The 4 Best Smartphone Cameras for Travelers
There's a new best camera in town.
DxOMark Image Labs, considered the industry standard for camera and image quality ratings, reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and released an updated ranking of the top mobile phone cameras this week.
For travelers in the market for a new smartphone, the list can help with making a decision in a market flooded with options (typically all claiming to be the best).
But there are a few factors that bear more weight than others for frequent fliers. To help travelers pick the best devices, we’re evaluating the top phones on the market based on the features that matter most.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
If taking beautiful travel photos is your priority, you might want to consider upgrading to Samsung’s new flagship phone.
Introduced on February 25, the Galaxy S9 Plus bumped the Google Pixel 2 to snag the No. 1 spot on DxOMark’s mobile camera ranking. It earned a 99 out of 100 with its collective photo and video scores, and DxOMark declared it the “best [photo score] we’ve seen so far.” The phone has excellent resolution even when zooming, and produces bright, vivid color photos.
To buy: samsung.com, $839
Google Pixel 2
Now in second place, Google’s Pixel 2 holds the No. 2 spot with 98 points. Its accurate autofocus, solid flash, and detail preservation continue to make it a powerful companion device for photographers. Of the top smartphones on this list, the Pixel 2 remains the best option for videographers, with 96 points out of 100. (By comparison, the Galaxy S9 Plus scored 91, tying with the Mate 10 Pro.)
To buy: amazon.com, from $700
Apple iPhone X
Apple’s iPhone X takes third with 97 points, though its camera actually outperforms the Google Pixel 2 for photographs. (A weaker video score dragged down the overall ranking, but the camera alone was — before the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus — hailed the “top performer for stills.”) Compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, the X has superior zoom performance, exposure, and color rendering, among other factors. Its portrait mode was also a standout.
To buy: apple.com, $999
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
A little-known phone from a Chinese manufacturer that only just became available in the United States in mid-February, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro boasts Leica dual lens cameras, and ties with the iPhone X with 97 points overall. DxOMark gave this smartphone high marks for its wide dynamic range, detail preservation (even in low light and zoom conditions) and its “outstanding” autofocus.
To buy: amazon.com, from $740
Sharing fifth place are the Apple iPhone 8 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 — both with a solid 94 point camera score. For iPhone fans who can't stomach a $1,000 price tag, the iPhone 8 Plus is an excellent option.