If you are an astrophotographer on the hunt for the best phones for astrophotography, this guide will help you make a good choice.

Before now, taking good astronomical images could only be done with high-end cameras which cost an arm and a leg. Now, things have changed with smartphone cameras gradually replacing traditional cameras.

In this guide, we review the best smartphones outfitted with class-leading cameras that can rival traditional cameras, and are perfect for astrophotography and taking pictures of stars, night skies, and galaxies in low-light conditions.

Let’s look at the specifics of the best phones for astrophotography.

Best Phones for Astrophotography at a Glance

No. Item  
1 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Editors’ Choice)     Check Price on Amazon
2 Apple iPhone 12 Pro   Check Price on Amazon
3 OnePlus 9 Pro Check Price on Amazon
4 Google Pixel 5 Check Price on Amazon
5 Huawei P40 Pro Check Price on Amazon
6 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Check Price on Amazon
7 Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Check Price on Amazon
8 Huawei Mate 40 Pro Check Price on Amazon
9 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Check Price on Amazon
10 Apple iPhone 12 Mini Check Price on Amazon

 

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Editors’ Choice)

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Right now, our absolute favorite Android phone is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which also leads our list of the best phones for astrophotography.  The Samsung Galaxy 21 Ultra (with Snapdragon processor) is the best Android-powered phone for astrophotography.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra packs a five-camera setup – four rear cameras and one front-facing camera.

You’d find on the rear, a 108-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS), a 10-megapixel periscope telephoto sensor with an f/4.9 aperture, a 10-megapixel telephoto sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture.

These sensors are better than the sensors on the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus.

The front camera which rounds out the five-camera setup touts a 40-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture.

The Bright Night sensor is worth applauding. It does a pretty good job capturing scenes in very low-light conditions.

On another important front, the S21Ultra boasts two telephoto lenses of 3x and 10x optical zoom. This is better than the 2x optical zoom the iPhone 12 Pro and 2.5x optical zoom the 12Pro Max manage.

Elsewhere, you can capture 8K video at up to 30fps. Every camera on the S21 Ultra can record 4K video at up to 60fps. An A+ for the Director’s View feature.

Another big part of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s appeal is its display. It delivers a stunning picture quality with its 120Hz refresh rate. The screen is very bright, too. You won’t have problems viewing text, images and videos, outdoors in real time.

The S21 Ultra’s build quality is reassuringly good.

Speed is the S21 Ultra’s strong suit. The phone is super fast thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipset tucked inside it. With the impressive chipset and 12GB or 16GB of RAM tucked inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the smartphone truly delivers.

Weighing in at 0.50 pound (227g), the S21 Ultra isn’t the lightest smartphone in its class. It’s slightly heavier than the Apple iPhone 12 Pro (189g) and OnePlus 9 Pro (197 g).

Meanwhile, the phone comes in two major colours: Phantom Black and the attention-seeking Phantom Silver. There are other colours, nonetheless, including Phantom Brown, Phantom Titanium and Phantom Navy.

If you want plenty of storage, the Samsung S21 Ultra is a good choice. Samsung has made available three storage variants on the S21 Ultra: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. The base model ships with 12GB of RAM. Need more RAM? Well, there is a 16GB RAM variant which costs even more.

It has its flaws (which phone hasn’t?). However, the downsides are few and far between. You won’t find a microSD card slot. Also missing on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a charger in the box — you won’t find this on most smartphones like the Xiaomi Mi 11 and iPhone 12 Pro right now.

With the 5000 mAh battery tucked inside the S21 Ultra, you may likely get an all-day battery performance, however, this depends on usage. Other smartphones like the Asus ROG Phone 5 have moved past the 24-hour battery life and are racing towards a 3-day mark.

Given its solid cameras and impressive performance chops, the Samsung S21 Ultra remains our Editors’ Choice for the best phone for astrophotography. It is a strong buy.

PROS

  • Impressive AMOLED display
  • Super fast performance
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Fantastic pen integration
  • Very good cameras
  • Excellent battery life

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No microSD card slot

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Key Specifications

Display: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 120Hz display, 1440 x 3200 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
OS: Android 11
RAM: 12GB/16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Front Camera: 40 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.7µm, PDAF
Rear Cameras: 108 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; 10 MP, f/4.9, 240mm (periscope telephoto), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom; 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, Super Steady video
Size: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
Weight: 0.50 pound (227 g)
Battery: 5000 mAh

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2. Apple iPhone 12 Pro

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Another outstanding phone for astrophotography worthy of note is the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. It is the best iPhone for astrophotography.  The iPhone 12 Pro is for those who are already invested in the Apple ecosystem.

One of the remarkable features of this phone is its tripartite camera setup. The iPhone 12 Pro’s camera photography capabilities are simply outstanding.

For astrophotographers, the iPhone 12 Pro’s Night Mode feature is god sent. It is very useful for low-light photography. In fact, it is the only reason you should buy the iPhone 12 Pro. The Night mode is an improvement over the 11 Pro Max.

The Night Mode feature is triggered automatically when pictures are to be taken in low-light conditions.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s rear features a triple-camera system. A 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor with an f/1.6 aperture, a second 12-megapixel telephoto lens, this time with an f/2.0 aperture (for incredible low-light photography), and a third 12-megapixel ultrawide lens with an f/2.4 aperture for a wider field of view.

The front camera boasts a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with an f/2.2 aperture.

This triple camera setup offers more resolution, too. We recommend mounting the iPhone 12 Pro on a tripod for the Night Mode to yield the best possible results. You’d be amazed at the sharpness and brightness of images.

Images on the iPhone 12 Pro’s OLED screen look quite impressive and colourful.

The iPhone 12 Pro offers plenty of storage space for storing your images. 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB are storage options available.

Spec-wise, the iPhone 12 Pro sports the A14 Bionic chip which was first introduced in the 2020 iPad Air and iPhone 12. The smartphone is powered by Apple’s iOS 14 operating system.

The phone doesn’t really offer users many RAM choices as others (we’re looking at you, Samsung S21 Ultra) in the same price range. All configurations of the iPhone 12 Pro feature the same 6GB of RAM.

The A14 Bionic chip (which is slightly better in performance than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888) and 6GB of RAM inside the iPhone 12 Pro make it a very fast smartphone.

What’s new with the iPhone 12 Pro? The 5G feature and Apple’s MagSafe tech. The 5G guarantees very fast data speeds. Apple’s MagSafe technology is a magnetic technology which creates a new ecosystem of accessories for easy attachment and faster wireless charging.

One aspect that won’t bother everybody, but still bears mentioning, is that the iPhone 12 Pro has an IP68 rating just like the iPhone 11 range. An IP68 rating means your device is protected against harmful ingress of static water at up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

It has an impressive 2815 mAh battery. It is impressive because it can last up to 48 hours if you use it for light tasks.

The biggest bummer is that you don’t get a charger in the box. Still, as good as a smartphone as it is, it’s prohibitively expensive. However, the iPhone 12 Pro truly delivers.

Overall, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro is worthy of the name and price tag. It remains the best iPhone for astrophotography and one of the best phones for astrophotography given its excellent cameras.

PROS

  • Beautiful Super Retina XDR OLED screen
  • Impressive camera
  • Outstanding performance
  • Fast 5G connection
  • Ample colour options
  • Water resistant
  • Decent battery life

CONS

  • No charger in the box
  • Pricey

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Key Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 1170 x 2532 pixels
Chipset: Apple A14 Bionic
OS: iOS 14.1, upgradable to iOS 14.4
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Front Camera: 12 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide), 1/3.6″
Rear Cameras: 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; 12 MP, f/2.0, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.4″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom; 12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.6″; TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)
Size:  146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm
Weight: 0.42 pound (189 g)
Battery: 2815 mAh

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3. OnePlus 9 Pro

best phones for astrophotography

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The OnePlus 9 Pro has one of the best cameras you’d find on a smartphone, and the phone remains one of the best smartphones for low-light photography.

Camera selection on the 9 Pro is generous. In fact, the 9 Pro’s greatest upgrade is in the camera department.  The incredible cameras are one of the outstanding qualities of the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Color reproduction and accuracy are fantastic, thanks to OnePlus’ collaboration with Hasselblad. Pictures taken in low-light look sharp and detailed, without the clarity looking forced or artificial.

There are four camera setups on the rear: a 50-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome shooter, and an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor. On the front, is a 16-megapixel camera.

We particularly like the zoom and ultra-wide lens features which allow you to take pictures and cover more ground than most smartphones would. The 48-megapixel wide-angle camera which has an optical image stabilization (OIS) feature ensures you do not have blurred images.

The OnePlus 9 Pro’s 120Hz AMOLED display is superb. And it’s amazingly bright and colorful to boot. The refresh rate is even better than the Apple iPhone 12’s 60 Hz refresh rate.

Sunlight visibility is impressive, too.

The 9 Pro is stacked with so much power. But it also costs a lot more. It comes with 12GB of RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. You can opt for the base model which is equipped with 8GB of RAM.

The 8GB variant ships with 128GB of storage, while the 12GB model comes with 256GB of storage.

You’ll love the 9 Pro’s 3x lossless optical zoom. The OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera also has a 30x digital zoom. That said, the 30x digital zoom quality isn’t anywhere near what the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s telephoto camera boasts.

Although we recommend using a tripod when taking night sky images, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s main camera has optical and electronic image stabilization feature.

Aside from the photography capabilities, the OnePlus 9 Pro can capture 8K video at up to 30fps. You can also record in 4K at 30, 60 or 120fps.

The results of all of these features are crisp, clear, beautiful pictures with bright and natural colours.

Our only quibble, and this remains minor, is that the 9 Pro has no microSD support.

Overall, the OnePlus 9 Pro is still one of the best phones for astrophotography.

PROS

  • First-rate design
  • Excellent cameras
  • Very fast wired and wireless charging
  • Beautiful 120Hz display
  • Super fast performance
  • Fantastic cameras
  • Good battery life

CONS

  • No microSD slot
  • Expensive

OnePlus 9 Pro Key Specifications

Display: 6.7 inches, Fluid AMOLED, 3168 x 1440 pixels
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
OS: Android 11
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Front Camera: 16 MP, f/2.4, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm
Rear Cameras: 48 MP, f/1.8, 23mm (wide), 1/1.43″, 1.12µm, omnidirectional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; 8 MP, f/2.4, 77mm (telephoto), 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3.3x optical zoom; 50 MP, f/2.2, 14mm (ultrawide), 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, AF; 2 MP, f/2.4, (monochrome)
Size: 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7 mm
Weight: 0.43 pound (197 g)
Battery: 4500 mAh

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4. Google Pixel 5

best phones for astrophotography

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The Google Pixel 5 has a dedicated Night Sight mode for taking photos and capturing stars, night skies, and galaxies in low-light conditions.

When your camera is in Default or Portrait mode and you take a photo in low-light conditions, Night Sight turns on automatically.

The Astro mode ensures the shutter is held open for several minutes when taking night sky images. You can only get the most out of the Astrophotography feature when you hold the phone completely still. That’s why we always recommend using a tripod or propping your phone on a steady surface.

It is worth adding that on the Pixel 5, astrophotography only works on zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x.

The Pixel 5 comes with a 12.2-megapixel wide-angle sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, as well as a 16-megapixel ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture. The selfie camera features an 8-megapixel lens with an f/2.0 aperture.

Just know: The Pixel 5 has no telephoto lens. It is a shame because this is one camera sensor most phones in the same price range have.

Google’s Pixel 5 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chip, which is complemented by 8GB of RAM.

Put all these features together and you get a knockout smartphone which gives images with improved sharpness, brightness, colours, and textures even in low-light conditions.

The Google Pixel 5 is highly recommended as one of the best phones for astrophotography.

PROS

  • Great rear cameras
  • Solid build
  • Compact design
  • Impressive Android interface
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent zoom capabilities

CONS

  • Limited storage options
  • Audio won’t win awards

Google Pixel 5 Key Specifications

Display: 6.0-inch OLED display, 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
OS: Android 11
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
Rear Cameras: 12.2 MP, f/1.7, 27mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; 16 MP, f/2.2, 107˚ (ultrawide), 1.0µm
Size: 144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm
Weight: 0.33 pound (151 g)
Battery: 4080 mAh

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5. Huawei P40 Pro

best phones for astrophotography

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The Huawei P40 Pro’s Leica-powered camera is one of the best you’d find on a smartphone. Little wonder the P40 Pro is one of the best smartphones for astrophotography.

The P40 Pro sports a 50-megapixel wide-angle lens with an f/1.9 aperture, followed by a 40-megapixel ultrawide lens with and f/1.8 aperture, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens which enables a 10x hybrid zoom, a 50x digital zoom, and a 5x optical zoom.

But the cherry on top of this package is Huawei’s image stabilization feature powered by artificial intelligence, as well as the ZD Fusion image signal processor.

The Night mode feature produces crisp, bright, detailed pictures taken in low-light condition. As a matter of fact, taking pictures in normal mode yields very good low-light images, as well.

Storage options are decent: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. These storage options come with 8GB of RAM.

Battery life is solid. The Huawei P40 Pro’s battery will last up to 2 days on single charge.

Alas, the absence of Google Play Services proves to be the P40 Pro’s Achilles’ heel.

All in All, the Huawei P40 Pro remains one of the best phones for astrophotography and is highly recommended.

PROS

  • Impressive OLED display
  • Cutting-edge cameras
  • Stellar battery life
  • Beautiful design

CONS

  • Audio won’t win awards

Huawei P40 Pro Key Specifications

Display: 6.58-inch OLED, 1200 x 2640 pixels
Processor: Kirin 990 5G
OS: Android 10
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.8µm, AF; IR TOF 3D, (depth/biometrics sensor)
Rear Cameras: 50 MP, f/1.9, 23mm (wide), 1/1.28″, 2.44µm, omnidirectional PDAF, OIS; 12 MP, f/3.4, 125mm (periscope telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom; 40 MP, f/1.8, 18mm (ultrawide), 1/1.54″, PDAF; TOF 3D, (depth)
Size: 158.2 x 72.6 x 9 mm
Weight: 0.46 pound (209 g)
Battery: 4200 mAh

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Notable Mentions

Here are additional outstanding phones with class-leading cameras well-suited for astrophotography you should consider, too.

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

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PROS

  • Very good screen quality
  • Well-suited for gaming
  • Outstanding cameras
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Excellent Pen performance
  • Outstanding battery life

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Large

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Key Specifications

Display: 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, 14440 x 3088 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
OS: Android 10, upgradable to Android 11
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB
Front Camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.2″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
Rear Cameras: 108 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; 12 MP, f/3.0, 120mm (periscope telephoto), 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom, 50x hybrid zoom; 12 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm
Size: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 0.46 pound (208 g)
Battery: 4500 mAh

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7. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

best phones for astrophotography

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PROS

  • Beautiful, bright display
  • Class-leading cameras
  • Fast performance
  • Excellent battery life

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Quite large

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Specifications

Display: 6.7 inches, Super Retina OLED, 1284 x 2778 pixels
Processor:  Apple A14 Bionic
OS: iOS 14.1
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/ 256GB/512GB
Front Camera: 12 MP
Rear Cameras: 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.7µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift stabilization (IBIS); 12 MP, f/2.2, 65mm (telephoto), 1/3.4″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2.5x optical zoom; 12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.6″; TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)
Size: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm
Weight: 0.50 pound (228 g)
Battery: 3687 mAh

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8. Huawei Mate 40 Pro

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PROS

  • Powerful cameras
  • Very good battery life
  • Impressive design
  • Overall fine performance

CONS

  • Refresh rate isn’t chart topping
  • Large punch hole

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Key Specifications

Display: 6.76-inch, OLED, 1344 x 2772 pixels
Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 9000
OS: Android 10
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Front Camera: 13 MP, f/2.4, 18mm (ultrawide)
Rear Cameras: 50 MP, f/1.9, 23mm (wide), 1/1.28″, 1.22µm, omnidirectional PDAF, Laser AF ;  12 MP, f/3.4, 125mm (periscope telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom;  20 MP, f/1.8, 18mm (ultrawide), PDAF
Size: 162.9 x 75.5 x 9.1 mm
Weight: 0.47 pound (212 g)
Battery: 4400 mAh

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9. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

best phones for astrophotography

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PROS

  • Great screen quality
  • Beautiful design
  • Class-leading performance
  • Great battery life
  • Cameras are exceptional

CONS

  • No microSD slot
  • Large
  • No charger in the box

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Key Specifications

Display: 6.7- inch, Dynamic AMOLED, 1080 x 2400 pixels
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
OS: Android 11
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Front Camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
Rear Cameras: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; 64 MP, f/2.0, 29mm (telephoto), 1/1.72″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom; 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video
Size: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm
Weight: 0.44 pound (200 g)
Battery: 4800 mAh

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10. Apple iPhone 12 Mini

best phones for astrophotography

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PROS

  • Beautiful display
  • Class-leading cameras
  • 5G compatibility
  • Good battery life
  • Small and easy to hold
  • Good design

CONS

  • Wireless charging could be better
  • No USB-C

Apple iPhone 12 Mini Key Specifications

Display: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED)
Chipset: Apple A14 Bonic
OS: iOS 14.1, upgradable to iOS 14.4.2
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Front Camera: 12 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide), 1/3.6″
Rear Cameras: 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; 12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.6″;
Size: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm
Weight: 0.30 pound (135g)
Battery: 2227 mAh

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Bottom Line

The phones for astrophotography we’ve recommended are the best smartphones with class-leading cameras and technologies capable of capturing images in very low-light conditions. Most of these smartphones are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which produces images with improved sharpness, brightness, colours, and textures even in low-light conditions.

If you need phones with outstanding cameras for astrophotography, our picks are worth considering.