Best Android camera phone Android Central 2021

One of the biggest reasons to buy a high-end phone is for the camera. Whether through computational processing or the use of as many lenses as possible, phones are taking good enough photos these days that most people don't even consider a dedicated camera. Luckily, there are plenty of options for people that want effortless point-and-shoot style photography, as well as those who want to go more in-depth or have different needs in a phone beyond the camera. The best Android camera is on the Google Pixel 5 because it's simple to use yet produces amazing photos in all conditions.

Google Pixel 5

Point and shoot: Google Pixel 5

Staff Pick

If you want the very best camera experience you can get on an Android phone, the Pixel 5 is what you need to buy. The 12MP primary and 16MP ultra-wide sensors might not sound all that impressive, but when combined with Google's unmatched image processing, you end up with a phone that takes incredible pictures every time you press the shutter button. Day or night, inside or outside, the Pixel 5 churns out consistently amazing results.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Render Phantom Violet Front Official

Incredibly consistent: Samsung Galaxy S21

While Google may have the upper-hand in the camera game, for now, Samsung is quickly catching up. Samsung's image processing is still more saturated and less lifelike than Google's, but if all you care about is getting a great-looking photo for Twitter or Instagram, the S21 has you covered. It's also more functional than the Pixel 5, offering a 64MP telephoto sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide lens with a wider field-of-view.

OnePlus 9 Pro in Morning Mist

Solid camera, incredible value: OnePlus 9 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro really upped its game in the camera department from last generation, showing that the company is striving to be among the best in the business. It still needs some work on the software side, but it's still more than capable of taking excellent shots. Now that OnePlus is firmly in flagship territory in terms of price, you should expect improved output as this is the best camera system OnePlus has ever made.

$958 at Amazon
Google Pixel 4a

Amazing camera on a budget: Google Pixel 4a

The Pixel 4a makes cuts across the hardware and specs to meet a much lower-than-flagship price, but one area Google didn't skimp on is the camera. This is the same camera you get with the more expensive Pixel 5, and the front-facing camera produces the same sort of results as well. If you want access to one of the best cameras around while staying on a budget, you can't do better than the 4a.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Render Phantom Black Front Official

The best zoom: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Telephoto camera sensors aren't anything new for smartphones, but more often than not, they leave a lot to be desired. With the Galaxy S21 Ultra, that's no longer the case. Thanks to its 108MP primary camera and two telephoto cameras — one offering 3x zoom and the other supporting 10x — the result is a phone that captures some of the most impressive zoom photos we've ever seen.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5g Render

Samsung for less: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Even if this is considered "budget" by Samsung's standards, the Galaxy A52 5G has a very capable camera that borrows a lot from its flagship brethren. The triple rear camera array plus the depth sensor provide different options on how and what to shoot from wherever you stand. Even better, Samsung has updated the software and will continue to do so to keep improving camera performance.

Vivo X60 Pro Plus Render

Feature laden: Vivo X60 Pro+

It's hard not to notice the VIvo X60 Pro+ when you're talking about a phone laden with photography features from the inside and out. A swath of modes keep things interesting and open the door to a whole lot of experimentation. Whether it's the unique take on portrait shots or the surprisingly useful long exposure modes, the software offers a lot of options. If you're looking for 5G stateside, you won't get it, but great photos are a snap away if you're an international user.

₹69,999 at Vivo
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Render

Best international: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra smartphone

If you haven't heard of Xiaomi or the Mi 11 Ultra, this is one of the most fully loaded smartphone cameras available to date. It's not just that it looks like a beast on paper but the output also rings true to the litany of specs putting this phone on the pedestal. It has one of the best ultra-wide lenses in the industry, with low-light shooting to rival what the best have had to offer thus far. Just note you may miss out on 5G band support with U.S. carriers.

Sony Xperia 1 II

Perfect for video: Sony Xperia 1 II

All of the phones on this list are capable of taking very good video, but if you want to make sure your home movies look as good as can be, the Xperia 1 II comes out ahead as the go-to pick. Offering three cameras and a time-of-flight sensor, the Xperia 1 II has incredibly fast focus speeds, records in 4K HDR, and offers full manual video controls you won't find anywhere else. It takes some time to master, but once you get a feel for it, the potential is unreal.

If we're making some Android camera suggestions

Google Pixel 5Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

The Google Pixel 5 is the best overall Android camera available, and one of the best Android phones around, based on its fantastic ability to capture beautiful photos in every situation without any tweaking, guessing with settings, or edits after capture. You are getting fewer sensors than other options on this list, but you'll forget all about that when you see the kinds of pictures you can take with the primary and ultra-wide cameras that are present. An intriguing option for budget buyers is the Pixel 4a, which nearly matches the Pixel 5's camera quality for hundreds of dollars less.

The Galaxy S21 is more versatile than the Pixels, with improved zooming, a more useful ultra-wide camera, and wide-reaching software that combine to give you more shooting options. Its retail price is more expensive than the Pixel 5, though, and ultimately doesn't reach the same incredible heights of photo quality.

Speaking of Samsung, we have to give a special mention to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The high price tag is bound to keep some potential customers at bay, but if you can stomach the MSRP, there's so much to sink your teeth into. And if you are willing to be a little adventurous, the Vivo X60 Pro+ and Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra are front-runners, not just challengers.

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