The best budget camera phone have the benefit of inheriting the features of the previous generation’s high-end handsets. This has been the case for a while, of course, but obviously as time goes on, the tech that trickles down the product line gets more and more advanced – and there have been some very significant improvements and developments in the last year or so.

Here we will focus on phones that suit a lower, and perhaps more sensible, budget. Even cheap phones can now take excellent photos during the day, and those with multiple focal lengths are perfect for travel and street photography.

You can spend significantly less than $200/ £200 and still get an excellent phone with multiple useful cameras on the back – and if you’re looking for even cheaper handsets (so cheap that you can treat them as disposable), take a look at the best burner phones. So, here’s the best of the budget range…

Top 10 Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

Here are the top budget camera phone that we have chosen for you.

1. Samsung Galaxy S10e

If you’re a keen smartphone photographer, but you don’t want to splash your cash on a handset with all the bells and whistles, then the Samsung Galaxy S10e might just be the perfect compromise for you.

Featuring a powerful dual rear camera with a wide angle 12MP f/1.5 lens and a 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide lens, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is great for snapping pictures throughout the day. The only thing it’s really missing is a telephoto lens, but these tend to be used less than wide angle lenses anyway.

Meanwhile, the front-facing camera is a respectable 10MP f/1.9 camera, which is perfect for talking selfies and chatting to your friends and family on video chat.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e features a Full HD+ screen with a 5.8 inch display. It also features wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, which is a great flagship feature in such an affordable handset.

Meanwhile, this Samsung camera phone has a powerful 3,100mAh battery and uses either the Snapdragon 845 chipset or the Exynos 9810 chipset, depending on what region you’re in.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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2. Motorola Moto G8 Power

The Moto G8 Power’s cameras are versatile, in a budget context at least. Very few phones this cheap have a zoom and an ultra-wide camera. Most use cheap filler sensors to bulk up the spec list, but this phone offers 2x shots with appreciably better detail than a crop of a shot captured with the primary 16-megapixel camera.

Its zoom and ultra-wide use unremarkable 8-megapixel sensors, but that sense of having a better set of tools to work with still enhances the experience here. Elsewhere, the Moto G8 Power has a good 6.4-inch 1080p screen with punch hole, Snapdragon 665 CPU and a plastic shell.

However, the G8 Power does not have the dedicated night mode of the Motorola Moto G8 Plus. Consider the upgrade if low-light image quality matters more than a zoom lens and superior battery life. The Plus has a 48-megapixel main camera, 16MP ultra-wide and 5MP depth assist.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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3. Google Pixel 4a

Google has set the standards yet again with the Pixel 4a. This phone succeeds and surpasses the Pixel 3a with better performance, an amazing camera performance, and an even lower price point. This phone costs under £350, which is a surprising price for a phone that can take such nice photos. It might very well be the very best budget camera phone around, but you can learn more about that in our full review.

The 12.2MP camera is the same Sony IMX363 sensor you find in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 3a series. What really takes this otherwise mundane camera specs to the next level is Google’s software enhancements, though. Their level of computational photography is on another level. The Pixel 4a adopts features from the Pixel 4 series, such as Astrophotography Mode, Night Sight, and the dual exposure sliders.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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4. OnePlus Nord

As OnePlus went from the “flagship killer” to true flagships in their own right, consumers were clamoring for a more affordable option from the company once again.

It’s not as amazing as some of the other budget camera phones on this list, but you get a lot for what you pay, and the main camera is pretty good. It also helps the rest of the phone is pretty awesome. The hype surrounding the Nord was almost overwhelming at times, but with good reason. A solid processing package, a gorgeous new colorway, and OnePlus’ excellent software experience are all included.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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5. iPhone SE

Apple’s actually launched an incredible value smartphone in 2020, it’s iPhone SE. The phone combines flagship power with water-resistance and wireless charging – all flagship features. The design might look familiar; that’s because it lifts the body of the iPhone 8, and packages up 2020 flagship innards in the old-school shell. That said, its performance is on-point, and costs curbed.

The camera is another area the iPhone SE skimps when compared to some of the competition, but that doesn’t mean its bad. The single 12MP snapper can grab high-resolution, portrait mode photos and even shoots 4K video. Add to the mix the fact it has budget price, and Apple’s officially beating many Android smartphones at the game they normally dominate – value for money.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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6. Redmi Note 9 Pro

The Redmi Note 9 Pro is a big-screened smartphone packing stacks of pixel-power in its five cameras – a combined 95MP. With its huge 6.67-inch display, it’s a perfect multimedia smartphone on a budget, and thanks to its huge 5020mAh battery, it’s also the phone to get if you need all-day and all-night power.

In the box, the Note 9 Pro ships with a handy case that even has a flap to cover up the USB-C port. While that doesn’t make it waterproof, it should help from the odd splash and bits of pocket-lint. The phone’s also protected by Gorilla Glass 5 around the front and back, and with a pre-fitted screen protector, so it’s hardier than your average budget smartphone.

Shipping with either 64GB or 128GB storage and an SD card slot, so you can bump up the space for files, photos and more, it punches above its price. Powered by a Snapdragon 720G, it won’t fall at the final hurdle – performance – whether emailing, browsing or 3D gaming.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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7. Nokia 5.3

Nokia 5.3 features a four-lens setup, including a 13MP main (wide) lens, a 5MP ultrawide lens, a 2MP depth lens, and a 2MP macro lens. This is something you won’t find even with the Pixel 4a or iPhone SE, and it really does provide a fair amount of versatility for the price, even if not a single one of the lenses is truly impressive.

Our review of the phone found that shots taken with its camera do often need editing to look really good, but if you have the wherewithal to actually edit pics, then the inclusion of the extra lenses makes it worthwhile. It also comes with a welcome Portrait Mode, if you want to take some pics for social media.

Overall, the Nokia 5.3 may not be ideal for someone who intends to use their smartphone extensively, but if you’re a light user, it could be just the ticket. Its quad-lens camera can be fun in the right conditions, and while more serious photographers would probably be advised to look at something like the Pixel 4a, the Nokia 5.3 is probably the best $200 camera phone.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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8. Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung is best known for its high-end phones, but the A50 has stepped into the mid-range as a strong option. The 25MP main camera is capable in good and mixed lighting, though as expected for this price point comes up short in lower light. But what’s surprising for this money is the addition of both a dedicated wide-angle camera, which takes fun shots with a new perspective, and a dedicated depth camera for portrait shots.

The 6.4-inch display is both bigger and much nicer than you’d ever expect for something that competes in the mid-range, as is the beautiful hardware. The spec sheet is strong, with a 4000mAh battery that gives you great longevity. You’ll have to face some Samsung-induced bloatware in the software, but the A50 is a great overall phone that isn’t at all let down by its cameras.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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9. Honor 9X

The Honor 9X is a cool-looking smartphone with a good camera and when you combine this with the good battery and a very reasonable price-point – you can’t go far wrong with the Honor 9X if you’re on a budget.

Do you really need the 48MP option? Probably not and it would have been nice to see a metal/glass design but this doesn’t change the fact that the Honor 9 is a lovely looking smartphone that has a fun pop-up camera, a big screen, feature-packed camera app and, rather importantly for some, a headphone socket.

There are some negatives with the camera that let the Honor 9X down a bit such as bokeh effects clipping your subject, the odd over-saturated photo and a rubbish digital zoom but for the most part, the Honor 9X will capture good images with good levels of sharpness and colour reproduction (even more so if you’re just going to share images to social media). However, if photography is your main reason for buying a new smartphone, you will probably prefer the quality more premium brands offer.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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10. Huawei P30 Lite

For those looking for a budget-friendly, modern-looking smartphone which will capture decent images for sharing online, the Huawei P30 Lite could be on your ‘worth considering’ list.

You get plenty of storage, good AI features and the overall design of the P30 Lite makes it look a lot more expensive than it is. The screen-to-body ratio is excellent with the dewdrop front-facing camera not only taking up less room but it also makes the smartphone look cooler, too.

It has a triple camera, sometimes the shots are a little oversaturated and the 48MP sensor isn’t that great but for those who simply want to share images online with friends, the P30 Lite does an OK job. Plus, selfies are actually rather good so those who regularly use Snapchat or Instagram will be happy.

The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021
The Best Budget Camera Phone In UK 2021

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How to choose the best budget camera phone for you

There are many factors to consider if camera quality factors heavily into your smartphone purchasing decision. A good way to start is by asking yourself what kinds of photos you see yourself taking. Not all multi-lens cameras are created equal — some have ultrawide lenses for stunning landscapes, others have telephotos for zoomed-in shallow-depth-of-field portraits, and others still have both.

Something else to consider: Megapixels don’t matter as much as aperture. Cameras with a wider aperture (lower ƒ-stop numbers translate to wider lenses) let in more light, which greatly helps produce better shots in the dark. The high-megapixel sensors found in the latest devices are nice, but it’s a common misconception that pixel count directly translates to better-looking photos.

Do you need a portrait mode that allows for bokeh backgrounds? That’s where the subject of the photo is in sharp focus, while an artistic blur blankets the rest of the scene. Although it started as a feature exclusive to multi-camera phones, the single-lens Pixel 4a and iPhone SE are both capable of capturing bokeh-effect portraits.

Front camera specs are important, too. In a world where we’re taking more selfies than ever, you shouldn’t overlook a phone’s front camera. Some front cameras, like the ones on the iPhone 12 and Pixel 5, can actually perform the same portrait mode effects that rear cameras pull off.

Finally, don’t forget about video. Your cameras shoot more than just still images. Consider what resolution the camera captures video at along with the frame rate. A word to the wise, though: Be wary that ratcheting up the resolution will result in clips that take up much more space on your smartphone’s internal storage.

Conclusion

We’ve been reviewing every major smartphone for years, so we know when a particular model stands out from the crowd or does something it really shouldn’t. This is how you can be sure that, when we say a smartphone is good, it stands up well against any other phone you’re likely to come across in its category.

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