The Best Camera Phones for Photography and Filmmaking of 2021

A Smartphone's List Picked by Creatives

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The best camera phones are pushing the boundaries of technology, particularly when it comes to content creation. It can be difficult to keep track of the latest and greatest handsets as screens get larger, camera phone sensors get more advanced, and chipsets get more powerful.

The best camera phones aren't just about raw power; they're also about convenience, with a variety of apps at your fingertips. Picking the best camera phone entails more than just looking at a spec sheet, and the best one for you might not be the best for everyone, depending on your photographic priorities. There's a lot to think about when it comes to different lenses and performance differences between day and night, so we've compiled a list of our favorites.

That means that, while the list below is ranked in order of our preference for overall camera capability, your preferences may differ. In any case, any of these phones will be an excellent choice for anyone who wants to take great photos with their phone, and by reading through our entries for each, you'll have all the information you need to make the best decision.

At A Glance...

Moment’s Latest Camera CPL Filter

Looks sexy, no?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


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Moment Galaxy S21 5 G M Force thin case black flatlay
Moment Galaxy S21 5 G M Force thin case black with mounts

To Know:

The camera, like everything else on the S21 Ultra, is top-of-the-line, with a 108MP f/1.8 primary sensor, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide sensor, and two telephoto cameras, which is almost unheard of on phones. Both cameras are 10 megapixels, but one has an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom, while the other has an f/4.9 aperture and a whopping 10x optical zoom.

Non-zoomed photos are also impressive, though not always on par with the best competitors. However, when you combine a plethora of camera modes, including new ones like Director's View (which allows you to capture video with both the front and rear cameras at the same time), with a highly powerful 40MP front-facing camera, you have a smartphone photographer's dream.

What We Love:

Amazing Camera Zoom

With two telephoto lenses, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a rockstar

Director’s View

Lets you shoot video with both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.

The Details

Brand: Samsung

Price: $1,199

Product Type: Smartphone

Best For: Creators on the Go who want to have multiple ways to record on the table.

319 022 Moment Galaxy S21plus 5 G M Force thin case black back

Moment

Case for Samsung Galaxy with (M)Force

Make your Galaxy into an even better camera using a Moment case, now with (M)Force! The included Moment Lens interface lets you attach the world’s best glass

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iPhone 12 Pro Max


The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review
The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

To Know:

With a larger sensor, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can absorb more light and take brighter, clearer pictures. Boasts a 12MP f/1.6 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 telephoto camera (with 2.5x optical zoom), a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera, and even a LiDAR scanner for Night Mode portraits.

When you take a photo, the new Smart HDR 3 capability looks for different scenes, capturing multiple exposures and intelligently stitching them together to give you the best picture, while Night mode, which requires you to keep the phone still for a different amount of time (depending on the conditions), can transform a dark, gloomy setting into a rich and vibrant scene.

What We Love

Long Battery Life

Best battery performance we’ve seen on the iPhone 12 range

Powerful Rear Cameras

(3) 12MP Cameras Live Here

Rockstar LiDAR Sensor

It has a large sensor capable of capturing a lot of light. Night Mode works with both the main and ultra-wide sensors, without restrictions.

The Details:

Brand: Apple

Price: $1,450

Product Type: Smartphone

Best For: Night Photos, capture images any time of the day.

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Moment

iPhone 12 Case

Protective Moment iPhone 12 case, made with walnut wood and black canvas. This case keeps your iPhone protected. Add a wrist strap or a Moment lens to your case

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OnePlus 9 Pro


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To Know:

The OnePlus 9 Pro is probably a first-timer on this list, but it definitely called our attention. It has a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera (with 3.3x optical zoom), a 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP monochrome camera for enhancing black and white images. The ultra-wide is perhaps the most notable of these, as it features a freeform lens design that eliminates the "barrel" distortion commonly seen at the edges of ultra-wide shots. The OnePlus 9 Pro's cameras were also developed in collaboration with Hasselblad, though the collaboration was mostly limited to color calibration and the design of the camera app. We expect more from this partnership on future OnePlus phones, but the results are already visible in photos, with accurate colors. While the OnePlus 9 Pro has powerful manual controls, it also performs admirably in auto mode, making it an excellent point-and-shoot option. The OnePlus 9 Pro is a good all-rounder in terms of photography – and most other ways – with video recording at up to 8K quality and a capable 16MP front-facing camera.

What We Love:

Great Smartphone Power

8K video quality, and a capable 16MP front-facing camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro is a good all-rounder as far as photography goes.

Excellent Color Calibration

The colors you see are reproduced as accurately as possible

Great Manual Camera Controls

It takes fantastic images, with great-looking colors and masses of detail.

The Details:

Brand: OnePlus

Price: $929.98

Product Type: Smartphone

Best For: Sharp Photos with impressive color accuracy.

iPhone 12 Pro


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To Know:

The iPhone 12 Pro is one of the most feature-packed iPhones available today. It has the best of Apple's features on the inside, and it's the model to consider if you're not sure if the iPhone 12 has enough raw power for you. The iPhone 12 Pro's design is both futuristic and retro: the 6.1-inch OLED display is clear, bright, and extends further to the phone's edges, making the 12 Pro feel smaller in the hand than the iPhone 11 Pro.

What We Love:

Night Mode

Allows you to take bright and super detailed shots where other phones would struggle.

12 MP Selfie Camera

Excellent quality, including for Dolby Vision for video, and Smart HDR 3 for improved image processing

MagSafe

Very firm hold when you snap on an accessory, you can check out our MagSafe Cases and Accessories here.

The Details:

Brand: Apple

Price: $999

Product Type: Smartphone

Best For: Creators who are passionate about powerful cameras, but love the compact smaller models.

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Moment

Rugged Case for iPhone 12

Make your iPhone into an even better camera, using a biodegradable iPhone Case, with included Moment Lens interface which lets you attach the world’s best glass

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Google Pixel 5


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To Know:

Google Pixel 5 manages to capture true colors.

The Google Pixel 5's ultra-wide lens produces less distortion at the edges of photographs than many other ultra-wide lenses, and it comes with a nice set of photo editing capabilities. Portrait Light is a software function that helps the phone by convincingly brightening faces and other subjects. However, there are only two rear lenses: a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera and a 16MP f.2.2 ultra-wide camera, which leaves Pixel 5 a dedicated telephoto lens.

What We Love:

COLORS

Pixel 5 manages to capture accurate strong colors

CRISP IMAGES

Especially in good light, the Pixel 5 manages to capture incredibly sharp images, which is a 10/10

PORTRAIT LIGHT

Convincingly brighten faces and other subjects

The Details:

Brand: Google

Price: $699.99

Product Type: Smartphone

Best For: Incredibly sharp images with an enhanced portrait mode lighting.

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Moment

Case for Pixel

Make your Google Pixel into an even better camera! A thin, protective Pixel case that allows you to attach Moment lenses, the best mobile glass in the world

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How We Tested:

There are a lot of fantastic and incredibly talented mobile creators on the Moment team. We geek over which apps to use, the differences between smartphone models for different contexts, and which sweet Moment Wrist Straps will go best with our phones. We conducted product reviews with members of our team and had our mobile photographers test various models over the course of a few months. For this piece, I gathered various thoughts, insights, and comments from the team, as well as my own personal testimony to the smartphone models listed.

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