Smartphone cameras have come a long way, from the laughable VGA cameras of the past to the double and even triple camera setups we see today that are comparable to entry-level DSLRs. Getting decent camera phones has become more and more affordable over the last couple of years, with camera prowess now becoming an essential factor influencing the customers’ choice even in the budget segment.
Since almost all smartphone manufacturers are now (falsely?) claiming that their devices feature the best cameras, getting a great deal could sometimes be a bit harrowing for buyers who aren’t up to speed with the latest trends in the space. In order to help you make an informed decision regarding your next purchase, we’ve compiled a list of the best camera phones in the market today, encompassing everything from the budget segment to premium flagships, which offer the best camera performance for their price.
Best Camera Phones You Can Buy (December 2018):
Best Flagship Camera Phones
1. Google Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL
If you don’t want to make any compromises when it comes to your smartphone’s camera performance, then the Google Pixel 3 is your clear choice. There are quite a few reasons why the Pixel 3 takes the top spot in this segment, with its sheer ease of use giving it a significant edge over all other smartphone cameras. Additionally, Google’s software optimizations are unsurprisingly the best in the industry, which allows the Pixel 3 to take stunning Portrait shots with just a single lens.
Hardware wise, the Pixel 3 includes a 12.2MP f/1.8 camera sensor on the back with OIS, EIS, PDAF, and LDAF, which might not look impressive on paper, but surely is impressive in real world use. Up front the device packs in an 8MP + 8MP dual front camera which is great for capturing selfies or making video calls; plus the secondary wide angle lens allows for easy group selfies. Images captured by the Pixel 3 are just great, with ample amounts of detail, high dynamic range, little to no noise, and vivid colors. Starting at Rs. 71,000, the Pixel 3 is definitely the best camera phone out there and if you’re looking for the best camera on a smartphone right now, the Pixel 3 is definitely the way to go.
Buy from Amazon: Rs. 71,000
2. Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Our list earlier had the Huawei P20 Pro on this spot, but the Chinese brand has since launched the Mate 20 Pro which brings an even better and more versatile camera set up than the P20 Pro. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features a triple rear camera set up with a 40MP Wide Angle 27mm, f/1.8 shooter, a 20MP Ultra Wide Angle 16mm, f/2.2 lens, and an 8MP 80mm 3x Telephoto f/2.4 lens. It’s a pretty insane set up to be honest, and it takes pretty great pictures.In broad daylight, the Mate 20 Pro cameras can capture a lot of light, ample detail, and push out great colors that look beautiful. Plus, while you can shoot at 40MP, you can even turn it down to 10MP to make the phone use four pixels as one, and get even better shots with smaller sizes. This is especially helpful in low light, where, even though the cameras perform really well, with good amount of light and detail, using the 10MP setting results in even more light and less noise.
Other than the picture quality though, the Mate 20 Pro’s cameras are probably the most versatile. You can take great daylight photos, you can take stunning low light shots, you can use the wide-angle lens to capture scenery like never before, and the phone even comes with a 5x hybrid zoom that’s actually pretty decent. In portrait mode, the phone is great, edge detection is on point, and the bokeh turns out nice and soft. It’s only in the selfies where the Mate 20 Pro’s camera gets a little wonky. It’s a good selfie shooter, but it’s definitely not the best in the market. Still, unless you live and die by selfies, the Mate 20 Pro is one of the best camera phones out there. It is, at the very least, the most versatile option.
Buy the Mate 20 Pro from Amazon (₹69,990)
3. Apple iPhone XS and XS Max
The recently launched iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max boast of some pretty impressive cameras as well, and expectedly so. Apple has made various under-the-hood improvements to the camera performance of the new iPhones, and while they feature the same hardware set up as the 2017 iPhone X, there are subtle but effective changes.
For starters, the new iPhones come with bigger 1.4µm pixels as compared to the 1.22µm pixels in the iPhone X, which will definitely help with low light photography. Also, thanks to the 8-core neural engine inside the brand new A12 Bionic chipset, the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max can use Smart HDR to bring out the highlights and shadows in a much more effective way. This is pretty similar to the Pixel 2’s HDR+ mode, and that’s pretty impressive. Plus, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max also have Depth Control, so you can adjust the background blur in a portrait image after you’ve taken the image as well.
In terms of raw hardware, the iPhone XS and XS Max feature a 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 dual rear camera with true-tone flash, along with a 7MP front facing shooter that’s also capable of portrait mode shots using the A12 Bionic’s neural engine. The phones are pretty expensive though, with a starting price of Rs. 99,990 for the 64GB iPhone XS, and Rs. 1,09,990 for the 64GB iPhone XS Max.
Buy from Flipkart: (starts at Rs. 99,900)
4. Galaxy Note 9
Replacing its S9-series brethren, the Galaxy Note 9 now boasts of having one of the best cameras on a flagship device. The device features the same 12MP dual rear-camera setup we’ve seen on the S9 Plus. This means you’ve got a primary camera that boasts dual apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4 and a secondary f/2.4 telephoto lens, paired with some new AI tricks up its sleeve.
You can use the Galaxy Note 9 to capture some stunning pictures, with great detail and a high dynamic range. The photos may still be a little over-saturated but the AI scene optimizer and flaw detection surely work to make the result better. The low-light photos look crisp and there’s no noise in photos captured via the Galaxy Note 9 at night time, which is a good thing.
The Galaxy Note 9 also sports an 8MP front camera, which also performs remarkably well but sometimes does soften the subject. I love using the portrait mode (or Live Focus, as Samsung likes to call it) on this device as the edge-detection is on point and background blur looks natural, so you can capture DSLR-grade photos using the Galaxy Note 9. It’s also capable of recording 4K video at 60fps, which looks quite stable due to dual-OIS, and the super slow-mo still continues to wow the users, making this device a wholesome camera package.
Buy from Amazon: Rs 67,900
Best Camera Phones Under 40000 INR
1. OnePlus 6T
Taking the top spot in this segment is the famous flagship killer – the OnePlus 6T. The device features a 16MP f/1.7 + 20MP f/1.7 primary dual camera setup on the back, which is capable of capturing some amazing pictures with great details and vivid color reproduction. We’ve already reviewed the OnePlus 6T in great detail and the verdict is quite straightforward – the device has packs in a great camera at quite an affordable price.
While the camera may not be as good as the one on the Pixel 3, it isn’t bad either and captures images with virtually no noise and high dynamic range. Low light performance is also pretty good, thanks to the inclusion of OIS on the primary lens, which significantly reduces blurs. Portrait mode performance is rather average, with the camera not being able to detect edges at times, but it isn’t a complete deal breaker. Up on the front, the OnePlus 6 features a 16MP f/2.0 selfie shooter, which will allow you take well detailed selfies that have good details and dynamic range.
Buy from Amazon: starts at Rs. 37,999
2. Honor 10
OnePlus 6’s closest competitor – the Honor 10 – takes the second spot in this segment, with its 24MP f/1.8 + 16MP f/1.8 dual camera setup which performs almost identically as the OnePlus 6. The primary cameras are able to capture a lot of details and the dynamic range is even better than the OnePlus 6, however, the gimmicky AI mode over saturates the images, which is kind of a downer. Low light performance is also pretty good, with the sensor capable of capturing enough light to eliminate most noise.
Up front, the Honor 10 packs in a 24MP f/2.0 selfie shooter which is capable of taking remarkable selfies, even in low light. Portrait mode on the Honor 10 is somewhat of a hit-or-miss, with the device delivering stunning images at times and completely botching up the bokeh on a fair few occasions. Priced at Rs. 32,999, the Honor 10 is a compelling buy in this segment and despite undercutting the OnePlus 6’s price, it takes the second spot only because of the otherworldly performance that the OnePlus 6 offers.
Buy from Flipkart: Rs. 35,999
3. LG G7+ ThinQ
LG’s new G7+ ThinQ is another exceptionally good smartphone that comes with some pretty great cameras. The phone comes with a dual 16MP + 16MP setup on the back and can take some pretty impressive photos. In daylight and good lighting conditions, the photos from the G7+ ThinQ turn out pretty impressive with ample details and good colors. Even in low light, the phone takes impressive pictures thanks to the fact that it has an f/1.6 and an f/1.9 aperture on its rear cameras which allows it to capture a lot of light.
On the front, the LG G7+ ThinQ comes with an 8MP sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. The front camera here is also a great shooter. Selfies from the LG G7+ ThinQ turn out pretty good, and even though they are not as good as the ones you’d get from, say, the OnePlus 6T, they are still pretty well detailed and with good colors. The LG G7+ ThinQ is definitely a phone to consider if you’re looking for the best camera phone under 40000 INR.
Buy From Flipkart: ₹40,000
4. Vivo V11 Pro
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo is a reputed brand when it comes to a smartphone’s imaging capabilities. The company really focuses on delivering great camera performance on its smartphones and the new Vivo V11 Pro is no different. The smartphone packs a 25MP camera up front which allows users to take some amazing and detailed selfies. The selfies have little to no noise and the dynamic range is also quite acceptable. The Vivo V11 Pro is also capable of taking good selfies in low lighting conditions. The primary 12MP + 5MP dual camera setup on the back isn’t half bad either and it can take pretty decent images, with its portrait mode capabilities outshining those of flagship devices.
When it comes to processing capabilities, the smartphone is being powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor which is being paired with Adreno 512 GPU. There’s also 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage which will really come in handy. On the front, there’s a 6.41-inch display which sports a tear-drop notch which looks almost beautiful. The display has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 402 PPI. Finally, there’s a 3400 mAh battery powering the setup which should be enough to last a whole day.
Buy from Amazon: (Rs. 25,990)
Best Camera Phones Under 20000 INR
1. Mi A2
Xiaomi Mi A1 was one of the best smartphones you could buy under the INR 20000 price point and the company has just released its successor, the Mi A2, which is turning out to be quite a good budget smartphone. I especially love the cameras on this smartphone as they can capture really good shots. The primary camera is bringing a 12 MP + 20 MP dual camera combo which is quite powerful. While the 20MP camera is using the Sony IMX376 sensor, the 12MP sensor is Sony IMX486 with f/1.75 aperture, large 1.25μm pixels. This means that the smartphone takes great photos in good lighting conditions but it also brings very good low-light performance. The primary camera is also capable of 4K recording which is great. The front-facing 20 MP shooter does a decent job of capturing selfies. While it’s not the best in the business, it’s right there at the top in our price range.
Talking about the other features of the smartphone, I love the stock Android experience which is the biggest benefit of using an Android One device. I mean the smartphone is first in line to receive Android P, what more you want? The smartphone also brings good processing power. With its Snapdragon 660 chipset which is being paired with Adreno 512 GPU, you will never be disappointed with its speed. Other features include a beautiful 5.99-inch IPS LCD display which has a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels, a 3000 mAh battery, and more. If you love stock Android and good cameras, this is the phone you should get.
Buy from Amazon: (Rs. 16,999)
2. Huawei P20 Lite
Priced at Rs. 19,999, the Huawei P20 Pro features the best camera setup for its price, which is why it makes it to the top spot in this segment. The Huawei P20 Pro packs in a dual 16MP+2MP primary camera setup on the back which is capable of taking detailed and vivid daylight photos. The device doesn’t disappoint in low light performance, delivering well lit images with little to no noise, and it’s also capable of taking great portrait shots with a nice bokeh effect.
Up front, the P20 Lite features a 24MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture that takes awesome selfies. On top of that, the selfie shooter can also take portrait selfies, thanks to software optimizations, with 3D portrait lighting effects like those on the iPhone X. If you have a budget of exactly Rs. 20,000, then don’t look any further. The Huawei P20 Lite is the perfect choice for you!
Buy from Amazon: Rs. 19,999
3. Redmi Note 6 Pro
Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 6 Pro is definitely one of the best camera phones under Rs. 20,000. The phone comes with a 12MP + 5MP dual rear camera same as the Redmi Note 5 Pro. However, this time around the main camera has a wider f/1.9 aperture and the performance of the camera has been improved anyway. Photos from the rear camera on the Redmi Note 6 Pro are pretty great in good lighting, but it’s in low light where the f/1.9 aperture of the phone really shines. Low light images from the Redmi Note 6 Pro are quite good, and considerably better than the Redmi Note 5 Pro that earlier occupied this spot on our list.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro is also the first Xiaomi phone to feature dual selfie cameras. The phone comes with a 20MP + 2MP dual front camera set up, and the front cameras here are pretty great in all types of conditions. Whether it’s in low light or good lighting, images from the front camera on the Redmi Note 6 Pro turn out pretty good. Thanks to the 2MP depth sensor on the front, portrait selfies from the Redmi Note 6 Pro have really good edge detection and the bokeh is just better overall. It’s definitely a phone you can consider if you’re looking for good cameras under Rs. 20,000.
Buy the Redmi Note 6 Pro from Flipkart (starts at Rs. 13,999)
4. Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 takes the final spot in this segment, as it offers a great dual camera setup at a very affordable price. Coming in at just Rs. 10,999, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 includes a 13MP+5MP dual camera setup on the back, along with an 8MP selfie shooter up front. Taking the price into consideration, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 offers great camera performance, delivering good daylight and portrait mode shots.
Compared to other smartphones in this price segment, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 struggles a bit in low light conditions and the selfie camera isn’t as good , but once again, for the price, we can’t really ask for more. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 is also available in a 4GB/64GB configuration which is priced at Rs. 12,999, but since it has the same camera configuration, don’t expect any improvements in the camera department.
Note: Asus is going to launch the ZenFone Max Pro M2 in India on December 11, and it should have better cameras than the Max Pro M1. So, I’d suggest you to wait before you take the leap and buy the ZenFone Max Pro M1.
Buy from Flipkart: starts at Rs. 10,999
SEE ALSO: The Best Gaming Phones of 2018
A Great Camera Phone For Every Budget!
That concludes our list of the best camera phones in the market today and we hope that you find the perfect choice for your budget. Each smartphone camera on the list is a bit different from the other, with their own strong suits and shortcomings. So choose something that fits your budget and complements your style! Don’t forget to let us know your personal favorite out of the list in the comments section down below.