Looking for the best value-for-money camera phone? Do not read this article, read this one instead:
And then pick what's right for you. There will be a different best value camera phone for 250€. Or it may turn out that you would be satisfied with a 100€ phone. And even for 169€, you may be missing a deal.
But if you really can't be bothered - okay. My number one choice for a 169€ camera phone is Redmi Note 9 Pro .
Yes, it must be the Pro version - the base model is significantly cheaper at just 110€ but with reduced price comes a reduction in camera quality (you could go with Redmi Note 9 Pro Max or Pro 5G as their cameras are the same, but they are more expensive at the moment).
A few comparisons of cameras to the iPhone 11 Pro
As expected iPhone 11 Pro is the winner, but Redmi Note 9 Pro punches well above its weight.
- Redmi Note 10 (128 GB version)
The reviews are a bit harsh about the camera. Stating it's only "good enough", especially when compared to the Redmi Note 10 Pro which has the same 108-mpx main camera as Mi 10 had last year.
But they say that it is good enough compared to this year's smartphones for 250€ and compared to the RN10 Pro for 300€.
In the practical test, it comes out almost the same as the Redmi Note 9 Pro (about which everyone was amazed how good at photography it was). It also costs over 25€ less and has 128, rather than 64 GB of memory.
Shipping from Italy duty-free.
- Realme 7
The most sensible option in physical stores. The camera may be a bit weaker than the Redmi Note 9 Pro but still very good. It outperforms the newer 64 mpx sensor from Omnivision, generally punching above its weight. And the rest is also good - 5000 mAh battery, the processor at the level of 700 series Snapdragons, and a 90 Hz screen. And the price is competitive - 159€ in many stores - you can just walk in and walk out with the phone.
What to avoid:
Has a new (but unfortunately quite weak) 64 mpx camera from Omnivision. And the results are worse than on the old 48 mpx sensors from Sony (which were already present in Realme 6).
Which doesn't mean the phone is bad. It's just not as good as it looks (despite having many megapixels and being quite cheap in physical stores).
Redmi Note 9S
According to the reviews, there are some problems with the camera software and the results are even worse than in Redmi Note 8 Pro.
So if you want to save some money in exchange for a slightly inferior camera - take Redmi Note 9 [regular]. For best photos take Redmi Note 9 Pro. The Redmi Note 9S gives the worst of both worlds.
Poco X3 / X3 NFC / M3 / M3 Pro 5G
Both the X3 for 150€ and the M3 for 100€ give a great price-to-performance ratio. They come with fantastic specifications, huge 6000 mAh batteries, BUT the cameras are the area where the savings were made. So despite having many megapixels, the photos aren't great.
Motorola Moto G9 Plus
It took a massive price cut - in September 2020 it cost as much as 390€, today it costs only 165€ in many brick and mortar stores. So it must be a fantastic deal, right?
Unfortunately not quite. It lacks electronic image stabilization, which disqualifies it as a camera phone.
On paper everything seems to be fine, the sensor is okay and photos were taken using a tripod look decent. However, I don't think anyone is planning to take photos using a tripod with a 165€ phone (and all other photos are highly likely to be shaky).