Best camera phones 2023 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 22 March 2023.

Last updated: March 22, 2023 (Changelog)

The best camera phones are usually the best phones overall, and you'll mostly find flagships in this category - the likes of the latest Galaxies and iPhones typically deliver the highest image quality of the time.

Google Pixels may have lost their edge in computational photography but we still have one to recommend if you're after that Pixel look. Xiaomi and Oppo have made great strides in the camera field too and often offer unusual hardware that delivers outstanding image quality. Finally, there's also a camera phone to get if you're on a budget - non-flagships can take nice pictures too.

Editors' choice

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • Unmatched versatile camera system with two zoom cameras
  • Ultrawide cam now has AF
  • Top-notch photo quality
  • Excellent selfies
  • All-round great video recording, top-quality stabilization
  • One of the best OLEDs, best chipset, best speakers
  • S-Pen inside!
  • The fast charging got some bad reception
  • Chipset fragmentation

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has it all - a huge sensor main cam, an autofocusing ultrawide, and not one but two telephotos. And it does offer excellent selfies, too.

The main camera's 200MP Tetra2pixel sensor bins pixels 16-to-1 producing wide dynamic range in both good light and at night. The high-res imager also enables good 8K video recording.

Then, 3x zoom and up, the S23 Ultra excels thanks to its pair of tele cams. Both modules put up a great performance at their native focal lengths and in-between magnifications aren't too bad either. Going past the 10x level isn't out of the question, too.

The Ultra's ultrawide is one of the best that Samsung's put out to date and this year it produces even cleaner photos. It's sharp and delivers great quality, and it has autofocus, further extending its range of usability.

The new 12MP selfie camera, which the S23 Ultra shares with the rest of the family, may be a nominal upgrade on the other models, but here it's a downgrade, compared to the 40MP unit on the S22 Ultra - nominally, again. In practice, you'd be getting more or less the same great selfies.

Finally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is not only the best cameraphone, but one of the best phones on the market right now. And for that it was an easy pick for the top spot in this category.

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Xiaomi 13 Pro

Xiaomi 13 Pro

  • Standout ceramic design, IP68 rating
  • Class-leading OLED display, QHD, Dolby Vision
  • Excellent battery life, incredibly fast charging
  • Top-notch performance and thermal handling, impressive stability
  • Class-leading photo and video quality, outstanding portraits
  • Lossless 2x photo zoom via the main camera
  • Macro with telephoto camera is something else
  • Leica Authentic mode delivers very accurate colors
  • Slippery body lends a poor grip
  • Basic selfie camera with average quality

The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a flagship that's so easy to love. Its ceramic design is beautiful and we do appreciate the ingress protection. Then there is one of the best displays in the industry - a 1440p OLED with 10-bit color depth, dynamic 120Hz refresh, and Dolby Vision support. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and its great speed and stability are also praise-worthy.

The Xiaomi 13 Pro is shaping as one of the best cameraphones in 2023 with a class-leading primary camera with superb photo and video quality and 2x lossless zoom. Then there is the incredibly powerful telephoto and telemacro camera, which excels across the board, too, and its closeups and portraits are very impressive. We can also praise the ultrawide balanced performance.

We have nothing but positive words for the rear camera setup as it is among the best money can buy you on a smartphone. But the dated selfie camera is not unworthy of a flagship, let alone a cameraphone. We hope this is the last time we see this 32MP Quad-Bayer camera, but somehow, we doubt that, unfortunately

Still, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is one of the easiest recommendations we've ever given despite its horrible grip experience (beauty has its price, obviously, but please, buy yourself a premium case). It delivers on every promise and every important aspect, and it is one of the most beautiful, powerful, and skillful devices we've used. It is jam-packed with cutting-edge smartphone and imaging technology, and it's worth every penny.

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Best for video

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

  • Class-leading design, water resistance and durability
  • Class-leading OLED screen, 120Hz, AOD, Dolby Vision, 2000nits
  • Class-leading performance, very good stability, great speakers
  • Class-leading battery life
  • Outstanding photo and video quality across all four cameras
  • Best video stabilization available on a smartphone, high-quality action mode
  • Over-processed photos
  • Dynamic Island is a love-it or hate-it affair
  • Bigger and heavier than most
  • Apple's iOS restrictions can be off-putting to newcomers to the ecosystem

The best iPhone ever, the iPhone 14 Pro Max so far, comes with a wide range of advancements, and even if you don't consider any of them groundbreaking or relevant to your usage, they're there and add up. The brightest screen by a country mile, now with AoD, a pill for the notch-ache, a camera system with all-around improvements and great full-res images, and emergency hardware/software features - that's the new stuff.

These come on top of Pro Max staples like great battery life, superb speakers, and premium and durable build quality. The most potent chipset in the business and at least 5 years of support for the software you've known for ages (and likely love and hate at the same time) are other classic arguments for the iPhone, Pro Max included.

While all four cameras deliver excellent photos, they are a bit overprocessed and won’t necessary pass for natural-looking next to ones coming from a Sony or a Huawei. But, the iPhone has the best video quality, even better – it comes with class-leading stabilization and audio quality, too. So, for its consistently good, even if overprocessed photos, and best in-class videos, we do recommend the 14 Pro Max as the best phone for videos, suitable for vloggers and the likes.

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Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 7 Pro

  • Lighter than the two main competitors, about as premium too; IP68 dust- and water-resistant
  • Sharp, bright, color-accurate, with a high refresh rate, this display is stellar
  • Android from the source, exclusive feature set, unrivaled perception of smoothness on this side of the OS divide
  • Great camera quality overall with an unmatched character that has a loyal following
  • Less expensive than major competitors
  • Tensor chip
  • Fast firmware updates
  • Below average battery life, perhaps partly a consequence of display refresh rate seemingly not as adaptive as advertised
  • Very slow charging by today's standards
  • Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light
  • Selfies rarely come out tack sharp

Pixels have historically lacked mainstream appeal, and the lack of truly global availability is no small part of why that is so. This year, the list of countries with official Pixel presence has been expanded to 16, and maybe that will drive sales numbers up, even if a lot of the world will still be missing out..

And there's quite a lot to be missing out on. The camera system is the single biggest Pixel 7 Pro selling point that comes to mind, and it brings some welcome improvements, even if a bit modest. That, of course, comes on top of what is a hard to quantify character that you simply can't get on anything that's not a Pixel.

The Pixel 7 Pro is certainly not the best flagship right now - battery life is markedly worse than on a current iPhone, and a Galaxy will likely get you better longevity too. Neither Apple nor Samsung are industry leaders in charging speed, but Google has become an industry... trailer? Two hours for a full charge can turn into an actual issue in day-to-day use, we reckon.

But as far as consistently good and reliable photo and video quality is concerned, the Pixel is one of the best. It is a compelling package that can easily win over other brand loyalists if given a chance, and the enticing pricing helps a lot.

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Sony Xperia 1 IV

Sony Xperia 1 IV

  • The most natural-looking photos and videos from a smartphone.
  • Versatile camera with 3.5x-5.2x continuous optical zoom, the UW camera with AF.
  • Fast wired and wireless charging.
  • 4K HDR 120Hz OLED, SD8 Gen 1 chipset, real stereo speakers, great battery life
  • Solid no-nonsense IP68-rated design
  • No Night Mode - UW and Tele cameras stand to benefit a lot from it
  • No charger in the box, not even a cable
  • The suite of camera apps can be confusing.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV impressed us with its four superb cameras on both ends. The three 12MP rear shooters are all of the premium kind and the potent processing make for the most natural-looking and balanced photos and videos a smartphone can save. The continuous zoom, even if not as impressive as it sounds, has its use cases and does come in handy.

We wish Sony implement Night Mode – while the main camera does wonderfully at night, the UW and the zoom ones would strongly benefit from these and their output is not up to par.

In addition to the camera, the Xperia 1 IV also offers flagship-grade features across the board – the 4K 120Hz OLED, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the IP68-rated body, the full-fledged stereo speakers, the battery life, among others.

Sony is also selling various accessories for the Xperia 1 IV to make it even more attractive to photographers and vloggers, there are all sorts of photo and video apps – from basic to advanced, and you can even connect the Xperia with Sony Alpha cameras. It is a truly powerful cameraphone that deserves a spot here.

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vivo X90 Pro

vivo X90 Pro

  • Excellent design, grippy, IP68-rated, great AMOLED
  • Incredibly versatile 4-camera setup with two tele shooters
  • Class-leading photo and video quality, great portraits
  • Second-best chipset on the market
  • At 2x zoom, the tele camera has a reach that's too short
  • Uninspiring selfie camera
  • Can get hot under heavy graphics loads

The vivo X90 Pro turned out to be an excellent smartphone and an impressive cameraphone with few if any, caveats. It has a likable and grippy design, and it is IP68-rated for dust and water resistance. The X90 Pro also impresses with an excellent AMOLED with great color accuracy and high brightness. The HDR10+ support is recognized by all popular streaming apps, too. We were happy with the performance, charging speed and speaker quality, too.

But what was outstanding across the board was the rear camera photo and video quality. The partnership between Vivo and Zeiss has produced one of the best and most consistent image-processing outputs we've seen. All photos and videos we took with the rear cameras are simply stunning. There is no doubt that this alone is enough to rank the vivo X90 Pro among the best cameraphones in the world.

The selfie is still behind the curve as it uses a Quad-Bayer sensor and doesn't even offer 4K video capturing at the time of writing. The zoom options are limited to 2x, which is another aspect that doesn't sit well in light of what the competition is doing. A cameraphone of this magnitude deserves better!

All things considered, however, the vivo X90 Pro is an exemplary flagship smartphone that delivers on every promise and offers impressive imaging skills. It's not insanely expansive, too.

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Honor Magic5 Pro

Honor Magic5 Pro

  • Great-looking dual-glass curved design, IP68-rated
  • Outstanding OLED, high resolution, dynamic 120Hz, HDR10+
  • Top-notch performance
  • Superb photo quality across all four cameras (selfie included)
  • Very Good video quality from all but the tele cameras
  • Slippery design
  • Poor GPU stability; throttles a lot
  • So-so zoomed videos, 4K videos limited to 15min

The Honor Magic5 Pro is an incredibly powerful smartphone featuring a top-notch display, speakers, chipset, cameras, and charging options on the market, all wrapped into a beautiful and unique IP68-rated body. It also easily aced our display and battery tests, and it was pretty fast to charge. We also found its speakers to be loud enough and its performance to be flagship worthy.

The camera experience was as premium as it can be these days - the photo quality is excellent with natural-looking and balanced output across the board. The same can be said for the video experience, although we've seen a few zoomed videos of higher quality on other flagships.

It’s not all perfect – the 2x digital zoom isn't as lossless as on some other phones (we mean when compared to those with 1" main cameras). The zoomed videos aren't on par, too, and there is no 8K option. And, weirdly, all 4K videos are limited to 15 minutes, which is far from ideal for video creators, too.

But even with these setbacks, the Honor Magic5 Pro is a solid offer with flagship specs and quality top to bottom. And we do recommend this phone to everyone who is not a video creator - it literally has everything and it's not the most expensive offer on the market.

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Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7

  • Compact and premium build, easy to handle, unique-looking design, dust- and water-resistant
  • Sharp, bright, color-accurate display
  • Good battery life considering the phone's size
  • Android from the source, exclusive feature set, unrivaled perception of smoothness on this side of the OS divide
  • Overall, great camera quality with an unmatched character that has a loyal following
  • The display is just 90Hz as opposed to competitors pushing beyond 120Hz
  • Very slow charging by the standards of the day
  • Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light
  • Selfies rarely come out tack sharp

The Pixel 7 is definitely one of the best options in the €600-700 range, especially when considering camera quality. It has a flagship-worthy performance, although a bit lower than you'd expect; it's one of the best phones for mobile photography, if not the best-in-class, and it has bright OLED, great-sounding stereo speakers, long battery life (with the size category in mind) and exceptional software ensuring timely updates and smart features.

Sadly, there are a few caveats to consider here. There's no true telephoto camera; the display is limited to 90Hz; some of the most advanced software features are region-dependent, and the charging solution is just way too outdated for a 2022 flagship release.

But we do recommend it- at that price, the Pixel 7 offers a unique combination of ultra-premium camera experience, long battery life and AI-based features that make it the smartest kid on the block.

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Niche option

Huawei Mate 50 Pro

Huawei Mate 50 Pro

  • Sleek design, leather back, Kunlun glass, IP68-rated
  • Great OLED screen, 120Hz
  • Adequate performance
  • Versatile camera kits on both ends
  • Outstanding photo and video quality, day and night, selfies included
  • Works and talks well with other Huawei devices
  • Touch ID and Face ID
  • No 5G
  • No Google Apps/Services
  • Quickly throttles under peak loads
  • There is a ToF 3D system, yet no portrait selfie mode

The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is certainly among the best cameraphones on the market. The phone also has an amazing screen, great performance and generally every bit the flagship hardware packed in a great-looking and excellently built body.

Huawei's latest cameraphone easily impresses with its cameras – it offers one of the most natural-looking photos and videos among all smartphones and does this across all cameras – front and rear.

Yet we all know that there's a big BUT to the whole thing. It's not that Google Mobile Services and 5G connectivity are impossible to live without. Huawei's AppGallery and alternative app repositories have gone a long way in the past few years, while 5G is yet to really become a game changer for most of our daily lives.

Huawei being the black sheep of the smartphone market means the Mate 50 Pro doesn't stand a chance of selling millions of units in Europe. Some users willing to steer away from Google will be glad that it's available, but most will just ignore it. But it's a lovely phone and another proof that Huawei's well of innovation is far from drying.

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India special

vivo V27 Pro

vivo V27 Pro

  • Eye-catchy dual-glass design, color-changing back
  • Good OLED screen, 120Hz refresh, HDR10+
  • Class-leading photo and video quality from main camera
  • 2x lossless zoom in daylight
  • Superb selfie photos
  • Top-notch performance, great stability, excellent battery life and charging speed
  • No ingress protection, poor grip
  • Single speaker of average quality
  • No proper EIS for the selfie camera
  • The videos from the UW camera are uninspiring

The vivo V27 Pro is an excellent smartphone with an easily likable design, no matter if it's the color-changing (blue) back or not (black model). The phone employs a good and smooth OLED screen and impressed us with excellent performance and stability.

The vivo V27 Pro offers great battery life and is fast to charge, which is nice. But we will remember it for its outstanding photo and video quality from the main camera (with 2x lossless zoom) and the impressive selfies. Few mid-rangers offer such high-quality photos and the vivo V27 Pro has the potential to become a fan-favorite cameraphone on a budget.

No smartphone is perfect and neither is the vivo V27 pro. The most obvious omissions are the stereo speakers and video stabilization for the 4K selfie videos, which is such a waste! We would have also appreciated some sort of ingress protection, too.

Even with these omissions, we still think of the vivo V27 Pro as one of the most capable mid-range smartphones out there, suitable both for gaming and photography. If the phone is available on your market, we strongly suggest considering it as your daily driver for being one of the best all-round offers in its price bracket.

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Affordable option

Xiaomi 12 Lite

Xiaomi 12 Lite

  • Solid camera performance in all scenarios, selfie has AF
  • Fresh and lightweight design, thin bezels
  • Flagship grade 120Hz OLED with 12-bit color dept
  • Competitive fast charging solution
  • Battery life could be a bit better
  • No proper ingress protection this time around, no IP rating

The Xiaomi 12 Lite seems like a solid "lite" version of the more expensive Xiaomi 12X, vanilla 12 and 12 Pro. It maintains a relatively competitive price tag, which makes sense in the Xiaomi 12 series while retaining some high-end features. А speedy 67W fast charging, a flagship-grade OLED panel, a big 108MP main sensor and boxy, catchy design make a compelling case.

What’s really impressive about the Xiaomi 12 Lite is its solid camera performance, a rarity in this price range. The primary, ultrawide and selfie cameras offer commendable photo and video quality. For that, and the well-rounded specs sheet, we’d recommend the Xiaomi 12 Lite as an affordable cameraphone.

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Most recent updates

March 2023: Replaced the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the Galaxy S23 Ultra (new top). Replaced the Xiaomi 12S Ultra with Xiaomi 13 Pro. Replaced the vivo X80 Pro with the vivo X90 Pro. Replaced the Huawei P50 Pro with the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. Added Honor Magic5 Pro and vivo V27 Pro (as India Special). Removed the Xiaomi 12 Pro and Oppo Reno7.

November 10 2022: Added the Xiaomi 12 Lite as an affordable option.

November 1 2022: Replaced the iPhone 13 Pro Max with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Replaced the Pixel 6 Po with the Pixel 7 Pro. Added Pixel 7 and Huawei P50 Pro. Removed the Oppo Find X5 Pro.

July 20, 2022: Added the Xiaomi 12S Ultra as a niche option.

June 29, 2022: Replaced the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Galaxy S22 Ultra (new top). Replaced the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra with the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Replaced the vivo X70 Pro with the vivo X80 Pro. Added Oppo Find X5 Pro, Oppo Find X5 Lite/Reno 7 5G, Sony Xperia 1 IV. Removed the OnePlus 8 Pro, Zenfone 7 Pro, Realme 8 Pro, Pixel 5a 5G.

November 5, 2021: Added Google Pixel 6 Pro and vivo X70 Pro+. Removed the Oppo Find X3 Pro.

October 20, 2021: Replaced the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. Replaced the Pixel 4a 5G with the Pixel 5a 5G.

May 10, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Mi 11 Ultra as our Editor's choice. Replaced the Realme 7 Pro with the 8 Pro. Removed the Huawei P30 Pro (now 2 years old and hard to find), the Mi Note 10 (old and hard to find), and Mi 10 Ultra (local to China and now replaced by the 11 Ultra).

Feb 16, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra with the Galaxy S21 Ultra as our Editor's choice.

Jan 05, 2021: Replaced the Realme 6 Pro with Realme 7 Pro.

Nov 27, 2020: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with the Galaxy Note20 Ultra as our Editor's choice. Replaced Apple iPhone 11 Pro with 12 Pro Max. Replaced OnePlus 7T Pro with OnePlus 8 Pro. Replaced the Pixel 4 XL with Pixel 4a 5G as the former is no longer on sale. Added the Zenfone 7 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, and Huawei P40 Pro.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

  • examiner
  • 20 Mar 2023
  • sst

This surely needs and update due to the new phones on the market...

  • fotograf
  • 04 Mar 2023
  • Yde

On the list of the most prestigious portal about smartphone cameras, the S22 ultra is 16th.

Mate 50 Pro is clearly better