If you’re the type who prefers not to bring a camera when travelling, a good smartphone is a definite must. After all, it can easily fit your palm and is a lot easier to keep track of, since you’ll be using it for purposes other than taking photos. But sometimes, the best camera phones can come at an exorbitant price! Man, what’s a budding travel photographer to do?
Most people resort to the good ol’ iPhone, yet we all know that this isn’t exactly something ideal for every budget. Also, it seems to be the go-to for most of us, so what’s the point of switching, right? Well, having worked in tech previously, I can assure you that there are a lot of less pricey options out there! And I mean a lot — some of which are just as good (if not better) for phone-tography.
But what makes a good camera phone, anyway? For some, it must have a high megapixel count to capture photos in crisp, sharp detail. For others, it should have stabilisation as well as vibrant colour rendering. And then there are those who are all about aperture, which is important for low-light settings as well as those bokeh effects for portrait shots. So, we’ve rounded up the best camera phones (in no particular order) that you can get for lower than ₱40,000!
1. Google Pixel 4
Are you one of those who rely on Google’s G Suite for everything to do with productivity? Well then, the Google Pixel 4 just might be right up your alley. Its rear camera combines telephoto and digital zoom lens to help you achieve sharp photos with quality contrast and saturation. These give photos an ‘honest’ colour rendering, especially for skin tones and the vibrant hues. You can also achieve steady shots even for objects that are far away!
What it lacks in the ultra-wide-angle lens (compared to the other best camera phones on this list), it makes up for with the Astrophotography mode. This allows you to take sharp and clear photos of dazzling night skies — something which even other DLSRs can’t! Apart from the camera, this flagship smartphone also features a secure and intuitive Face Unlock and Motion Sense systems, both of which run smoothly on the excellent 90Hz OLED screen.
Key features: 12.2MP f/1.7 primary lens | 16MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom | 8MP f/2.0 front camera | Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor | 5.7″ FHD+ flexible OLED display
Price: ~₱39,900 (US$799)
2. Huawei P30
Perhaps the best part about the Huawei P30 is its Leica-engineered triple camera system — yes, as in that luxury camera brand from Germany. The main rear camera comes with a 5x hybrid zoom that lets you capture subjects at a distance, while still retaining the resolution and detail that they’d have if they were right in front of you. There’s also the 30x digital zoom, which is great from when you want to capture super far-off subjects like, say, the moon!
Speaking of night shots, this camera phone also fares well even in low-light conditions thanks to its Night Mode feature. Want to capture objects in motion, like maybe ocean waves? The AIS Long Exposure Shot feature has got you covered. Design-wise, we can’t get enough of its Breathing Crystal colourway, which features a dazzling gradient that shifts to include hues of blue and pink.
Key features: 40MP f/1.8 primary lens | 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide lens | 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens | 32MP + f/2.0 front camera | 8GB RAM | Kirin 980 Octa-core processor | 6.1” FHD+ OLED display
3. Samsung Galaxy A71
The Samsung Galaxy A71 is one of the best camera phones for Gen-Z peeps looking to unleash their authentic selves via social media content. With great features at a friendly price tag, how can you say no? But wait — what are those features, you ask?
For starters, it comes with a quad rear camera setup that includes an impressive 64MP main camera! Apart from that, there are also the 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth lenses. What’s more, the selfie camera is also perf with its 32MP and Super Steady Video feature for those TikTok and Instagram story footage. And if those aren’t enough, the phone has a 4,500mAh battery with 25W Super-Fast Charging technology. So, you can definitely shoot all day and stay connected — all with zero lags!
Key features: 64MP f/1.8 primary lens | 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide lens | 5MP f/2.4 macro lens | 5MP f/2.2 depth lens | 32MP + f/2.0 front camera | Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor | 6.7” Massive Infinity-O AMOLED display
4. ASUS ZenFone 5Z
The ASUS ZenFone 5Z is all about harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI). For starters, its dual camera has AI-enhanced features that adapt and learn the more you use it — delivering quality photos every time. The AI Scene Detection optimises the camera settings for almost any kind of shot, from beach sunsets to urban lights.
The Real-Time Portrait feature helps you achieve that stand-out shot, with a graduated bokeh effect in the background. Want a landscape photo that perfectly captures the entire scenery? Thank goodness for the 120° wide-angle secondary camera, which has a field of view that’s twice wider than the usual smartphone camera! This definitely comes in handy for expansive landscapes, big group shots, and photos in cramped spaces.
Key features: 12MP f/1.8 primary lens| 120° wide-angle lens | 8MP f/2.0 front camera | Instant camera switching | Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor | 6.2” FHD+ IPS display
5. OPPO Reno2
The OPPO Reno Series is all about pushing the boundaries of phone photography — mainly by getting consumers to unleash their creative potential. And with the OPPO Reno2, you can achieve just that with its quad rear camera setup that provides a full focal length imaging system! A bonus would be its pop-up shark’s fin camera, which basically allows you to have a full screen without the front camera getting in the way.
The rear camera has 5x hybrid zoom, ultra-wide-angle, and telephoto lens, all of which make for crisp, top-quality imaging in long-distance scenarios. There’s also the 48MP primary lens, which comes with optical image stabilisation, f/1.7 aperture, and Quad Bayer technology; making it ideal for capturing fast-moving objects like, say, cars zooming by on your cityscape shot! And finally, there’s the Ultra Dark Mode feature that’s ideal for capturing images at low light — for example, fireflies in nature settings or candlelit dinners — sans the noise or blurriness.
Key features: 40MP f/1.7 primary lens | 13MP f/2.4 telephoto lens | 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens | 16 MP f/2.0 front camera | Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor | 6.5” AMOLED display
6. Xiaomi Mi 10 5G
For a brand that’s known for budget-friendly phones, Xiaomi sure knows how to produce premium-feeling versions backed by amazing features. Don’t believe us? Well then, maybe its latest flagship, the Xiaomi Mi 10 5G, will. This one comes with a whopping 108MP main rear camera and even 5G capability — how cool is that?
It’s easy to see why it has topped the charts for best camera phones that were recently launched. And to think it’s placed alongside those that are on the heavier price range! Apart from the excellent main camera, its quad rear camera also includes a 13MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth lenses. These are all backed by AI technology that further enhances overall images, scene recognition, and night mode photography. Apart from the camera, the Xiaomi Mi 10 also has reverse wireless charging, which enables you to charge other devices through it!
Key features: 108MP f/1.8 primary lens with OIS | 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens | 2MP f/2.4 macro lens | 2 MP f/2.4 depth lens | 20MP f/2.0 front camera | Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor | 6.67” Super AMOLED display
7. OnePlus 7T
And last but definitely not the least: the OnePlus 7T! It features a classy frosted matte silhouette paired with a unique circular camera module, which definitely sets it apart from the other best camera phones in its price range. It has also been hailed for its Oxygen OS on Android 10, which makes for a seamless camera user interface even more.
The main event of its über-versatile triple camera setup is the 48MP Sony IMX 586 main camera. This works hand in hand with a 2x zoom lens to provide users with a variety of focal ranges, as well as a 16MP ultra-wide lens that gives an expansive field of view of up to 117 degrees. And compared to previous models, the OnePlus 7T comes with a Super Macro Mode feature, which lets you get a close-up shot of up to a 2.5cm distance! The overall camera setup is also optimised by the brand’s very own UltraShot Engine, which delivers breathtaking photos even in dim and/or nighttime sceneries.
Key features: 48MP Sony IMX 586 f/1.7 primary lens | 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens | 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom | 16MP f/2.0 front camera | Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor | 6.55” Fluid AMOLED display
In a span of fewer than 20 years, we’ve seen the fast rise of phone photography that came along with the prevalence of smartphones. From a single lens with only .35MP, this list shows that there are now quadruple lens setups with astronomical megapixel counts! And the best part? You can have some of the best camera phones for a less hefty price tag — as this list here has proven!
Phone images on the Facebook cover photo are courtesy of respective brands.