The Best Smartphone Cameras Of 2019 (So Far)

If you're buying a high-end smartphone, the phone part tends to play second fiddle. You're really buying a camera.

The best camera is the one you have on you, so why wouldn't you want that camera to be as good as possible? You're hardly going to give your friends FOMO if your holiday snaps look like they were taken on a potato. So, whether you want to capture precious memories or just make it look like you're living your best life, here are some of the best smartphone cameras around right now.


Huawei P30 Pro

Rear-facing camera setup: 40MP primary lens + 20MP wide angle lens + 8MP 5x telephoto lens + Time of Flight

The Huawei P30 Pro has the best camera on any smartphone you can buy right now, by a solid margin. It's easy to forget the photos it captures were taken take on a phone. It can take crystal clear photos in complete darkness. It can zoom to an absurd level without losing detail.

No matter what kind of environment you're taking photos in, the P30 Pro is versatile enough to handle it. Huawei well and truly leapfrogged the competition with a camera unlike anything we've seen on a smartphone before. It's some real black magic.

But as good as the P30 Pro camera is, you may want to think twice buying a P30 Pro right this very moment. Huawei is currently involved in a dispute with the US government, which effectively cuts it off from Android.

The P30 Pro will still be able to run Google apps and services, but may receive security updates at a slower pace. If the ban isn't resolved, Huawei smartphones are unlikely to see a major Android operating system update.

If you do buy a P30 Pro, you won't lose any out-of-the-box functionality, but there are almost no specifics around exactly how the Android ban will affect the phone going forward.

And if you still want to buy the P30 Pro, here's a look at the plans you can get it on:


Google Pixel 3a

Rear-facing camera setup: 12.2MP primary lens

The best smartphone cameras have typically been locked away behind four-digit price tags, and those prices have just kept climbing. With the Pixel 3a, Google has changed this. The $649 handset has the same camera you find in the $1,199 Pixel 3, and the photos the two phones take are almost indistinguishable.

Sure, the Pixel 3a doesn’t have extra lenses like ultra-wide or zoom, but it’s still one the very best cameras around. It takes great photos in almost any situation and does so consistently. You even get a whole heap of clever software features including portrait mode for taking pretty pictures of your friends, and Night Sight for long exposure low light photography.

The Pixel 3a camera is unprecedented for a mid-range device. It will genuinely make you ask, "why spend more?"

And here's a look at some Pixel 3a plans (note: it's currently only available on Vodafone):


iPhone XS

Rear-facing camera setup: 12MP primary lens + 12MP 2x zoom lens

The latest iPhones don't have the same kind of crazy lowlight functionality or night mode shenanigans we've seen on other smartphones, but they still have excellent cameras and can take great photos in most conditions. The iPhone XS is one of the fastest shooting smartphones I've tested, which makes it easy to capture sharp shots of quick or unpredictable subjects like animals or sweaty men with guitars.

And here's a look at the plans you get the iPhone XS on:

Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max have an identical camera setup.


OPPO Reno 5G

Rear-facing camera setup: 48MP primary lens + 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens + 13MP 5x telephoto lens

The Reno 5G is OPPO's strongest camera effort to date. While that's to be expected with any new phone, it's a surprisingly meaningful improvement on the R17 Pro - especially when it comes to low light. The telephoto zoom lens doesn't quite live up to what Huawei achieved with the P30 Pro - photos are harder to stabilise and can lose detail easily - but it's still a welcome feature that makes the Reno 5G a little more versatile than the typical smartphone camera.

And here's a look at the plans you can get the Reno 5G on:

The Reno 5G is exclusively available on a plan through Telstra, but you'll find the 4G version (which shares the same camera) at Woolworths Mobile later this month.


Samsung Galaxy S10+

12MP primary lens + 12MP 2x zoom lens + 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens

The Galaxy S10+ wasn't too exciting a camera upgrade - it's primary lens and zoom lens are the same as what we saw in the Note 9 last year - but Samsung says there were updates on the software side.

The S10+ is meant to be more adept at recognising what you're shooting and adjusting the captured image accordingly. It's hard to tell exactly how much of an effect the "AI" has, but the S10+ excels at snapping vibrant images with a high amount of dynamic range. While lowlight photography lets the Galaxy S10+ down a little compared to the competition, the Galaxy S10 is still a top-tier shooter.

And here's a look at the plans you get the Galaxy S10+ on:

Both the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10+ have an identical camera setup.


Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.


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