Unless travel photography is your primary career, you really don’t need to pack that $5K Nikon or Canon for your next vacation. Today’s smartphones are equipped with cameras that provide image quality rivaling most professional cameras. If you’re looking to step up your travel photos and you’re in the market for a new phone, this list of the best smartphones for travel photography should help narrow down your choices.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has only been on the market for a few weeks now, but it’s quickly established itself as having the best possible camera of any smartphone, knocking the impressive Google Pixel 2 from its throne. DxOMark Image Labs, the most trusted entity in scoring cameras and images, has given the Galaxy S9 Plus 99 out of 100 possible points. DxOMark says it’s the best score they’ve seen so far. The camera produces incredibly clear and vivid photos, even when zooming in on objects.
Google Pixel 2
The Google Pixel 2 established itself last fall as the best smartphone camera ever, and at 98 out of 100 points from DxOMark it’s still one heck of a good camera. The autofocus is incredible, and the flash helps preserve image details like no other camera phone before it. If videography is more your thing (as opposed to still photos), the Pixel 2 is still the best option for travelers, and it scored higher in this area than even the Galaxy S9 Plus. Any way you cut it, the Google Pixel 2 is still one of the best smartphones on the market, especially for photographers.
Apple iPhone X
The iPhone X from Apple has a camera that’s nearly as good as the Pixel 2 in terms of still photos, but the video quality isn’t even close, which is why it’s resting firmly in third place. If you compare the iPhone X to its predecessor, the iPhone 8 Plus, you can quickly see where Apple stepped up the game. The Zoom, color rendering, and exposure are fantastic. Plus, it has one of the best portrait options on the market.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
If you’ve never heard of this phone you’re not alone—it comes from a Chinese manufacturer and was only made available in the United States about a month ago. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes equipped with dual Leica lens cameras, and DxOMark ranked in a tie with the Apple iPhone X. The camera boasts amazing autofocus and detail preservation when zooming and in low light.