Apple's iPhone camera is one of its high-profile signature features. Depending on the model, there may be a single or dual lens setup you can rely on to take beautiful shots for your website and marketing campaigns.
Sometimes you may crave an extra jolt of creativity or a specific effect or angle that you just can't achieve with the iPhone's default camera system, and that's where add-on lenses enter the picture. With a third-party lens on an iPhone camera, you can achieve that unique shot you want.
What to look for
Four major add-on lens types give you a choice of wide angle, telephoto, fisheye or macro. Wide angles encompass more real estate and are great for large staff photos, office or property shots. Telephotos magnify the subject, which allows a comfortable distance between you and your subject to shoot the best staff portraits. Macros zero in on your subject, giving you closeups of product detail for sales, instructional or demo purposes. Fisheyes are useful for dramatic effects like spherical images. Some lenses work only with a companion app, but others operate independently.
The iPhone Xs, X, and 7/8 Plus have two 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide-angle lens rear cameras. The new Xr has a single 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide-angle rear lens. The X and Xs also have an f/2.4 (52mm-equivalent) telephoto lens, while the 7 Plus and 8 Plus has an f/2.8 (56mm-equivalent) telephoto lens.
You can purchase lens accessories individually or as part of a kit. Some lenses require a special case while others use various clip mount arrangements. Case mounted lenses may offer a steadier hold while the clip mounts – more flexible for use in various iPhone models – can be harder to handle and attach properly. Whichever case you choose, make sure the lens is easy to mount and use.
How to buy
iPhone add-on lenses are available as individual or multiple lens sets, and they vary in optical quality, weight and price. If you need higher-resolution images for print or to view on large monitors, then choose a high-quality lens. If your images are destined for email or website use, super high-quality lenses will add expense but not measurable visual improvement.
Kits are appealing for their creative variety and artistic challenge, but if you're looking for a single lens type for a specific shot – like wide angle or telephoto – then concentrate on shopping for that one lens. You might consider a low-priced kit to experiment with first and then graduate to a higher-quality lens.
Before you plunk down your credit card, be sure your new lens is compatible with the iPhone you intend to use it with – it will be clearly marked on the package or in the literature. Not all lenses work with all phones – though some transcend both make and model – so when you upgrade your phone, be aware that your add-on lens may not work with it.
Knguvth 5-in-1 Cell Phone Lens Kit ($28.99)Credit: KNGUVTH
If you're rocking a new iPhone Xs, Xs Max or Xr, the Knguvth 5-in-1 Lens Kit may be just the right fit. It features a 12x telephoto zoom lens, a 0.36x super wide-angle lens, a 15x macro lens, and a 180-degree fisheye lens, all of which attach to a flexible universal clip. The lenses are made of industrial-grade aluminum and premium optics for photographic clarity and detail without vignetting or blurring. In addition to the newest iPhones, you can use the kit with most smartphones, including all iPhone models down to the 5C and the SE as well as Samsung Galaxy, HTC, Sony and LG smartphones.
Moment Wide Lens ($99.99)
You can use the Moment Wide Angle with the newest iPhone models like the XS, XS Max and Xr in addition to a range of phones down to the iPhone 6, including the Plus models. The Moment's 18mm design, with its signature curved hood, features 0.63x magnification – great for landscapes, architecture and large group portraits. The aspheric all-glass lens weighs in at a somewhat hefty 2.6 ounces, delivering sharp images from iPhone's F/1.8 aperture. It has a bayonet mount set in aerospace-grade metal housing. You can use it with either of the iPhone rear lenses too, and a companion app lets you choose which one you want to use. The Moment Wide Angle attaches to your phone via the company's Photo case or Battery Photo case ($30).
DxO One 20.2MP Digital Connected Camera ($149.99)Credit: Dxo
The DxO One 20.2-MP Digital Connected Camera for iPhone and iPad turns your device into a huge viewfinder, letting you shoot from any angle via a swivel. The lens hooks into your device via the Lightning connector and facilitates instant sharing via Wi-Fi. It creates high-quality images in low light with a six-element aspherical 32mm f/1.8 – f/11 prime lens. A companion app lets you choose shooting modes like Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual. Alongside its one-inch sensor, the DxO operates with its own memory card and a rechargeable battery so it never drains your phone.
iPhone X 360 Panoramic Lens ($33.99)Credit: Qinnuo
Why would you want to take VR pictures with your iPhone? Why not? This lens lets you capture 360-degree images with your phone, alongside the free PanoClip companion app. Intrigue your customers with a shot in Tiny Planet mode that gets the whole scene in frame. Spin View turns your best 360-degree photos into video clips. The panoramic lens is made of an anodized aluminum shell, ABS material, and a double 180-degree fisheye wide-angle lens. Just snap the lens on the top of your phone, where it is secured with a built-in spring clip. The lens housing is compact and easy to carry, with a protective bag included in the package.
Sandmarc Photography Edition ($199.99)Credit: Sandmarc
Sandmarc's Photography Edition, which features a trio of wide, fisheye, and macro lenses compatible with Apple's iPhone X, is a super high-quality package. Made from premium multicoated and multielement optics, the lenses eliminate distortion to deliver sharp images. The 16mm wide lens has 0.56x magnification, the 60mm telephoto lens has 2x magnification, and the 25mm macro lens has 10x magnification. Each lens has a dual mounting option – you can use the case or the clip – both of which are bundled into the package. Each lens is available separately or as a set for the iPhone X, Xs, Xs Max, and Xr.
Amir Phone Camera Lens Kit ($14.99)Credit: AMIR
This reasonably priced 3-in-1 detachable lens features a 0.65x super wide-angle lens, a 15x macro lens, and an astonishing 230-degree fisheye lens. The extreme fisheye shoots dramatic rounded images, which can show your business in a more creative and playful light. The lens is easy to use and clips on to a caseless phone. It works with all iPhone models from 4 to X and a variety of Android handsets as well.
Todi 20x Zoom Telephoto Camera Lens ($23.99)Credit: Todi
If your assignment calls for long-distance shooting, try the Todi 20x Zoom Telephoto for shots as far as 1,200 yards away. The lens is constructed with 10-layer coated glass inside a durable shell. Rotate the eyepiece ring to get the sharpest image. The lens ships with a tripod, wireless remote shutter and phone holder. Pair the shutter with your phone and press the button for shake-free images. The package includes a detachable clamp where you can adjust the screw to affix the lens clip. It is compatible with almost any iPhone or iPad and smartphones from Samsung, Sony, Huawei, Xiaomi and HTC.
Ztylus Switch 6 for Apple iPhone X/XS ($34.99)Credit: Ztylus
The 6-in-1 Ztylus lens kit lets you quickly swap among three sets of lenses that work with the dual-camera system on the iPhone X/XS. The Switch 6 includes a 120-degree wide angle, 2x telephoto, 10x macro, 20x super macro and 180-degree fisheye lenses. Weighing just 2 ounces, the slim, streamlined case adds minimal thickness to your phone while the cutouts allow for full port and button functionality. The built-in grip makes holding your phone comfy and aids accurate shooting.
Olloclip Mobile Photography Lens Box Set for iPhone X ($99.99)
Olloclip's Mobile Photography Box Set for the iPhone X features a 180-degree fisheye, 120-degree super wide and macro 15x lenses. It includes the iPhone X clip, pendant stand, lens caps and microfiber cloth. It's compatible with most third-party camera apps and can also shoot video, time-lapse, panoramas and 360-degree VR photos. The lens system is used with your iPhone's front and rear cameras and is friendly to screen protectors. The Olloclip fits caseless iPhones, Olloclip slim cases and screen protectors up to 0.5mm, though it is not compatible with the flash. This set uses the Connect X Lens System, so you can swap with other Connect X Lenses for use with the iPhone X or Multi-Device Connect X Clip.