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 deliver adequate results, but if the quality is your aim, stick to a serious brand like ShiftCam or Moment.
Best lenses for iPhone and Android phones
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The ShiftCam 10x macro lens isn't the most versatile lens but what it does, it does really well. The up-close detail it's able to capture is insane, even your eyes can't make out some of the tiny fibers and details this lens can pick up.
You do have to get really close to whatever you're shooting if you're further away than 1-1.5cm your image will be blurred but for shooting plant veins, water droplets, or interesting textures it's perfect.
If you want to shoot insects you'd be better off with the 75mm long-range macro as you don't have to get quite as close and risk scaring off the creepy crawlies you're trying to capture. You can buy it either on its own or as a kit with the 75mm macro lens.
Read our full ShiftCam Traditional 10x Macro ProLens review for more details
Having used the Moment Wide 18mm lens for photo taking and YouTube content I would recommend it for anyone seeking a lightweight setup to start their vlogging career – or vloggers looking for a more compact solution over their traditional compact cameras.
Everything provided within the box gives off a premium feel and certainly makes you want to look after it. The lens is strongly built and provides crisp and sharp images that any vlogger or content creator would be proud to show off.
Read our full Moment Wide 18mm lens review for more details
Videography can be an expensive game to get into it after you've added up the cost of the best camera for video, the best cine lenses, and all the accessories you might need. However, smartphone lenses are getting so good these days you no longer have to spend an insane amount of money to invest in a kit that will help you shoot professional-looking films.
The ShiftCam Videography ProLens Kit includes a 1.33x anamorphic lens and a 60mm telephoto lens so that you can shoot ultra-wide and extra zoomed-in without degrading the image quality. Both lenses are really easy to use and can either be attached to the front of your phone using the phone-specific case mount or the universal adapter.
I actually preferred the universal adapter as I found the case mount moved around a bit and the universal one stayed firmly in place. I was pleasantly surprised with the horizontal lens flares you achieved with the anamorphic lens.
It was easy to de-squeeze the footage in Final Cut Pro (there is a handy video on YouTube that shows you exactly how to convert it) and it really does make everything you shoot with it look that little more pro.
Read our full ShiftCam Pro Videographers Kit review for more details
Optical zoom is always going to be better than digital zoom so if you find yourself regularly using the zoom feature on your phone, invest in a zoom lens instead. The Moment 58mm lens is equivalent to a 2x zoom which may not seem like much but on a smartphone, it makes all the difference. Images are much sharper and colors are more accurate.
The one annoying things about the lens is you have to attach it to your phone using the Moment phone case which is bought separately but at least it has a nice finish with a smart wooden panel.
It's great for both photos and videos and when you're not using it you can store it safely as it comes with a secure rubber lens cap and a material carry case. If you're off on holiday and don't want to take lots of camera kit with you, phone lenses and this one are especially a great alternative.
Read our full Moment 58mm lens review for more details
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 need a dedicated Moment case or adapter before you can mount any Moment filters.
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. The only reason it's last on our list is that we've included some of the lenses individually above but if you want complete versatility, the kit is worth it.
Read our full ShiftCam lenses for iPhone hands-on review for more details
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.
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 beaten.
Where most universal lens kits fit 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 to 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 that 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.
If you're looking for a phone lens that offers a completely different view from your phone's built-in lenses the Moment 14mm Fisheye is a great option. You can attach it to your phone in two different ways; either with the Moment, phone-specific case or with the universal mounting system that slides over the cameras.
Fisheye lenses are popular for shooting skate clips and music videos so if you want to get into either of these areas investing in a lens for your phone could be a financially economical way to do so.
The biggest advantage of a phone lens is that they are very small and lightweight but massively changes the quality and style of images you can shoot with your phone's camera. This isn't the best fisheye lens we've ever used but it's reasonably priced, well built, and costs a lot less than buying a fisheye lens for your camera!
Read our full Moment 14mm Fisheye lens review for more details
How we test lenses
We test lenses using both real-world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-world testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics. Phone lenses are not able to be lab-tested in the same lens but we do put them through some rigorous test shoots.
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