Best Phones for Astrophotography 2022 (Shoot the Stars and Moon)

Smartphone cameras are getting better and better and taking amazing pictures of starry skies can now be done by anyone with the right phone.

This means that you can produce amazing photos of the Milky Way or spectacular moon without needing a specialist camera.

But what are the best phones for astrophotography?

We have investigated the top smartphones for their astrophotography credentials and outlined the pros and cons of each.

See below for quick links, or read on for more detailed information.

Preview
Astro Mode
Google Pixel 6 Pro - 5G Android Phone - Unlocked Smartphone with Advanced Pixel Camera and Telephoto Lens - 128GB - Stormy Black
Best iPhone
Apple iPhone 13 Pro (128GB, Sierra Blue) [Locked] + Carrier Subscription
Highest MP
SAMSUNG Galaxy S22 Ultra Cell Phone, Factory Unlocked Android Smartphone, 128GB, 8K Camera & Video, Brightest Display Screen, S Pen, Long Battery Life, Fast 4nm Processor, US Version, Phantom White
Best Budget
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G + 4G Volte 128GB + 6GB Factory Unlocked 6.67" 108MP Camera Night Mode (Not Verizon Sprint Boost Cricket Metro At&T) + (w/Fast Car Charger Bundle) (Graphite Gray)
Best Huawei
Huawei P40 Pro 5G ELS-NX9 256GB 8GB RAM Without Google Play International Version - Silver Frost
Make & Model
Google Pixel 6 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro
Samsung S22 Ultra
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro
Huawei P40 Pro
Resolution
50 MP
12 MP
108 MP
108 MP
50 MP
Aperture
F/1.85
F/1.5
F/1.8
F/1.8
F/1.9
Pixel Width
1.2 μm
1.9 μm
0.8 μm
0.7 μm
1.2 μm
Modes
Astrophotography, Night
Night
Night
Night, Super Moon
Night, Moon
Astro Mode
Preview
Google Pixel 6 Pro - 5G Android Phone - Unlocked Smartphone with Advanced Pixel Camera and Telephoto Lens - 128GB - Stormy Black
Make & Model
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Resolution
50 MP
Aperture
F/1.85
Pixel Width
1.2 μm
Modes
Astrophotography, Night
Check Prices
Best iPhone
Preview
Apple iPhone 13 Pro (128GB, Sierra Blue) [Locked] + Carrier Subscription
Make & Model
iPhone 13 Pro
Resolution
12 MP
Aperture
F/1.5
Pixel Width
1.9 μm
Modes
Night
Check Prices
Highest MP
Preview
SAMSUNG Galaxy S22 Ultra Cell Phone, Factory Unlocked Android Smartphone, 128GB, 8K Camera & Video, Brightest Display Screen, S Pen, Long Battery Life, Fast 4nm Processor, US Version, Phantom White
Make & Model
Samsung S22 Ultra
Resolution
108 MP
Aperture
F/1.8
Pixel Width
0.8 μm
Modes
Night
Check Prices
Best Budget
Preview
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G + 4G Volte 128GB + 6GB Factory Unlocked 6.67" 108MP Camera Night Mode (Not Verizon Sprint Boost Cricket Metro At&T) + (w/Fast Car Charger Bundle) (Graphite Gray)
Make & Model
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro
Resolution
108 MP
Aperture
F/1.8
Pixel Width
0.7 μm
Modes
Night, Super Moon
Check Prices
Best Huawei
Preview
Huawei P40 Pro 5G ELS-NX9 256GB 8GB RAM Without Google Play International Version - Silver Frost
Make & Model
Huawei P40 Pro
Resolution
50 MP
Aperture
F/1.9
Pixel Width
1.2 μm
Modes
Night, Moon
Check Prices

Last update on 2022-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best Smartphone for Astrophotography

Google Pixel 6 Pro

The Google Pixel 6 Pro features one of the best cameras on the market and has a brilliant astrophotography mode.

The main camera itself has a massive 50 MP (megapixels), a fast F/1.85 aperture, and a pixel width of 1.2 μm (this is the physical size of the pixels on the camera sensor – the higher the better for astrophotography as it means that more light is gathered per pixel).

There is also a separate ultrawide camera that operates at 12 MP that can work great for wide field-of-view landscape astrophotography images.

Google Pixel 6 Pro Astrophotography

The in-built Pixel Astrophotography Mode is fantastic. It takes multiple 16-second images, stacks them, and processes them for you all in one go, usually taking about 4 minutes in total from one press of a button.

You can see the images below where I have tested the Pixel astrophotography mode on an older Pixel phone and compared it with an image taken with a good DSLR camera of the same scene on the same night.

The first image on the left below shows a picture taken of the Milky Way core with a Google Pixel 3a smartphone using the astrophotography mode, and in contrast, the second picture on the right was taken on the same night using a modern DSLR camera (a Nikon D750):

This is in a fairly light-polluted (Bortle 5) suburban area but there are two main conclusions to draw from these images:

  1. The Pixel Astrophotography image is pretty good. It has captured lots of sharp stars and the core of the Milky Way can be seen spread across the sky even with light pollution. No additional post-processing was done.
  2. The image with the DSLR is substantially better. However, this was taken with a fairly advanced camera and lens, and the image was tweaked in post-processing.

Another caveat is that this first image was taken with an older Pixel model (the 3a) with a lower-spec camera than the up-to-date Pixel 6 Pro.

You can see here an example of a great Milky Way image taken with the Google Pixel 6 Pro:

Here is also a good video you can watch where the Google Pixel 6 Astrophotography mode is put through its paces:

As you can see, the Google Pixel 6 Pro can really perform for astrophotography and we believe it is probably the best smartphone for astronomy photography overall.

In addition, it has an astrophotography timelapse function that was added in 2021 (it was also added via an update to the older Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 5 phones). It is limited to clips of two seconds though.

One thing to note is that the slightly cheaper Google Pixel 6 has the same 50MP rear camera and so is just as good as the Pro for astrophotography, however the Pro also has a built-in telephoto lens and so we are favoring it here as that gives you better capacity for moon photography without adding a separate telephoto lens.

Key Specifications

  • Camera Resolution: 50 MP (12 MP when ultrawide)
  • Aperture: F/1.85
  • Field of View: 82 degrees (114 degrees when ultrawide)
  • Pixel Width: 1.2 μm
  • Astrophotography Mode: Yes
  • Telephoto Lens: Yes
  • Weight: 0.46 lbs (0.21 kg)
  • Size Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches (163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm)
  • Screen Size: 6.7 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 1440 x 3120
  • RAM: 12 GB

iPhone 13 Pro

Best iPhone for Astrophotography

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

The latest Apple iPhones are the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

They have the same camera and so we have featured the cheaper iPhone 13 Pro here. The difference with the Pro Max is the handset size and display screen. If you value a bigger screen and are happy to pay a little more then the Pro Max might be right for you.

iPhone 13 Pro Astrophotography

The camera does not have an astrophotography mode but does have a night mode that works for astrophotography.

You can see how it works and what results you can get in this video:

Here’s a Milky Way image shot with an iPhone 13 Pro Max:

As you can see it can really deliver. In addition, it can be improved further by using the free Nocturne app, instead of the in-built camera app.

Overall, the iPhone 13 Pro camera is excellent and can definitely perform for astrophotography using the night mode.

Although it has a lower megapixel count than some of the other cameras on this page, it does have a faster aperture and the highest pixel width on its camera sensor and this helps it deliver for night photography by better gathering light in dark conditions.

Key Specifications

  • Camera Resolution: 12 MP
  • Aperture: F/1.5
  • Field of View: 69 degrees (120 degrees when ultrawide)
  • Pixel Width: 1.9 μm
  • Astrophotography Mode: Night Mode
  • Telephoto Lens: Yes
  • Weight: 0.45 lbs (0.2 kg)
  • Size Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches (146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7 mm)
  • Screen Size: 6.1 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 2778 x 1284
  • RAM: 6 GB

Google Pixel 6 vs iPhone 13 for Astrophotography

The astrophotography mode on the Pixel 6 and the night mode on the iPhone 13 do very similar things:

  • The Pixel astrophotography mode takes multiple 16-second images, stacks and processes them
  • The iPhone night mode takes three 10 second images, stacks, and processes them

Both are excellent, but in tests the Google Pixel is better for astrophotography overall as you can see in this video:

The only real downside to the Google Pixel Astrophotography mode is that it only pops up as an option to use once your phone is pointed at skies that the phone deems dark enough.

Therefore if the phone detects too much light then it won’t even let you try, even if you want to.

Samsung S22 Ultra

Highest Megapixel Smartphone Camera

SAMSUNG Galaxy S22 Ultra Smartphone, Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone, 128GB, 8K Camera & Video, Brightest Display, S Pen, Long Battery Life, Fast 4nm Processor, US Version, Phantom White

Boasting a whopping 108 megapixels, the Samsung S22 Ultra has the highest resolution smartphone camera on the market.

It does not have an astrophotography mode but does have a night mode. But how does this work for shooting the night sky?

Samsung S22 Ultra Astrophotography

If you watch this video you can see some pretty amazing astrophotography images taken with the S22 Ultra:

In addition, here’s a Milky Way image shot with a Samsung S22 Ultra:

As you can see, the Samsung S22 Ultra is excellent for astrophotography when a little post-processing is done.

It has the highest megapixel count of any smartphone and while on some other specs (pixel width, aperture, astrophotography modes) it might seem behind the iPhone 13 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro, it has been shown to produce results every bit as good.

Key Specifications

  • Camera Resolution: 108 MP (12 MP ultra-wide and 10 MP telephoto)
  • Aperture: F/1.8
  • Field of View: 85 degrees (120 degrees when ultrawide)
  • Pixel Width: 0.8 μm
  • Astrophotography Mode: Night Mode
  • Telephoto Lens: Yes
  • Weight: 0.5 lbs (0.2 kg)
  • Size Dimensions: 6.4 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches (163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm)
  • Screen Size: 6.8 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 3088 x 1440
  • RAM: 12 GB

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro

Cheapest Smartphone for Astrophotography

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G + 4G Volte 128GB + 6GB Factory Unlocked 6.67" 108MP Camera Night Mode (Not Verizon Sprint Boost Cricket Metro At&T) + (w/Fast Car Charger Bundle) (Graphite Gray)

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro boasts a 108 megapixel camera combined with Night Mode and a Super Moon Mode that work excellently for astrophotography.

Add to this the fact that it is substantially cheaper than most of the other phones in this article, then it becomes a real bargain if you are looking for a good budget phone for astrophotography.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro Astrophotography

In this video you can see a great account of the Xiaomi 11 being taken out into the field at night and having its night mode tested for astrophotography and producing great results:

See also here where the phone is put through its paces for moon photography using the ultra-zoom function and Super Moon mode:

See also this image taken with a Xiaomi 10 (it was taken with a star tracker and stacked and processed):

See also this example where a Xiaomi phone has been used to take 470 separate images and then manually stacked them in software (PixInsight):

As you can see, this phone can really deliver for astrophotography and is a bargain for the price.

Key Specifications

  • Camera Resolution: 108 MP (8 MP ultra-wide)
  • Aperture: F/1.8
  • Field of View: 118 degrees when ultra-wide
  • Pixel Width: 0.7 μm
  • Astrophotography Mode: Night mode and Super Moon mode
  • Telephoto Lens: No
  • Weight: 0.45 lbs (0.2 kg)
  • Size Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 0.3 inches (164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1 mm)
  • Screen Size: 6.7 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 1080 x 2400
  • RAM: 8 GB

Huawei P40 Pro

Best Huawei Phone for Night Photography

Huawei P40 Pro 5G ELS-NX9 256GB 8GB RAM Without Google Play International Version - Silver Frost

Our final phone to recommend for astrophotography is the Huawei P40 Pro.

It has a 50-megapixel camera and impressive specs.

Huawei P40 Pro Astrophotography

For astrophotography, there is a night mode and a timelapse function that can produce amazing Milky Way timelapse videos as you can see here:

Here is an example image taken with a Huawei:

It also has a moon mode specifically for lunar imaging.

Overall, the Huawei P40 Pro has impressive photography credentials and many mobile astrophotographers have had great results with its camera.

Key Specifications

  • Camera Resolution: 50 MP (40 MP ultrawide)
  • Aperture: F/1.9
  • Pixel Width: 1.2 μm
  • Astrophotography Mode: Night Mode, Moon Mode
  • Telephoto Lens: Yes
  • Weight: 0.46 lbs (0.2 kg)
  • Size Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches (158.2 x 72.6 x 9 mm)
  • Screen Size: 6.6 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 1200 x 2640
  • RAM: 8 GB

FAQs: Best Phones for Astrophotography

Smartphones vs DSLRs for astrophotography

Smartphone cameras are getting better and better and the megapixel count is rising but the sensors in camera phones are much smaller than those in modern DSLR or mirrorless cameras and so will not be able to perform as well.

Therefore, DSLR/mirrorless cameras are still better but the gap is closing and obviously just using a phone has a serious convenience advantage.

See above in the Google Pixel 6 Pro section an example comparison of smartphone vs DSLR astrophotography.

What phone has the best astrophotography camera?

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is the best phone for astrophotography, but other phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, Samsung S22 Ultra, Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro, and Huawei P40 Pro have cameras that are excellent and have been used to stunning effect for astrophotography.

What phones have astrophotography modes?

The Google Pixel range are the only smartphones that have dedicated astrophotography modes.

However, other cameras have great night modes (and moon modes) that can be utilized effectively for astrophotography.

Can you do astrophotography with an iPhone?

Yes, iPhones have great cameras and night modes that can be used for astrophotography.

See our guide on how to do iPhone Astrophotography.

Which phone is best for moon photography?

Many phones are great for moon photography but the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro and the Huawei P40 Pro have moon modes specifically for lunar imaging.

Note, there has been some skepticism about how the Huawei moon mode works (some believe it actually inserts a separate moon image into your photo, rather than using your capture – see here).

What phone is good for night photography?

Phone that are good for night photography are the Google Pixel 6 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, Samsung S22 Ultra, Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro, and Huawei P40 Pro.

How do you take a perfect moon picture with your phone?

You will need a telescope or telephoto lens to take a good photo of the moon with your smartphone.

You will likely need to take multiple images and stack and stitch them together as well as other post-processing.

See here, this picture was taken with a Xiaomi phone and Celestron telescope:

What is stacking in astrophotography?

Stacking is a process where multiple images of the same scene are taken and then layered on top of each other. This removes the noise and produces a better image.


Conclusion: Best Astrophotography Camera Phone

Overall, we recommend the Google Pixel 6 Pro as the best overall smartphone for astrophotography due to its excellent in-built astrophotography mode.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro is the best budget pick with a great camera.

If you prefer Apple/Samsung/Huawei products then mobile astrophotographers have had demonstrable success with the iPhone 13 Pro, Samsung S22 Ultra, and Huawei P40 Pro.

Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.

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2 thoughts on “Best Phones for Astrophotography 2022 (Shoot the Stars and Moon)”

  1. You can stack the images to reduce the noise using an android app called Eagle image stacker which is align and stack the astronomical images.

    Reply

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