Capturing the perfect shot in dimly lit environments can be quite a challenge, but worry no more. We’ve compiled a list of the 8 best low-light camera phones that will elevate your mobile photography game to new heights.
These devices boast impressive features such as large sensor sizes, high ISO sensitivity, and advanced night modes for exceptional image quality, even in the darkest settings.
A good low-light camera phone should have a large sensor size, wide aperture for more light capture, image stabilization to prevent blur, night mode for enhanced photography during dark hours, and software enhancements to improve overall camera performance.
One of the critical factors in capturing high-quality low-light photographs is sensor size. A larger camera sensor can gather more light, resulting in better image quality and reduced noise levels.
For instance, phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Huawei P40 Pro boast larger sensors that enhance their low-light capabilities.
These smartphones are known for their exceptional performance under challenging lighting conditions, ensuring sharper images with minimal graininess.
A critical factor to consider when evaluating a low-light camera phone is aperture size. The aperture, measured in f-stops, determines how much light enters the camera lens and eventually reaches the sensor.
A lower f-stop number indicates a larger aperture, allowing more light to enter and resulting in better performance under low-light conditions.
Examples of smartphones with impressive apertures include Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google Pixel 7 Pro, which boast large apertures for enhanced low-light photography performance.
Additionally, Huawei P40 Pro also features a wide aperture that excels at capturing details in challenging lighting situations.
Image stabilization is a crucial feature in low-light camera phones, as it helps to minimize blurriness caused by small movements or shaky hands.
By compensating for these unwanted motions with sensor shifts or lens adjustments, image stabilization allows photographers to capture sharp images even in challenging conditions–such as dimly lit environments or when using slow shutter speeds.
Two primary types of image stabilization used in smartphone cameras are optical and electronic.
Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) relies on tiny gyroscope-controlled motors that physically move the camera’s lenses, while Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) uses digital algorithms to analyze and correct the movement patterns within each frame.
For instance, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max have OIS technology built into their systems for better low-light photography performance.
One of the most crucial features to look for in a low-light camera phone is Night Mode. This feature enhances image quality in low light conditions by capturing multiple images at different exposures and then merging them together to produce an optimal result.
For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra has an advanced Night Mode feature that captures multiple shots with a long exposure time, enhancing the brightness while minimizing blur.
Similarly, iPhone 14 Pro uses Deep Fusion technology and Smart HDR3 to improve picture quality in dark environments. Google Pixel 7 Pro also comes with its astrophotography mode that lets you snap incredible photos of the night sky.
Along with the hardware components, software enhancements play a crucial role in improving the low-light photography experience.
Most of the latest smartphone cameras come equipped with various features such as Night mode, Portrait mode, and HDR photography to enhance image quality.
Google Pixel 7 Pro is among the best smartphones that owe its reputation for night vision to advanced machine learning algorithms that aid in processing high-quality images even under low light conditions.
Software advancements have significantly impacted mobile photography by improving image processing capabilities on handheld devices.
For example, iPhone 14 Pro Max uses computational photography techniques resulting in sharp and detailed pictures with enhanced color accuracy even when shot in dim lighting conditions.
- Experience lightning-fast 5G speed and wireless charging on the go: Google Pixel 5
- Unlocked and renewed iPhone with 128GB storage and satisfaction guarantee: iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Capture Life’s Best Moments in Stunning 8K Quality: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Unrivaled Performance and Style for 5G Users: OnePlus 9 Pro
- Ultimate Protection and Sleek Design for High-Tech Devices: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
- Unbeatable 5G speed and camera quality for tech enthusiasts: Oppo Find X3 Pro
- Experience lightning-fast speed and impressive storage with the latest smartphone: Apple iPhone 13 Mini
- Experience the Future of Mobile Technology with 5G Connectivity and Triple Camera: Sony Xperia 1 III
- 5G cellular technology for lightning-fast connectivity
- Pixel-perfect 6-inch touchscreen display with wireless capability
- Powerful and reliable Android 11.0 operating system with 8 GB RAM
- Unlocked wireless carrier for greater flexibility and convenience
- Long-lasting battery life of up to 48 hours of talk time
- Includes essential accessories, such as USB – C earbuds and a charger
As a photography enthusiast, I recently got my hands on the Google Pixel 5 and can confidently say it’s an impressive device.
With a dual-camera setup featuring standard-wide and ultra-wide lens options, it may not have a tele-lens for long focal length zoom shots or a depth sensor to help with bokeh shots like high-end competitors, but its specifications are more geared towards mid-range market users.
Its primary camera boasts a 12.2 MP 1/2.55” sensor, f/1.7-aperture lens with dual pixel PDAF and OIS that’s perfect for low-light photography.
Apart from its camera features, this flagship phone also includes an FHD+ display measuring 6 inches, Snapdragon 765G chipset with 128 GB internal storage, and runs on the latest Android operating system, which is version 11.
Overall, the DXOMARK Camera score of 120 points is quite competitive in comparison as well, so if you’re looking for a decent smartphone without breaking the bank, do give Pixel 5 by Google serious consideration.
- Water-resistant and durable metal unibody design for added protection
- High-quality camera with Night Sight, Portrait Light, and ultrawide lens capabilities
- Quick 5G speeds for fast downloads, smooth streaming, and gaming on-the-go
- Unlocked phone with flexible carrier options and automatic OS updates for at least 3 years.
- No headphone jack
- No expandable memory
- May not have the most impressive camera on the market compared to other high-end smartphones.
- 5G cellular technology for lightning-fast internet connectivity
- Huge 6.68-inch screen for stunning visuals and immersive experience
- Stylish Pacific Blue color adds a touch of elegance to your device
- Massive 128 GB storage capacity for all your photos, videos, and apps
- Bluetooth connectivity allows seamless streaming and sharing
- Unlocked wireless carrier offers the freedom to switch carriers anytime
While it may have narrowly missed out on being in the top three of DXOMARK Camera score with a 130 rating, its Photo sub-score of 138 is second only to Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro.
The exposure accuracy was impressive, especially for portraits and low-light situations. But when it comes to high dynamic range scenes, highlights, and shadows tend to clip, which hindered the exposure score slightly. Nonetheless, color rendering indoors was pleasant, with a warm tone that flattered skin tones.
Autofocusing speed is blazingly fast thanks to its efficient PDAF feature, helping it notch up the top score in this department over other models. The phone has ample depth-of-field capabilities even with a larger sensor meaning group shots aren’t blurry at all and look exceptionally pleasing.
Texture preservation was another highlight as detail levels were retained even in dimly-lit surroundings while noise levels were reduced compared to previous versions but still couldn’t quite compare with some of its competition.
- Guaranteed like – new functionality and minimal cosmetic damage
- Includes a certified Mfi charging cable and UL – certified wall plug for safety
- One-year satisfaction guarantee
- Compatible with any carrier on GSM and CDMA networks
- May have minor cosmetic damage
- Does not come with headphones or a SIM card
- Renewed product may not be preferred by some customers over brand-new device.
- 5G cellular technology for lightning-fast data speeds.
- 6.8 – inch screen with wireless display capabilities.
- Water-resistant design protects against accidental spills and splashes.
- Bluetooth – enabled for easy pairing to other devices.
- Expandable memory up to an impressive 128 GB.
- Impressive camera features both front and rear-facing options.
As an avid photographer, I was excited to try out the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s camera. With its impressive primary sensor and top-of-the-line specifications, I had high hopes for this device.
While it did deliver a good overall camera performance with accurate exposure and wide dynamic range, I found that there is still room for improvement in most test categories. Its DXOMARK Camera overall score of 121 put it behind some of the other top competitors in the ultra-premium segment.
One area where the S21 Ultra 5G struggled was with the texture/noise trade-off. Fine detail was lost when shooting indoors or in low light, and image noise could be quite intrusive even in bright lighting conditions. Chromatic noise was sometimes visible as well.
On a positive note, color reproduction looked nice, and skin tones were pleasing under reasonable lighting conditions. However, saturation decreased when shooting in low light.
Additionally, autofocus slowed down noticeably in low-light/high-contrast scenes but otherwise delivered accurately focused images.
- Next-generation 5G connectivity for more sharing, gaming, and experiences
- Intuitive all-day battery management that eliminates the need for constant charging
- Dual lens combo with 3X and 10X optical zoom plus revolutionary 100X Space Zoom for amazing clarity
- Create professional-quality videos and GIFs with multi-cam recording and automatic effects.
- Expensive price point compared to other smartphones on the market.
- No headphone jack included requiring a separate purchase of wireless earbuds or an adapter.
- Large sizes and weights may not be comfortable for all users to hold and handle.
- 5G cellular technology for lightning-fast internet speeds
- Massive 256 GB memory storage capacity to store all your files and apps
- Large 6.7 – inch screen display for an immersive viewing experience
- Unlocked wireless carrier compatibility for ultimate flexibility
- Advanced Android 11.0 operating system for seamless performance
- Multiple connectivity technologies, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC
I was really excited to try out the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera, and I have to say I was pretty impressed with what it had to offer. The primary shooter boasts a 48 MP Quad-Bayer sensor that takes great photos, even in high-contrast situations. Plus, with PDAF and OIS technology built-in, my shots were always crisp and clear.
Another standout feature for me was the ultra-wide angle lens, which has a whopping 50 MP sensor that captures some truly stunning pictures. Whether I was taking landscape shots or just trying to squeeze more into my frame, this lens delivered every time.
The OnePlus 9 Pro also includes an 8 MP telephoto lens with OIS functionality that produced some nice close-up shots for me. And while I didn’t test out its monochrome sensor personally, from what I’ve read, it performs as expected.
When it comes to video capabilities, the device doesn’t disappoint either – offering up quality footage at all resolutions, including 4320p at 30 fps.
Overall, the OnePlus rates a respectable Photo score of 129 which is pretty great considering how affordable it is compared to other flagship devices like Apple’s iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which costs quite a fortune.
- Unbeatable charging speed: With Warp Charge 65T and optional Warp Charge 50 Wireless, you can get a day’s worth of power in just 15 minutes.
- Stunning visuals: Enjoy breathtakingly beautiful images on the next-generation Fluid Display with LTPO technology that conserves battery life.
- Professional-grade camera system: Capture your best shots yet with Hasselblad’s co-developed Quad Camera System featuring a main camera, ultra-wide camera, telephoto camera, and monochrome lens.
- Alexa built-in support: Simply say “Alexa” to enjoy music, make calls, hear the news, or check the weather from anywhere.
- High price point compared to other Android smartphones on the market.
- Limited availability of carrier support for 5G connectivity in certain areas.
- Camera performance may not live up to the high expectations set by Hasselblad’s reputation.
- Polycarbonate material for durability and protection.
- Specifically designed for the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.
- The bumper form factor adds extra shock absorption.
- Blue color adds style to your phone.
- Wireless display features for convenience.
- Manufactured by Grand Electronics, a trusted brand in electronics.
The primary 50 MP Quad-Bayer sensor with a dual pixel pro autofocus system and OIS gives stunning results even in low-lit conditions.
The ultra-wide 48 MP lens with an f/2.2 aperture is perfect for clicking group photos and landscapes. The telephoto is equally great, with a 120 mm-equivalent lens providing clear shots from far-away locations.
But what has really impressed me is its video quality – absolutely stunning! It offers both 8K at 24fps and 4K at 30/60 fps, making it ideal for professional use as well as personal use.
DXOMARK Camera’s overall score of this phone stands at an amazing 143, which makes it the best in class in terms of test results when compared to other smartphone cameras available today.
Its Photo ranking (at a score of 148) truly amazes me since there aren’t any significant drawbacks that stand out while capturing any image using this phone’s camera except the minor pinkish or orangish tinge one sometimes sees under indoor lighting.
- Sweet design with a tight slide cover for convenience and ease of use
- Amazing materials, including airbags in the corners for anti-scratch protection
- Perfect grip with accurate cutouts and stripe graphic design to prevent fingerprint marks
- Anti-fall and shockproof features with high elastic TPU silica gel frame and hard PC backside, plus a unique patented lens cover function for ultimate camera protection
- May add extra bulk to the phone
- Limited color options (only available in blue)
- Slide cover may become loose over time with frequent use.
- Dual SIM capability for seamless connectivity between two phone carriers.
- 5G cellular technology for lightning-fast internet speeds on compatible networks.
- Large 6.7 – inch screen size perfect for streaming content and immersive browsing.
- Massive 256GB memory storage capacity to store all your important files and media with ease.
- NFC connectivity technology allows you to conveniently make contactless payments.
- Unlocked for use with any carrier, giving you the freedom to choose your own service provider.
With a primary 50 MP Sony IMX 766 sensor with PDAF and OIS, an ultra-wide camera with a 110.3° field of view, a telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture, and even a microscope mode for up-close shots, this phone has everything you need to capture stunning photos.
After testing it out thoroughly, I am happy to report that this device performs exceptionally well in photography. It scored an overall score of 131 in our tests- beating the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max by one point.
Though it falls behind Xiaomi Mi11 Ultra (143) and Huawei Mate40 Pro+ (139), the Oppo Find X3 still stands as one of the best devices available in the market right now.
In particular, its color reproduction is vivid and accurate, with very little distortion or artifacts present. T
he autofocus works perfectly fine, making sure you get detailed pictures without any misfocusing issues. The bokeh effect is excellent, too -it looks natural yet draws attention tastefully.
There were some instances where exposure wasn’t completely stable under certain lighting conditions, which led to over-exposing shadows or blown highlights but not so often, though.
- Lightning-fast 5G connectivity for seamless browsing and streaming
- High-quality dual 50MP cameras for outstanding photography and videography
- Ultra-fast 65W VOOC charging technology to keep you powered all day long
- Eye-catching 120Hz screen with vibrant colors, ideal for gaming and video playback.
- Expensive compared to other phone models with similar features
- No expandable storage option is available
- Not water-resistant or waterproof
- Shares most specs with iPhone 13, including the camera setup
- 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR screen
- Powered by an A15 chipset running on iOS
- Up to 512GB built-in storage for media storage
- The primary camera uses the same size sensor as iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Dual-Pixels system and f/1.6-aperture lens
As a mobile photographer who prefers smaller phones, the Apple iPhone 13 mini is undoubtedly the best option in the market right now.
The camera specifications are impressive, with a primary 12 MP sensor, 1.7µm pixels, 26 mm equivalent f/1.6-aperture lens, Dual-Pixel AF, and sensor-shift OIS.
The ultra-wide camera has a 12 MP sensor and a 13 mm equivalent f/2.4-aperture lens with a 120-degree field of view.
According to the DXOMARK Camera score of 130, the iPhone 13 mini easily secured its position on our overall top ten ranking list and emerged as number one in the Premium segment ranking for devices between $600-$799.
Its camera performance is incredibly close to that of larger and more expensive iPhones like the iPhone Pro- almost surpassing last year’s top-end device iPhone-12 Pro Max.
With a Photo score of an outstanding 138, it delivers consistent autofocus system results along with a reliable exposure mechanism producing nice colors under every lighting condition; this makes it one of the best we’ve seen overall.
Though minor luminance noise exists even now, it produces exceptionally good detail quality in bright light or indoor conditions.
The absence of dedicated telelens means that although excellent for the zooms category, the competition cannot be beaten. However, reliable image quality can still be achieved through its ultra-wide cam leading to a Zoom score of 55, making it a good second choice.
- Provides accurate and repeatable target exposure
- Produces generally nice colors and white balance with pleasant skin tones in most light conditions, including complex backlit scenes
- Fast, accurate, and repeatable autofocus
- Captures good detail in daylight and under indoor lighting
- Provides accurate and stable exposure with a wide dynamic range in video
- Luminance noise is noticeable on primary and ultra-wide cameras, particularly in low light
- Limited dynamic range in challenging high-contrast scenes
- Image artifacts, such as flare, slight ringing, and color quantization
- Stunning 4K video recording quality
- Large 6.5 – inch OLED display for amazing visuals
- Dual SIM capability for more flexible use
- Water-resistant design to withstand accidental spills and splashes
- Fingerprint sensor for quick and secure device access
- Huge 12GB RAM and expandable memory up to 256GB
As a photography enthusiast, I was excited to try out Sony’s Xperia 1 III with its impressive camera specs.
The primary 12 MP sensor coupled with a 24mm equivalent f/1.7-aperture lens produces natural color and well-exposed photos. However, in high-contrast scenes, highlight areas tend to be clipped due to the lack of dynamic range.
One standout feature is the Tele Zoom which offers a better performance than its predecessor, making it a slight improvement over the Xperia 1 II. Video recording on this device is also top-notch, as it can record at 4K at various frame rates.
Despite some positives, there are some drawbacks when compared to flagship competitors. The level of detail captured by the camera falls short in comparison, and luminance noise tends to be noticeable in most conditions causing fusion artifacts resulting in blurry areas.
While not topping our list for Ultra Premium devices tested so far with an overall DXOMARK Camera score of 115.
- Lightning-fast 5G connectivity and Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform for speedy performance
- Durable IP65/68 water resistance and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus display
- Excellent versatility, including high-quality external monitoring and live-streaming capabilities
- Unprecedented audiovisual experiences with the world’s first smartphone to feature variable tele lens, Real-time AF tracking, Full-stage stereo speakers, Game Enhancer settings, and immersive 360 Reality Audio technology
- High price point compared to other flagship smartphones
- Large and heavy design may not be comfortable for some users
- Limited availability in certain regions and carrier networks
Let’s take a closer look at the features and specs of each low-light camera phone on our list, including camera resolution, battery life, display quality, processor, RAM, and storage.
When it comes to low-light photography, camera resolution plays a crucial role in ensuring that your pictures are sharp and clear, even in dimly lit environments. The higher the camera resolution, the more detail you can capture in your photos.
For instance, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a whopping 108-megapixel camera, while iPhone 14 Pro Max boasts of a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor for excellent low-light performance.
Focusing on camera resolution alone is not enough, as there are other factors that contribute to good low-light performance.
Battery life is a critical factor to consider when purchasing a low-light camera phone. You wouldn’t want your device running out of juice in the middle of a perfect photo opportunity.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max have excellent battery life, allowing you to snap beautiful pictures all day long without worrying about running out of power.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 also has impressive battery life, making it an attractive option for those looking for budget-friendly night mode photography without sacrificing battery durability.
Remember that having a powerful camera isn’t enough; it’s equally important that the device can keep up with your demanding photographic needs throughout the day.
Display quality is an important factor to consider when choosing a low-light camera phone. A good display allows you to view your images and videos in high resolution with accurate colors and contrast.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, for instance, boasts a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with Quad HD+ resolution and HDR10+ support, providing sharp visuals that enhance the overall experience.
Similarly, the iPhone 14 Pro has a Super Retina XDR OLED display that’s bright enough to capture vivid details even in dimly lit conditions. Other phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro also offer impressive displays that make viewing photos at night more enjoyable.
The processor is a crucial aspect of any smartphone, and when it comes to low-light camera phones, it plays an essential role in capturing those perfect shots. A powerful processor enables the phone’s camera to process images quickly and accurately, resulting in sharp, high-quality photographs.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, iPhone 14 Pro Max, and Google Pixel 7 Pro are known for their impressive processors that ensure smooth performance even while shooting videos or taking multiple photos in low light conditions.
On the other hand, budget-friendly options like Samsung Galaxy A54 and M21 also come equipped with adequate processors that can handle low-light photography seamlessly without lagging or overheating.
The use of efficient processors combined with advanced software optimizations enhances the overall camera performance and ensures stunning results every time you shoot in low light conditions.
When it comes to choosing a low-light camera phone, the amount of RAM and storage can have an impact on the quality of photos. The more RAM a phone has, the faster it can process images and switch between different camera modes.
For example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with 12GB or 16GB of RAM, depending on which model you choose.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max also boasts impressive specs in this area, with options for either 128GB, 256GB, or even 1TB of internal storage.
Overall, when selecting a low-light camera phone, consider not only its camera specs but also the amount of RAM and storage available, as they play an integral role in capturing beautiful nighttime shots.
In today’s fast-paced world, smartphone cameras have become an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s for capturing special moments or taking stunning landscape shots, having a phone with excellent camera performance is vital.
In this article, we’ve highlighted the top 8 low light camera phones of 2023 based on their sensor size, aperture size, image stabilization, night mode, and software enhancements.
After thorough research and analysis, we recommend two standout performers: Google Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The Google Pixel 5 boasts lightning-fast connectivity with its 5G cellular technology.
On the other hand, iPhone 12 Pro Max offers an elegant Pacific Blue color scheme while also providing you with a massive screen for immersive experiences.
To sum up, whether you go for the Google Pixel 5 or iPhone 12 Pro Max (or both), either way – you can be sure that they will make every photographic moment count.