Compare and Recycle
27/11/2023

Best Smartphones For Night Photography 2023

Person taking picture of a city scape at night

Night photography is hard enough on a smartphone, so ensuring you have a phone that makes it that little bit easier to capture a good image, makes all the difference. But the question is, which phone is best and what should you look out for? We are spoiled for choice when it comes to mobile phones, all the latest devices have an overwhelming amount of premium features, but sometimes a big price tag does not necessarily mean great camera quality… In this blog we dive into our top picks when it comes to the best phones for night photography and provide you with everything you need to know before making your decision.

What Makes A Smartphone Good For Night Photography

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the smartphone market, there are so many features that set apart devices that excel in night photography. Most smartphones that are on the market now all offer decent camera quality with functionalities that aid photography at night. But with this in mind, there are certain supporting features you should be looking for when choosing a smartphone for night photography because this is what will differentiate good from exceptional.

Things you should look out for when choosing a smartphone for night photography:

  1. A Night Mode feature

  2. Larger image sensors to help with better light absorption and reduced noise

  3. Good optical image stabilisation (OIS)

  4. Long exposure settings to further enhance quality of images at night

  5. Good aperture range which is enhanced by the PDAF & OIS for sharper images

  6. High-speed automatic focus technology (PDAF)

  7. 4K resolution for clear, good quality images

  8. An ultra wide lens

  9. A generous optical zoom of 3 and above.

Almost all smartphones today offer at least half of these features, with the flagship smartphones providing all of them. These phones really exemplify what modern smartphones are capable of and even if you don't use your next phone for night photography, you’re guaranteed to capture some high quality images with these features listed above.


Best Smartphones For Night Photography

Let’s get into which phone we think is the best smartphone for night photography based on the overall camera quality and supporting features. Of course, the smartphones with all the bells and whistles will come with a hefty price tag, but if you’re serious about taking the best images whether it be in low light conditions or brighter spaces like during a fireworks display, then these two choices are sure to be worth it!

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

It’s no secret just how fantastic the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is in terms of everything! From incredible camera quality to size and capability, this smartphone really is one of the best ones on the market with a starting price of £1,249. But what is it about the camera that really sets it apart from other phones? Well for starters, it is equipped with the biggest pixel sensors within the whole Galaxy smartphone family. In short, this means that it allows you to capture more light in each image so that you don’t have to rely on your flash, which can sometimes make your images worse. 

Another fantastic feature that makes sure your images aren’t blurry or washed out by flash is AI multi-frame processing. What this does is combines a selection of images to create one sharp image that includes the best colours and details from each pixel in the images included. With an impressive 200MP main camera, 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultra-wide cameras on the rear, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also offers a 10MP periscope lens with a 10X optical zoom. Not only will this transform your regular images, but imagine what you can achieve with your night photography.

If you want to turn on Night Mode on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, follow these steps:

  1. Open up your phone’s Camera App

  2. Tap ‘Night’ by swiping to ‘More’

Now, take your picture and view it in your photo album!

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Apple iPhone 15 Pro has dedicated night photography modes that take multiple images and combine them in a single photo that's brighter and has less noise. Both phones are good, and it's nearly impossible to say one is better than another. Even though these powerhouse phones produce incredible images, it is extremely difficult to compare the differences unless looking at the pictures side by side. But if you’re ready to invest over £1000 on a smartphone, then we think it’s definitely in your best interest to dive deeper into the smaller details. The iPhone 15 Pro is equipped with a 48MP main camera, 12MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide lenses and although you can’t manually turn on Night Mode on the iPhone 15 Pro, it just means you have to be in the right settings to start using the benefits of the night settings.

To turn on the Night Mode setting on the iPhone 15 Pro, do the following:

  1. Once you’ve opened the Camera app and navigated to the photo mode, the moon icon should be in the upper left corner 

Note: If the moon icon appears to be grey, it is likely that the area you are wanting to photograph is too bright. It still means that it’s available, just not auto-enabled.

2. When the moon icon is yellow, it means that you’re all set up and ready to take an image of your chosen scene

3. If you want to adjust the exposure time, you can hold down the moon icon.

4. You’re ready to go! All you have to do now is hold your iPhone still and keep an eye on the yellow moon icon because it will show you how long it will take to capture the image depending on how dark the scene is.

Best Affordable Smartphone For Night Photography

If you can’t stretch your budget, then we’ve got a good back up that offers the same premium quality in terms of night and overall photography, but at a fraction of the price. The Google Pixel 7 Pro starts at a respectable price of £849 which features 50MP main lens, 12MP ultrawide and 48MP telephoto cameras. When it comes to speaking about its Night Sight feature, it’s worth noting that Google actually improved noise reduction and blur by working on faster exposures, so you can expect to see your images taken at night to be much clearer. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro both include the speedier Google Tensor G2 which has been modified to improve overexposed frames and noise reduction. Basically what this means is that in the past, the denoising technique required users to hold still for a longer period of time in order to capture a clear, blur-free image. Now, thanks to the improvements, Night Sight is faster than ever and less frames are required during the photo taking process.

Our latest silicon, Google Tensor G2, is focused on making large ML models more power efficient, it powers a new neural network that dramatically reduces noise at a much faster pace.

Google

One of the clever things about the Pixel 7 Pro’s night mode features, is that you can switch between three different levels of night mode settings; ‘Regular’, ‘Max’ and ‘Off’. The first option is activated as a default when your phone detects that you’re in a dark environment, the ‘Max’ night mode option is best when you want a little bit more brightness, perfect for when you’re in a space with little to no light. If you don’t need or want Night Mode activated, then the ‘Off’ option is ready to be used. The night mode button will allow you to access these different settings and is also a way for the phone to indicate to you how long it will take to capture the photo depending on the lighting conditions.

Here’s how you turn on Night Sight on the Google Pixel 7 Pro:

  1. Click on the Camera App

  2. Click on the photo carousel and then tap Night Sight

  3. When you’re ready to take a picture, click Capture

Make sure you keep your phone still for a few seconds whilst the Pixel 7 Pro captures the image.

Takeaway

So there you have it! It’s safe to say that the current smartphone market is equipped with decent camera functionalities that stand the test of low lit scenes. If you're considering swapping your phone for any one on this list, make sure to compare and recycle your old phone - this way you will boost your account balance and help the environment.

Of course if you have the budget, purchasing the more premium smartphone options will provide you with very good quality images as opposed to the cheaper options that may compensate for the lack of hardware improvements with AI modifications to achieve sharpness when comparing final results. But saying that, the Google Pixel 7 Pro has proven to be a fantastic alternative and is still considered a premium phone in the smartphone market. The fact that Google made improvements to their AI software, shows the demand for better quality night vision capabilities and highlights to us that there is a need for those amongst consumers. It will be interesting to see future developments from industry giants when it comes to their cameras and whether the quality gap will slowly begin to close.

Yasmin

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