View (FOV), the ultra-wide lens allows you to capture a whole bunch of detail in every shot. Not just that, the secondary sensor also makes it possible to capture stunning panoramic shots, both horizontally and vertically. The primary lens comes with dual-pixel PDAF (Phase-Detection Autofocus) and is optically-stabilized as well. The camera app on the Galaxy S10e lets you seamlessly switch between the two lenses.

Samsung’s Scene Optimizer image assistant can automatically adjust camera settings according to the subjects/scenes you are shooting. It can recognize 30 different modes/scenes, including Stage, Vehicles, City, Text, and Clothes. Samsung Galaxy S10e can record 4K (2160p) videos at 60fps and 720p super slow-mo videos at 960fps, with HDR support. The smartphone also comes with a 10-megapixel (f/1.9) selfie camera that can record 4K (2160p) videos at 30fps.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best Samsung phones article.

Our Process

Our writers spent 8 hours researching the most popular smartphone cameras on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different smartphone cameras overall, screened options from 7 different brands and manufacturers, read over 200 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the smartphone cameras themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.