A phone’s camera power is a major consideration for many people when deciding on the best smartphone to buy. But finding the best smartphone camera is not an easy task these days since most of the leading flagships come loaded with some serious camera technology. And while some brands and models may excel in certain areas, it’s pretty much a neck-and-neck race.
Some smartphones will perform better in low-light conditions, while others may feature impeccable HDR capabilities. There are those that might not be good at capturing still photos but will blow the competition out of the water when it comes to video recording. In the end, it all boils down to your personal preferences.
All the phones featured in this list boast of stupendous camera prowess. You could call them the “juggernauts” in the smartphone’s camera arena, but whether they will remain on top, only time will tell. Keep in mind that Huawei has already teased the world with the first 40MP, triple-lens rear camera phone, the Huawei P20 Pro, which is expected to hit the stores in a few weeks time. Until then, here are the top 5 best camera phones of 2018.
1. Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus
The Galaxy S9 and its larger brother, S9 Plus, are the latest flagships from Samsung, and they pack a lot to be admired. Samsung didn’t radically change the DNA of its predecessor, the Galaxy S8. Instead, it tweaked and made some changes to the critical areas that matter most to users, with 80% of the changes centered around the camera.
Speaking of the camera, both phones feature a 12MP snapper with a variable aperture. However, the Galaxy S9 Plus adds a second 12MP camera that offers 2X optical zoom and a Live Focus mode that resembles the Portrait Mode in iPhones. The camera in both devices is revolutionary and adapts like a human eye. Based on the lighting conditions, the camera automatically switches between the smaller f/2.4 aperture that lets in less light or the larger f/1.5 aperture that lets in a lot of light.
Photos captured during the day are spectacular with rich details and breathtaking clarity. However, the true colors of the Galaxy S9 camera manifest at night. This is one area that the Galaxy S9 duo completely outshines the competition, thanks to the variable aperture. Night photos are bright and have so much accuracy, that one might be forgiven for thinking they were captured during the day.
Also, if you love to capture slow-motion videos, the rear cameras of the S9 duo can do so at a startling 960 fps at 720p resolution. There is also a front-facing 8MP front-facing camera that captures selfies at f/1.7 aperture and a camera app that puts all the camera settings in a central place.
2. Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
Google put in a lot of effort in revamping the camera in its Pixel phones, and the results are evident in the camera prowess of their Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones. Let’s get the facts right. The cameras in the Pixel duo are not only smart but also lightning fast.
The rear camera in both phones is the same, rated 12.2 MP and a f/1.8 aperture. The fact that Google eschewed the dual lenses trend doesn’t render the Pixel 2 duo inferior. It answered the call with some serious software tricks that have produced some of the most astonishing camera effects we’ve seen in a smartphone today.
The awe-inspiring bokeh effect in the Pixel duo, capable of blurring out the background for amazing portrait shots, is still the best in the market. Even the Galaxy S9 Plus cannot beat the Pixel 2 duo in this department. Daylight photos captured by both phones are breathtaking, with so much accuracy and color precision. We could call it a tie with the Galaxy S9; however, the Galaxy S9 excels in low-light shots.
The video capability is also top notch. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can capture full HD videos at 120 fps and 4K videos at 30 fps. And just like the Galaxy S9, the Google Pixel 2 duo also sports an 8MP front-facing camera. Additional camera features include support for laser autofocus and phase detection as well as HDR and optical image stabilization (OIS).
3. Apple iPhone X
The Apple iPhone X is a premium-looking phone, and its camera is one of the best in the market. The camera is so good, suffice it to say it’s the best we’ve ever seen on an iOS device. And just like the Galaxy S9, the iPhone X also sports a dual 12 MP rear camera but with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures.
The iPhone X camera is equipped with support for HDR, phase detection, and optical image stabilization (OIS). Its capable of recording full HD videos at 240 fps and 4K videos at 60 fps. Photos taken with the iPhone X are eye-popping, thanks to smart camera processing power and the OLED display.
Though the front-facing camera is rated 7 MP, it produces colorful portrait photos that have redefined the selfie landscape. The colors look natural and have a wider color gamut compared to the competition. It also boasts Portrait Lighting mode, that coupled with some built-in photo effects produces images that resemble what you get in a studio.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is another flagship from Samsung that comes with impeccable camera performance. The camera hardware includes a dual 12MP camera – a wide-angle camera and a telephoto lens with a f/1.7 and a f/2.4 apertures respectively. The dual sensors are impressive and powerful, too.
The Galaxy Note 8 camera also comes equipped with advanced features that you’d expect from a premium brand. It comes with support for phase-detection autofocus, an impressive 2X zoom, and optical image stabilization (OIS). Oh, and there is also a dual tone flash that works to clear the noise in low-light shots.
The 8 MP front-facing camera also supports smart autofocus and is capable of producing unrivaled selfie images. What’s more, the extended battery life and a super-high screen resolution means you will be able to take photos for a long time and enjoy them on the best display ever. Its bokeh effect (blurred background and focused subject) is also one of the best you can get from a smartphone today.
5. HTC U11
HTC has come a long way to produce a phone whose camera capabilities can bring the competition to the industry giants. And just like the Google Pixel 2 duo, the U11 also shied away from the dual camera trend. But that doesn’t mean it can’t deliver. In fact, consumers have seen it outperform leading flagships in low-light shots.
The HTC U11 may not have the many bells and whistles that the competition has to offer, but it delivers quintessential performance in varying light conditions. Even in low-lighting conditions, the U11 manages to deliver crisp and noiseless images. The front-facing camera also produces exceptional images even in low light, thanks to HTC’s proprietary UltraPixel technology.
The U11’s main camera sports a 12 MP “UltraPixel 3” sensor with a f/1.7 aperture and a 16 MP front-facing camera. It also comes with support for HDR, UltraSpeed autofocus, and optical image stabilization. The only caveat to this phone is the lack of portrait mode which all the other phones on our list are offering.
There you have it, a review of the top 5 best camera phones on the market. But these are not the only phones with the best camera quality out there. The competition is tight, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new benchmark in image quality set overnight.
That being said, which other phone do you think deserves a spot on our list? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment section below.