This Is the Best Phone Camera in 2021

Today's flagship smartphones all have fantastic cameras, but which one is the best? The camera technology in the latest handsets from Apple, Samsung, and Google are truly revolutionary. It's also miles ahead of the tech that was considered cutting-edge just a few short years ago.
Accordingly, it would be easy to assume that all top-tier smartphones are similarly well-equipped in terms of their picture-taking abilities. The truth is, however, that it's not quite so clear-cut. That's because different manufacturers continue to focus on excelling in largely distinct areas.
Across the board, buyers are unlikely to be disappointed with the cameras on any of today's top smartphones. And rightly so, with many of the most popular handsets now routinely costing over $1,000. To work out which is the best overall, though, it's necessary to delve further into what's actually on offer.

Features and Functionality

On paper, there may be little to separate the cameras built into the newest iPhones from those used, for example, in Samsung's latest Galaxy smartphones. Still, camera specifications are only half of the equation. Arguably just as important are secondary features and functionality.
For instance, Samsung continues to outperform much of the competition when it comes to the zoom functionality on its high-end smartphones. Yet, the South Korean manufacturer can't match Google's Pixel line-up as far as software provisions. At the same time, neither Samsung nor Google has nailed the same degree of high-performance point-and-shoot simplicity that's a feature of Apple's most expensive iPhones.
Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution that will suit everyone. That's especially true of those who are serious about taking professional-standard photographs on their smartphones. Here, a combination of an individual's preferred handset plus a range of accessories and standalone pieces of software will usually be the order of the day.
However, for the overwhelming majority of smartphone owners and more casual picture-takers, working out the best phone camera is a little more straightforward.

Top Phone Camera Shortlist

Quite often, any buying decision will come down to price in the end. Where budget is crucial, it's hard to argue with Google's flagship Pixel smartphone, especially with an all-new handset on the horizon. That said, where the absolute best of what's on offer in a particular regard is key, budget constraints tend to become less important. As such, the shortlist of today's best phone cameras varies in price from $699 to $1,199 or more.
First up, the $699 Google Pixel 5 is fantastic, particularly on a budget. Its camera software is also among the very best out there. Despite that, it can't quite compete with the often significantly more expensive flagships from other manufacturers. This could change with the upcoming Pixel 6 release, though.
With that, it comes down to the top-of-the-range smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus. Unfortunately, although feature-packed, the $969 OnePlus 9 Pro also struggles to keep up with the two more established brands' alternatives. So, iPhone 13 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra?
Make no mistake, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a state-of-the-art smartphone. It's priced from $1,199 and it has a camera that's head and shoulders above much of the rest of what's currently on the market. Nevertheless, it's Apple that reigns supreme when it comes to the best phone camera in 2021.

Best Phone Camera in 2021

Taking into consideration size, performance, versatility, ease of use, and more, Apple's mighty iPhone 13 Pro Max has to take the crown in terms of the best phone camera in 2021.
Ultimately, it's the 6.7-inch iPhone's combination of power and outright simplicity that makes it the best choice for buyers who take a lot of pictures on their phones. Albeit at a sizable cost of between $1,099 and $1,599, there's almost nothing else to pick fault with as far as the latest flagship iPhone's camera offering goes.
A variety of built-in cameras and lenses provide solutions capable of tackling pretty much every eventuality. Additional ultra-wide and telephoto options, for example, perfectly complement the iPhone 13 Pro Max's primary camera. Despite lacking a separate macro lens, it also still manages to outperform other handsets that do have one for close-up images.
Next, there's the iPhone 13 Pro Max's ability to capture crisp, clear photos in low light. It’s something that Apple has worked tirelessly to achieve. Add in the brand's new Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles feature, an improved Portrait setting, and the return of Apple ProRAW, and it starts to become clear why the latest iPhone is at the top of its camera class.
A fuss-free, point-and-shoot experience, straight out of the box, is then just the icing on the cake.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Warranty

Priced at up to $1,599 for the 1TB version, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a sizable investment, both as a smartphone and as a means of taking stunning photographs on the go. Accordingly, remember to pick up an extended warranty or service contract when choosing to splash out on the latest Apple handset.
Available in the shape of AppleCare+ for iPhone, it's also possible to pick up comparable or superior coverage with an Upsie smartphone subscription warranty.
Smartphone warranty solutions from Upsie also include all-important accidental damage coverage at no extra cost. As a result, iPhone and other smartphone owners are fully covered in the event of drops, spills, and other mishaps, including those where a device's camera is damaged.

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