The Best Camera Phones for Photography Enthusiasts


A hand holding a cellphone

In the world of smartphones, one brand reigns supreme: Samsung. The Korean giant has managed to hit a home run with every new release, and their marketing department is also doing a great job at convincing consumers that its latest model is better than anything else on the market. And while it’s true that each iteration brings more innovation over its predecessors, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they are the only ones capable of creating good camera phones. In this article, we’ll take a look at what we consider some of the best camera phones for photography enthusiasts out there right now. If you have been looking for a phone with great software features, but what matters most for you is still taking pictures or videos, then keep reading. You’ll find that some of the phones listed here might even rival entry-level DSLRs.

1. Nokia Lumia 1020 (Best Camera Phone Overall)

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First off, let’s start with one of the most unique camera phones on the market today: The Nokia Lumia 1020. This phone is truly a photography powerhouse with its 41 MP backside-illuminated sensor and Zeiss optics delivering outstanding low light performance and excellent image detail with accurate colors. It also has an industry-leading 2nd generation OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), which keeps things steady at full telephoto when shooting handheld videos or slow motion sequences for example, it also works during video recording to reduce hand shake effects even further by up to 75%. The Lumia 1020 has a dedicated camera shutter key, and it also comes with a Nokia Camera Pro app (paid) that provides easy access to all the phone’s powerful manual controls. I’ve been using my Lumia 1020 as my main camera for almost two years now, and it still keeps up with pretty much everything else out there today. Photo enthusiasts will definitely love its amazing capabilities and ease of use.

2. Apple iPhone 5s (Most Versatile Camera Phone)

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No one can deny Apple products are high quality products, however they’re often criticized for not having as many features compared to their Android counterparts. With the iPhone 5s, this is certainly no longer an issue as iOS 7 now offers more advanced shooting modes, while the phone has also been improved with a faster aperture and larger sensor. To top it off, the iPhone 5s delivers very good results in most conditions, and its performance is actually better than what you can get from most point-and-shoot cameras nowadays.

There’s a reason why Apple is considered one of the best at marketing their products: they pack a ton of useful features right into their phones for free which other companies charge a lot extra for. Take their iOS 7 photography apps for example there are several amazing apps available that give you access to advanced shooting modes, quality enhancing editing tools and much more… all directly from your phone without having to spend additional money on software or accessories. The iPhone isn’t just the most advanced smartphone on the market, it’s also very easy to use, and it has one of the best camera phones you can currently buy.

3. HTC One (Most Versatile Camera Phone Runner up)

There are many reasons why people choose an HTC phone over other Android models, but most often it’s because they value sound quality above everything else. The Taiwanese manufacturer is known for using superior audio hardware in their products, however this advantage doesn’t apply to the camera department unfortunately… or at least not enough for us to include them in our top 3 picks. While previous models had lackluster performance, with the release of the One things have changed quite a bit as the 4 MP Ultrapixel sensor now delivers noticeably better results. The HTC One also offers many useful features including a Pro mode with manual controls, and it’s one of the best camera phones you can get if you care about audio quality.

4. Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom (Best Camera Phone for Versatility)

Samsung is known to make some very good compact cameras, but they are not very well-known when it comes to making great smartphone cameras. This changed with the release of their first ‘Smartphone-Camera’, the 12 MP Galaxy Camera last year which was an interesting concept that never gained much traction due to its heavy weight and limited OS support. With the Galaxy S4 Zoom, Samsung decided to check two important boxes by adding a comfortable phone form factor along with built-in optical zoom, which is something you won’t find on any other device of this type. The S4 Zoom has a 16 MP sensor and 10x optical zoom lens with an f/3.1-f/6.3 aperture range. It also comes equipped with a Xenon flash for brighter pictures when light conditions are poor, however its performance in regular lighting conditions isn’t quite up to par with the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5s…

5. Nokia Lumia 1020 (Best Camera Phone Runner up)

While the HTC One does have a slightly better camera than Nokia’s Lumia 1020, we decided to include Microsoft’s smartphone since it offers much better value overall thanks to its innovative features, built-in optical image stabilization system and free offline digital map data. It is however Nokia’s biggest phone yet with a hefty 41 MP sensor, which might put some people off as it isn’t as easy to use as the iPhone 5s or One when shooting from the pocket due to its massive size. The Lumia 1020 does have a dedicated camera key that makes it easier to turn on and launch into the camera app quickly, but overall ergonomics are somewhat sacrificed for all those extra pixels.

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