The best smartphones for taking photos in 2024

The best camera is the one you always have with you. This is how our phones have established themselves as the perfect tools for capturing our everyday memories. Manufacturers have understood this well and do not hesitate to increase the number of sensors in their most expensive products. But let's not bother any more, here is our shopping guide The best smartphones for photography in 2024.

What are the best smartphones for taking photos?

It's no surprise that the smartphones that take the best photos are often the most expensive. Therefore, you will not be surprised to find clearly high-end mobiles in our selection. However, we have added a model under 400 euros that is doing particularly well.

1. Honor Magic 6 Pro: the photo wizard

The Honor Magic 6 Pro. – © Guillaume du Mesgnil d'Engente / 01net.com

Honor Magic6 Pro at the best price Base price: €1,299

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Honor already did this for us with the Magic 5 Pro and drives the point home with the Magic 6 Pro, which has deservedly earned a place among the most compelling camera phones on the market. It benefits from a camera unit consisting of three modules on the back: a wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle of 50 Mpx each and a 180 Mpx telephoto lens that offers x2.5 optical zoom. The selfie camera is not superfluous with a lens that is also 50 Mpx.

The result ? A smartphone that is comfortable in all situations, day or night, near and far. Colorimetry is perfectly handled, sharpness is there and night shots are very well detailed. Group photos taken with the selfie camera are also of excellent quality, as are 4K HDR videos. Sure, the phone doesn't have the most powerful optical zoom on the market, but the digital zoom and software processing make up the difference, allowing you to get really good shots up to x10.

For the rest, the Magic 6 Pro boasts impeccable build quality, a very bright 120Hz OLED display and a generous battery that gives it up to two days of battery life. We also appreciate some special features of the MagicOS 8 interface, such as the large folders that allow you to better organize your apps. Some will criticize it for its curved screen or its imposing size, but in the end this weighs very little compared to the many qualities of this unparalleled “photophone”.

2. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max: a safe bet

Iphone 15 Pro Max Full10
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After falling slightly behind the competition with the iPhone 14 Pro (and Max), Apple went all out this year on the photography capabilities of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This results in a camera unit consisting of three units: a 48 Mpx wide-angle lens, a 12 Mpx ultra-wide angle lens and a 12 Mpx telephoto (periscope) lens. A great flexibility that above all allows Apple to stand up to the competition by offering high-quality x5 optical zoom, day and night.

Where the iPhone 15 Pro Max still holds its own against its pursuers is in the video part. The phone can film up to 4K at 60 fps, but also in 10-bit HDR, Dolby Vision HDR, as well as the brand's exclusive ProRes format. Cinema mode, which lets you get background blur, is still there, up to 4K at 60 fps. New this year comes 3D video capture for Apple's Vision Pro headset.

The iOS interface is obviously an argument in its favor, as is the 'Dynamic Island' pill that hides the front sensors, but it also serves as a notification area that is cleverly used by iOS. The “action” button to which you can assign a specific action is also notable, as is the arrival (finally) of a USB-C connector. In addition, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of the most durable smartphones on the market, but we still criticize it for its charging speed, which is quite slow for a smartphone of this caliber.

3. Google Pixel 8 Pro: absolute dominance

Block Camera Google Pixel 8 Pro
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Like its predecessors, the Google Pixel 8 Pro focuses on the quality of the photos it can take, but also on its functionality to edit those photos. Indeed, the camera block is far from the most impressive technically, but Google makes all the difference thanks to its image processing algorithms that stay one step ahead of the competition.

With a 50 Mpx wide-angle unit, a 48 Mpx ultra-wide-angle unit and a telephoto lens of the same definition, the configuration of the Pixel 8 Pro is quite classic for a “premium” mobile. In our test, we praised the overall quality of the shots, which are detailed and with enough saturated colors to please the eye. The x5 optical zoom is excellent and the digital zoom is not far off at up to x10. The other aspect of photography that shouldn't be overlooked is AI-powered retouching.

Indeed, this year Google hit hard with its “best shot” feature that lets everyone benefit when you take multiple photos of the same scene. In this way, it is possible to put the best head for each person throughout the photo shoot. A feature as powerful as it is practical. Other AI features such as “surround to search” are also very practical in everyday life. As you can see, in addition to taking beautiful photos, the Pixel 8 Pro can further enhance them afterwards.

4. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: the know-how of the Korean giant

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (4)
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra © Guillaume du Mesgnil d'Engente / 01net.com

Galaxy S24 Ultra 256 GB at the best price Base price: €1,469

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Samsung doesn't have much to prove anymore when it comes to mobile photography, and it's proving it once again with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. However, the Korean brand made a bold choice this year by replacing its telephoto lens that offers x10 optical zoom on the S23 Ultra with a x5 telephoto lens on the S24 Ultra. The difference comes from the fact that the latter is now 50 Mpx and over 10 Mpx. Samsung relies on this broader definition to “crop the image” in order to achieve equivalent quality at x10.

In fact, this is not exactly the case if we compare the photos side by side. Indeed, the S23 Ultra's x10 optical zoom always delivers that little bit more detail. On the other hand, the S24 Ultra's x5 optical zoom is significantly superior to its predecessor. Knowing that x5 zoom is used more than x10, Samsung seems to have found the best compromise here.

The S24 Ultra's design is still unique, provided you like large smartphones with protruding corners. Another strong argument for the smartphone: 7 years of Android and security updates, a first for the brand, but a simple “refresh” on the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max that offer similar tracking. You can also count on two days of battery life and relatively fast 45W charging.

5. Google Pixel 7a: the best photography smartphone under 400 euros

Google pixel 7a design
The Google Pixel 7a. – © 01net.com – Lionel Morillon

Google Pixel 7a 128 GB at the best price Base price: €509

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For the last smartphone in our buying guide, we decided to present to you what we think is the best smartphone for photography under 400 euros: the Pixel 7a. It represents, even better than the Pixel 8 Pro, Google's software expertise. Indeed, the two camera units of 64 and 32 Mpx (wide and ultra-wide) are very classic. But the “magic” of Google still has its effects, with photo processing that often does not envy much more expensive phones.

The difference is mainly in the zoom. In the absence of a telephoto lens, the Google Pixel 7a's digital zoom can't compete with the best cameras presented above. Remember that this mid-range smartphone from Google is undoubtedly the best value for money if you want to take beautiful photos every day without having to spend a minimum wage.

Among the other advantages of the phone, we will remember its compact form, the OLED screen of 90 Hz or the Pixel interface both refined and complete. We'll criticize it for charging at 18W, still very slow, as well as the lack of a charger in the box. A definite value that gets more and more interesting as its price drops, as the Pixel 8a approaches…

Useful information to know before buying a smartphone to take photos

Does the number of megapixels matter?

The short answer is no. Apparently, a camera unit with 48 Mpx will be able to take more detailed photos than a 12 Mpx and even brighter ones using “pixel binning” technology. That said, 12 Mpx is more than enough to view your photos on your smartphone or share them on social networks. Therefore, the number of megapixels affects the quality, but does not guarantee it.

How to take beautiful photos with your smartphone?

Cell phones are designed to take pictures very simply in point and shoot mode. But as you saw with Aunt Jaqueline's photos, this is no guarantee of quality. We advise you to learn to master the photos app, but also to use the framing grid and the rule of thirds. We can also never stress enough the importance of natural light for a better result. For night shots, prefer night mode over flash, which rarely does justice to what you're photographing.

What is the best smartphone for making videos?

Without wanting to end the discussion too quickly, according to our tests, the iPhone 14 Pro Max and 15 Pro Max are currently the best smartphones for shooting videos. For more explanation, see the section of this guide that talks about video on these models. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is also excellent, particularly in low light. We also appreciate the S24 Ultra's “Director” feature that lets you shoot video with both the front and rear camera units at the same time, which is great for vlogs.

Check out our other guides to the best phones of the moment

Because there's more to life than photography and everyone has a budget to devote to buying a phone, here are our guides to the best smartphones by price range in 2024. Enjoy reading:

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