These days, you can take quality night-sky photos using only a smartphone. Most top-range smartphones have high-resolution cameras with excellent low-light capabilities – and many cameras also have dedicated nighttime shooting modes that allow for long-exposure techniques.
But which phone should you get? Below, we share the 10 best phones for astrophotography so that you can capture stunning photos of the stars, the moon, and more!
Best Phone for Astrophotography: Our Top 10 Picks
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1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the current best option for astrophotography due to its 108 MP main camera and excellent sensor.
The absolute best phone for astrophotography is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. This smartphone stands out thanks to a range of features and a fantastic camera setup.
The S21 Ultra features a pro-grade camera with multiple lenses. This includes four rear cameras and one front-facing camera. The main camera packs an amazing 108 MP and a wide-angle lens. It also has optical image stabilization for sharp handheld images in low light.
This smartphone excels at low-light photography, but it is also a great all-around option for photography enthusiasts. Additional cameras include a range of zooms, such as a telephoto lens with a 10x optical zoom.
The S21 Ultra is well built and fast. It has a Snapdragon 888 processor, which makes using apps and navigating menus a breeze. The impressive combination of pro-level cameras and ultra-fast performance make it a prime choice for astrophotography.
2. Samsung Galaxy S20
The Samsung Galaxy S20 is a great budget option; it allows you to take night-sky shots on the fly using the Bright Night mode.
If you want to stick with Samsung but don’t want to pay the price of the S21 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S20 is a great budget option. It’s an older model, yes – but this smartphone is still incredibly powerful.
The S20 includes three rear cameras: a 12 MP main camera, a 12 MP ultra-wide camera, and a 64 MP telephoto camera. You can expect fantastic clarity and contrast in your shots of the Milky Way. You should also expect minimum noise thanks to the Bright Night mode, a special nighttime shooting mode that is fantastic for astrophotography.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 also charges quickly with its fast-charging mode. And the battery life is long lasting, which is always useful for long photography expeditions.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The camera is high resolution, the storage space is great, and you get plenty of processing power. What’s not to love?
It has a Snapdragon 865+ processor and 8 GB of internal memory. This makes using apps a breeze and also improves camera operation.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra packs four cameras, but the best one for astrophotography is the 108 MP f/1.8 rear-facing camera. This has a focal length of 26mm plus a telephoto zoom feature. You can use it to capture detailed, high-res Milky Way photos with ease.
This smartphone is also great for photo storage because of its expandable storage capacity of up to 1 TB (using the microSD slot).
4. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Using the ProRAW mode, you can capture and edit detailed night-sky photos. You also get some amazing cameras.
Are you an Apple fan? Then consider the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, a premium smartphone for night-sky photography.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max features Apple’s latest chip and 6 GB of memory. Expect fantastic performance and excellent responsiveness.
And you get four cameras, including a 12 MP wide-angle option, a 12 MP telephoto option, and a 12 MP ultra-wide option. Although the megapixel count is not as high as Samsung models, the photo quality is still amazing.
One thing that’s important to note for astrophotography pursuits is that the iPhone 13 Pro has a night mode. This uses an array of features and AI technology to help you capture brilliant low-light photos. You can also shoot in the Apple ProRAW file format, which increases post-processing flexibility and is supported by editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
5. Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Beginners will love the dedicated night mode on the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. It’ll help you take quality night sky shots with minimal photography knowledge.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is cheaper than the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, but it’s still a superior smartphone that’s capable of professional-quality photos.
This Apple smartphone has the A14 Bionic chip and 6 GB of memory. It offers great performance, and you can quickly navigate the camera menus and settings. You also have a range of storage options, which span from 128 GB to 512 GB.
The iPhone 12 Pro features four cameras. There’s a 12 MP camera for selfies on the front, plus a 12 MP wide-angle camera, a 12 MP telephoto camera, and a 12 MP ultra-wide camera on the rear. The wide-angle and ultra-wide cameras are perfect for astrophotography; with focal lengths of 26mm and 13mm, the detail you can capture in your night-sky shots is fantastic.
Like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, this smartphone has a dedicated night mode. This will help when taking astrophotography shots and will choose the best settings automatically. The phone itself looks great and has a long-lasting battery.
6. Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Google Pixel 6 Pro has two excellent rear-facing cameras and a 50 MP wide-angle camera that’s perfect for high-resolution night-sky photos.
Google also has a great range of smartphones for astrophotography, including the Google Pixel 6 Pro. This is a premium smartphone that takes advantage of the powerful Tensor processor and 8 GB of memory.
It also has three fantastic rear cameras: a 50 MP wide-angle, a 12 MP ultra-wide, and a 48 MP telephoto. The 50 MP wide-angle camera is perfect for astrophotography, and you can also use the Night Sight shooting mode; it’s meant for high-quality nighttime shots and will greatly aid your astrophotography.
The Pixel 6 Pro has a battery that can easily last for a day of photography adventures, and the display also looks great and shows your photos with fantastic clarity.
The phone is available with either 128 GB or 256 GB of storage – not as impressive as some of the other phones on this list but still decent.
7. Google Pixel 5
You can use the Night Sight mode to take amazing long exposures of the night sky.
Older Google Pixel phones are still great choices too. For example, the Google Pixel 5 has some great features for nighttime photography.
The Pixel 5 includes an 8 MP front camera, a rear-facing 12 MP wide-angle camera, and a rear-facing 16 MP ultra-wide camera. The wide-angle camera offers a 27mm focal length and an f/1.7 maximum aperture. The downside is that the Pixel 5 has no telephoto lens, but this shouldn’t affect your astrophotography.
With Google’s dedicated Night Sight mode, this smartphone excels at low-light photos. The Night Sight mode switches on automatically if the phone detects you are shooting in dark conditions (if your camera settings are set to do this), and it essentially allows you to do long-exposure photography (perfect if you want to capture details of stars and galaxies).
8. Google Pixel 4 XL
The Google Pixel 4 XL remains an excellent budget choice for astrophotography due to its Night Sight photo mode and high-quality rear-facing cameras.
The Google Pixel 4 XL is another older smartphone that still performs well for astrophotography. Yes, it’s two generations older than the current Google Pixel 6, but it packs a great camera array and includes some dedicated features for nighttime photography.
The Night Sight photo mode is built for taking impressive shots of the stars and sky. It automatically selects settings and even allows you to take long-exposure photos. As a result, you can easily capture beautiful Milky Way shots!
The Pixel 4 XL is also great for general use. It has a powerful processor and plenty of memory, plus it benefits from wireless charging and fantastic battery life. We also like that you can control the phone using Quick Gestures.
If you want a budget smartphone for general use and astrophotography, the Google Pixel 4 XL is the way to go.
9. Huawei P40 Pro
The Huawei P40 Pro has two amazing rear cameras with 50 MP and 40 MP resolutions. And the dedicated night mode delivers superbly detailed night-sky images.
When picking the best phone for astrophotography, we simply cannot overlook the amazing quality of the Huawei P40 Pro. This smartphone includes Leica-powered cameras that offer outstanding image quality for astrophotography, landscape photography, and so much more.
The main Leica camera features 50 MP of resolution and a wide-angle lens. There is also a secondary 40 MP camera with an ultra-wide lens. You can get decent astrophotography images in the standard camera mode – but the Huawei P40 Pro also has a Night Mode, which excels at low-light photography and delivers sharp photos with minimum noise.
This smartphone also has excellent battery life and can last up to two days without charge, which is always useful for the traveling photographer. The only downside to consider is that you may not be able to gain access to any Google Play services. This could limit the range of apps and games you can use on the Huawei P40 Pro.
10. OnePlus 9 Pro
The OnePlus 9 Pro is cheaper than the competition, but it still has a great set of cameras and plenty of processing power.
The OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t as popular as Samsung and Apple smartphones, but it’s a great (and much more affordable) astrophotography alternative.
This smartphone has an advanced array of cameras, including a 16 MP front-facing camera, a 48 MP wide-angle (rear) camera, and a 50 MP ultra-wide (rear) camera.
The wide and ultra-wide cameras are fantastic for astrophotography. For example, the 48 MP option has a focal length of 23mm and a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which enables you to get beautiful night-sky shots with superb detail.
Plus, the OnePlus 9 Pro is powerful. It has a Snapdragon 888 chip and a whopping 12 GB of memory. We also like the clarity of the display and the stylish design. The only drawback is that the 9 Pro only includes 256 GB of storage. This cannot be expanded due to the lack of a MicroSD slot.
Get Stunning Night-Sky Photos with a Smartphone
As you can see, there are some amazing smartphone cameras capable of capturing high-res night-sky photos. But which of our best phones for astrophotography is right for you?
If you want top-quality images, a powerful smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is a good bet. These smartphones have superior cameras and feature some great nighttime shooting modes.
Finally, if you want a budget smartphone that still offers excellent astrophotography capabilities, the Google Pixel 5 is an absolute bargain.
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