The top 10 best smartphone cameras in the world

The iPhone X.

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The iPhone X.
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Hollis Johnson

When it comes to the best smartphone cameras on the market, Apple and Samsung rule.

Consumer Reports tested more than 50 of the top smartphones on the market from manufacturers including Google, Apple, LG, Samsung, Hauwei, HTC, and OnePlus. But when it came to the camera, only Apple and Samsung phones cracked the top 10.

Consumer Reports tested phones for both still-image quality and video quality, but noted that there was little difference between all the top-ten phones – in fact, all 10 were rated either very good or excellent overall.

One notable absence from Consumer Reports’ list: the Google Pixel 2, which was lauded by critics for its impressive camera. Consumer Reports ranked the Pixel 2 below the Huawei Mate 9 and Apple iPhone 7 in its best overall smartphone ranking, and didn’t include it on its best-camera shortlist at all.

Here are the best smartphone cameras you can buy, according to Consumer Reports:


10. Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

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Samsung

The Galaxy S8 Active is essentially a ruggedized Galaxy S8.

The phone comes coated in a thicker frame with metal sides and a polycarbonate material on the back, which Samsung says it allows the device to meet military-grade durability standards. The company says the Galaxy S8 Active is also water-resistant, and that its display can survive drops from up to five feet.

Otherwise, the phone is similar to the Galaxy S8. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


9. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

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Apple

The iPhone 7 Plus, released in 2016, was Apple’s first-ever smartphone to feature a dual-lens rear camera – one wide-angle lens, and one telephoto lens. In other words, it was the first iPhone with optical zoom.

At the time, Apple said the phone would able to take sharper, higher-resolution photos than its predecessors. It was also Apple’s first phone capable of taking Portrait mode photos, which produces striking images with a blurred background and sharp foreground – approximating an effect that professional photographers call “bokeh.”

The phone was an immediate hit with users, too. Shortly after the iPhone 7 Plus debuted, my colleague Melia – a Business Insider photojournalist – said the phone’s camera blew her away, and even ended up replacing her high-end DSLR for vacation photos.

The iPhone 7 Plus has two 12-megapixel rear lenses and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


8. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy Note 8 has two cameras on the back.That means it can take portrait-style photos, and can handle 2x optical zoom without distorting your photos.

In a test of the Galaxy Note 8, my colleague Tony found that the phone takes stunning photos with beautiful colors and great contrast.

The Galaxy Note 8 has two 12-megapixel rear lenses and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


7. Samsung Galaxy S8

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Hollis Johnson

The Galaxy S8 is now a year old, but remains one of the top smartphone cameras you can buy. In fact, it was widely considered the king of all smartphone cameras – at least until the reveal of the iPhone X, and now, the newer-model Galaxy S9.

In my test of the Galaxy S8’s camera, I was blown away by the phone’s ability to take close-up and low-light photos, and how well it captured colors and details.

The Galaxy S8 has a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


6. Apple iPhone 6s Plus

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The iPhone 6s Plus is going on three years old, but Consumer Reports still ranked its camera above the iPhone 7 Plus and a bevy of Samsung phones.

The iPhone 6s Plus and the smaller iPhone 6s have nearly identical cameras. Furthermore, a shootout between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 8 revealed that there aren’t many major differences between the two cameras. The iPhone 6s, and the 6s Plus, produce beautiful colors, sharp images, and more true-to-life photos than some of Apple’s newer devices.

The iPhone 6s Plus has a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


5. Apple iPhone 7

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The iPhone 7’s camera is identical to the iPhone 7 Plus in every way except for one key difference: it has a single rear lens instead of the dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Despite its lack of a telephoto lens, Consumer Reports ranked the iPhone 7 higher than its larger sibling phone in terms of cameras.

While the iPhone 7 Plus performed better than its smaller counterpart in Consumer Reports’ still image testing, the iPhone 7 had a leg up when it came to video. Not only was video quality better overall in the smaller phone, but Consumer Reports found that the iPhone 7 had better image stabilization than the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 7 has a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


4. Samsung Galaxy S8+

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Hollis Johnson

The Galaxy S8, S8 Active, and S8+ all have the same camera. But Consumer Reports found that the S8+ performed slightly better in its tests.

The Galaxy S8+ has a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


3. Apple iPhone 8 Plus

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The iPhone 8 Plus is among the three newest iPhones released in the last part of 2017, so it makes sense that it has one of the most impressive smartphone cameras you can buy.

In my colleague Tony’s test of the iPhone 8 Plus camera versus the Galaxy Note 8, he had the same findings as Consumer Reports: The iPhone 8 Plus takes better photos than Samsung’s device.

The iPhone 8 Plus has two 12-megapixel rear lenses and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked both its still image quality and video quality “very good.”


2. Apple iPhone 8

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Much as was the case with the iPhone 7, Consumer Reports found that the standard-sized iPhone 8 performed better than the Plus version.

Besides differences in video quality, Consumer Reports also gave the iPhone 8 – like its predecessor, the iPhone 7 – a higher score than Plus model because it had a faster auto-focus speed and picture sequence speed, plus less shutter lag.

The iPhone 8 has a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked its still image quality “very good” and its video quality “excellent.”


1. Apple iPhone X

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Hollis Johnson

The iPhone X is the most high-end offering from Apple, and according to Consumer Reports, it has a high-end camera to match.

While Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phones – and the iPhone 8 – beat the iPhone X in Consumer Reports’ overall ranking, it believes the iPhone X has the best smartphone camera on the market.

Consumer Reports also found that all three newest iPhones – the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X – have the best front-facing cameras you can buy.

The iPhone X has a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Consumer Reports ranked its still image quality “very good” and its video quality “excellent.”