The continuous rise and innovation of smartphone cameras paved an entirely new avenue for photographers, hobbyists, and professionals alike, to pursue their passion. And as mobile photography grows into a full-fledged movement, so does the demand for reliable smartphones with high-caliber camera capabilities that can go head-to-head with actual DSLRs, mirrorless, and analog photography equipment.
That said, mobile companies are on a constant mission of upgrading and enhancing the photo capabilities of their respective devices in order to meet certain expectations of each discerning consumer. Some brands even forge partnerships with industry-leading names in the camera, lenses, and optoelectronics business to further elevate their product’s camera features.
Here’s SM Cyberzone’s rundown of the best smartphones for mobile photography.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Setting aside Samsung’s impressive 8K video recording capability, the Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts its four separate lenses armed with 108MP f/1.8 wide-angle main camera to capture a larger field of view without compromising image quality even when cropped. The 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide delivers full-detailed landscapes and architectural images. The phone’s extra pair of 10MP telephoto cameras in f/2.4 and f/4.9 with 3x and 10x optical zoom enables users to capture action shots both in short and long-range without a sweat. Meanwhile, the S21 Ultra’s front lens steps up its selfie game with its 40MP f/2.2 camera.
For mobile photographers who prefer using the phone’s presets, Samsung’s AI-enhanced Portrait Mode and Bright Night Sensor offer endless possibilities to unleash every photographer’s unique artistic prowess.
iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max
Apple’s flagship phones, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max may fall off a bit short against its tech archrival, Samsung, in terms of megapixel count. But that doesn’t mean these two top-tier phones are far inferior when it comes to shooting photos. Both variants showcase a tri-lens setup that consists of 12MP wide-angle and 12MP ultra-wide angle lens. The 52mm (65mm for Max Pro) telephoto possesses a 2.5x zoom that’s capable of capturing the smallest of details when shooting portraits. What separates these two iPhones from the others is its ability to scan, measure, and map light reflections using LiDAR Scanner – a vital feature for shooting more accurate images in Night Mode.
Heavy users who want the freedom to take control of their photos when it comes to editing and enhancements can also take advantage of the iPhone Pro and Pro Max’s ability to shoot on RAW mode.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Huawei may not be the first to partner with a camera brand to juice up its photo capabilities. Nonetheless, they’re the ones who perfected it. Powered by Leica, Mate 40 Pro is a photographer’s dream phone that can give traditional cameras and top-shelf smartphones a run for their money. Its massive 50MP @ f/1.9 and 1/1.28-inch sensor Ultra Vision Camera is backed by a 20MP @ f/1.8 Ultra-Wide Cine Camera, and a 12MP 125mm telephoto with 10x optical, 50x digital zoom, and OIS that can shoot sharp action-packed images at a greater distance. The camera is also equipped with various modes such as Night, Portrait, Macro, Monochrome, Light Painting, and HDR among others to give users a myriad of artistic styles when shooting photos.
Photographers, professionals, and hobbyists alike, can also sharpen up their photoshoot skills using the phone’s Pro Mode that features full manual controls for shutter, ISO, AF, exposure, and white balance.
Google Pixel 5
Google’s Pixel 5 takes the minimalist road with its 2-lens setup on its rear camera. Ditching the telephoto lens, the Pixel 5 rather opts for a more modest 12.2MP @ f/1.7 Dual-Pixel main camera and a 16MP f/2.2 Ultra-Wide camera. The camera is reinforced with enhanced HDR features with an accurate color palette that’s perfect for landscape and still-life.
Portrait lovers are in for a treat with the Pixel 5’s Portrait Light feature which allows quick lighting effect adjustments to add vibrance to the subject.
OnePlus 9 Pro
Taking a giant leap from its predecessors, the OnePlus 9 Pro bumps up its camera features by partnering up with Hasselblad to give its users a more enhanced photography experience. The phone highlights its 48MP f/1.8 main camera, alongside its 16MP front-facing camera, 8MP at f/2.4 telephoto with 3.3x optical zoom, and 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide snappers.
Hasselblad fills in the gap by developing the phone’s main Pro Mode interface to streamline the overall aesthetic and user experience when shooting in manual mode. Hasselblad also added its Color Calibration into the camera’s system to render color imagery precision.
Sony Experia 1 II
One can say that Sony’s Experia 1 II appeals mainly to cinema buffs and filmmakers. It goes to show the versatility of this phone’s camera capabilities. The 12MP phone highlights its Zeiss T Optics tri-lens setup that features a detail-oriented set of lenses: a 24mm equivalent at f/1.7 main camera, a 70mm at f/2.4 telephoto-equivalent camera, and a 16mm at f/2.2 ultra-wide lens.
The Experia 1 II also gives users a taste of Sony Alpha Series Cameras through its Photography Pro manual mode, which is co-developed by the same team of engineers behind the Alpha 9 Camera.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 showcases its landmark achievement by being the first smartphone that can top actual DSLRs and mirrorless cameras on the megapixel count at 108MP. It is also the first smartphone to utilize a 12032 x 9024 resolution in a single photo – about 12 times higher than 4K. Its penta-camera also features its 10x hybrid zoom, 50x digital zoom, and 4-axis OIS provides beautiful images without compromising details even at greater depths.
Still life and nature photographers get the biggest kick from the Mi Note 10 with its dedicated 2MP macro camera for capturing stills down to the last detail.
Oppo Find X2 Pro
Oppo stands a chance against, if not outpunches other top-shelf flagship phones in terms of photo capabilities. The phone’s tri-camera setup features a Sony IMX689-powered 48MP wide-angle lens with 12-bit True Capture sensor, a 48MP ultra-wide lens with Sony IMX586 and Ultra Macro Mode, and a 13MP periscope telephoto lens that’s paired with dual OIS, 10x hybrid zoom, and up to 60x digital zoom for capturing distanced shots.
The X2 Pro has a Native ISO, which automatically adjusts between high and low ISO modes when shooting at different lighting conditions. This is to repel grainy noises and maintain a clear, dynamic imagery at any given lighting.
Vivo X51 5G
Vivo is no stranger when it comes to photo capabilities, as evident from their previous smartphone releases. What makes the X51 5G stand out among its counterparts and competition is its gimbal system. The X51’s 48MP at f/1.6 “Big Eye” Gimbal Main Camera with double-ball suspension mount gives its photography-centric users a literal unshaken photoshoot experience – Vivo’s worthy edge that’s far cry from typical optical image stabilization systems most smartphones offer. The X51 5G’s Super Wide Angle on the other hand is capable of 120-degree field of view for covering larger views.
Another stand out feature is the 13MP 50mm f/2.0 prime lens-equivalent Professional Portrait Camera to deliver natural-looking portraits. Moon photographers can get the most out of this phone with its Supermoon Mode – a feature that comes in handy for shooting a lunar phenomenon and other astronomical events.
Sure, Honor may be a little-known brand for now. Nevertheless, there’s a significant reason why it’s included on this list. Its flagship phone, the View20 packs a number of awesome camera features that can match any other camera phone. It features a 48MP Sony IMX586 main camera with AI Ultra Clarity mode that stitches multiple 48MP frames to render crisp, high-definition images. The front camera has a 25MP sensor with hardware-based HDR, portrait lighting, and Artificial Image Stabilization for enhanced selfies.
Meanwhile, the ToF 3D modeling capabilities allow depth sensing, skeletal tracking, and real-time motion capture for AR imagery. This is vital for photographers who also dabble in photo manipulation as well as AR gaming and 3D modeling.