Smartphone cameras are all the rage these days. So much so, that almost every other phone manufacturer has a dedicated camera phone in their arsenal, that an average joe can purchase and click good photos.
With that being said, I still don’t feel that a phone camera can replace a DSLR, even in 2021, and I am sure many enthusiasts would agree with me on that. But, for the majority of the crowd, all they want is to take amazing photos or videos, without that load of carrying a bulky camera around, and the simple solution to this is a solid camera phone!
This is why, on the occasion of World’s Photography Day, here are some of the best phones that you can consider buying for clicking stunning pictures.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Months have passed since Samsung first introduced its Galaxy S21 line-up, but even after all this time, if you ask me, which is the best camera phone that money can buy right now? Of course, with the budget being no concern! My simple answer to that would be the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
During my testing, the Galaxy S21 Ultra managed to take some excelling looking photos with good colour reproduction and dynamic range. Of course, the colours do tend to be a little on the vibrant side, but the end result looks nothing short of mind-blowing. Even in terms of details in photos or the edge detection in portrait mode shots, the S21 Ultra never failed to impress.
Not to forget, this phone features a 108MP main rear camera which is capable of doing 100x space zoom, a fancy term for 100x digital zoom. And while the feature did sound gimmicky at first, it was not until I was able to capture a half-decent photo of the moon from my phone… That was an eye-opener!
How can we talk about Samsung and not have a mention of its biggest rival Apple, eh? In this case, while Samsung has an amazing line-up of camera phones in the Galaxy S21 series, Apple has their own in the iPhone 12 series. For the past year, I have had the opportunity to play around with the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12, and I am happy to report, if you want the most reliable, all-condition, point and shoot smartphone camera, the iPhone 12 won’t disappoint.
So, for the iPhone 12, or for that matter, iPhone models in general, it has never been about the megapixel count, at least until now. Personally, I have an iPhone 11 Pro as one of my daily drivers, a phone which can still put many new devices to shame when it comes to camera performance. However, after testing the iPhone 12, I can assure you that this phone takes far better photos and videos than my iPhone 11 Pro, be it in terms of details, colour reproduction, dynamic range or even the shots that were taken using night mode. That said, not having a telephoto lens in the iPhone 12 and 12 mini is kind of a bummer! In that case, if you really require an iPhone with a telephoto lens, for those zoomed-in shots, consider buying the iPhone 12 Pro line-up, or better wait for the iPhone 13 Pro line-up, which is right around the corner.
Vivo X60 Pro
Earlier this year, I got a chance to test out the Vivo X60 Pro, which is a fantastic phone that comes with a gimbal camera and is one of the best you can buy if video recording is your thing. But besides video recording, the X60 Pro’s cameras are still worthy of clicking great pictures and of course, this phone doesn’t cost a bomb when compared to the likes of an iPhone 12 or a Samsung Galaxy S21.
During my testing, the Vivo X60 Pro managed to click some well-detailed shots with good colour reproduction and dynamic range. Of course, when I say good colour reproduction, expect them to be on the vibrant side, just like I mentioned in the case of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. But nonetheless, when I did compare a few shots of the Vivo X60 Pro with that of the iPhone 12, truth be told, I actually preferred the output from the former, rather than the true to source images that the iPhone took. But, at the end of the day, it is all about the photos looking good, and boy oh boy, the X60 Pro doesn’t disappoint, especially when it comes to clicking social-media ready pictures!
The iQOO 7 is an all-out gaming smartphone, and it is one of the best devices that you can buy for under Rs. 35,000 for good thermal management and sustained performance. However, never did I expect that this phone will turn out to be one of the best phones when it comes to taking photos and videos. Well, I know, the iQOO team did emphasize the camera during the product briefing and listening to that, I was expecting the camera on this phone to be fine. But I guess, there was a pleasant surprise in the offing!
Despite being Vivo’s subsidiary, I absolutely loved the iQOO 7’s colour science. During my testing, shots came out crisp and detailed in ample lighting conditions. Dynamic range was excellent and never did I found the colours to be boosted or washed out, I mean the colours to my eyes looked just about right. In fact, like the Vivo X60 Pro, I also compared the iQOO 7 to the iPhone 12. And while I know it was not a fair battle, it was good to see that the iQOO 7 was able to stand its ground against the iPhone 12, and even in some cases, gave me much better shots when it came to details and colour reproduction. Although, camera performance does need improvement at night.
Realme X7 Max
To get a good camera phone don’t necessarily mean that you have to spend a fortune. Of course, the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the iPhone 12 Pro are some of the best phones when it comes to camera performance, but there’s no denying they are costly as well.
Steps in the Realme X7 Max, a good all-around smartphone, that packs in solid specifications, solid performance, at a not so solid price. I mean, the phone is literally selling at a discounted price of Rs. 24,999 right now. And so, if you buy this phone for its cameras, in terms of output, I will tell you straight that if you like social media-ready pictures, i.e. if prefer vibrant tones and all that jazz, you’ll love the cameras of the Realme X7 Max. And I understand many people prefer true to source tones in their pictures, which is fine, even I prefer that.
But as a whole, I think this camera system should appeal to most people out there because, at the end of the day, colours look nice, details are sharp, highlights and shadows look balanced, and the dynamic range in photos is good. With that said, similar to the iQOO 7, I would suggest you keep your expectations low when it comes to taking photos in dim lighting.
Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
Similar to the Realme X7 Max, which I said, is an amazing camera phone that doesn’t cost a bomb. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max takes it a notch down when it comes to price, but that doesn’t mean you sacrifice when it comes to the camera performance.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max was one of the first phones to bring the mighty 108MP camera sensor for under Rs. 20,000, and without a shadow of a doubt, the main camera of this phone shines and takes some colour-rich images, that also score high on details and sharpness. One more thing that I absolutely love about the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is that unlike many of its competitors, which give you a 2MP macro camera as a part of the camera setup, Redmi gives a 5MP macro camera in the Note 10 Pro Max. And this 5MP macro lens is not only better than those 2MP macro lenses that the competition offers, but it is one of the best macro cameras I have ever come across on a phone, period.
Bonus: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
That was the list of some of the best camera phones that you can buy across all budgets. However, before closing this article, there’s one phone which has been my personal favourite. And not just for taking photos and videos, but generally as an all-around phone, and I am talking about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. Of course, you knew which phone I am talking about, you read the subhead!
Now, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G is not the best camera phone out there, but I can definitely vouch that it is can stand there in the top 5! And while I could’ve added this phone as a part of the main list, I wanted to highlight this phone as a bonus pick up and as I mentioned, it is one of my favourites.
So, during my testing of the Galaxy S20 FE 5G, I found the camera performance to be top-notch all the way, with good amounts of detail and sharpness in the photos. The colours were also punchy, and that punchiness is just the right amount I feel and of course, the dynamic range in photos was also good.
Currently selling for about Rs. 56,000, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G is still one of the best phones that money can buy. And I know, some would argue about it having the Snapdragon 865 chip versus many of the phones these days featuring the Snapdragon 888 under the hood for less money. But truth be told, in terms of real-world performance, there’s a marginal difference between the Snapdragon 865 and the Snapdragon 888, and anyway it is not just the processor we are talking about here. Along with the top of the line performance, the cameras on this phone are solid, and not to forget you’re getting a secure software experience in the face of One UI protected by Knox.
Finally, that was the list guys! Feel free to drop a comment below if there’s any other phone that you think deserves to be on the list. And wishing everyone, World’s Photography Day!