Vivo X70 Pro+
Vivo X70 Pro+ tops our list of the best camera phones in 2021. Most of the shots that made to my Instagram and Twitter handles are captured on the quad-camera setup of the X70 Pro+. The flagship handset packs an incredible set of optics backed by the camera expert- ZEISS.
It comprises a 50MP OIS-enabled camera with Samsung GN1 sensor, 48MP ultra-wide camera with gimbal module, 12MP OIS enabled 5X portrait sensor, and lastly, an 8MP OIS-enabled periscope camera capable of reaching 5x optical zoom and 60x digital zoom.
The miniaturized gimbal setup helps in recording stable videos. You have the option to choose among the three different levels of stabilization- Standard, Ultra, and the Horizontal Line being the one that delivers the most stable results but also demands a well-lit environment. It effectively cuts down the unwanted shakes in both horizontal and vertical planes and delivers steady videos.
You can read more about the performance of this versatile camera setup in our comprehensive review of the Vivo X70 Pro+. If you have already purchased the handset, here are some tips and tricks that you can follow and make the most out of the mighty camera setup.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro/ 13 Pro Max
Apple introduced four new iPhones this year with the headline features reserved for the Pro models. The iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro feature the best cameras ever on any Apple device making photography more enjoyable for shutterbugs. Both Pro models feature a triple-lens rear camera setup comprising of three 12MP sensors for discrete photography needs. You get an excellent primary sensor with amazing low-light capabilities, a 3x optical lens, and a great wide-angle sensor.
The videography also gets a huge upgrade with ProRes video recording support at 1080p 30fps and 4K 30fps for higher storage variants. If money isn’t an issue for you, go for the Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s higher storage variants.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Launched in 2021, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is still one of the best camera smartphones you can buy in India. Built like a tank, the Galaxy S21 Ultra flaunts a 108MP 1/1.33″ wide-angle sensor which uses Samsung’s ISOCELL HM3 sensor of f/1.8 aperture size and a lens of 24mm equivalent focal length. The sensor supports PDAF, OIS and has the all-new Laser AF system for better focusing performance.
The primary sensor is accompanied by a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens, a 10MP telephoto lens (3x optical zoom), and a secondary telephoto lens to offer 10x optical zoom. Be it normal shots, portraits, or far-field zoom pictures, this Galaxy has got you covered. You can read everything about the camera and its real-life performance in our comprehensive review.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Xiaomi took us by surprise by launching the mighty Mi 11 Ultra in India at aggressive pricing. The flagship handset still gives a tough fight to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Vivo’s X-series handsets, and even the latest Apple iPhones with its hardware and raw performance.
The handset brings a crazy 120x far-field zoom, thanks to the 48MP 5x optical sensor, which is accompanied by the largest sensor on a smartphone, i.e. 50MP Samsung GN2 sensor and a 48MP Sony IMX586 wide-angle sensor.
This camera setup offers a wide range of focal lengths; from 12mm to 120mm to create pictures and even allows you to shoot in Night mode with all three lenses. Read more about the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra in our detailed review.
Apple iPhone 13
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a Pro Apple iPhone, the vanilla iPhone 13 would be a good option. Though it lacks the fluid 120Hz display and a whole sensor at the back, its dual-lens camera still has a lot to offer. The iPhone 13 features a 12MP Sony sensor (26mm) with larger pixels using a seven-element lens (f/1.6 aperture) and a 12MP ultra-wide sensor (14mm, ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view) making use of a five-element lens.
The setup offers 2x optical zoom and up to 5x digital zoom. You also get Smart HDR 4, advanced red-eye correction, and auto image stabilization. We managed to capture some brilliant shots in both daylight and night with this simple yet capable camera setup. And not to forget the lifelike videos that this handset shoots. Our review should offer some detailed insights about the handset.
Vivo X70 Pro /60 Pro
If you want the goodness of the flagship X70 Pro+ in a compact form factor at a slightly affordable price, the Vivo X70 Pro and the X60 Pro are worth considering. Both these handsets have ZEISS-backed optics and gimbal modules to deliver crisp pictures and stable videos. The X60 Pro features a quad-lens camera system that comprises a 48MP (f/1.79) OIS-enabled primary sensor + 13MP (f/2.2) wide-angle lens+ 13MP (f/2.46) Portrait rear camera.
The X70 Pro flaunts an even better triple-lens camera featuring a 50MP f/1.8 main sensor with gimbal OIS, an 8MP f/3.4 5X Optical zoom lens, 12MP f/2.0 50mm telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, and another 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide sensor.
OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus handsets have always fallen short of good camera performance but the OnePlus 9 Pro manages to change it. Tuned by the camera expert Hasselblad, the devices’ camera setup (48MP OIS-enabled Sony IMX789 Sensor, 50MP Freeform lens, 8MP OIS 3.3x sensor, 2MP monochrome sensor) impresses with its daylight and low-light performance. The camera captures natural-looking skin tones, detailed portraits, and some fine-looking wide-angle shots.
Besides, the handset also shoots 12-bit RAW images and impressive 4k 30/60fps videos from the primary and ultra-wide sensor. Read more about the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera performance in our review.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max/ Redmi Note 10 Pro
Finding a good camera smartphone at a pocketable price can be a daunting task. Thankfully, Xiaomi managed to offer two incredible sub-25K handsets with powerful quad-cameras. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 10 Pro feature quad-lens camera setups with the only difference in the primary sensor size and type.
Unlike the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max‘s 108MP Samsung HM2 sensor, the Note 10 Pro features a 64MP Samsung ISOCELL GW3 sensor capable of recording 4K 30fps videos.
The remaining camera configuration remains as it is and comprises an 8MP Sony IMX355 f/2.2 wide-angle lens (up to 118 degrees FOV), 5MP f/2.4 macro sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor. The four-lens camera hardware impresses with its clarity, dynamic range, sharpness, and plenty of modes/filters to experiment with mobile photography. Find more on the real-life camera performance of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 10 Pro in our reviews.
Google Pixel 4a
You might be wondering why the Google Pixel 4a made it to the list of the best camera phones of 2021 when the device was launched last year in India. Simply because the single 12MP camera on the Pixel 4a still gives a tough fight to some of the value flagship and even flagship phones boasting triple or quad-camera setups. Available at Rs. 24,590, the Pixel 4a boasts a 12.2MP single-lens camera with f/1.7 aperture that’s offered on the Pixel 4.
The OIS+EIS-enabled lens can record 4K @ 30fps videos, 1080p @ 30/60/120 fps videos and 720p videos @ 30/60/240 fps. The single-lens camera system captures amazing pictures in both daylight and low-light. And thanks to Google’s Astrophotography mode, the Pixel 4a even beats the mightiest flagship devices in low-light scenarios. It’s a no-nonsense pocket-friendly phone with a capable camera system.
Realme 8 Pro
Our list of best camera phones in 2021 ends with another pocket-friendly option. Coming from the house of Realme, the 8 Pro is a sub-20K handset with a capable quad-lens camera system. It employs a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2 primary sensor with an f/1.9 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens with 119-degree FoV, and a pair 2MP sensor for bokeh and macro photography.
This budget handset can offer crisp daylight shots, good dynamic range and vibrant video recording footage along with a camera app that offers a host of features to experiment with mobile photography. Find out more about the Realme 8 Pro in our review.
The aforementioned list could have been a lot interesting if Google, Sony and Huawei would have introduced their flagship devices in India. The names include- Google Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Sony Xperia Pro-I, and Huawei P50 Pro-series. If you can manage to get your hands on any of these devices, don’t hesitate as the camera tech these smartphones bring to the table is nothing short of extraordinary.