One of the joys of landscape photography is a good long trek to an unusual or particularly picturesque location. However, if you’re anything like me, that can be marred somewhat by having to lug around a heavy kit bag full of gear, full of ‘just in case’ lenses, tripods and all manner of other accessories that invariably don’t get used.

These days, however, smartphones are incredibly good and will suffice if you find yourself without your kit bag. One of the genres that smartphones excel in is landscape photography – where you’ll generally find yourself shooting in good light and with a wideangle lens, which is usually the best-performing lens in a typical smartphone’s multiple array.

Modern smartphones also come with a host of other useful features for landscape photography. That includes things like a level gauge to help you to keep your shots straight, the ability to shoot in raw format, high-resolution modes, different colour effects that you can add or remove in camera, and an ultra-wide lens to help you get even more of the scene in shot.

Many of the smartphones currently on the market will do an excellent job – certainly as an ‘always with you’ camera. However, it’s safe to say that some perform better than others, or have useful functions that you won’t always find on every model.

In this round-up, we’ve chosen the best currently available, which, as you might imagine, means they come with a price premium. If you’re looking to save cash, look for an older-generation model, or even check out the second-hand market. For example, rather than the iPhone 15 Pro Max, look at the iPhone 14 series.

Alternatively, try looking at some of the ‘mid-range’ options on the market. This might mean you lose something like a telephoto lens, but that might not be a deal-breaker if landscapes are your main area of interest. You might find it useful to make a list of all the features you really want and see which smartphones match up – sometimes you’ll be surprised by the savings you can make.

For now, read on to discover what makes these four picks great for landscapes.

Best phones for landscape photography – a quick list

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Max in Natural Titanium
iPhone 15 Pro Max in Natural Titanium. Picture credit: Amy Davies

Amateur Photographer verdict

Its zoom capability sets the iPhone 15 Pro Max apart from from the competition.
  • 5x zoom lens
  • High resolution main camera
  • Option to shoot in RAW
  • Maybe too large for some users
  • High price, and fairly incremental upgrade from predecessor
  • No dedicated Pro mode

At a glance:

  • 48MP wide camera, f/1.78 aperture, 24mm equivalent
  • 12MP ultrawide camera, f/2.2 aperture, 13mm equivalent
  • 12MP 5x telephoto camera, f/2.8 aperture, 120mm equivalent
  • 6.7” Super Retina XDR OLED screen
  • iOS 17
  • Price: $1299/£1199

The most recent iPhone flagship model, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, has a number of features which make it particularly useful for landscape photography.

First off is the main sensor (1x lens, 24mm f/1.8 equivalent) which has a high 48MP resolution. By default, images are output at 24MP, a significant
boost from the 12MP standard output of most other smartphones. You can also shoot at the full 48MP resolution if you prefer.

That high-resolution sensor gives you some interesting options for shooting at ‘different’ focal lengths which make use of different areas of the sensor. So, not only can you shoot at the default 24mm, there’s also 28mm and 35mm options, as well as a 2x, 48mm equivalent. It’s also possible to shoot in Apple’s ‘ProRAW’ format, which gives you DNG files that you can work on in software either on your computer or on the phone itself.

An ultra-wide lens opens you up to 13mm equivalent, and while not quite as good a performer as the main lens, it’s great for capturing wide vistas and demonstrates plenty of detail. You can also shoot in raw format with this lens.

To round it out, there’s a 5x optical zoom lens, giving you a 120mm equivalent. Here’s where you can save a bit of cash – if you’re happy with a 3x optical zoom, you can plump for the iPhone 15 Pro instead and benefit from the same main and ultra-wide lens. You can save even more money by going for the ‘Non Pro’ iPhone 15 models, but you will lose the ability to shoot in raw format.

Perhaps the biggest downside of the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the lack of a dedicated Pro mode. That being said, there are some positives of the native app, such as a level gauge and grid for lining up your horizons.

Photo taken with iPhone 15 Pro Max
Colours directly from the iPhone 15 Pro Max are vibrant but not overly so, which is a bonus for accurate landscapes. Photo credit: Amy Davies.

Read our iPhone 15 Pro Max Review.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra rear, and front. Photo JW/AP
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra rear, and front. Photo JW/AP

Amateur Photographer verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is among the best camera phones, and smartphones, out there.
  • Added AI features
  • High quality main camera
  • Choice of four lenses including two telephotos
  • Option to shoot in RAW
  • Has a Pro mode
  • 45W charging is looking slow

At a glance:

  • 200MP f/1.7 main camera, with OIS, 1/1.3inch, 23mm
  • 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera (0.6x), 13mm
  • 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto camera, with OIS, 69mm
  • 50MP f/3.4 5x telephoto camera, with OIS, 115mm
  • 12MP f/2.2 PDAF selfie camera (same on all S24 models)
  • 8K 30fps video, 4K 120/60/30fps
  • From $1299 / £1084 (256GB)

Samsung’s S series range has been our go-to recommendation for the best smartphone for photographers for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise to see the latest flagship on the list here for landscape photography.

The S24 Ultra follows on from the already impressive S23 Ultra and adds a slew of AI improvements and hardware modifications to make it even better. That said, if you want to save cash, it’s certainly worth looking at the older model – particularly if landscape photography is your main thing,
as many of the functions described here are also found on that model. You might also consider the S24/S24+ (without the Ultra moniker) too for another way to save.

First up is the impressively performing ultra-high resolution 200MP ‘main’ sensor, which is fronted by a 23mm f/1.7 equivalent lens. This is joined by three additional lenses for a total of four – that’s one more than the majority of smartphones, so you’ve got even more flexibility there too. You get an ultra-wide, plus two telephotos (3x and 5x).

Only the 5x telephoto lens is high resolution though, at 50MP, with the ultra-wide being 12MP and the other telephoto being 10MP. The 5x lens uses the extra resolution to facilitate functions such as 10x super AI, multi-frame and super resolution – this lens is an improvement from the 10x tele lens found on the S23 Ultra, so if you like to pick out details in scenes it’s great for that.

Like many Android phones, the S24 Ultra has a very well-featured native camera app, which includes the ability to shoot in raw format, a high resolution mode to take advantage of all those extra pixels, and a pro mode in the native app.

One interesting specification is the inclusion of a stylus which can be used to remotely trigger the shutter – useful if you want to set up the phone on a tripod.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra - ultra-wide-angle camera. Photo JW/AP
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra – ultra-wide-angle camera. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s high-resolution main sensor makes it ideal for landscape photographs. Photo JW/AP

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

GooglePixel 8 Pro
Photo credit: Amy Davies.

Amateur Photographer verdict

Low light landscapes – including astrophotography – in particular are where the Google Pixel 8 Pro shines.
  • Three high-resolution sensors
  • Computational magic makes images pop
  • Pro control option
  • Fun shooting modes such as Long Exposure
  • Price hike from previous model
  • No 1TB storage option

At a glance:

  • 48MP wide camera, f/1.78 aperture, 24mm equivalent
  • 12MP ultrawide camera, f/2.2 aperture, 13mm equivalent
  • 12MP 3x telephoto camera, f/2.8 aperture, 77mm equivalent
  • 6.1” Super Retina XDR OLED screen
  • iOS 17
  • Price: from $1,149 / £1,266

While not exactly cheap, you can save yourself a fair amount of cash going for the more affordable Pixel series from Google – which are also exceptionally well-performing.

The Pixel 8 Pro is the latest flagship from the company, and brings with it a suite of new AI features which help to give you great images in a range of
shooting conditions. Fun shooting modes which make use of this technology, such as Long Exposure, even come in handy with landscape photography – for example, you could try shooting a waterfall for a cloudy water effect.

There are also very useful editing functions too. For landscape photographers, it’s also particularly impressive that all three of its cameras are high-resolution, which is often not the case with many smartphones.

The main sensor boasts 50 megapixels, and a 25mm f/1.68 equivalent lens. This is joined by a 48MP ultra-wide camera and a 48MP 5x telephoto camera. You can shoot in raw format, and a new function for the Pixel 8 Pro model is the addition of a dedicated Pro shooting mode in the native camera app. Usefully, you can also shoot in the full 50MP resolution if you prefer, rather than the standard 12MP default output.

Excellent astrophotography shooting options are available if you want to shoot landscapes in very low light – which could be enough to tip the balance from another model to the Pixel if you like to head out after dark.

If you’re mainly interested in wide and ultra-wide lenses, you can opt for the cheaper Pixel 8 model, but you will lose some other features such as pro controls, as well as losing a telephoto lens. You could also go for the older Pixel 7 Pro model, but again, you won’t get a pro mode here – not necessarily a deal-breaker if you’re more than happy to simply ‘point and shoot’ and focus on composition.

GooglePixel 8 Pro sample image Night Sight 1x lens, sculpture and a large building with a clocktower at night illuminated by streetlights
Shooting with the ultrawide in low light also yields fantastic results. Low-light landscapes are rendered particularly well by the Pixel 8 Pro – there are also astrophotography options. Photo: Amy Davies

Read our full Google Pixel 8 Pro Review.

Honor Magic 5 Pro

Honor Magic 5 Pro back cameras
Photo credit: Amy Davies

Amateur Photographer verdict

The Honor Magic 5 Pro does well in a variety of situations, including low light and landscape photography- A great option for those who want high-end technology at a (slightly) more reasonably price.
  • Triple high-resolution cameras
  • High-end features at an affordable price
  • Capable Night Mode
  • No option for larger storage

At a glance:

  • Triple 50MP camera system
  • 13mm, 23mm, 90mm equivalent
  • Android 13 operating system
  • 4K video
  • Price: $1099 / £949

Smartphones like this show us that you don’t necessarily need to spend an eye-wateringly high sum in order to get a top-range model. The Honor Magic 5 Pro is due for replacement at the time of writing, which means that you can pick it up for an even better price right now, so we’ve included it
here for those who don’t want to spend quite so much.

For landscape photographers, the fact that all three of its lenses are backed by a high-resolution sensor means it has big appeal, giving you 13mm,
23mm and 90mm equivalents to choose between, each with 50 megapixels. There are also digital zooming capabilities up to 100x – something which will cost you a lot more if you fancy the same from the Samsung S24 Ultra.

The native camera app for the Magic 5 Pro is extensive, with a Pro mode for all those extra controls you might crave. It’s also possible to shoot in raw format to make some advanced edits after the fact too. An additional shooting mode gives you the option to record in the full 50MP, rather than a standard 12MP output. Things like digital filters and AI scene recognition also make this a great point and shoot.

Though not directly related to the quality of the onboard camera, the Magic 5 Pro has an excellent battery life, which comes in handy on those long
walks to get to locations. As another side note, this is the only phone on our list that comes with a charging plug in the box, too.

Overall, results from the Honor Magic 5 Pro put it very close to the three other much bigger names here, so it’s certainly worth thinking about looking at the less-well-known brands if you’re on a budget. The Magic 6 Pro has already been released in some territories, and indications suggest that it too is an excellent performer and worth considering.

zoom on blue modern building in wales
3.5x zoom on Honor Magic 5 Pro. Picking out details are great with the high-resolution telephoto lens. Most smartphones use a much lower resolution for the zoom lens. Photo credit: Amy Davies

Read our Honor Magic 5 Pro review.

Related content:

Follow AP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.