Best Smartphone for Photography of 2024

Best Smartphone for Photography

In today’s world, almost everyone carries a camera with them, thanks to the default inclusion of cameras in smartphones. However, not all phones are created equal when it comes to capturing the best photographs. Some stand out for specific reasons.

The arena of mobile photography has become a major battleground for smartphone vendors as they strive to outdo each other. Fortunately, it’s not merely a numbers game, despite megapixel counts reaching new highs. It’s largely about how effectively software can make the most of the available pixels. This effectiveness can also be influenced by how you leverage the features that the software offers, especially given the diverse modes that phones now routinely provide.

Top pick

SAMSUNG Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra

This device now stands as one of the most versatile camera phones available, largely thanks to its Pro mode and RAW capture capabilities.

Editor’s choice

Xiaomi 13 Pro

Xiaomi 13 Pro

The collaboration between Xiaomi and Leica has been eagerly anticipated, particularly with the presence of a Type 1 sensor in the Xiaomi 13 Pro.

Best value


Pixel 7 Pro

Google has maintained a familiar approach with the Pixel 7 lineup, opting for periodic changes in image sensors rather than radical shifts

This landscape is constantly evolving, with new phones frequently surpassing their predecessors, while others shift positions based on how recent updates have impacted their performance and image quality.

Whether you’re interested in pro mode capabilities, innovative software features, or getting the most value for your money, this collection of information is an excellent starting point. At PetaPixel, we’ll continuously update this resource to keep you informed about the ever-changing and dynamic smartphone market, ensuring you have the knowledge you need to capture the images you desire.

1. SAMSUNG Galaxy S23 Ultra

SAMSUNG Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung owes much of its current success to the incremental improvements it introduced in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra takes things to another level with some well-executed upgrades and additions. This device now stands as one of the most versatile camera phones available, largely thanks to its Pro mode and RAW capture capabilities.

While Samsung’s HP2 image sensor might not be the largest in physical size, it certainly boasts an impressive megapixel count. However, the real magic lies in how Samsung utilizes these megapixels in combination with enhanced computational software to deliver superior images in both JPEG and RAW formats. Capturing a 200-megapixel image opens up cropping possibilities that are simply unmatched by other phones, and the quality retention here is exceptional. This often makes using telephoto lenses unnecessary, though having them as reliable options certainly adds to the device’s appeal.

In a brilliant move, Samsung has integrated Expert RAW into the camera app, allowing users to capture 50-megapixel RAW images complete with 16-bit RAW support and the ability to save custom settings presets. Another standout feature is the seamless integration with Lightroom, a rarity among phone brands. This integration is particularly valuable, given the S Pen’s utility as an editing tool. The S Pen functions well as a remote shutter, and with a built-in slot, this phone effectively inherits the legacy of the Galaxy Note.

The inclusion of new modes like Astrophotography and Multiple Exposure adds further creative potential, while the existing modes benefit from Samsung’s enhanced performance in the S23 Ultra. Even video capabilities receive a boost, solidifying this device as a versatile powerhouse capable of excelling in various shooting scenarios.

2. Xiaomi 13 Pro

Xiaomi 13 Pro

The collaboration between Xiaomi and Leica has been eagerly anticipated, particularly with the presence of a Type 1 sensor in the Xiaomi 13 Pro. This partnership has indeed delivered impressive results, showcasing the potential when a renowned camera brand makes a substantial impact on a smartphone’s camera system. While the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s camera as a whole is noteworthy, the Pro mode, and specifically the 50MP mode, shines brightly due to the wealth of options it provides.

It’s worth noting that while shooting in RAW at the full 50-megapixel resolution isn’t possible, the Xiaomi 13 Pro breaks away from the norm by enabling users to capture JPEGs at the maximum resolution while utilizing all the manual controls offered by the Pro mode. This versatility extends to the Leica Authentic and Vibrant modes, in addition to the four Leica color and black-and-white filters. Furthermore, the inclusion of old film emulations, though not directly from Leica, adds yet another layer of creativity, encouraging thoughtful photography rather than run-of-the-mill snapshots. While RAW images excel, particularly in low-light conditions, you’ll find that the 50-megapixel JPEGs offer remarkable flexibility during post-processing.

What’s particularly impressive is that this flexibility extends to the other rear lenses as well, allowing you to shoot at 50-megapixels in both telephoto and ultra-wide modes while maintaining the same granular control. Additionally, you can opt for RAW capture with either of these lenses at 12-megapixels, effectively making the 50MP mode an integral part of a comprehensive camera system rather than a one-off feature.

Exploring the settings within the Pro mode reveals a wealth of features and tools that go beyond merely selecting 50MP or RAW, making it well worth the effort to delve into the extensive capabilities it offers.

3. Google Pixel 7 Pro


As expected, Google has maintained a familiar approach with the Pixel 7 lineup, opting for periodic changes in image sensors rather than radical shifts. This strategy underscores the importance of Google’s renowned computational software, which continues to lead the pack in terms of pixel-level image quality. Notably, the 50-megapixel sensor doesn’t always operate at its maximum resolution, instead favoring a binned 12.5-megapixel mode, primarily to enhance low-light photography. Google’s computational wizardry diligently optimizes images across a range of conditions, prompting curiosity about the possibilities if pixel binning were not a constant factor.

In a departure from some other smartphone cameras, Google’s camera app offers limited manual controls, placing significant emphasis on the software’s behind-the-scenes magic. While it’s handy to have sliders for adjusting shadows, highlights, and color temperature, as well as the option to shoot in RAW at any time, the true enchantment lies in how the Pixel 7 Pro processes the JPEG images you capture. This device continues the Pixel series’ tradition of excelling in low-light photography and delivering impressive dynamic range in well-lit environments.

One of the standout features is the ability to use all three lenses in nearly every mode, despite Google’s reluctance to incorporate a dedicated pro or manual mode. Furthermore, RAW capture is readily accessible across various shooting modes. The inclusion of a 5x optical zoom lens with a 120mm equivalent focal length adds to the camera’s versatility, and it’s sometimes astonishing how well Super Res Zoom performs when digitally cropping for a hybrid zoom effect. While not exclusive to the Pixel 7 Pro or Android anymore, the Magic Eraser feature, integrated with Google Photos, showcases Google’s prowess in developing software capable of effortlessly removing unwanted elements from any captured image.

4. VIVO X90 Pro

VIVO X90 Pro

Vivo has left no stone unturned in its camera app, especially when the smartphone bears the “Pro” moniker. In the case of the X90 Pro, it may not necessarily be the brand’s top offering in the 90 series, but it undeniably stands out as one of the most versatile due to the sheer array of modes, features, settings, and customization options it offers. Additionally, it introduces intriguing filters and editing tools that elevate the photography experience. Where else can you find modes like architectural photography or long exposure with such a multitude of variables to experiment with?

The rear camera setup includes a zoom lens that Vivo prefers to label as a “portrait” lens, thanks to its 50mm equivalent focal length and the availability of six Zeiss bokeh effects for you to choose from. What sets Vivo apart is its unique approach to portrait mode photography—you can capture a photo in portrait mode and then decide on the focal point and f-stop afterward. Furthermore, you have the option to save multiple images based on your desired focus, and even stack them in post-processing.

Zeiss’ influence is more apparent now, especially with the introduction of the Natural Color setting, applicable across several shooting modes. While shooting at full resolution may not be possible in RAW, it still offers better prospects for post-cropping, somewhat compensating for the limited zoom capabilities of the portrait lens. Moreover, editing full-resolution JPEG images should yield commendable results, enhancing the overall photography experience.

5. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone continues to reign supreme in the realm of photography and video recording, and the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are unmistakably substantial upgrades. The Pro models retain the capability to record in HDR ProRes and Dolby Vision, but there’s a noteworthy enhancement: while the iPhone 14 Pro was limited to 4K/30p recording, the iPhone 15 Pro now offers the impressive 4K/60p. Additionally, both the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max introduce log encoding, providing users with greater flexibility in post-production. With the inclusion of USB-C, the workflow for editors has received a significant speed boost, allowing video shooters to record ProRes footage directly onto an attached SSD.

Apple is placing a strong emphasis on multiple focal lengths, including macro, 13mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm, and for the Pro Max, a whopping 120mm. The company markets this as having seven lenses, although there are, in fact, three rear cameras with various field of view options. Users have the freedom to choose between the 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm focal lengths as their default options.

What sets the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max apart is their introduction of ACES, a global standard for color workflows, marking a significant milestone in the world of smartphones. In the realm of video, the cinematic mode empowers users to focus on specific objects, while action mode offers enhanced stabilization for on-the-go shooting. Spatial video capture, set to debut “later this year,” will enable the creation of 3D videos tailored for the Apple Vision Pro headset when it becomes available. Both versions have also seen notable improvements in Night Mode.

Final Verdict

To sum up, the ever-changing smartphone landscape continually introduces exciting innovations in photography and video capabilities with each new generation. The devices discussed in the preceding descriptions illustrate how manufacturers are consistently pushing the boundaries of what mobile cameras can achieve.

Whether it’s Xiaomi’s collaboration with Leica, Vivo’s feature-rich camera app, or Apple’s remarkable iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, it’s evident that the world of smartphone photography and videography remains a hotbed of innovation. The seamless integration of cutting-edge sensors, powerful computational software, and creative shooting modes has ushered in a new era for mobile photography, empowering users to effortlessly capture breathtaking images and videos with unprecedented versatility.

With ongoing technological advancements, it’s inevitable that smartphones will assume an even more central role in our visual storytelling journey, providing us with the means to express our creativity and document life’s moments in ways that were once unimaginable. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a video content creator, or simply someone who appreciates capturing memories on the go, the future holds boundless opportunities for smartphone cameras. This captivating evolution is certainly a journey worth closely monitoring.

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