We're keeping an eye on the newly-announced Huawei P20 Pro, which appears to be ready to beat all the phones on this list, but we're running it through its paces before crowing it the new champ. Stay tuned.

Best overall: Google Pixel 2 / 2 XL

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Google's Pixel 2 and 2 XL don't have amazing camera hardware, but still manage to take amazing photos in almost every situation thanks to its "HDR+" processing. This after-capture processing creates photos that have amazing colors and dynamic range, akin to what you'd find by applying a good editing pass to photos from any other phone.

You don't get a ton of settings to tweak, but that's kind of the situation with all of Google's software. But when you see the photos that come out of these phones, you won't be looking to tweak anything — you'll just enjoy looking at beautiful images. The one area where the Pixel 2 and 2 XL have been somewhat beaten is in low light, where they just can't cut down and clean up noise in the same way the Galaxy S9+ can. That's certainly a trade-off at this point.

The Pixel 2 and 2 XL also have amazing video stabilization that settles down and smooths out even the shakiest of handheld capture.

Bottom line: For a fantastic "point and shoot" experience that also generates amazing photos, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are the ones to get.

One more thing: Unlike the Galaxy S9 and S9+, you get the same camera experience with either size of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.

Why the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL are the best

Back when Google released its original Pixels in 2016, no one expected them to have the best cameras in the Android ecosystem. In 2017, the legacy was already established, and no one had any doubt: the Pixel 2 series has an amazing camera. Whether you go with the diminutive Pixel 2 or the larger 2 XL, the same fundamentals are true: incredible photo quality in any lighting condition; bullet-fast shutter speeds; amazing video stabilization; and fun features, like Portrait Mode and Motion Photos.

Many other phones can take fundamentally good photos, and the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ do that particularly well, but nothing touches the amazing colors and dynamic range the Pixel 2 and 2 XL can provide. They produce photos that look like you took a shot with another phone, and applied a set of tasteful edits to bring out all of the best parts of the scene — but it happens automatically every time you press the shutter button.

The Pixel 2's camera app doesn't have the same breadth of features as many of its competitors — there's no manual mode at all — but much of the magic happens behind the scenes. Google has also added a new piece of hardware to the mix, the Pixel Visual Core, to allow third party apps to access the machine learning prowess of the Pixel 2's camera.

Best for features: Samsung Galaxy S9+

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The Galaxy S9+ has a pair of rear cameras and a crazy switching aperture on its main lens that can adjust to give you the best possible shots in a variety of lighting. In the daytime the GS9+ takes sharp, accurate photos with just a subtle bump of saturation but doesn't go overboard with HDR processing.

At night, the GS9+ is arguably the best smartphone camera available today. Its f/1.5 lens lets in a ton of light, and the sensor captures amazingly sharp images with almost no noise and colors that are mostly accurate to the scene.

This one is close, but the Galaxy S9+ comes up short of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL simply because it lacks the amazing colors and dynamic range found in Google's phones. But when you add in all of the GS9+'s other camera features, like an advanced Pro mode, 960 fps slow motion video and other shooting modes, it may tip you over in its direction.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9+ is a great overall camera that excels particularly in low-light conditions. It also piles on the features and really only comes up short in daylight shots.

One more thing: If you opt for the smaller Galaxy S9, you don't get a secondary camera, meaning you miss out on portrait mode and lossless 2X zooming.

Best runner-up: Huawei Mate 10 Pro

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Huawei hasn't always been known for great cameras, but in the last couple generations of its flagships it's really gone all-out and made huge strides in quality. The Mate 10 Pro's dual rear cameras and in-house processor pair up for great overall quality.

The main 16MP f/1.6 camera is a great all-around shooter, nearly on par with the Pixel 2 XL in both daylight and low light thanks to a huge improvement in dynamic range and low-light processing from its predecessor. The secondary camera is a 20MP monochrome unit, meaning you can take fantastic black-and-white shots with the press of a button that are far better than filters you'd have to apply to other photos.

Huawei's video mode isn't as good as the competition, and the "AI" portions of the experience are a bit of a gimmick, but the Mate 10 Pro is a great overall shooter despite those shortcomings.

Bottom line: The Mate 10 Pro doesn't necessarily beat any of the other cameras in particular areas, but is a solid all-around choice with no big shortcomings or compromises.

One more thing: Don't be swayed by the "Leica" branding here, because it's effectively just a name and nothing more — focus on what the cameras can actually do.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 and 2 XL are still the best Android cameras available, based on their amazing ability to capture beautiful photos in every situation without any tweaking, guessing with settings or edits after capture. The Galaxy S9+ gets close as an overall package, offering more features and arguably better low-light shots, but comes up short enough in colors and dynamic range that it isn't quite as good as the Pixels. The Mate 10 Pro offers another good all-around option, with no clear shortcomings and a monochrome camera that impresses.

Best overall: Google Pixel 2

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Google's Pixel 2 and 2 XL don't have amazing camera hardware, but still manage to take amazing photos in almost every situation thanks to its "HDR+" processing. This after-capture processing creates photos that have amazing colors and dynamic range, akin to what you'd find by applying a good editing pass to photos from any other phone.

You don't get a ton of settings to tweak, but that's kind of the situation with all of Google's software. But when you see the photos that come out of these phones, you won't be looking to tweak anything — you'll just enjoy looking at beautiful images. The one area where the Pixel 2 and 2 XL have been somewhat beaten is in low light, where they just can't cut down and clean up noise in the same way the Galaxy S9+ can. That's certainly a trade-off at this point.

The Pixel 2 and 2 XL also have amazing video stabilization that settles down and smooths out even the shakiest of handheld capture.

Bottom line: For a fantastic "point and shoot" experience that also generates amazing photos, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are the ones to get.

One more thing: Unlike the Galaxy S9 and S9+, you get the same camera experience with either size of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.

Update, March 2018: The Pixel 2 and 2 XL remain at the top of our list, but the Galaxy S9+ has arrived to replace the Note 8. The LG G6 has been removed as it aged, and is replaced by the great all-around Mate 10 Pro.