Ah the photo! Since the first iPhone, photo quality on smartphones has evolved enormously. So much so that our mobile companions have become the first capture tool, in front of cameras. It’s no wonder that photo quality is among the top three purchase criteria.
Faced with the proliferation of models, sensors and functionalities, it is difficult to see clearly. And then the photo is not the only criterion of choice. A smartphone must also meet other needs, which makes it even more complicated To help you see more clearly we have concocted a small guide to the best photophones on the market.
Huawei P40 Pro: the best of the best
After triumphing in 2019 with the P30 Pro (which is also part of this selection), Huawei returns in 2020 with its successor the P40 Pro. Let’s talk about the annoying things right away: the P40 Pro doesn’t ship Google services, which makes it hardly a recommendable model for the general public. However, as we explained in our test, hackers can get away with a little bit of elbow grease.
The lack of Google services is all the more frustrating than the P40 Pro imposes itself hands down as the best photophone on the market, and by far. Huawei is not revolutionizing its photo module, but improving it. There is therefore a periscopic lens of formidable efficiency, in particular for capturing zoom photos. Above all, Huawei’s know-how coupled with Leica’s talents make it possible to obtain unique shots of their kind. Cherry on the cake, the P40 Pro is unbeatable for shooting in low light and at night. If you are ready to do without Google services and your budget allows (it still costs more than 1000 euros), the P40 Pro is the absolute benchmark for photography on smartphones.
Galaxy S20 Ultra: it'll zoom zoom in
Do we still have to present the Galaxy S20 Ultra? Launched in February 2020, the latest high-end from Samsung is distinguished by its ultra-premium features. If its imposing format will not appeal to everyone, it remains the best equipped smartphone in Korean.
Its 6.9 inch Amoled screen with 120 Hz refresh rate will amaze you and will appeal to multimedia and video game enthusiasts. Equipped with one of the most powerful processors on the market, it also has 12 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB of storage.
But it’s mostly in the photo field that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is particularly effective thanks to a photo module composed of four sensors:
- wide angle: 26mm f / 1.8; 108 mpxls 1 / 1.33 ’’ sensor (0.8 µm photosite, PDAF, OIS
- a periscope telephoto: 103mm f / 3.5; 48 mpxls 1/2 ’’ sensor (0.8 µm photosite, PDAF, OIS, x10 hybrid optical zoom
- an ultra wide-angle: 13 mm f / 2.2; 12 mpxls sensor (1.4 µm photosite
- a ToF objective: f / 1; 0.3 mpxl sensor
This arsenal allows the Galaxy S20 Ultra to establish itself as the most complete smartphone. However, the photo quality is not the best. Google and Huawei for example are doing better. But the S20 Ultra is more versatile and stands out above all for the quality of its videos. Capable of filming in 8K (still a gadget today), it has above all an exemplary video stabilization in 4K and Full HD. Ideal for videographers.
Marketed at over 1300 euros, the Galaxy S20 Ultra remains a smartphone reserved for a passionate and / or wealthy public. If you absolutely want to stay in the Samsung family, we advise you to turn to the S20 and S20 +, sold less than 1000 euros, and almost as good as their big brother.
Galaxy S20 at the best price Base price: 909 €
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Google Pixel 4 XL: the magic of algorithms
If most manufacturers have chosen to multiply the sensors, Google is focusing on optimizing digital processing. Thanks to his mastery of algorithms, the American giant has managed to establish himself as the king of smartphone photography. With only two sensors, Google manages to hoist its Pixel 4 XL in the top 3 of the best photophones.
Even more than six months after its release, the Pixel 4 XL remains the benchmark for photo quality alongside the Huawei P40 Pro. Sharpness, colorimetry, contrasts, bokeh: Google engineers have mastered the subject to perfection. Still, the lack of an ultra-wide-angle lens and telephoto lens causes some frustration. The Pixel 4 XL allows fewer devices than its competitors.
The rest of the data sheet is worthy of a premium model. High-end processor, sublime OLED screen and unique facial recognition technology. We regret a somewhat fair autonomy on the Pixel 4 XL, catastrophic on the Pixel 4. It is for this reason that we do not recommend the smaller of the two.
Marketed around 600 euros, the Pixel 4 XL has the advantage of being almost half the cost of its competitors.
Google Pixel 4 XL at the best price Base price: 899 €
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iPhone 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max: the return of Apple
Formerly undisputed master of photography, Apple has gradually been caught up in competition. Up to the iPhone 11 Pro and its Max version which allow it to come back to the fore.
Thanks to a triple photo sensor, including an ultra-wide angle, the iPhone 11 Pro shines with its versatility and the quality of its shots, which are particularly faithful to reality.
Mostly, Apple once again delivers a slick interface, intuitive, ergonomic, that no other manufacturer can match. Finally, the iPhone 11 Pro is distinguished by video stabilization and impressive image quality for a smartphone.
In addition to his talents as a photographer and videographer, the latest iPhone has everything Apple can do. Sublime OLED screen, high performance and (surprise!) Record autonomy, all the ingredients for an excellent smartphone are there.
However, its price of 1169 euros (in 64 GB version!) may cool more than one. Sold for 800 euros, the iPhone arguably represents the best alternative for those who want to stay in the world of Apple.
iPhone 11 Pro Max at the best price Base price: 1 259 €
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Huawei P30 Pro: still a benchmark
So yes Huawei launched the P40 Pro in early 2020, but the lack of Google services prevents us from recommending it to everyone at the moment. For those looking for the best Huawei smartphone with Google services, the P30 Pro remains a benchmark in photography. The manufacturer is also launching a 2020 reissue of this flagship model.
In early 2019, Huawei (in partnership with Leica) struck very hard. By integrating for the first time a quadruple sensor as well as a periscopic objective, the Chinese giant was taking a considerable lead over its competitors.
At the time, the versatility (ultra wide-angle, 50x zoom, portraits) of the P30 Pro already impressed us. A year later, Samsung has only caught up on the photo field, which demonstrates the qualities of the P30 Pro.
Powerful and above all very enduring, the P30 Pro is also distinguished by the quality of its OLED screen and its design with exemplary finishes.
One year after its release, the P30 Pro costs less than 600 euros, which makes it one of the most interesting models in this ranking, especially as it is Huawei’s latest top of the range with Google services.
Google Pixel 3a / 3a XL: photo quality at a low price
We tend to believe that a smartphone gifted with photography is expensive. If this were true a few years ago, it is no longer the case today. Many manufacturers offer models under 500 euros capable of capturing very pretty photos. Among them, the Pixel 3a and its XL version stand out as the benchmarks. And not only in their price segment.
Thanks to its magic algorithms, Google has successfully optimized the software for digital processing compensates for the presence of a single photo sensor. As with its Pixel 3 and 3 XL launched at the end of 2018. The result is just as impressive with very detailed shots, quality portraits and more than decent night photos.
Obviously Google had to make some concessions on the rest of the data sheet to lower the price below 500 euros. Thus, the mid-range processor ensures the essential without reaching the heights. Exit the OLED screen, Google fell back on an LCD panel (otherwise very successful). Finally, wireless charging is not part of the package.
Note, however, that these less energy-consuming components allow Google to correct the autonomy issues of its premium models. The Pixel 3a lasts up to two days, the XL version for a day and a half.
Available below 400 euros at the time of writing, the Pixel 3a retains its place as the best photophone at less than 500 euros, even almost two years after its release.
Google Pixel 3a XL at the best price Base price: 479 €
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So much for our selection of the best smartphones for the photo ends here. The classification will of course be modified over the course of the outings. Stay connected!