5 Best Phones for Night Photography in 2021 – Latest Guide

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best camera for night photography
City at night with Huawei P40 Pro

Are you looking for the best phone for night photography? Guess what, you are not alone. We were asking ourselves this very same question and decided to do research. We were really surprised by the results so we decided to compile a list of 5 phones that performed the best at our night photography tests.

Night photography is not easy. Most modern phones do a very good job at taking a photo in good lighting conditions. But when it comes to night photography many capture a lot of noise, feature underexposed colors, and a very weak dynamic range.

But some smartphones really excel at this area to the point that results can sometimes be as good as with a professional DSLR camera. Most important is that the phone camera allows you to have manual control over certain camera features like exposure or shutter speed and others. Additionally, some phones have AI-powered advanced auto mode and can capture great night photos without touching any settings. Such for example is P40 Pro.

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

DID YOU KNOW: Photography using little light is often the most intriguing. Night photographers, consequently, are some of the most captivating “writers” in the medium, with fascinating art and unique history.

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


BUDGET RECOMMENDED
Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite Huawei P30 Huawei P40 Pro Samsung Galaxy Note10+

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite

Huawei P30

Huawei P40 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Note10+
Display 6.67 inches 6.7 inches 6.1 inches 6.58 inches 6.8 inches
Main camera 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth 48 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro 40 MP wide, 8 MP telephoto, 16 MP ultrawide 50 MP wide, 12 MP periscope telephoto, 40 MP ultrawide 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto, 16 MP ultrawide
Video max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@60fps max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@60fps max. 4K@60fps, HDR10+
Front camera 20 MP wide 32 MP wide 32 MP wide 32 MP wide 10 MP wide
Battery 5160 mAh, non-removable 4500 mAh, non-removable 3650 mAh, non-removable 4200 mAh, non-removable 4300 mAh, non-removable
Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon

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 night photos.


What are the best phones for night photography?

XIAOMI Poco X3 NFC

One of the best phone for night photography
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 the best phones for night photography.

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 S10 Lite – Top Budget Phone for night photography

One of the best phone for night photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 48 MP wide, 12 MP ultra and 5 MP macro Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 60 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is the newest addition to the S10 lineup. This is a very capable phone and is certainly one of the best phones of its time. It can be compared to many high end phones and has an advantage of more reasonable price. Therefore, we list it as one of the best phones for night photography.

The phone has a triple camera setup. It has a 48 MP main camera, 12 MP ultrawide camera and a very cool 5 MP macro camera. However, there is no telephoto camera here, like we have seen on the other versions. Still the main camera is very good and has a super steady OIS. Photos taken during the day have a good dynamic range, great colours and are very sharp in general. There is a hit of noise around the corners, but for non-professionals, that should not be a problem, as these are just minor details and are barely noticeable. Night shots have well developed highlights and shadows; however, the quality of low light photography is not as good as on other versions of this phone. Still, the camera still performs rather well and average users will not see it so much as a problem. However, if you intend to d a lot of photography with this phone, such details might bother you. The phone allows you to make 4K footages at 30 fps or 60 fps. Videos look surprisingly good and the resolution is quite high. The camera captures a lot of detail. The sharpness and overall quality are extremely well.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • This phone has a solid built, feels good in the hands and feels premium
  • The camera on the S10 Lite is absolutely amazing. In combination with the beautiful screen on the device, your pictures will truly look as though they were taken with an actual camera
  • The 6.7 inch super AMOLED display makes everyday tasks as well as gaming and watching videos a very enjoyable experience
  • Accurate white balance and good color rendering in most situations
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • No wireless charging or IP protection which is a tradeoff for lower price
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

HUAWEI P30

One of the best phone for night photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 40 MP wide, 8 MP telephoto and 16 MP ultrawide Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Huawei P30 is one of brand’s really good mid-range phones. It features beautiful design, good camera setup and awesome chipset performance. Now it lacks some of the features that a more premium version P30 Pro has. However, it is still a very good deal, especially as it is cheaper. Based on its capabilities, it makes one of the best phones for night photography.

Huawei P30 features a triple camera setup. Here you will find a 40 MP main camera with laser autofocus, a 16 MP ultrawide camera and an 8 MP telephoto camera with OIS and 3x optical zoom. However, there is no depth sensor, which Pro version has. Images taken during the day look great. The main camera captures a lot of detail, with a minimal amount of noise. The dynamic range is good and the colors are pleasing. Ultrawide camera produces punchier colors and the dynamic range is not as wide. However, photo quality is still pretty much okay. You do get an option for super macro mode, which is meant for close-up shots. Images in this mode are surprisingly good and high quality. Low light photography is also satisfying. Colors are nicely preserved with really good highlights and shadows. There is some loss of detail, but noise is pretty low. You also have a night mode that improves quality of night time shots.

As far as the video recording goes, P30 can make 4K footages at 30 fps. There is an option for electronic stabilization, which makes videos look smoother. Otherwise the amount of detail is satisfying, but videos could be sharper. Dynamic range is excellent and colors are true to life.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Above average battery life. A feature that is important for gaming phone
  • Nice built quality. Gives a feeling of a top high-end flagship
  • An excellent screen
  • Very responsive performance even with 6 GB version
  • Good target exposure even in very low light
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • The phone lacks wireless charging capabilities
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

One of the best phone for night photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 50 MP wide, 12 MP periscope telephoto, 40 MP ultrawide and TOF 3D depth Dual with 32 MP wide and IR TOF 3D depth Up to 4K 60 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Huawei P40 Pro is one of the brand’s newest flagship phones. It brings some new high end features to regular P40. For one, it has the one of the best cameras you can get in a phone. Additionally it has a great chipset, which can enhance your gaming experience. It also comes with IR blaster, which a very cool and useful feature that allows you to control certain appliances, like TV for example. This is a great phone that you will be proud to own. Therefore it makes our list of the best phones for night photography.

P40 brings photography on a whole new level. It is like it was meant for taking images. The phone comes with a quad camera setup, which consists of 50 MP main camera with PDAF and OIS, 40 MP ultrawide camera, one ToF 3D depth sensor and a 12 MP periscope telephoto camera with OIS and a 5x optical zoom. Daylight photos taken with main camera look excellent. They really reflect the quality of a flagship phone. They have a lot of detail and are extremely sharp. Images also have wide dynamic range and practically no noise. Such high quality is preserved across all the cameras, even ultrawide and telephoto camera. Photos are simply impressive. Thanks to ToF sensor, portraits look great and 32 MP selfie camera can also produce amazing selfies, where subject really stands out. Just as expected, low light photography remains on a very high level and is actually one of the best among smartphones. Night time photos look just as great. We get wide dynamic range, nice highlights and shadows and the amount of detail is just impressive. Even with zoom, the quality is not lowered at all. The photos remain decently sharp.

Video recording is great as you would expect. You can take 4K footages at 30 fps. Overall they look good; however the amount of detail could be improved. The dynamic range is wide and sharpness is satisfying. The phone has great stabilization, so videos look very smooth even when you are moving.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Some would argue that the camera is the best on the market
  • Super fast 40W charging and 27W wireless charging. You will recharge your phone in a blink of an eye
  • Smooth performance from Kirin 990 even under heavy load
  • IR blaster is an interesting feature not many phones have these days
  • Excellent texture/noise balance in photos and videos
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • A little less intuitive to set up. Also note that it comes without Google support out of the box. There is still a workaround to get Google products if this is a must for you
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy Note 10+

One of the best phone for night photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto, 16 MP ultrawide and 0.3 MP depth camera Single 10 MP wide camera Up to 4K 60 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is more premium version of Note 10 phone, which means it’s more expensive as well. It is definitely an upgrade, as you get more features and the phone is bigger than the standard Note 10. This is one of the top phones in terms of performance, camera quality and battery life, so it make our list of the best phones for night photography.

The camera setup looks pretty much the same as on a regular Note 10. However, the standard version is missing some features that Galaxy Note 10+ has. But to start with the basics, Note 10+ has a 12 MP main camera with Dual Pixel PDAF. It also has a 16 MP ultra-wide camera and a 12 MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. The camera produces shots with little noise and a lot of detail. The dynamic range is very good and the image processing is excellent. It is surprising just how well it works in low light and night photography. It captures a lot of detail and the colors are just amazing and very accurate. We also noticed that shots made in portrait mode are much better on Note 10+ than on the regular version. One thing that 10+ has than regular Note 10 is missing is Tof 3D (time of flight). This gives better depth in photos and you can also make some cool 3D shots.

Video quality is above standard. You can make 4K videos at 30 fps or 60 fps, which in general all look pretty decent. The colors look good, you capture a lot of detail and the dynamic range is good as well. You also get a “Super steady mode”, which allows excellent stabilization that will make your videos look very smooth while you are moving.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Nowadays its price has dropped. So you are getting premium hardware for a very good price
  • Big screen gives a very enjoyable experience whether you are playing games, watching videos or scrolling social media or web
  • The S pen brings a lot of cool features like for example remote control. It is very responsive and accurate too
  • Impressive battery life and paired with 45W fast charging which can recharge your phone to full as fast as 30 min
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • The fingerprint sensor could be a bit quicker. But it is still ok though and not a dealbreaker by any means
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 night photography – CONCLUSION

As you have learned choosing a phone for night photography 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 night photography you are good and ready to go. Have fun taking photos.

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