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The Best Smartphones With The Most Zoom For Every Budget (2021)

author Luis Silva (Updated on: July 2021)

The Best Smartphones With The Most Zoom For Every Budget


This is the international top 10 list. Click here to check out the US version.

Not that long ago, this top 10 list wouldn't have made any sense. There was the Huawei P30 Pro (or the Mate 20 Pro), and then there was everything else.

Fortunately, manufacturers started to step up in the optical zoom department, and each passing year we're starting to see more and more devices with up to 6x of optical zoom.

Wait a minute. 6x? Are you sure? Yes, I am. And that's not even the device that sits at the #1 spot.

How is that possible?

It actually is pretty simple.

If you zoom in up to 4x and take a 48MP photo, and then if you crop from the exact center of the image, just enough pixels to make a 12MP photo, you'd still get a pretty decent-quality sample. That's "exactly" what you get from a 6x telephoto lens.

When I say "exactly," what I mean is that your photo won't be damaged by any kind of digital or hybrid zoom. You should be aware that a crop doesn't impact the depth of field of an image, just like it doesn't change its aperture resulting in longer shutter speeds, and increased chances of motion blur like a true optical zoom.

I know you must be thinking: "Wait a minute, I don't want to be cropping my photos, just to have more zoom."

That's right, but it's there if you later need it, and at least while recording a video, the camera's software should do this automatically for you, if you keep zooming past the native 4x.

And yes, I'm talking about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Anyways, this list is sorted by the telephoto lens focal length in millimeters (mm). 125mm is equivalent to 5x, 100mm to 4x, and 75mm to 3x. I'm not considering any cropping capabilities nor any AI-powered hybrid zoom, but you can click on any phone to check how many megapixels it's zoom camera has. Usually, it's its second camera/sensor.

I'm hoping you do have a budget of over $1000. If not, you may have to settle for the Huawei P30 Pro or 3x of optical zoom at most. But do check the other top 10 lists.

If you also want to check the top 10 of the most megapixels camera-phone or the smartphones with better picture quality, check out the links at the end of this article.

By the way, I'm updating these listings several times a month.

Tips: Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones. You can also find links to Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, and Walmart (and updated prices) in any comparison article.



Pick your budget:





 Top 10 

  • #8 SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Snapdragon)Gal. Note 20 U.SD
    $949    5.0

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Snapdragon 865+
    Telephoto: 120mm
    6.9" 1440x3088
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass V
    108+12+12Mp4x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.SD
  • #10 SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Exynos)Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    $982    5.0

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Exynos 990
    Telephoto: 120mm
    6.9" 1440x3088
    Full Glass 256GB+
    Gorilla Glass V
    108+12+12Mp4x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Storage
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.SD


 Over $1000 

  • #4 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (Snapdragon)Galaxy S20 U.SD
    $1399    4.3

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Snapdragon 855
    Telephoto: 103mm
    6.9" 1440x3200
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    108+48+12Mp4x
    5000mAh 45+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy s20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy s20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Galaxy S20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Galaxy S20 U.SD
  • #5 SonySony Xperia 1 IIXperia 1 II
    $1050    2.9

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Snapdragon 865
    Telephoto: 70mm
    6.5" 1644x3840
    Full Glass 256GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    12+12+12Mp2x
    4000mAh 21+11w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Storage
    -Weight
    -Price

  • sony xperia 1 vs sony xperia 1 iiSony
    Xperia 1
    vs
    Sony
    Xperia 1 II


 Under $1000 

  • #5 SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Snapdragon)Gal. Note 20 U.SD
    $949    5.0

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Snapdragon 865+
    Telephoto: 120mm
    6.9" 1440x3088
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass V
    108+12+12Mp4x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.SD
  • #7 SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Exynos)Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    $982    5.0

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Exynos 990
    Telephoto: 120mm
    6.9" 1440x3088
    Full Glass 256GB+
    Gorilla Glass V
    108+12+12Mp4x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Storage
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy note 20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. Note 20 U.SD
  • #8 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (Exynos)Galaxy S20 U.EX
    $795    4.3

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Exynos 990
    Telephoto: 103mm
    6.9" 1440x3200
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    108+48+12Mp4x
    5000mAh 45+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy s20 ultra (exynos) vs samsung galaxy s20 ultra (snapdragon)Samsung
    Galaxy S20 U.EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Galaxy S20 U.SD


 Under $700 

  • #5 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S20 FE 4GGal. S20 FE 4G
    $511    3.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Exynos 990
    Telephoto: 76mm
    6.5" 1080x2400
    Front Glass 256GB+
    Gorilla Glass 3
    12+8+12Mp3x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Storage
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy s20 fe 4g vs samsung galaxy s20 fe 5gSamsung
    Gal. S20 FE 4G
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. S20 FE 5G


 Under $500 

  • #8 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S10 (Exynos)Galaxy S10 EX
    $429    2.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2019
    Exynos 9820
    Telephoto: 52mm
    6.1" 1440x3040
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    12+12+16Mp2x
    3400mAh 15+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection

  • samsung galaxy s10 (exynos) vs samsung galaxy s10 (snapdragon)Samsung
    Galaxy S10 EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Galaxy S10 SD


 Under $400 

  • #1 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S20 FE 5GGal. S20 FE 5G
    $349    3.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2020
    Snapdragon 865
    Telephoto: 76mm
    6.5" 1080x2400
    Front Glass 128G+
    Gorilla Glass 3
    12+8+12Mp3x
    4500mAh 25+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    -Weight
    -3.5mm Jack
    -Price
    -Glass Protection

  • samsung galaxy s20 fe 4g vs samsung galaxy s20 fe 5gSamsung
    Gal. S20 FE 4G
    vs
    Samsung
    Gal. S20 FE 5G
  • #4 HuaweiHuawei Mate 20Mate 20
    $379    2.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2018
    Hisilicon Kirin 980
    Telephoto: 54mm
    6.5" 1080x2244
    Full Glass 64GB+
    No Glass Prot.
    12+8+16Mp2x
    4000mAh 22+0w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    -AMOLED
    -Wireless Charg.
    -Weight
    -Glass Protection

  • huawei mate 20 vs huawei mate 20 proHuawei
    Mate 20
    vs
    Huawei
    Mate 20 Pro
  • #7 XiaomiXiaomi Mi 9 SEMi 9 SE
    $329    2.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2019
    Snapdragon 712
    Telephoto: 52mm
    5.9" 1080x2340
    Full Glass 64GB
    Gorilla Glass 5
    48+8+13Mp2x
    3070mAh 18+0w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    -Wireless Charg.
    -MicroSD Slot
    -3.5mm Jack

  • xiaomi mi 9 vs xiaomi mi 9 seXiaomi
    Mi 9
    vs
    Xiaomi
    Mi 9 SE
  • #8 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S10 Plus (Snapdragon)Galaxy S10+ SD
    $379    2.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2019
    Snapdragon 855
    Telephoto: 52mm
    6.4" 1440x3040
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    12+12+16Mp2x
    4100mAh 15+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Battery Life
    +Wireless Charg.
    -Price

  • samsung galaxy s10 plus (exynos) vs samsung galaxy s10 plus (snapdragon)Samsung
    Galaxy S10+ EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Galaxy S10+ SD


 Under $300 

  • #2 XiaomiXiaomi Mi 8Mi 8
    $264    2.3

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2018
    Snapdragon 845
    Telephoto: 56mm
    6.2" 1080x2248
    Full Glass 64GB
    Gorilla Glass 5
    12+12Mp2x
    3400mAh 18+0w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    -Wireless Charg.
    -MicroSD Slot
    -3.5mm Jack

  • xiaomi mi 8 vs xiaomi mi 9Xiaomi
    Mi 8
    vs
    Xiaomi
    Mi 9
  • #5 SamsungSamsung Galaxy S10 (Snapdragon)Galaxy S10 SD
    $249    2.2

  • Quick Specs
    Year: 2019
    Snapdragon 855
    Telephoto: 52mm
    6.1" 1440x3040
    Full Glass 128GB+
    Gorilla Glass 6
    12+12+16Mp2x
    3400mAh 15+15w
    full specs

  • +Pros/-Cons
    +Performance
    +Always-On-Disp.
    +Cameras
    +Wireless Charg.
    +Glass Protection

  • samsung galaxy s10 (exynos) vs samsung galaxy s10 (snapdragon)Samsung
    Galaxy S10 EX
    vs
    Samsung
    Galaxy S10 SD


 Under $200 

 Top Camera-phones 



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Top 10 Lists For Every Budget