Best Photo Smartphones: A 2021 Buying Guide for Champions of Photography

Which smartphone to choose to take the best photos? Like battery life, this is one of the criteria that we look at the most when buying a new smartphone. If the capacity of the batteries has been evolving at a snail’s pace for years, the cameras for them keep improving. Discover in this guide the models of photophones that we have selected for you.

Best photo smartphones

Smartphones can take photos that rival those of some cameras in quality, as a Google engineer demonstrated. After the race for megapixels and ultrapixels, the entire industry is now turning to smartphones with several photo sensors (optical zoom, ultra wide angle, etc.). If this criterion weighs a lot in the balance, there are also others to consider such as optical stabilization or maximum resolution.

The best photo smartphones in 2021

Apple and Samsung obviously have quite a few arguments to make in the category of “high-end” smartphones with a good camera. In front of them, however, we find very good challengers who do not have to be ashamed of the two behemoths. Here is our selection of best smartphones in 2021 to take photos, but also to record videos. Note that in this guide we will only detail the characteristics relating to photo and video capture of the smartphones presented.

L’iPhone 12 Pro Max

L'iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones of 2021, in particular thanks to its high performance triple photo module with a definition of 12 megapixels. You will thus benefit from a wide-angle module, an ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto x2.5. For selfies, it has a 12 megapixel TrueDepth camera. In detail, the wide-angle sensor (composed in particular of larger photosites) lets in 27% more light. What to offer photos with a very great sharpness and a number of details much more important.

Big innovation for an Apple smartphone, the presence of a LiDAR scanner. This allows you to sublimate your shots in low light. Thanks to the integrated optical stabilization on all the lenses (5000 settings per second), we can take photos (and especially videos) much better balanced. And this even if your gesture lacks confidence when it comes to capturing the scene. With the 65mm telephoto lens, you can also zoom in very tight, handy to better capture the subtleties of your model’s face.

Moreover, the portraits in Night mode will notably have vivid colors while highlighting the shiny elements in the background. The LiDAR as well as the A14 Bionic chip also make it possible to reproduce the subtleties of the elements located in the foreground without harming the base colors of the photographed area.

  • Triple 12-megapixel module (wide-angle, f / 1.6, ultra-wide-angle, f / 2.2, telephoto, f / 2)
  • Scanner LiDar
  • Optical stabilization by displacement of the sensor

Read also >> Galaxy S21 Ultra: Samsung mocks iPhone 12 Pro Max in series of ads

Le Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

This is the most premium model of the latest batch from Samsung. In doing so, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is equipped with a very advanced photo module. This is notably composed of a main wide-angle 108 megapixel sensor. It comes with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor as well as two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses with 10x and 3x optical zoom. The selfie sensor is 40 megapixels.

With the main sensor, your photos will be 9 times more detailed (and therefore realistic) than your 12-megapixel photos, Samsung promises. And this without harming the colorimetry. Night mode and its Bright Night sensor are also appreciable, the latter allowing to capture light and colors in a night setting. However, we regret the smoothing of the software processing which causes a consequent loss of details.

As for the Space Zoom, fed on artificial intelligence, it offers less blurry shots. The Dual Pixel technology will also allow you to benefit from a devilishly fast autofocus. On the portrait side, we appreciate the perfection features of the face (which removes blurs) and the Face Retouch + (which erases imperfections).

In the video department, the S21 Ultra is still capable of capturing videos in 8K which offers four times more pixels than 4K. You won’t find a higher resolution on a smartphone today. Especially since the Action Cam function will allow you to benefit from impressive stability. It is also possible to take photos directly from your 8K sequences.

  • A quadruple photo module (wide-angle 108 megapixels f / 1.8, ultra-wide-angle 12 megapixels f / 2.2, telephoto x3 10 megapixels f / 2.4, telephoto x10 10 megapixels f / 4.9)
  • 4K resolution at 60 frames per second / 8K at 24 frames per second

Le Google Pixel 5

Google Pixel 5

More accessible than the two previous models, the Google Pixel 5 was released last October. Its photo module consists of a main 12.2 megapixel wide-angle sensor as well as a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor. As for the selfie sensor, it is 8 megapixels. Like its predecessors, the main sensor of the Pixel 5 is very powerful, thus managing to realistically transcribe the details of the captured scene. Especially since this is also true in low light, the algorithm being able to erase the noise without harming the realism of the rendering.

For its part, the ultra-wide angle module is also very satisfactory in terms of rendering details. With a greater definition, it is still less efficient than the main module. The quality of the video capture is also a good argument of the Pixel 5, which is capable of reaching 4K 60 frames per second. All with increased stabilization.

Moreover, this photophone is composed of a Night Vision mode which allows you to photograph low light scenes while maintaining a high level of detail. It also benefits from HDR + technology which automatically improves colors and brightness. Enough to offer a very faithful rendering.

  • Main sensor 12.2 megapixel f / 1.7 27mm, 1.4µm Ultra wide-angle sensor 16 megapixel f / 2.2
  • 4K 60 i / s resolution

Le Oppo Find X3 Pro

Le Oppo Find x3 Pro

This Oppo camera phone is made up of four back photo modules. In this case, there is a main 50 megapixel module and an ultra wide angle of 50 megapixels as well. There is also a 13-megapixel telephoto module offering x2 optical zoom as well as a 3-megapixel microscopic module. Impressive on paper, this configuration does indeed make it possible to produce very good shots.

In particular via the main module which takes very realistic photographs thanks to pixel bining. Which brings together four pixels in one which makes it possible to attract more light when the latter is scarce. The Oppo Find 3 is capable of shooting razor-sharp shots (which take up a lot of space on your phone, however). In Night mode, this photophone achieves good scores thanks to less significant image smoothing, better exposure and varied colors.

In addition, its microscopic lens makes it possible to photograph the infinitely small with great precision. A gadget feature that should however amuse more than one. For its part, the 32-megapixel front sensor produces quality selfies, the light being well managed and the rendering of details, at the rendezvous. Finally, it should be noted that this smartphone can make videos in 4K 60 images per second, which does not spoil anything.

  • Quadruple photo module (one 50-megapixel f / 1.8 wide-angle, one 50-megapixel f / 2.2 ultra-wide-angle, one 13-megapixel f / 2.4 telephoto lens and one 3-megapixel f / 3.0 microscopic module)
  • 4K 60 i / s resolution

With Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 pRO

To finish this buying guide, we bring you the Huawei P30 Pro. Although the latter is not very recent, it allows you to take exceptional shots for a much lower price than the aforementioned smartphones. In detail, it embeds a 40 megapixel main module as well as a 5x 8 megapixel zoom module, both being enhanced with optical and software stabilization. Unlike its 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle module.

The main sensor is notably capable of performing pixel binning in order to have better rendering in low light. Concretely, this smartphone takes very good shots in broad daylight with a very strong sense of detail and an admirable level of contrast. The colors are also very well restored. At night, he also immortalizes the scenes very well, keeping an acceptable amount of detail. The grain is hardly present and the exposure very good.

In addition, the 5x zoom module perfectly transcribes the details if the light is there. As for the ultra wide-angle, it also has good arguments to make by restoring the textures well while supporting the contrasts. We also appreciate its 32 megapixel front sensor, offering a lot of details as well as a significant sharpness. On the video side, it can shoot in 4K.

  • 40-megapixel photo sensor (f / 1.6), 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor (f / 2.2), 5x 8-megapixel zoom module (f / 3.4)
  • 4K resolution

That’s it for this guide to buying the best cameras around. To continue reading, here is our guide to the best smartphones under 300 euros in 2021.


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