Best iPhone lenses: Transform your smartphone photos

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by Matar Khalifa
Comments: 0

Cameras on smartphones have transformed the way we take and share images, and the camera on the iPhone 7 is one of the best around.

The trouble is, with a fixed focal length with a wide field of view, it's not suited to every subject we point it at.

You could reach for compact camera or DSLR – but given the connectivity and ease of use of your iPhone, and the fact that you're more likely to have it with you most of the time, getting better results from your phone is preferable to lugging a camera around.


The good news is that there are now a host of iPhone lens accessories that you can attach or connect to your device, whether you're using an iPhone 7 / iPhone 7 Plus or an older model, enabling you to push your photographic skills even further, without losing the ability to easily upload and share your images.

From affordable lens adaptors that convert the field of view of your iPhone's lens, to more advanced (and expensive) pieces of kit that not only have greatly improved lenses, but even their own built-in sensors to deliver better image quality, there's an option to suit any budget.

Here's our pick of some of the best options around…

Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.

1. AUKEY Optic Pro iPhone Lens

Don't let the low price put you off

Sensor: N/A | Lens: Wide-angle | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner

Extremely affordable

Clip for use with other devices

Lens can cause shadow

Attachment covers the flash

This wide-angle lens for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S offers a decent 110-degree field of view, ideal for most landscape shooting needs.

The included case makes aligning the attachment a bit simpler than some rival lenses, and it fits on either the front or rear camera, offering up the possibility for wide group selfie shots. It also comes with a special clip for affixing to other devices.

Unwanted shadow can creep into some near-focus shots at times, making this a better option for zoomed-in photography. A lens cap, microfiber cleaning cloth and carry pouch is included in the box.

2. CamKix Camera Lens Kit for iPhone 6/6S

A complete entry-level option

Sensor: N/A | Lenses: Telephoto, fish-eye, macro, wide-angle | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner

Plenty of kit for your money

Easy to use

Limited focus function

Lacks that professional feel

The CamKix for iPhone 6/6s is our entry-level pick for anyone exploring camera lens attachments for the first time. The kit comes with four lenses that offer plenty of variety, including a fish-eye lens and a combination macro/wide-angle lens.

They may feel a bit plasticky, but shooting performance is surprisingly good for this price point, although don't go in expecting top-quality results or entirely distortion-free shots.

The lenses screw into the included proprietary case. You even get a mini tripod with extendable legs, and a universal phone holder that offers a secure base to attach to the tripod socket. All in all, this is a decent gift set for the beginner.

3. Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

Cheap and cheerful option with four lenses

Sensor: N/A | Lenses: Fisheye, wide-angle, 10x macro, 15x macro | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner

Easy to use

Affordable

Image quality not great

Can't use with case

Provided you're not using a case or any sort of plastic film protector, the 4-in-1 slides easily onto the corner of your iPhone (there are options for different iPhone models); Olloclip also sells its own iPhone case, which gives you easy access to the volume-as-shutter-button.

Offering four lens adaptors (fisheye, wide-angle and two macro lenses), it's incredibly simple to use. Don't expect too much in the way of image quality though, with distortion at the edges of the frame. That said, if you want something fun and easy to use with your iPhone that won't break the bank, you won't go far wrong.

4. Moment Tele Lens

A high-quality lens that works with lots of phones

Sensor: N/A | Lens: 60mm telephoto | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner

Sharp image quality

Wide phone compatibility

Quite a heavy lens

No lens cap included

This 60mm focal length telephoto lens has a robust, premium feel to it, making it a heavy option but with the advantage of being wider than the lens of most phone cameras, which helps to reduce vignetting and distortion around the edges of shots and amounts to better quality images overall.

The included mounting plate easily attaches using a clean adhesive rather than a magnet, which can sometimes interfere with optical image stabilization. It also supports 25 different iOS and Android devices. Moment is now shipping plates for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, too.

What's more, the attachment system avoids the need for a special phone case, which gives it a distinct advantage over many other lenses on the market. A nice microfiber lens bag is included that doubles up as a cleaning cloth.

5. Olloclip Active Lens Set for iPhone 7

Pander to your adventurous side

Sensor: N/A | Lenses: Telephoto, ultra-wide | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner

Selfie-ready

Interchangeable lens system

Pricier than other Olloclip kits

Not quite a GoPro replacement

With this Active Lens set, Olloclip has developed a new interchangeable lens system exclusively for Apple's latest and greatest smartphone, and has added premium multi-element lenses into the mix.

Like earlier systems, the new Connect adaptor is reversible and lets you mount two different lenses for front and back, but it’s also compatible with a range of Connect lenses, two of which are included.

In the box there's a 2x telephoto optical zoom lens, allowing iPhone 7 Plus owners to further enhance the built-in zoom features of the bigger handset. It also bundles an ultra-wide 155 degree lens, offering a GoPro-style action camera field of view. Both provide impressive results when shooting sweeping landscape and portrait imagery.

6. Sony QX10

10x zoom lens with 18.2MP sensor

Sensor: 2/3-inch CMOS, 18.2MP | Lens: 28-100mm, f/2.8-4.9 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi & NFC | Movies: 1080p | Storage: microSD | User level: Beginner/intermediate

Decent functionality

Good image quality

Limited manual controls

Small display

In essence, Sony has taken the guts from its WX150 compact camera and placed them in an even more compact body, save for the rear screen. The QX10 can be attached to your iPhone via an adaptor, or used on its own to capture shots from more unusual vantage points, connecting via Wi-Fi or NFC.

Image quality is a noticeable jump up from that of an iPhone, while the 10x zoom offers much greater coverage compared to the lens in your iPhone. For those looking for even better image quality, check out the Sony QX100.

7. ExoLens with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle

Zeiss quality at a Zeiss price

Sensor: N/A | Lens: 18mm equivalent | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Intermediate/experienced

Solid build quality

Excellent clarity

Cumbersome design

Expensive

American firm Fellows has teamed up with renowned lens maker Zeiss to partner its ExoLens iPhone bracket with some high-end optics, and this wide-angle model reduces the iPhone camera's effective focal length to around 18mm.

The entire casing is made out of black anodised aluminum, while the detachable lens is reassuringly weighty. Inside there are aspherical elements to combat distortion, and an antireflective coating to minimize reflections and improve light transmission.

Quality is excellent, but the casing is a little cumbersome, and you're certainly paying a premium for the pleasure.

8. iPro Lens System Trio Kit for iPhone 6 Plus

Versatile and innovative

Sensor: N/A | Lenses: Telephoto, wide-angle, macro | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner/intermediate

Innovative handle design

Excellent lens range

Not the cheapest by a long shot

Case could be stronger

The iPro Trio Kit for iPhone 6 Plus is one of the most versatile premium systems we've come across, packing not only quality Schneider telephoto, wide-angle and macro lenses, but also a unique and innovative combination shooting handle with lens storage compartment.

Included in the kit is a slimline case that's fairly easy to put on and take off, offers accurate lens alignment, and features twin lengthways tripod mounts. As expected, all three lenses are capable of fine picture quality in the right hands.

9. Olympus Air A01

Micro Four Thirds with your iPhone

Sensor: Micro Four Thirds Live MOS, 16MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Movies: 1080p | Storage: microSD | User level: Intermediate

Great lens choice

Great image quality

Connectivity issues

Expensive option

Think of the Air A01 as a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera without the rear screen. Accepting the excellent range of MFT lenses, and delivering impressive image quality, this pocket-sized lens camera is nice and compact.

The beginner-friendly app works very well, but we did have issues with connectivity dropping out in use. That, and the relatively high price, let it down.

10. DxO One

Flawed, but with excellent image quality and connectivity

Sensor: 1-inch CMOS, 20.2MP | Lens: 32mm, f/1.8 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Lighting connector | Movies: 1080p | Storage: microSD | User level: Intermediate

Excellent iPhone integration

High-quality sensor

Poor battery life

Slow access to locked phone

With a fixed and fast 32mm f/1.8 combined with a large 1-inch 20.2MP sensor, there's plenty to like about DXO's One. Because it connects directly to an iPhone, there's no waiting about for a Wi-Fi connection and it won't lose the connection.

The camera also fits almost seamlessly into the operating system, and images can be stored on your phone – plus there are raw files on the card if you want them for post-processing.

That said, the One's connectivity is also a weakness. You have to remember to unlock your phone or go to the home page before you connect the One in order for the app to open correctly, and then there's a second or two delay before you can start shooting.

The One produces great-quality images for a compact camera and it makes a fun, if expensive, iPhone accessory.

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