5 Best Phones for Wildlife Photography in 2021 – Latest Guide

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best phone for wildlife photography
I have taken this photo on some of my last trips with my oldest son Josh with SAMSUNG Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Last weekend I was on a trip with my family. We love to go outside to nature and observe the wildlife and also take some nice photos. So I was wondering which is the best phone for Wildlife photography 🤔.

To be honest, I am also a passionate amateur photographer and own a full-frame mirrorless camera (read more about my camera). If I plan to capture photos on my nature and wildlife trip then I always take it with me. But usually, when we go on a trip with my family to just relax and enjoy the fresh air I leave it at home. And unfortunately, life is just this way that the perfect opportunity for the photo happens when I don’t have my camera with me 😟. At this moment I can only rely on my phone. And up to not long ago, I owned a phone that really sucked at photography. So I started asking myself which phone should I buy to save me in such situations. Which is the best for wildlife photography.

Luckily, I am pretty knowledgeable which specification are important for dedicated camera quality and the same rules also apply for phone cameras. I started researching and learning a bit more about the phones and different embedded cameras and finally came up with a list of five phones with very good to excellent camera performance for any budget.

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

DID YOU KNOW: Forests are home to over 80 percent of land animals and plants and cover only 31 percent of the world’s total land area. About 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods and daily subsistence needs.

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


BUDGET RECOMMENDED
Samsung Galaxy A12 Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC Samsung Galaxy S10+ Huawei P40 Pro Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy A12

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Huawei P40 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Display 6.5 inches 6.67 inches 6.4 inches 6.58 inches 6.9 inches
Main camera 48 MP wide, 5 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto, 16 MP ultrawide 50 MP wide, 12 MP periscope telephoto, 40 MP ultrawide 108 MP wide, 12 MP periscope telephoto, 12 MP ultrawide
Video max. 1080p@30fps max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@60fps, HDR10+ max. 4K@60fps max. 8K@24fps, HDR10+
Front camera 8 MP 20 MP wide 10 MP wide and 8 MP wide 32 MP wide 10 MP wide
Battery 5000 mAh, non-removable 5160 mAh, non-removable 4100 mAh, non-removable 4200 mAh, non-removable 4500 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 give you a great camera experience.


What are the best phones for wildlife photography?

SAMSUNG Galaxy A12

One of the best phone for wildlife photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 48 MP wide, 5 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth Single 8 MP Up to 1080p 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy A12 is a phone that will bring you the experience of premium brand on a budget. This is a perfect choice for any of you that are looking for a good and affordable entry level phone. The overall performance is good and it covers all the basic features that a good phone needs. However, do not compare it to the newest flagships. Still, the battery life on A12 beats most of the competition. Based on its abilities and an awesome price/quality ration, we decided to list it as one of the best phones for wildlife photography.

Galaxy A12 has a quad camera setup. It is equipped with 48 MP main camera, 5 MP ultrawide camera, 2 MP macro camera and a 2 MP depth sensor. The daytime photography is looking surprisingly good, especially for a budget phone. The photos taken with a 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 8 MP selfie camera. The subject is nicely exposed with a high level of detail. Close up shots taken with macro camera look okay, but do not have as much detail as you would expect. Also, there is more noise in the photos. Low light photography is not the best. Dynamic range is pretty narrow and images are sort of noisy. Colours remain good, but highlights and shadows do not look their best. However, for a basic user all this might not pose a problem. These are details that some may not even care about. So basic users should still go for this phone, however professionals might search for more expensive phone with better camera. Video recording is nothing special and is very basic. You can record up to 1080p at 30 fps. Video quality is average, however sharpness is good and there is also very little noise.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Very affordable. Great price/performance ratio
  • Sleek design makes it Easy to handle and place into pockets
  • Huge 5000 mAh battery is really good and supports 15W fast charging
  • 6 GB model will be able to handle games pretty good
  • Fast, accurate, and repeatable autofocus
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • The processor chip may be a bit weak for more demanding games
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

XIAOMI Poco X3 NFC – Top Budget Phone for wildlife photography

One of the best phone for wildlife 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 best phones for wildlife 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+

One of the best phone for wildlife photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto and 16 MP ultrawide Dual with 10 MP and 8 MP wide Up to 4K 60 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S10+ is a more premium version of regular S10. This phone is bigger and carries some new additions. However, most of the features, especially design, remain the same. The phone is a bit older and is definitely not the newest flagship out there, but it can still perform really well and can carry out many difficult tasks. Therefore, we decided to put this phone on the list of the best phones for wildlife photography.

On the field of cameras, the major difference is that the S10+ has a dual selfie camera, which regular S10 doesn’t. That improves depth sensing and gives better results when taking selfies. Otherwise the camera setup on the back remains the same. The phone features 12 MP main camera, 16 MP ultrawide camera and 12 MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. You get fantastic results during the day. The photos are very sharp with a lot of detail. The dynamic range is great and the overall quality of the photos is superb. Using zoom does not affect quality in a major way and photos remain sharp. Night time photography is on a high level. The output is surprisingly good and you get a high quality shots with a lot of detail. However, when it’s too dark the quality will decrease. The videos taken during the day look fantastic. You can make 4K footages at 30 fps or 60 fps. Both options give you outstanding results. However, videos taken with telephoto camera at 60 fps can have reduced quality.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is excellent thanks to Snapdragon 855 and lots of RAM. This phone will handle any task you throw at it.
  • Dual selfie camera improves depth sensing and gives better results when taking selfies
  • Eventhough the battery is not the biggest on the market the phone will last surprisingly good. Even if you are watching videos or shooting photos all day.
  • Very wide dynamic range and excellent highlight protection
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • If you are not an advanced user, you might not benefit from this version and should probably stick to regular S10, otherwise you are just overpaying for your phone.
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

HUAWEI P40 Pro

One of the best phone for wildlife 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 one of the best cameras you can get on a phone. Additionally, it has a great chipset, which can enhance your overall user 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 wildlife 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

One of the best phone for wildlife photography
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

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

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a huge new addition to the Note line of phones and is an upgrade from regular Note 20. It is one of Samsung’s most premium phones and it is truly the best of the best in terms of performance, camera quality, and battery life. However, it is a bit pricy as well, but you do get extra features in return. The really cool feature is the S Pen of course, which you can make great use of. Especially now, that Samsung introduced some new additions to it. Therefore Note 20 Ultra is certainly one of the best phones for wildlife photography.

Note 20 Ultra has a triple camera set up. The phone is equipped with a 108 MP main camera, 12 MP ultra-wide camera, a 12 MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom, and 50x hybrid zoom. Photos taken with the main camera have excellent detail, the colors are very accurate and the noise is reduced to a minimum. The quality in general is outstanding. The same goes for the telephoto camera which has higher native zoom than other models. Nighttime photography is also awesome and has a wide dynamic range. It also captures a lot of detail and has great color saturation. In low light photography, you might get reduced quality while using zoom, as it will just crop from the main camera. You also have the option of using night mode, which improves shadows and highlights.

As for the videos, you have an option of filming in 4K at 30 fps and 60 fps. Regardless of your choice, the videos look very good and the quality is decent. There really are no major complaints in this department. You also have an option of filming in 8K which gives you more detail, however, the file size will be considerably bigger.

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

WHAT WE LIKED
  • The premium chipset paired with 12 GB will handle any task you can think of
  • The camera setup is amazing and will make a perfect photo in almost any lighting conditions
  • Large 6.9 inch screen makes this phone an absolute pleasure to work with. Great for everyday tasks as well as gaming and watching videos and similar
  • Accurate exposure with wide dynamic range
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Battery is ok but if you are a heavy user, you may need to charge the phone twice per day. It comes with a 25W fast charging feature so it won’t take long though.
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 Wildlife Photography – CONCLUSION

As you have learned choosing the best phone for wildlife 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 wildlife photography you are good and ready to go. Have fun taking photos.

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