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Cell phones that take great pictures at night and in low light

Best low light phone camera

So it’s finally Halloween night. You’ve spent what feels like 1,000 hours on your kids’ costumes and just about the same figure in cash on yours for the big party. The pictures posing in the living room before heading out look great and you can’t wait to get the action shots of them out trick or treating and some sweet selfies later on. Problem is, you overlooked one thing. Parts of those environments are as dark as a night in Gotham (how does the comic equivalent of New York have so few streetlights?). And your phone’s camera sucks in low light.

The fact of the matter is, there are a ton of phones on the market that take National Geographic-level photos in the daylight, but once the sun goes down, you’d think the pictures it captures came from a 2003 digital camera. We’re not talking smack here, the technology required to allow excellent nighttime snaps in a smartphone is some serious Hogwarts stuff.

Thankfully, we’ve gotten to a place where it exists. And though some of the best performers do cost a pretty penny, some surprisingly affordable handsets are displaying impressive low-light phone camera performance.

Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro's low light phone camera

We all knew the Huawei P30 Pro would be here, as it is in pretty much any article about the best cell phone cameras. The Huawei P20 Pro’s incredible Night Mode received a lot of praise, and the P30 Pro has carried on that tradition, upping the ante with an improved camera set. Also, the three to four seconds of exposure required beats out the famous Pixel Night Sight’s six or so seconds. The P30 also seems unrivaled in magically pulling images out of near darkness. 

However, things get crazier when you consider many users are completely ignoring night mode because they find the P30 Pro’s low-light performance in default mode is just as good. This is even though it doesn’t require the same long exposure time. Now, if you’re an experienced photographer, the specifics may not sit right with you (the software acrobatics at work certainly have drawbacks including excessive softening). But if you want to make sure you capture a moment clearly no matter how little light is available, the Huawei is hard to beat.

Google Pixel 3

Pixel 3's low light phone camera

When Google announced the Pixel 3, they also introduced a new photo mode called Night Sight. In short, it turned the industry on its head. By pairing the Pixel 3’s excellent camera with what Google calls, “a combination of AI and machine learning,” these phones were able to take a previously unseen quality of low-light pictures. The technology even protects against hand shake. If it senses movement of either the phone or subjects within the frame while you wait for the longer exposure time, it shortens that time and instead combines additional frames to create one smooth photo. The results are pretty extraordinary. And while the Pixel 3 may have been surpassed by Huawei’s new offerings, early reviews suggest the Pixel 4 may be the best low-light performer ever. Soon, you’ll be able to snag the phone with one of the world’s best low light (and overall) cameras right in our Ting Shop for just $499!

iPhone Xr

iPhone XR's low light phone camera

Before you ask, yes, we know that iPhone 11 Pro absolutely crushes iPhone Xr in photo quality, especially in low light. In fact, the former phone is probably the third competitor in best low-light snaps alongside Huawei’s newest offerings and the Pixel 4. But since we’re all about saving you money, we decided to bypass the obvious and point out the fact that for just $599 in the Ting Shop, you can get a brilliant phone that takes very solid pictures in poorly lit environments. With one of the better single-lens cameras available, the addition of advanced software and machine learning makes iPhone Xr an incredible bang-for-buck low-light phone camera. 

LG G7 ThinQ

The LG G7 ThinQ's low light phone camera

On its release, the G7 ThinQ was promoted by LG as the smartest phone they’d ever made. They had a point. Its Super Bright Display offers amazing clarity, even in bright sunlight while the phone maintains efficient battery use. Using the phone’s body for resonance and advanced software makes for great sound with or without headphones. But the real star of the show is the dual 16 MP camera. AI recognizes a wide variety of subjects and can improve the picture to suit. Then there’s Super Bright Camera mode, where it senses a lack of light and brightens the picture to suit, even in pitch-black conditions. It does drop picture quality down to 4 MP to do this, so it doesn’t quite compete with the others. Still, you can be sure you’ll never miss another great moment because of low light again, and you’ve got yourself a pretty brainy phone to boot. 

You can check out the Ting Shop for all these phones (minus the Huawei, with Pixel 3 arriving soon) and other great low-light phone cameras including iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and the entire Samsung Galaxy S10/Note 10 line. You’ll also find tons of affordable options with impressive feature sets. Whether you purchase one in our store or bring your own phone to Ting, you’ll save big thanks to the fact you’ll only pay for what you use. With our nationwide LTE network, you can be sure you’ll always be covered. 

Now get out there and make your friends green with envy by having the best low-light snaps on the block. Happy Halloween!