Best iPhone Lenses

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
141 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best iPhone lenses

Last Updated May 2019

The iPhone has become a competitive tool for budding photographers and videographers who want to capture the world around them. While the built-in camera is quite functional, many users soon discover its limitations in terms of distance. Since the zoom is lacking, a good lens is a great way to expand the iPhone's capabilities without breaking the bank.

Different iPhone lenses come with different focal lengths and capabilities. The amount of zoom affects how much the camera can capture and the final look of the photo. When you start searching for different lenses, it's best to know what you want ahead of time in terms of shooting capabilities.

Our iPhone lens guide has all of the important details you need to know and consider before making a final decision. We've even included some of our top picks for iPhone lenses that are both functional and affordable.

Most lenses are "prime" lenses, meaning they don't zoom on their own, but you can still use the camera's built-in zoom.

Key considerations

Purpose

A lens expands the shooting capability of your iPhone camera. With different lenses, you can shoot at different distances and angles and get varying image quality all from a single camera. Since there are so many options, even for smartphones, it's helpful to decide what kind of lenses you need for your style of photography.

For example, you might want to be close to your subject to take a portrait. A good portrait lens captures the details of a person's face and presents a good background. On the other hand. landscape photography captures a larger view. The lens needs to have a short focal length for a wider viewing angle.

Most iPhone lenses are marked with either a focal length or the intended style of photography. Some photographers prefer to have multiple lenses for different shooting situations. Lens kits include different lenses that can handle subjects near and far, detailed subjects, or small objects.

Portability

As most photographers and videographers know, lenses make up the bulk of a shooting setup. The iPhone is a great shooting platform since it’s lightweight and fits in a pocket. But it's easy to reduce or eliminate these advantages with the wrong lenses.

When it comes to portability, weight and size are the key factors that determine if you can easily carry around a lens. Small lenses with short focal lengths, often used in portrait and street photography, are perfect for carrying in a bag or backpack. Because of the greater focal length, lenses for longer distances are bulkier, making them less ideal for carrying around.

Unless your photography is confined to an indoor space, you’ll likely have to balance bulk and portability. A good assortment of lenses is the best way to go if you’re shooting pictures on the go.

Compatibility

The iPhone has been around for several years, so lenses must now fit slightly different body styles. This all depends on the design of the lens mount, since some lenses come with the lens mount built into the body, while others use a separate mount that can hold any of the company's lenses. It’s important to know that a particular lens has a mount that will work for the specific size and shape of your iPhone.

The best way to make sure a lens will work with your iPhone is to pay attention to the compatibility indicated on the lens itself. Many manufacturers list their products as "compatible with iPhone [version] and above." For example, if a lens supports iPhone 6 or newer models, you can use it on any iPhone since the sixth version.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you’re used to traditional camera lenses, you might be searching for the aperture. Most iPhone lenses lack the ability to control the amount of light captured by the sensor. The camera itself has settings for this.

DID YOU KNOW?

Confused when a manufacturer lists the “strength” of a lens instead of the focal length? The strength is just a measurement related to 1.0x or no zoom. If the strength is smaller, the zoom is smaller, and vice versa.

DID YOU KNOW?

The focal length of a camera is measured in millimeters.

iPhone lens features

Focal length

Besides aperture, the primary difference between lenses is focal length, the distance in millimeters between the point of convergence in the lens and the sensor in the camera that ultimately affects the viewing angle or zoom of a photo.

A short focal length captures more of the scene in front of the camera (a wide-angle image). Lenses for landscape photography use a short focal length to capture large views and objects. This short distance also distorts the image, seeming to stretch the photo horizontally.

As the focal length increases, distant details get larger and clearer. Lenses that can zoom in and out do so by changing the focal length. Telephoto and zoom lenses are popular for sports photography and other situations where you want to capture something far away in great detail.

Glass

The quality of an image is largely dependent on the quality of the lens itself. In particular, the glass affects how much light gets through to the sensor. More light means more details and a clearer image.

But not all glass is created equal. Cheaper plastic iPhone lenses, for example, are prone to defects that can distort the image. More expensive glass iPhone lenses tend to be closer in quality to traditional photographic glass in terms of performance and clarity. If you want to take the best images possible with an iPhone, look for lenses made with high-quality glass.

The glass should also be easy and safe to maintain. Small specs of dirt and dust that accumulate on the surface of the lens can appear in photos. Some lenses, especially low-quality plastic lenses, scratch easily. Higher-quality glass lenses are safer to clean with the right tools, such as a microfiber cloth.

Multipurpose capabilities

The Gosky Titan 12X50 is the lens to choose when you want even more out of your iPhone. In addition to being a good zoom lens, the large focal length turns your iPhone into a digital monocular you can use to watch wildlife or sporting events from afar.

iPhone lens prices

Compared to regular camera lenses (and iPhones), iPhone lenses are extremely affordable. Best of all, some come in kits to maximize the capabilities of your phone, as well as give you good value. Still, iPhone lenses are much like their traditional counterparts: you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

Inexpensive

On the budget end, iPhone lenses start at around $10 for a basic portrait or wide-angle lens. In the $10 to $25 range, you can find several capable options for general photography and video recording.

Mid-range

You’ll find the majority of iPhone lens options and kits between $25 and $100. Most kits include modular lenses that stack different layers of glass on top of each other to extend the zoom. Some individual lenses are also available if you’re interested in something of higher quality or a specialized design.

Expensive

Above $100, most lenses are large zoom models. These are bulky, but they’re perfect for wildlife and sports photography where you can't get close to the action but need a clear up-close shot.

Beginner-friendly versatility

This Xenvo Pro bundle is a smart way for beginners to start with iPhone photography. The kit comes with separate lenses for macro (up close) and wide-angle photography, so you can try out different styles without having to spend more money on extra glass.

Tips

  • Choose a selfie-specific lens for creative self-portraits.

  • Look for a polarization filter to reduce glare on bright, sunny days. This filter enhances the contrast and balance of the final image.

  • Opt for a lens between 25 mm and 70 mm for videos. If you want a lens for recording videos, one between 25 mm and 70 mm will retain the iPhone's usable zoom range.

  • Keep your lenses clean. To maintain an iPhone lens, all you need is a microfiber cloth and some glass cleaner. You can use water, especially if it's distilled, but specialized cleaners often deliver better results.

Other products we considered

Given the popularity of iPhones, there are plenty of lens options that didn't make our top picks. Specialty lenses and kits are a great addition to any camera setup. The 18 mm Moment Wide Lens, for example, is a high-end singular lens that rivals many traditional and DSLR lenses. And it works with Pixel and Samsung phones, too. For a kit to cover different distances, the KNGUVTH 5-in-1 Cell Phone Lens Kit offers a convenient way to increase the zoom on the fly. Don't have enough focal length? Check out the KNGUVTH 9-in-1 Lens Kit instead for more zoom options.

You can use the iPhone's built-in camera capabilities regardless of the lens you use. This means you still have access to the zoom, brightness, focus, and more.

FAQ

Q. What is the best focal length for a lens?

A. That depends on your style of photography. A focal length between 25 mm and 70 mm is common for portrait and street photography. Around 16 mm is perfect for landscape and architectural photography. For long-distance photography, you’ll need a focal length of 100 mm or more.

Q. Is an iPhone lens weatherproof or waterproof?

A. Most lenses won't get damaged by some water or rain. However, extreme cold or hot temperatures can damage the glass.

Q. Will a lens work with a phone case?

A. A case adds bulk to the iPhone's body. If the lens has a basic clip-style mount, the extra bulk shouldn't be a problem, but if the lens mount is molded to the iPhone's shape, it probably won't work.

Q. Can I use the lens for selfies?

A. Not unless the lens is meant to be used with the front camera. You will have to get a friend to take your picture or download a camera app with a built-in timer or facial-detection capabilities that trigger the camera automatically.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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