Best cameraphones under $400: TOP 5 devices for shooting

For $400, you can easily find a cool smartphone with the best hardware, a screen, cameras, and wide functionality. In 2018, manufacturers presented a lot of good phones in this price segment, that are the best at start of 2019.

1 place - Xiaomi Mi 8

Xiaomi Mi 8

This is the best phone under $400. Manufacturer introduced it in 2018,it was TOP device with the best hardware and Amoled-matrix, excellent cameras. Mi 8 works on the Snapdragon 845 chip, which at the beginning of 2019 is the best SoC of the Qualcomm line (phones with Snapdragon 855 processor are not available yet).

The display in Mi 8 is one of the best in the world, it supports the HDR10 standard, covers the DCI-P3 color space and is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The maximum brightness in Max Auto mode reaches 624 cd / m2; at the same time, the black color glows by only 0.002 cd / m2, which gives an almost infinite contrast. The average color deviation is extremely low – only 1.8, which is unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Next – autonomy. 3400 mAh battery withstands:

  • 22:37 h communication.
  • 11:09 hrs surfing the web.
  • 14:03 h video playback.

A big plus is QC 4+ standard support, but there are no suitable adapters on sale. The phone comes with a QC 3.0 adapter with a charging speed: 0 to 100% in 1 hour 35 minutes. For half an hour, the phone gets 44%.


Although smartphone is equipped with a Snapdragon 845, there is a small problem with the efficiency of heat dissipation. As a result, at loads, SoC overheats and frequencies go down. So potential of the chip is not revealed to 100%, but even in this situation, we get high test results in benchmarks:

GeekBench 4.1

  • Single core – 2431
  • Multicore – 8494

Antutu 7 – 217298


And now – the main thing. The phone is equipped with a 2-module camera with the following characteristics:

  • 12 Mp, f / 1.8, 1 / 2.55 ″, 1.4 microns, 4-axis stabilization, dual pixel
  • 12 MP, f / 2.4, 56 mm (telephoto), 1 / 3.4 ″, 1.0 micron, 2x-zoom

The quality of shooting in the afternoon is good, noises appear in the evening, but in general the pictures are great. Xiaomi Mi 8 at a low price provides flagship photos.


Good light:
Bad light:


Pros and cons

  • Cool screen with minimal color accuracy.
  • Dual GPS technology provides 2-channel satellite communications for more accurate positioning.
  • Fast charging + autonomy.
  • High-quality sound.
  • Good cameras.
  • Face recognition in the dark with an infrared camera.
  • Throttling at high loads.
  • No output for headphones and slots for microSD-card.
  • A bad cooling system does not allow the processor to work at full power.
  • No stabilization during 4K record.
  • No stereo speakers and wireless charging.
  • There are complaints about the problem with automatic brightness.

2 place - Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

xiaomi mi mix 2s

This device is similar to the Mi 8 by it’s hardware, and it costs the same money. It works with SD845 chip, but here we get IPS LCD display. Plus, the smartphone supports wireless charging – another difference from the Xiaomi Mi 8, but in terms of the photo it is worse, so it gets second place.


The Mi Mix 2S has no Amoled screen, it got an IPS display with a diagonal of 6″ and maximum brightness of 519 cd / m2. At the same time, black colors glow at 0.409 cd / m2, which gives an average contrast of 1269. The average color deviation DeltaE is 5.1, that makes it clear that the matrix is ​​not the best. Support of HDR10 and especially DolbyVision are not declared, so as coverage of the color space DCI-P3.

3400 mAh battery withstands:

  • 16:25 h communication.
  • 19 hours of surfing the web.
  • 9:25 h video playback.

With the same capacity, Xiaomi Mi 8 has more autonomy – in this regard, Mi Mix 2S seriously loses. But it supports fast charging QC 3.0, which slightly mitigates the lack of autonomy.

But in terms of performance, the device is not bad:

  • Single core – 2468
  • Multicore – 9158
  • Antutu 7 – 270814

Obviously there is no problem here, as on the Xiaomi Mi 8, so the Mi Mix 2S practically gets maximum out of the Snapdragon 845 processor.


Mi Mix 2S got the camera that was used on Xiaomi Mi8, however, for some reason, the device takes a little worse pictures.

Camera settings:

  • 12 Mp, f / 1.8, 1 / 2.55 ″, 1.4 microns, 4-axis stabilization, dual pixel
  • 12 MP, f / 2.4, 56 mm (telephoto), 1 / 3.4 ″, 1.0 micron, 2x-zoom

In the DxOMark rating, the Mi Mix 2S is 5 points lower than the Mi 8, although it is clear that the quality of the photos aremains at high level.

Good light:
Bad light:



Pros and cons

  • Wireless charger.
  • Optimized and functional shell MIUI 10 + upgrade to Android 9.
  • Power and performance.
  • The problem with the proximity sensor – needs calibration.
  • Defect is not excluded – the screen at the bottom may become yellow.
  • Display with a large color accuracy.
  • No 3.5 mm headphone jack.
  • No memory card slot.

3rd place - Pocophone F1

One of the best smartphones on the market in many segments. It also received the 1st place in the rating of Chinese smartphones under $300, since it’s really possible to take it on Aliexpress for $270.

Despite the low price, the smartphone runs on a Snapdragon 845 processor, equipped with a 4000 mAh battery and a good 6.2″ IPS screen, that covered with Gorilla Glass. Also, Xiaomi announces the implementation of an effective technology of liquid cooling of processor, so throttling, like on Mi 8, should not be here. So for a little money, you get a powerful semi-flagship with high autonomy and face recognition technology with an infrared scanner.

As for the camera, device got block of 2 modules:

  • Primary: 12 Mp, f / 1.9, 1.4 microns
  • Depth sensor: 5 MP, f / 2

The native camera application shows good results during the day and in the evening, but after installing Gcam (Google Camera), the quality increases noticeably, the dynamic range become wider, the noice level goes down.

Good light

Bad light:

Bokeh mode:


Pros and cons

  • Low price for the phone with best hardware.
  • 6 GB of RAM.
  • There is a connector for microSD-flash and headphones.
  • Infrared face scanner.
  • Plastic case that does not conduct heat well. Perhaps this is why a liquid cooling system was required.
  • Complaints about the operation of the shell. For example, some users have a random reset of incoming calls.
  • No NFC for contactless payment.
  • Highlights on the screen, found on different models of Pocophone F1. I recommend to check the light by opening a gray picture in full screen.

4 place - Honor 10

honor 10

The Chinese manufacturer Huawei does not fall behind. It also offers inexpensive smartphones with good cameras. Honor 10 is an excellent representative of the middle segment, which is appropriate to buy for photography.


Let’s start with the most important thing. A block of two cameras is installed here – monochrome, color. They work in pair – one receives information about the illumination of the scene, the second – about the color.


16 Mp, f / 1.8

24 M, monochrome, f / 1.8

There is no optical stabilization and 2-x zoom, and that is a leak. In general, the quality of the photo is high, plus, there is a recognition technology and the possibility of shooting on a monochrome sensor separately. In black and white mode, the detailing is increased, which is useful in some cases.

Photo examples:

Good light

Bad light


Bokeh mode

Also, the smartphone works on the HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor – the TOP chip of 2018. Plus, it has a high-quality IPS-display with a brightness of 508 cd / m2 and a contrast ratio of 1558, which is quite a high figure. At start, the color error is high – DeltaE 10-11, but you may set the mode “Normal” and the temperature setting “Heat”, then you will get a deviation of only 1.8, which is very good.

By autonomy, the device is not bad. A charge of 3400 mAh is enough for:

21:14 h communication.
11:50 hrs surfing the web.
11:37 h video playback.
Supported technology SuperCharge – phone for half an hour is charged at 65%, and this is a high result.

Pros and cons

  • Design – the phone looks like an expensive flagship, plus it fits comfortably in your hand.
  • Excellent display after manual configuration.
  • Good cameras.
  • There is a 3.5 mm jack for headphones.
  • Really fast charging from the native charger.
  • Impeccable communication – the phone catches the signal everywhere and always.
  • No flash drive slot.
  • Strange gesture control on the fingerprint scanner.
  • Algorithm auto-brightness is strange and often fails.
  • The camera in AI mode burns colors.
  • On the front camera, the decoration mode cant be turned off even you set option to 0.
  • Strange sound settings – in the “do not disturb” mode, some applications still respond with sound.

5th place - Vivo V11

Vivo V11

The Chinese manufacturer Vivo offers a new smartphone with a fingerprint scanner in the screen and a high-quality rear camera with 2 modules. It received an Amoled-screen with the diagonal of 6.4 inches, great Snapdragon 660 processor and a 64 GB disk + 6 GB of RAM.

There is a 3400 mAh battery inside, that charges with a 9V / 2A native adapter from zero to 45% in 30 minutes. It also works during:

  • 23:25 h communication.
  • 13:29 hrs surfing the web.
  • 13:55 h video playback.

However, the most interesting thing here is the camera. In particular, the smartphone is equipped with a high resolution front sensor of 25 megapixels, which performs cool selfies with details and good colors.

On tha back you’ll find 2 modules with a resolution of 25 megapixel, 1.28 microns and Dual Pixel technology, f / 1.8 lens aperture. Additional camera – with a resolution of 5 megapixels and f / 2.4 aperture, it is used only in portrait mode to blur the background. Night mode is declared, if it activated, the smartphone shots up to six photos and combines them into one shot.

Good light

Bad light


Overall, the Vivo V11 is a great choice for shooting at day and night. Of course, a tripod is required for consistently high quality of shooting at night, but even without it, the smartphone shows good results when shooting. It does not reach the level of Xiaomi Mi8, but in the middle class it one of the best devices.

  • There is a headphone jack 3.5 mm.
  • A fingerprint scanner that works accurately and quickly.
  • Fast charging from the 18-watt adapter.
  • SuperAmoled-matrix, although without the HDR10 support.
  • Solid autonomy.
  • Cool daytime photos.
  • Dedicated slot for flash drives.
  • Old micro-USB connector.
  • The plastic frame is slippery and fragile.
  • Funtouch shell is not well optimized yet .

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