Based on our in-depth testing and photo comparisons, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are our current favorite smartphone cameras. The
Galaxy S8 (See Plans and Pricing on Samsung) start out with the same 12-MP camera module as the one in the S7, then add in software enhancements, the most important of which is Samsung’s new multi-frame image processing. This gives the S8 and S8+ even better performance in low light and HDR photography than the S7, which was already quite superb. The S8 and S8+ plus also benefit from a sharper front camera, which has gone from 5 to 8 MP.
For those looking for a bit of extra reach, the iPhone 7 Plus is a clear winner thanks to its clever dual rear camera setup. By adding a camera with a f/2.8 56mm zoom lens in addition to the standard iPhone 7 camera, the Plus provides a true 2x optical zoom unlike other phones which have to resort to digital enhancement.
Google’s Pixel is also a strong pick, especially for people who want fantastic high-dynamic range. The Pixel and Pixel XL’s HDR+ mode makes is easy to tackle shots where you want to have good exposure on both the foreground and background, such as landscapes on a sunny day, and unlike the older Nexus 6P, the Pixel’s HDR processing is almost completely lag-free.
We also really like the rear camera on the HTC U11, especially in low light, where it often captured clearer, less grainy shots than the Galaxy S8. And when taking food shots, we also liked the way the HTC U11 made a burger and onions rings even more appetizing thanks to a its richer colors and sharper details.
For people who like shooting landscapes, the LG G6 is the phone you want. In back, its dual 13-MP offers one lens with a standard angle of view, and another with a super-wide angle view — perfect for capturing all those expansive vistas and big city views.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, check out Asus’ ZenFone 3 Zoom, which features dual rear cameras, a 2.3x optical zoom and even a dedicated color correction sensor for just $330.
How We Test Phone Cameras
We put the market’s leading handsets through a variety of common shooting situations, such as landscapes, portraits and selfies in daylight and at night.
Then, we analyzed each set of images on a color-calibrated monitor to see which smartphone had the best combination of color accuracy, clarity and contrast. Like the Galaxy S7 Edge before it, the Galaxy S8 stood out for its superior performance both in daylight and low light, but more so for its ability to swiftly focus on subjects.
In each of our smartphone reviews, we also factor in the phone’s camera performance by testing it in bright, indoor and low-light conditions, as well as by recording and analyzing video clips.
With a new dual camera setup that features two 13-MP sensors, the LG G6 is equally adept at capturing super sharp photos from either its standard lens or its expansive wide-angle lens. Landscapes look particularly impressive, as we used the wide-angle lens on the G6 to capture some gorgeous expansive cityscapes and hillsides. LG has thoughtfully included a fantastic pro mode too, so you can manually adjust settings like shutter, speed, ISO and white balance. And with the G6’s new Square mode, you can shoot pictures while simultaneously looking at another, letting you easily recreate scenes or compositions without hassle.
With dual 12-megapixel rear cameras capable of up to a 2.3x optical zoom, the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom offers one of the best photography experiences you get on a phone for less than $400. In addition to its long reach, the ZenFone 3 Zoom also sports a full-featured pro mode, a dedicated color correction sensor and 4-axis optical image stabilization to ensure your shots stay shake-free. Up front, the ZenFone 3 Zoom features a sharp 13-MP selfie cam, complete with all the beauty mode settings you ever need. And with a battery that lasts more than 16 hours on charge, it’s safe to say the ZenFone 3 Zoom should always have enough juice to capture all your favorite moments.