Planning to buy a new phone? One thing that most people say they want in a mobile - smart or otherwise - is a great camera. The good news is that by now, even the budget friendly phones have reasonable cameras, unlike the entry-level phones of even a year or two ago. If a good camera is your top priority, then picking the right phone comes down to the budget you have, as the best camera phones tend to be still rather expensive.
To help you pick a phone, we've made a list of all the best shooters across different budget segments - from under Rs. 10,000, where we looked at the entry-level handsets that most of us buy, to over Rs. 45,000, where the big brands' flagships are competing. As can be expected, there are more choices at the more expensive end of that spectrum than at the start, but even if you're on a tight budget, we found a few good camera phones.
To make this list of best camera phones, we've stuck to the phones that we have reviewed ourselves, so that you know they've been put through our rigorous testing process. We've also restricted the list to phones that are roughly a year old or newer (though a few of the top-end phones are a little older), and ensured that the phones themselves are decent performers overall and not just one trick ponies - though these are not meant to be general purpose picks at each price segment.
Here are top picks for the best camera phones at each price point.
Starting at under Rs. 10,000, there aren't too many phones that take good photos. Still, we've locked down three phones that will not let you down. The camera won't compete with a high-end flagship, but these are better than you might expect them to be.
1. Lyf F1
This Reliance Retail handset is Jio-ready, of course, and apart from that, stands out for its sharp display and good battery life. Its camera is pretty good for the price too. You can see the camera samples in our review of the Lyf F1.
2. Panasonic Eluga Prim
The Panasonic Eluga Prim is a middle of the road performer on most fronts, but for the price, it's camera is not a bad option, particularly in terms of its daylight performance. It also has a decent display, but the battery life is a bit of a let down. You'll find camera samples in our review, if you want to check them out in detail.
3. Lenovo K6 Power
One of our top picks in the budget segment, the Lenovo K6 Power also has a good camera. The phone shines for its looks, build quality, and as the name suggests, battery life. The camera has room for improvement, but for the price, it's a solid option. To check out camera samples, read our review.
With a slightly expanded budget, the options start to open up, and there are some really good picks in this price range. If photos mean a lot to you, then this is probably the budget you should start at.
1. Lenovo K6 Note
Priced at just over Rs. 10,000, this phone delivers great battery life and excellent photos too. Add to that good design and a decent display, and you can see why it's a good pick at this budget. You can check out the camera samples for yourself in our review of the Lenovo K6 Note.
2. Gionee S6s
The standout feature for the Gionee S6s is its battery, but the camera isn't a slouch for the price either, as you can see from the samples in our review of the phone. The phone delivers good performance overall, though it's selfie-camera could be a little better.
3. Infocus Epic 1
The Infocus Epic 1 is a solid value-for-money phone whose rear camera stands out. Its performance, design, and display are also strong selling points. You can see the camera samples in our review, and if you can look past the dated custom UI, this phone is a good choice.
4. Honor 8 Lite
The Huawei Honor 8 Lite is a middle of the road phone that stands out for its camera performance. However, it lacks quick charge, which is becoming a standard feature, and the display could be better as well. If all you want out of a phone is the camera though, the you can consider this one. Check out the photo samples in our review.
If you've got a bigger budget then these four phones are solid picks, and it's from this point onwards that the results move from okay, to genuinely good. Here are our picks.
1. Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
Packing an excellent camera, the Asus ZenFone 3 Laser is definitely a solid pick if you're most concerned about the shots you take. You can see photo samples in our review, but there are a few caveats with the handset. The battery life and performance don't fare too well compared to similarly priced competition, although the current pricing helps resolve one of our earlier complaints with this phone.
2. Moto G5 Plus
The Moto series has been a staple of our lists and this time is no exception. Priced at just over Rs. 15,000 for the 4GB RAM variant, the Moto G5 Plus has just about everything you'd want, and a really good camera in this price band. You can see the samples in our review - the only caveat being that low-light photography has some room for improvement.
3. Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Launched at nearly Rs. 20,000, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime is now just over Rs. 15,000, and you're getting a great package at that price. The design and display are both great, along with the battery life and camera. Low light performance could be better though, as you can see from the camera samples in our review.
4. Honor 8
Like its sibling the Honor 8 Lite, the Honor 8 also packs a good camera. It's also a good all-round phone, with a unique look, and an excellent display. Its camera prowess can't be questioned either, as you can see from the samples in the phone's review.
Up the budget just a little higher and you have another set of options that is pretty good. These are three different phones available between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 25,000 with excellent cameras.
1. Vivo V5 Plus
Although this phone doesn't score so well on some of our metrics, its cameras are not going to disappoint. The phone packs a dual-selfie camera that is the star of the show. It's also got good build quality and battery life, though if the camera isn't your only priority there are better options. You can see photo samples in the full review.
2. Moto Z Play
Want a good phone with a crisp display, long battery life, a tough build, and most of all, good cameras? The Moto Z Play is the pick for you. You can check out the photo samples in its review, but there are really few compromises with this phone. And it's compatible with Moto Mods, so you could slap on a 10x optical zoom lens if you want, for some serious photography.
3. HTC Desire 10 Pro
Available now for just over Rs. 20,000, the HTC Desire 10 Pro has its pros and cons. The cameras definitely perform well, but it also gets scuffed up easily, and overall performance could be better. You'll find photo samples in our review, and it's a definite contender, particularly at this price.
At Rs. 30,000, we're at the end of what counts as ‘flagship killer’ territory. There are five really great options in this space, including a third Honor 8 variant, and the previous-generation OnePlus flagship. Here are our picks.
1. OnePlus 3T
The OnePlus brand has done a great job of positioning itself as a flagship killer, but that's backed up by a really good phone. The last-gen OnePlus 3T might have been discontinued in some markets, but it's still available to buy in India, and is still a really good option considering that the OnePlus 5 only starts at Rs. 32,999. The phone has it all, good design, performance, battery life, and most of all, a solid camera. Check out the photo samples in our OnePlus 3T review.
2. Honor 8 Pro
Coming in at just under Rs. 30,000, the Huawei Honor 8 Pro is a worthy competitor to the OnePlus 5; it also boasts of good camera performance, along with battery life, and to add to that, it comes with 128GB of storage. The blue colour of the phone is also nice and distinctive. You can see the camera samples in the phone's review.
3. HTC U Play
The HTC U Play is priced at just under Rs. 30,000, and is also a standout in terms of looks. The same can be said about the photos it takes, as you can see from the samples in our review. The phone's performance is a little disappointing, but if your focus is purely on the camera, then it's a solid pick.
4. LG V20
At just a hair over Rs. 30,000 after price cuts, the LG V20 should technically go into the next price band, but it's a big jump and so we're listing it in this budget range. The phone launched at Rs. 54,999, and scored well on value-for-money, so as you can imagine that we're fans of the new price.
It's also an excellent phone with a lot of pros and the LG V20 makes it to this list as it has a genuinely great camera. Check out the samples in our review.
5. Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro
Another phone that's technically over Rs. 30,000, the Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro is now available for just Rs. 31,900, which means it's a better fit in this price band. It has seen a Rs. 5,000 price cut since launch, and it's a great all-rounder, with plenty of RAM and storage, and excellent cameras, along with the usual great screen we've come to expect from Samsung. Check out the camera samples in our full review.
Under Rs. 45,000
At this price point, we're practically in premium flagship territory but fall just shy of it. The picks are all expectedly great phones, all of which have excellent cameras. Here are your picks.
1. HTC U Ultra
The HTC U Ultra is an eye catching phone with a good display and performance, but it's highlight is definitely the camera. As you can see from the samples in our review, this one's a solid shooter. It's seen a major price cut since its launch, going from just under Rs. 60,000 to just over Rs. 40,000, making it a great option today. The only thing that might hold you back now is the battery life.
2. LG G6
Another phone that's seen a major price cut, the LG G6 launched at Rs. 51,990, and today it's available for a much more reasonable Rs. 36,300. The phone looks a little dated, but it has an excellent display, great battery life, and the dual-camera setup on the rear is excellent, letting you switch between lenses and think of different ways to compose photos, as you can see from the samples in the review.
3. Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge
Samsung’s last year's flagship phones are still solid contenders, and the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge both deliver an amazing photography experience. The camera app is loaded with features, and the results look phenomenal. Both phones also did really well in low-light situations, and in terms of looks, performance, and battery, these are both solid picks, particularly at the price you can get them at the days.
Over Rs. 45,000
When the sky's the limit budget-wise, options open up when you're looking for the best camera out there. These phones have no real compromises, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Here are our picks.
1. HTC U11
The HTC U11 boasts of stunning low-light camera performance. HTC has stuck to a single rear camera, but the photo quality is top notch. It's excellent in all kinds of situations, and the same can be said for the front camera too - check out our full review for photo samples. The only downside to the phone is the average battery life, making this a great choice.
2. Sony Xperia XZ
Another top end phone with an amazing camera, the Sony Xperia XZ stands out in this category thanks to its super-slow motion camera. However, it's let down by the tired design, battery life, and high price. If you're looking only for the camera though, then this is a great pick. It can capture video at 960fps, and you get 5-axis stabilisation for the front and rear camera. A physical shutter button is also very welcome - check out the results we got in our full review.
3. Google Pixel XL
Many people call the Google Pixel XL the best cameraphone out there right now. There have been some problems, but that notwithstanding, the phone deservedly got great scores in our review for its display, performance, and camera. Check out the photo samples in our review - the Pixel XL has a number of interesting camera modes, and great picture quality in all kinds of conditions.
4. iPhone 7 Plus
Both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus are predictably good in the camera department, but the dual camera setup of the latter edges it ahead, and on to this list. The iPhone 7 Plus uses the second camera as a telephoto lens, and it can also be used to take photos in portrait mode. As you can see from the samples in our review, this phone does a great job on the camera front.
5. Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+
Samsung's two new flagships are - not surprisingly - some of the best shooters money can buy right now. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are two of the best phones available in most senses, and the camera is no exception. The camera app is quick to launch with really quick focusing, and there's a Pro mode available if you want to fine tune your photos. Depth of field was excellent, and even at night the phones perform admirably. Check out the samples in our review. Couple that with the gorgeous design, display, and class-leading performance, and you can see why this is a great option.