It’s that time of year again, as the AP Awards 2024 are announced! As a weekly magazine Amateur Photographer tests more cameras, lenses, software, and accessories than any other UK publication and our tests are widely respected around the world for their independence, quality and depth. The title of best camera phone is hotly contested, with the big brands competing to outdo each other’s features, lenses, and resolution. Representing the best of the best, read on to see our winning smartphone cameras of the year.

The AP Awards, which have been an annual highlight in the photography calendar for over 40 years, are held in higher regard within the global camera industry than any other UK award.

The smartphone winners selected here are the most technologically advanced ever produced – we’re truly spoiled for choice – but our thorough testing identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each, to help you choose which one is right for you, and which really are the finest in their class.

Smartphone Camera of the Year 2024: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras - here you can see the periscope lens for the 5x telephoto camera. Photo JW/AP
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras – here you can see the periscope lens for the 5x telephoto camera. Photo JW/AP

$1299 / £1249 –

Why we like it:

  • Versatile four-camera system
  • 8K 30p and 4K 120p video
  • Impressive AI imaging features
  • Superb screen

Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone goes one up on the competition with a four-camera system, while adding an array of AI photography features. With a 200MP, 23mm equivalent f/1.7 main camera joined by 13mm f/2.2 ultra-wide, 70mm f/2.5 telephoto, and 115mm f/3.4 telephoto modules, it offers more creative options than almost any other phone. All except the ultra-wide lens are optically stabilised too.

The new generation of AI on the S24 series is used both when you take your photos and when you edit them, with a mix of on-device and cloud-based features. It aims to improve such things as night photography, noise performance, zoom quality, colour reproduction, and high dynamic range imaging. There’s also a new reflection removal tool that’s useful for shooting through glass.

You get an ultra-bright screen with reduced glare and reflections, plus 7 years of software updates. The camera gives bright, colourful images, with well-judged exposure and strong dynamic range. For those that want the best camera phone from a mainstream brand, the S24 Ultra is an excellent choice. It’s the best Android phone you can buy right now.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review

ap awards 2024 smartphone camera of the year logo

Affordable Smartphone of the Year: Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 7a photo Joshua Waller / AP
Google Pixel 7a photo Joshua Waller / AP

$477 / £449 –

Why we like it:

  • Excellent photo quality and colour
  • Improved front and rear cameras
  • 4K video from both front and rear cameras
  • Adds motion photography modes

Google has traditionally been very good at taking the advanced photographic features from its flagship smartphones and transplanting them into temptingly affordable devices. This year, the Pixel 7a includes a number of updates that benefit photographers. These include an upgraded main camera and the addition of the motion-photography modes previously seen on the more expensive Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

The main camera employs a 64MP sensor, coupled with an optically stabilised 25mm equivalent f/1.9 lens. It’s joined by a 13MP, 14mm f/2.2 ultra-wide and a 13MP f/2.2 selfie camera. The firm’s Real Tone software is on board to give faithful colour rendition across a diverse range of skin tones. Other handy photographic features include Google’s long exposure mode that’s useful for waterfalls, light trails, and crowds. Meanwhile clever AI editing tools include Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur.

In terms of photo quality, the main camera gives impressive results, and is surprisingly capable of close-up photography, such as food photography, with little effort. The ultra-wide-angle camera also gives very good images. Colour reproduction is very pleasing and consistent both shot-to-shot and across the cameras. At this price point, there’s really no other phone we’d recommend.

Google Pixel 7a Review

affordable smartphone camera of the year

Make sure you have a look at the other AP Award winners!

Tell us what you think on social media, using the hashtag #APAwards2024

See last year’s winners here: AP Awards 2023 – The best camera, smartphone and drone of the year

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