5 Best Phones for Astrophotography in 2021 – Expert Guide

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best phone for astrophotography
Astrophotography

Are you wondering which are the best phones for astrophotography? If yes then you are on the right page. In this article, we are going to cover what astrophotography is, what camera specifications are important to take a good photo of the night sky, and which are some of the best phones for astrophotography currently available on the market.

Astrophotography is a photography of astronomical objects and areas of the night sky. Today, astrophotography is for the most part a subdiscipline in amateur astronomy. Instead of gathering scientific data, the goal is more to take an aesthetically pleasing photo.

To be honest, a good camera would be more suitable for astrophotography as they have much larger sensors, better lenses, mechanisms, and algorithms for capturing awesome photos. But advancements in phone cameras in the past few years have enabled us to take great astrophotography images also with a phone. But of course, not just any phone will do the trick so we decided to create this guide.

If you want to read a full detailed review of our recommended phone for astrophotography click here. Or if you are more interested in our top budget pick we got you covered here.

DID YOU KNOW: Astrophotography or astronomical imaging was pioneered back in the mid 19-th century. Back then amateur astronomers had to overcome many technical challenges due to the long exposures needed to capture faint astronomical objects.

NOTE: Below you can find a comparison table and a detailed description of the best phones for astrophotography.


BUDGET RECOMMENDED
Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC Samsung Galaxy A71 Samsung Galaxy S20 Sony Xperia 5 II Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Samsung Galaxy A71

Samsung Galaxy S20

Sony Xperia 5 II

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Display 6.67 inches 6.7 inches 6.2 inches 6.1 inches 6.8 inches
Main camera 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro, 5 MP depth 12 MP wide, 64 MP telephoto, 12 MP ultrawide 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto, 12 MP ultrawide 108 MP wide, 10 MP periscope telephoto, 10 MP telephoto, 12 MP ultrawide
Video max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@30fps max. 8K@24fps, HDR10+ max. 4K@120fps max. 8K@24fps, HDR10+
Front camera 20 MP wide 32 MP wide 10 MP wide 8 MP wide 40 MP wide
Battery 5160 mAh, non-removable 4500 mAh, non-removable 4000 mAh, non-removable 4000 mAh, non-removable 5000 mAh, non-removable
Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon

* International and US hardware.


OVERALL RATING

We evaluated the phones based on several key factors that are important to capture high-quality photos. The most important being camera megapixels, resolution, and lens zoom performance and capacity. And we must not forget the display as you don’t want just to capture an image in high quality but to also look nice on the screen.

We tested and evaluated all mentioned features and compiled results to a single score number. Please note that the final score does not take the price into the account. So obviously the budget phones will not perform as well as the high-end flagship. But we make sure that all our recommended phones will produce great photos of the night sky.


What are the best phones for astrophotography?

XIAOMI Poco X3 NFC

One of the best phone for astrophotography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth Single 20 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC is a good mid-range phone that brings a lot of trendy features. It comes with a quad-camera setup, a high refresh rate screen, and a great chipset. Battery life is very good and the phone truly delivers what it promises. Another big plus is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on these features. Poco X3 NFC comes at a very affordable price. That’s why we decided to put it on our list of best phones for astrophotography.

Poco X3 NFC has a quad-camera setup. It is equipped with a 64 MP main camera, 13 MP ultrawide camera, 2 MP macro camera, and a 2 MP depth sensor. The daytime photos look excellent for this class. The photos taken with the main camera come out very sharp with a lot of detail and a wide dynamic range. There is also practically no noise and colours are very accurate. You can also make very decent selfies with a 20 MP selfie camera. The subject is nicely exposed with a high level of detail. Zoom shots look okay but do not have as much detail as you would expect. Also, there is more noise in the photos. However, this is more or less due to lack of a telephoto camera. Close-up shots taken with a macro camera are more or less decent. They have as much detail as you would expect from a 2 MP camera, but noise is very low. Sharpness could be improved on this camera. Low light photography is not the best. The dynamic range is pretty narrow and images are sort of noisy. Colors remain good, but highlights and shadows do not look their best. However, for a basic user, all this might not pose a problem. Night mode might help improve photos. Still, you will find better low light performance on other mid-range phones.

Video recording is quite good. You can make 4K videos at 30 fps. There is also an option for more basic footage that can be recorded up to 1080p. In general, videos have great contrast and accurate colors. The dynamic range is wide enough, however, the level of detail could be improved.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Many people argue that you get a lot of the phone for the price. We agree
  • We really like 120 Hz 6.67 inch screen. It is bright, large and perfect for watching videos, playing games or browsing the web
  • The powerful mid-range chip will allow you to play graphic intense games smoothly
  • Large battery and a 33W charger is a dream combination
  • Accurate white balance and pleasant color rendering in stills
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • There is no wireless charging
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy A71 – Top Budget Phone for astrophotography

One of the best phone for astrophotography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro and 5 MP depth Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy A71 is another Samsung mid-range phone. Unlike flagships, this one comes at an affordable price, which is certainly a benefit for your wallet. Furthermore, the phone doesn’t lack anything and is pretty competitive. It has a good-looking design and an excellent mid-range chipset. Based on its quality, we decided to put it on our list of the best phones for astrophotography.

The cameras you will find here do a pretty good job a well. Galaxy A71 features a quad camera setup, which has an interesting L shape. Here we get a 64 MP main camera with PDAF, 12 MP ultrawide camera, 5 MP macro camera, and a 5 MP depth sensor. Photos taken with the main camera during the day are very sharp, have a wide dynamic range a lot of detail. There is very little, almost zero noise and the colours are more or less accurate. Low light photography looks quite okay. Highlights and shadows look nice and noise is reduced to a minimum. However, switching to an ultrawide camera during the night may reduce photo quality. Macro shots could be improved as well. Many shots come out blurry, because of fixed focus and that could be a little annoying.

As far as video recording goes, you are able to make 4K footages at 30 fps. You can also make videos at 1080p resolution which also looks quite nice and the overall quality is very satisfying. Videos taken during the day have a wide dynamic range, have a lot of detail, and are very sharp.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is smooth thanks to an excellent mid-range chipset
  • The price of this device is very attractive
  • Great and large screen
  • Good camera set for the price point
  • Accurate exposure with wide dynamic range
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • No wireless charging or reverse charging
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy S20

One of the best phone for astrophotography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 12 MP wide, 64 MP telephoto and 12 MP ultrawide Single 10 MP wide Up to 8K 24 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S20 is a powerful phone with an appealing design. Although, we have to say there are better versions out there, such as S20 Ultra. However, they usually cost more. In terms of performance, S20 works really well and it’s also very user friendly. It’s not the newest Galaxy S flagship, but regardless, it still is a high end phone. It is capable of delivering astonishing results in every field. Therefore, it makes our list of best phones for astrophotography.

Now let’s move to camera capabilities. Samsung Galaxy S20 has three cameras: a 12 MP main camera, a 12 MP ultra-wide camera, and a 64 MP telephoto camera with 3x hybrid optical zoom. Photos made during day hours look excellent. The camera captures a lot of detail and photos are generally very sharp and high quality. However, with zooming the quality will decrease, so we recommend you not to zoom too deep into the frame as you will capture more noise. Still, a telephoto camera without zoom can produce even better photos than the main camera. It will capture more detail, less noise and photos will be sharper and in general, look more attractive. Nighttime photos are surprisingly good and so are low light photos, which are simply excellent. However, it may interest you that there is no night mode.

The camera can make amazing 4K videos. You have the option of filming at 30 fps or 60 fps. Footages taken in either mode will look pretty decent and there really are no major problems with the video quality. S20 also has an awesome feature, which is 8K videos at 24 fps. Such videos are taken with a 64-megapixel camera and they look much nicer than 4K footages.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • The screen is clear and large with strong backlight and punchy colors
  • The phone sits in hand comfortably due to slim and nice design
  • If you get a 5G version you will also be getting 12 GB of RAM instead of standard 8 which makes this phone more future proof
  • Great image processing
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Some users have reported occasional freezes on some apps. It has not happened to us and we assume it is a minor issue that may be already solved by latest updates
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SONY Xperia 5 II

One of the best phone for astrophotography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto and 12 MP ultrawide Single 8 MP wide Up to 4K 120 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Sony Xperia 5 II is a flagship phone of 2020 that truly lives up to its promises. Here we can find all the features that we need and all the features that make this phone so great. You get an excellent chipset, great cameras, and a very good battery life. On top of everything, it all comes together in a beautiful design. This is a phone that is certainly worth the money we are paying for it. Therefore, it’s on our list of the best phones for astrophotography.

Xperia 5 II features a triple camera setup. Here you will find an excellent 12 MP main camera with dual-pixel PDAF and OIS. Additionally, there is also a 12 MP ultra-wide camera and 12 MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and OIS. You also get HDR support. In general, photos taken during the day with the main camera look great. There is an excellent amount of detail, wide dynamic range, and practically zero noise. The photos are also very sharp with natural-looking colours. Portrait mode has an excellent subject separation and a very good focus, despite missing ToF camera. There is again plenty of detail with good-looking colours. Zoom photos taken with telephoto camera are just as good as you would expect. They are very sharp with great dynamic range. The quality can easily compare to the one from the main camera. Lowlight photography gives you good results. Highlights and shadows are nicely preserved. Colours have good saturation and look pretty great. Additionally, there is also plenty of detail and a wide dynamic range as well. You can get some really good pictures and that is even if you are using telephoto camera.

As for the video recording, you are able to make 4K videos at 24, 30, 60, or 120 fps. The quality here is great and you also get HDR support as well. Colors are spot on and there is plenty of detail featured in the video. All of this helps you get that natural look. Even while using zoom, we still get a great result with excellent sharpness. Additionally, you can also stick to normal videos that go up to 1080p. Those look good as well.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • It is on the smaller side compared to some other flagships which makes it very easy to handle in one hand
  • Very powerful chipset which will be able to handle any games, browsing the web and social media, multitasking, you name it
  • Minimal Android overlay with little to no bloatware
  • An excellent battery life
  • Well controlled noise in most photos and videos
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Maximum brightness of the screen is not bad, but could be improved
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

One of the best phone for astrophotography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 108 MP wide, 10 MP periscope telephoto, 10 MP telephoto and 12 MP ultrawide camera Single 40 MP wide camera Up to 8K 24 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is brand’s showpiece and has some amazing new features. It is an upgrade from regular S21 model, which is actually a cheaper version of this phone. The S21 Ultra is one of the best phones ever to be introduced to the market. This is a high end and well performing device that you would be proud to own. It is definitely one of the best phones for astrophotography.

As far as the camera abilities go, this phone is definitely a step forward. The S21 features a 108 MP main camera and a 12 MP ultrawide camera. It also has two 10 MP zoom lenses. One supports 3x digital zoom and the other one supports 10x digital zoom. All of the cameras and lenses have amazing autofocus that will allow you to take very sharp photos and will capture a lot of details. The images are high quality and have a wonderful resolution. The colors are amazing and you can even take some incredible low light photos. Additionally, the S21 Ultra features a 40 MP frontal camera that will allow you to take some awesome selfies. The frontal camera is a clear upgrade from other S21 models that have 10 MP frontal cameras.

About the video capabilities, the phone can make some awesome 4K recordings at 30 fps or 60fps. Your videos will be sharp and clear. You can also make 8K videos at 24 fps. For more details click here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Super fast and responsive performance thanks to Snapdragon 888
  • Great display that is perfect for gaming and everyday use
  • Amazing 5000 mAh battery with 25 W charging capabilities, wireless charging and wireless reverse charging
  • Lots of RAM that will allow any game to run smooth
  • The camera has tons of features and produces amazing results
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Because it is a Samsung product it comes with some preinstalled Samsung ‘bloatware’
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

Additional hardware information

Cameras

The phones these days feature multiple-camera setups. In fact, it is very difficult to find a phone with just one camera. Usually, they have at least two in the back and some even feature four. Now there is a logical explanation behind all this. The companies aren’t just stacking cameras left and right. Each camera is different and serves its own purpose. This is how we get the best results and enhance our photography experience. The most common camera types you will find are wide camera, ultrawide camera, telephoto camera, macro camera and ToF sensor.

Wide camera – It is also known as the main camera that we find on the rear side of the phone. You will notice differences in Megapixels that a certain camera has. A good main camera should have at least 12MP. Furthermore, it is also good if it has good autofocus and an optical image stabilizer, also known as OIS.

Ultrawide camera – It offers a wider field of view than the main camera. This way you can capture more into the image and it is more similar to what our eyes see. It can offer a great advantage when taking wider images such as family reunion photos for example. However, sometimes a photo can appear curved due to a wider angle and some objects might appear abnormally shaped.

Telephoto camera – It is normally used for zoomed-in shots that are taken from a distance. You can zoom in on a scene or subject and get closer without actually having to move. This can serve us well when we don’t want to approach the subject. A telephoto lens increases focal length. It brings objects closer to you.

Macro camera – It is used for close-up shots. We can capture images of small objects, such as insects or plants. These objects can appear big in a photo and we can capture a lot of detail. In fact, we can capture things that are too small to be visible to the naked eye.

ToF sensor – It is a piece of equipment that most flagship phones these days have. A ToF sensor can help you determine the distance between the camera and the object. It is actually a depth sensor that helps the phone create a three-dimensional map of the world. It uses infrared light to determine the distance between the objects and maps 3D space.

Dynamic range

The understanding of dynamic range can really help us improve our photos. Dynamic range describes the ratio between the maximum and minimum light intensities. In simple words, it tells us the difference between the lightest and darkest tones in an image.  Each device has its own dynamic range, which affects the output – that is our image. The wide the dynamic range, the better. You will stumble across this topic a lot in photography. So just remember that a wider dynamic range gives you better results. A wide dynamic range will allow you to capture more detail in brighter or darker areas. Otherwise, those areas will just appear very bright, nearly white or very dark, nearly black. So to create a good exposure, there must not be too bright or too dim parts.

An interesting fact is that human sight has a relatively high dynamic range. No camera can match it. Therefore some pictures of sunsets for example appear different than they are in real life.

Sharpness

Sharpness in photography stands for the overall clarity of the image. This combines focus and contrast. The subject must be clear, lifelike, and have a lot of details. This is when we can speak of sharpness.

Sharpness is very important in photography. Better sharpness means more detail. Furthermore, it also emphasizes the textures of the subject. You should always try and make your photos as sharp as you can. This way the images will appear more professional and interesting for the viewers.

For the best results, you will have to have good equipment as well as the right technique and well-developed skills. However, with the right gear, it can be much simpler. It is also important to know that sharpness is related to the resolution, as the number of pixels and their size affect overall sharpness.

Resolution

The image resolution relates to the number of pixels that are featured in an image. Higher resolutions simply mean that there are more pixels in the photo, whether lower resolutions mean that there are fewer pixels in a photo. The number of pixels also determines how much information is captured in an image. Or in other words, how much detail it can hold. So, the more the better, as it usually results in higher quality photos.

Changing the resolution, you are basically saying how many pixels you want to have per square inch. So it is always good to have a little more than less. After all, it affects the sharpness of the image as well, and you don’t want blurry photos. You want to capture as much information as you can. Cropping the photo, while keeping the same resolution will significantly drop the quality of the photo. That happens because you remove a certain amount of pixels, which basically means you lose a certain amount of information that should occupy that space. So avoid doing that.

There is a lot of talk about Full HD resolution these days. Here we have 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high image. Such resolution is very common among televisions these days. However, there is also Ultra HD, which is also known as 4K. This means that the resolution here is about 4000 pixels, although is usually a bit less – 3840 pixels.

Contrast

Contrast represents a visual ratio between different tones in an image. It defines color characteristics and affects areas such as highlights, shadows, colors, clarity, and textures. A simple way of putting it is to say that contrast is the scale of difference between black and white in the photo. High contrast means that there will be bright highlights and dark shadows, whether low contrast images have little difference between light and dark tones.

We also know different types of contrasts. There is Tonal contrast, which refers to dark and bright areas in the photo. Then we have Color contrast which means pairing warm and cold colors to make them stand out more. We also know Conceptual contrast, which helps us add depth and encourages viewers to engage with the photo. Then there’s also Texture contrast, where we combine rough and soft elements for an extra punch. All of the contrasts are very important if we want the image to look professional and appealing. So we must know how to use them if we want to achieve that magical result. They can help us tell a story and make certain things stand out more. So we can really be artistic with the contrast.

Best Phone for Astrophotography – CONCLUSION

As you have learned choosing a phone for astrophotography is not a trivial task. The phone cannot compare to a professional DSLR camera with its small sensor size. Therefore, it is important that the sensor quality is at the top level and you will also need to play with some manual camera settings, as standard auto mode usually won’t cut it.

Any phone from our list will give you the best camera experience. So if you stay within our selection of best phones for astrophotography you are good and ready to go.

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