The best lenses for iPhones and Android smartphones are simple devices, but can expand the possibilities of your smartphone photography in all sorts of ways. Clipping on via a case or dedicated mount, the best iPhone lens kits will provide you with all sorts of options, including telephoto, macro and wide-angle shooting. It's the perfect way to give yourself a little more flexibility if you're an avid smartphone snapper.
Smartphone cameras are getting better and better, and given that they're the devices that are in everyone's pockets at all times, it makes sense that many photographers are turning to them as the means to capture the moment. Today's flagship smartphones like the iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 are quite simply amazing, with cameras that produce images of astounding quality.
How has this become possible? Well, newer smartphones (i.e. those made within the past few years) have been equipped with new multi-camera arrays that include regular, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, even zooms
So hang on, you may be thinking, surely this means that the best camera phones do not need any add-on lenses? But that's not the case, as the makers of smartphone-specific optics are keeping up, and ensuring that their products are still outstripping what phones are able to do internally.
This means that no matter whether you're using a brand new phone or an older phone, or indeed one of the best budget camera phones, you can still radically improve your shooting by picking up a selection of add-on lenses can still represent a wise investment. Some are universal, while others are designed for specific models of smartphone, so it pays to do your research.
As you will see, prices can vary massively depending on the manufacturer. Olloclip is considered the market leader, however there are plenty of other options from different manufacturers, and sometimes different models are available in Europe and the US. Some are also more expensive than others.
However much you want to spend, we reckon you'll find the right lens for your phone in our guide to the best add-on lenses available for iPhones and Android smartphones.
If you want to get the most out of the impressive camera tech of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you'll want to invest in some of market-leader Olloclip's latest glass. This kit contains a 2x telephoto lens to give you more reach, as well as another lens that's actually two lenses in one: a 180-degree fisheye and a 15x Macro. This complete set gives you real versatility, which helps ease the pain of its slightly hefty price tag (we suppose that's the benefit of being the leading name in the business), and if you're planning on doing a lot of shooting with your iPhone 11 Pro Max, the investment is definitely one that's worth making.
The fantastic ProLens series from ShiftCam may not be cheap and may not be subtle, but they really do make a considerable difference when it comes to iPhone photography. The lenses attach via an interchangeable plate system, mounting into a bracket that fits inside ShiftCam’s bespoke phone case. While all this does add to the price of the kit, it means that once you’re set up, it’s trivially easy to swap lenses on the fly. All the lenses in the Deluxe kit – telephoto, wide-angle, macro, long-range macro and fisheye – are impressively sharp, and each can be purchased individually if you don’t want to drop dollar on the full kit. If you're in the US, you're best off buying from the official site, shiftcam.com.
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.
Moment produces a small range of high-quality, award-winning lenses for smartphones. Unlike most other options, these do not clip to the phone; instead, they attach to a case which is designed specifically for a range of smartphones from Apple, Google and Samsung.
As such, this means they fit securely but require you to purchase a new case to fit the lens to your phone.
As well as this 0.63x wide lens, there are also other Moment lenses that can be used with the case – including a fisheye, a telephoto, and an anamorphic lens.
This lens works in the same way as the Moment wide lens, but gives a much wider view. In fact, it gives a 50° wider field of view than the ultrawide lens on the iPhone 11. It gives the coverage of a traditional 14mm fisheye lens - filling the frame with a distorted image that can be used to create dramatic effects, but is also good for taking pictures in tight spaces. The ultra-wide 170° will appeal to those who need to shoot interiors or architecture – or want portraits with a cartoon like appearance.
A highly regarded phone camera lens which has reviewed well and is sensibly priced, this offering by Aukey looks the business and attaches uses a spring-loaded clip. A 120-degree wide angle lens is included along with a 15x macro lens.
The only real downside here is that, due to a snug fit, the lens isn’t suitable for smartphones which have two rear cameras, like the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9.
That may be okay for some reader – we know consumers are now holding onto their smartphones for longer than ever – but it could be an issue for those who demand the newest handset every year.
The clip is made from soft rubber so it shouldn’t leave any marks or scratches on the screen of your smartphone.
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.
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.
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.
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.