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The best lenses for iPhone and Android phones in 2022: add-on phone lenses

Best lenses for iPhone and Android camera phones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best lenses for iPhone and Android phones can radically transform your smartphone photography. While smartphone camera arrays are getting better and better, there are still certain things beyond their physical limitations, and a clip-on lens, or even better, a full clip-on lens kit, can open up new shooting possibilities like macro, fisheye and telephoto. 

While the best camera phones now have multi-camera arrays that include ultra-wide, standard and telephoto lenses, it's the main camera that has the best sensor, and using an add-on lens with this may give better results than your phone's secondary cameras.

Add-on lenses are even more useful if you've picked up one of the best budget camera phones, as the camera array may be a fairly basic type, without the multiple lens options that tend to come on fancier, newer phones. You can pick up multiple clip-on lenses as a kit, or just shop for ones that conform to your particular interests: macro for close-up work, telephoto for action, anamorphic for filmmaking, etc. 

The world of smartphone lenses is frequently changing, and manufacturers come and go. If you're just looking for a bit of snapping fun, there are plenty of cheap kits on the market that can delivery adequate results, but if quality is your aim, stick to a serious brand like ShiftCam or Moment. 

(Image credit: ShiftCam)

1. ShiftCam Lenses for iPhone/Android

The new lens kit on the block can radically transform your phone camera

Specifications
Compatible with: Various models from Apple/Samsung/Google/Huawei/LG/Xiaomi/Sony
Number of lenses: Depends on kit
Lens types: Wide-angle, Fisheye, Anamorphic, Telephoto, Long-range Macro, Traditional Macro
Reasons to buy
+
Very broad compatibility
+
Well-priced kits
+
Good image quality
Reasons to avoid
-
Some lenses more useful than others

ShiftCam recently debuted its photography kit of six lenses for smartphones, and we have to say we’ve been really impressed. The kit can be bought with dedicated mounts for iPhone 11 or iPhone 13, or there’s a universal lens mount accessory that’ll slide over most normal-sized smartphones (check the ShiftCam website for a full compatibility breakdown).

Keep in mind with these ShiftCam lenses that you will need a dedicated case or phone mount adaptor to attach them to your phone.

The lenses themselves are hugely impressive. The kit puts at your disposal an 18mm wide-angle, a 230° fisheye, a 1.33x anamorphic, a 60mm telephoto, a 75mm long-range macro and a 25mm traditional macro – all of which can be radically transformative for a phone camera. Some will be more useful than others; you’ll find yourself reaching for a telephoto or macro a lot more than an extreme fisheye. However, it’s still an immensely impressive kit, and well-priced too, for what you get. If you’re keen to seriously upgrade your smartphone’s camera rig, this is a fantastic all-in-one package for doing so. 

Read more: ShiftCam lenses for iPhone hands-on review

best lenses for iPhone and Android phones

(Image credit: Moment)

2. Moment Anamorphic Lens

Give your smartphone shots a stylishly cinematic look

Specifications
Compatible with: iPhone 7 and up, Android with universal adapter
Number of lenses: One
Lens types: Anamorphic
Reasons to buy
+
Broad compatibility
+
Images full of character
Reasons to avoid
-
Relatively costly
-
Requires case

If you're filmmaking with your phone, an anamorphic lens is the perfect inexpensive addition to give your footage that classy cinematic look. We really rate the Moment Anamorphic lens, which works with most recent iPhones or Android phones, as long as you have the right adapter. Locking securely in place, the anamorphic 1.33x lens produces images of impressive quality and is an ideal companion for any smartphone filmmaker.

Moment makes cases to fit a wide range of smartphones, and you will needed a dedicated Moment case or adapter before you can mount any Moment filters.

best lenses for iPhone and Android phones

(Image credit: Xenvo)

3. Xenvo Pro Lens macro/wide kit

An impressive budget kit with a useful LED light

Specifications
Compatible with: Most smartphones
Number of lenses: Two
Lens types: Macro, Wide-angle
Reasons to buy
+
Broad compatibility
+
Macro is especially good
Reasons to avoid
-
Only two lenses
-
Wide-angle slightly soft

This two-in-one kit from Xenvo will work with the vast majority of smartphones, fitting snugly over cases to provide a quick and easy bolster to your image-making. The lenses included are a macro and a wide-angle; the macro is excellent, making smartphone close-up photography an impressive reality. The wide-angle is decent enough, though some users have noticed slightly smudging in the corners. Still, it’s a useful kit, and with an LED light included to add further versatility to your close-up work, this is a great way for a user on a budget to kick their smartphone photography up a notch.

(Image credit: Apexel)

4. Apexel HD 1.33X Anamorphic Lens

A more affordable choice of anamorphic lens that

Specifications
Compatible with: Most smartphones (minimum thickness 7mm, maximum thickness 14mm)
Number of lenses: One
Lens types: 1.33x anamorphic lens
Reasons to buy
+
High-quality glass
+
Minimal distortion
Reasons to avoid
-
May not fit with phone case

If you like the sound of an anamorphic lens but the Moment option on this list was a little too expensive for you, consider the Apexel version instead. Made with high-quality cinema-grade glass, it produces a wonderfully cinematic image with minimal distortion, and can also give a shot some beautiful bokeh in defocused areas. The clip-on system is broadly compatible and should work with most smartphones, as long as they're not thicker than 14mm or thinner than 7mm. Some users of Huawei phones have reported issues with the clips, so it may be worth having a google with your type of smartphone to see if other users have had an easy time getting it to work. If they have, this is a great-value anamorphic lens.

best lenses for iPhone and Android phones

(Image credit: Apexel)

5. Apexel 36x telephoto

Need a little more reach? Or how about a lot more?

Specifications
Compatible with: Most smartphones
Number of lenses: One
Lens types: 36x telephoto
Reasons to buy
+
Huge reach
+
Comes with mini tripod
Reasons to avoid
-
Some vignetting reported
-
Remote not that useful

If you like telephoto shooting, this is the last word in terms of reach. The Apexel 36x telephoto transforms your phone into a powerful long-distance shooter, and comes with a useful mini-tripod to ensure you can keep your shots stable. 

It also has a remote shutter for capturing images at a distance; less useful when working with such a long lens, but it hardly hurts to have it, and the overall price of the kit is still pleasingly low. 

It's not the highest-quality lens, with some users complaining of a little vignetting in images, but for the price and the uniqueness, it can't be beat.

Best lenses for iPhone and Android camera phones: Nelomo Universal HD Camera Lens Kit

(Image credit: Nelomo)

6. Nelomo Universal HD Camera Lens Kit

Compact design with three lenses and carry case

Specifications
Compatible with: Most smartphones between 7mm and 10mm thick
Number of lenses: Three
Lens types: Super wide angle, 15x macro and 230° fisheye
Reasons to buy
+
Compact screw-fit system
+
Comes with a carry case
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive for what it is
-
Only fits certain phone sizes

Where most universal lens kits fit to phones with large clips, this solution from Nelomo employs a rubber-ended screw. 

This means the lens mount can clamp to phones measuring between 7mm and 10mm thick, which caters for most recent handsets including the iPhone 8 and X, the Samsung Galaxy S9, and the Google Pixel 3.

The kit comes with three lenses, including a wide 230-degree fisheye, a ‘super wide angle’ lens, and a macro lens which offers the equivalent of a 15X zoom. There’s also a microfibre cleaning cloth and bag, plus a protective carry case and hook for clipping it to your backpack.

The only drawback here is how the lens mount might not clamp around your phone if it’s already wearing a thick case, given the 10mm thickness limit.

Best lenses for iPhone and Android camera phones: Olloclip Multi-Device Filmer's Kit

(Image credit: Olloclip)

7. Olloclip Multi-Device Filmer's Kit

A one-stop-shop including five lenses and video grip

Specifications
Compatible with: iPhone 7, 8, 7+, 8+
Number of lenses: Five
Lens types: Fisheye (180-degree), super-wide, ultra-wide, macro and 2x telephoto
Reasons to buy
+
An all-encompassing kit
+
Includes carry case and grip
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
Probably not available much longer

Perhaps the ultimate kit for any smartphone photographer, this bundle includes macro, 2x telephoto, fisheye, super-wide and ‘ultra-wide’ lenses, which cover most circumstances. 

The protective carry case also includes Olloclip’s universal clip system for fitting lenses to almost any recent smartphone, and a grip mount for securing holding your smartphone while shooting landscape video.

This kit can also be purchased with dedicated lens mounts designed for the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, XR, and the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus.

It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for the complete package this could well be it.

Update: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Olloclip announced an indefinite hiatus to its operations, and currently has no plans to produce new lenses. The Multi-Device Filmer's Kit is still available in certainly retailers for now (and second-hand), but we're not sure how much longer that will continue to be the case. 

(Image credit: CamKix)

8. CamKix Universal 3-in-1 Lens kit

Remarkably cheap for a universal three-lens system

Specifications
Compatible with: Most smartphones and tablets
Number of lenses: Three
Lens types: Fisheye, macro and wide-angle
Reasons to buy
+
Macro and wide screw together
+
Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-
Doesn't feel too premium

This three-lens kit represents excellent value for money, as under £10. For that you get a fisheye lens, macro lens and wide-angle lens. 

Conveniently, the lenses screw over the top of each other, making it quick and easy to switch between one and the other.

You’ll want to make sure you keep these lenses clean and scratch-free though, as when using the wind lens you’ll actually be shooting through both that and the macro lens underneath.

The kit comes with a carry pouch and the clip mechanism means the lens mount should fit most smartphones and tablets. 

You could even fit it to the webcam above the screen of your laptop if you’re ever feeling creative during a Skype chat.

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Alistair has been a journalist since 2011 and used to be Deputy Technology Editor at IBTimes  in London. His specialist tech subjects include smart home gadgets, phones, wearables, tablets and dashcams.