Smartphone photography has taken off in recent years, and the hardware backing most devices has evolved tremendously. Every year, smartphones debut with more lenses, pushing higher megapixels and resolutions, along with AI-based features and even multi-camera setups. Yet, even with all these improvements, smartphones still face limitations. So it’s not surprising to see a subsequent growth in the accessory market, namely amongst lenses.
Phone camera lenses are optional accessories that clip-on or attach to your existing smartphone camera setup. And there, they modify its capabilities by altering the magnification or adding a unique effect. And they’re ideal for adding new functionality, especially if you don’t have a phone with a trio of lenses. Thus, they become a good solution for overcoming many of the inherent limitations of smartphone design too.
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Yet, compared to dedicated cameras, smartphone lenses are an affordable and incredible means of upping your smartphone photography without lugging around a bulky camera. But, the market for smartphone camera lenses is vast.
And you’ll quickly realize you can find many focal lengths from macro to telephoto and even anamorphic. So finding the right one that’s both affordable yet worthwhile will be tricky. With that, we compiled a list of the top ten best phone camera lenses.
Moment Fisheye Lens
The Fisheye lens by Moment aims to provide an ultra-wide-angle view of the world. This lens uses handmade cinema-quality glass and a metal finish, delivering a premium construction. And it’s compatible with both Android and iOS. However, it uses the M-series lens mount, which requires a specific Moment case. Even so, their cases are well-made and provide seamless fitment of any M-Series lens. But, crucially, this 14mm fisheye lens lets you capture photos or videos with an ultra-wide-angle. In this case, 170º, making it 30% wider than most of the ultra-wide lenses on today’s flagship phones. As such, it’s perfect for filling the frame with the dramatic effect only these lenses offer or capturing tight spaces. Thankfully, the multi-element glass design here mimics the quality of comparable GoPros, letting it capture a flat image with excellent edge-to-edge detail and minimal distortion. Other bonuses include a lens cap, a microfiber case, and a warranty.
Overall, Moment’s Fisheyes lens is the perfect option for those wanting to capture the interesting POV shots only fisheye lenses provide.
Criacr Lens Kit
Criacr’s lens kit is the perfect option for those ready to dive into the world of smartphone photography. This 3-in-1 kit uses a glass construction, reducing glare, distortion, and ghosting. And it’s compatible with both Android and iOS. In the kit, you’ll get a 15x macro, 0.6x wide-angle, and 180º fisheye lens, each screwing into a simple clip-on attachment. Together these provide valuable improvements to your camera’s field of view, well beyond its default setup. Firstly, the 15x macro lens lets you capture amazing close-ups in great detail, perfect for nature or food photography. At the same time, the 0.6x wide-angle lens gives you a noticeably wider view of the surroundings. Plus, there’s also a fisheye lens to capture a GoPro action-style effect, great for filming exciting first-person POV content. Other bonuses include lens caps, a microfiber case, and a warranty.
Overall, Criacr’s lens kit provides maximum flexibility yet remains budget-friendly. And it’s the perfect means to experiment with these focal lengths firsthand without breaking the bank in the process.
Ztylus Revolver M-Series
The Revolver M-Series by Ztylus is thoughtful and innovative. This lens uses a glass construction compatible with iOS. But, crucially, it removes the need for purchasing an optional case or attaching a clip. Instead, it uses a magnetic quick-release system that stores a fisheye, 2x telephoto, and a super macro lens. Together, these create a convenient 6-in-one system with outstanding versatility. Simply, rotate the knob to extend each lens, each perfectly covering the phone’s built-in lens. Thus, gone are any elaborate mounting systems that add weight and bulk. Instead, this design ensures there are no accidental misalignments, solving a key pitfall of many clip-on lenses. Plus, you can also say goodbye to lens caps as these lenses tuck away neatly and securely when not in use, keeping them protected and scratch-free.
Overall, the Revolver M is an innovative all-in-one option for iOS users. And it’s a great suit if you want something well-rounded and versatile.
Moment M-Series Macro Lens
The M-Series Macro Lens by Moment gets you ultra-close to capture often missed details. This lens uses a multi-layer glass and metal construction. And it’s compatible with both Android and iOS but requires the M-Series Photo Case for mounting. But, crucially, this 25mm lens offers outstanding macro capabilities, given its 10x magnification. Now you can capture the smallest objects with life-sized magnification and quality merely an inch away. And you can get close to the subject in a way that’s not possible with a standard phone camera, especially with such shallow depth of field and separation. Moment also added a removable light diffuser to produce shadowless images without any ghosting. Other bonuses include a lens cap, a microfiber case, and a warranty.
Overall, Moments Macro lens is ideal for those who enjoy capturing small details with like-life realism.
Apexel 36x Telephoto Lens
Sure, most cameras have a built-in telephoto lens. But few match Apexel’s 36x Telephoto lens in sheer power. This fixed high-power lens uses a multi-element glass and aluminum construction with a simple clip-on design, compatible with both Android and iOS. But, crucially, it provides a whopping 36x magnification, outpacing even the best smartphones, which typically offer only a 10x optical zoom by contrast. Thus, this lens lets you shoot virtually any subject up close and personal, even if they’re up to 8000m away. And this versatility makes it a great option for capturing wildlife, sports, nature, and even astrophotography. Apexel also added an adjustable focus ring to ensure critical focus at its maximum range. Plus, it also functions as a standalone monocular telescope, helpful to view distant scenes like bird watching, concerts, or sporting events. Other bonuses include a mini tripod for added stability and a remote shutter.
Overall, Apexel’s 36x Telephoto lens is the perfect compliment for those wanting to capture far-off subjects with great telephoto power.
Moment Wide Lens
The Wide-angle lens by Moment is ready to become the perfect match for budding landscape photographers. This lens uses a metal construction with a multi-element glass coating. And it’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices. However, it uses Moment’s M-Series lens mount, which requires their dedicated case. Even so, this lens is ready to double your device’s wide-angle reach, now to 18mm, making it well suited for capturing vast landscapes, architecture, or large groups. And it produces excellent central sharpness, accurate color rendition, and minimal vignettes. It also remains a step above rivals when shooting in backlit scenes, rarely suffering from flare and ghosting artifacts. And it becomes noticeably more reliable than rivals in this regard. Other bonuses include a lens cap, a microfiber case, and a warranty.
Overall, Moment’s Wide-angle lens is perfectly apt to expand your field of view. And it’s a solid option for those wanting to add professional wide-angle photos to their repertoire.
Black Eye Pro Fisheye G4
The Fisheye G4 by Black Eye is simple but packs high-quality optics. This lens uses a glass construction with multiple elements and a simple clip-on design, compatible with Android and iOS. And this construction minimizes the effects of ghosting, flares, and retains central sharpness. When attached, it offers a 175º ultra-wide-angle perspective that’s perfect for action shots, large panoramas, or POV films. And this field of view provides this lens with unrivaled power, besting all of today’s latest flagship phones. Other bonuses include a lens hood, a lens cap, a cleaning cloth, and a microfiber carrying case.
Overall, while not well known, the company’s Fisheye G4 is a powerful alternative to Moments equivalent lens. And it offers broadly similar image capabilities at a fraction of the price, without suffering from artifacts like most of the competition.
Moment Anamorphic Lens
The Anamorphic lens by Moment is quite the hit for aspiring filmmakers wanting cinema-quality. This lens uses a high-quality metal and glass construction with compatibility for both Android and iOS. And it, too, uses the M-Series mount, which requires a case for mounting. As an anamorphic lens, though, it creates a wider aspect ratio. Doing so provides a widescreen view, removing the need for cropping pixels and losing detail in editing. In this case, it’s a 1.33x ratio, widening standard 16:9 HD video to the 2:40:1 cinematic standard. But its results require de-squeezing for proper viewing.
Thankfully, you can de-squeeze conveniently with the accompanying Moment Pro Camera app. Even so, the results speak for themselves, and they’re easily synonymous with blockbuster films from Hollywood. Images are sharp, dramatic with minimal distortion and compelling colors with a unique thin lens flare. As such, it’s quite the stand-out, with an effect only achievable through expensive cinema cameras. Other bonuses include a lens cap and a microfiber case.
Overall, Moment’s Anamorphic lens is the perfect compliment for filmmakers wanting a unique second angle or a distinct cinematic look. And it’s currently the most affordable means to produce truly cinematic content by far.
Xenvo Pro Lens Kit
Xenvo’s Pro lens kit is a two-lens system offering outstanding versatility. It uses a multi-element coated glass and aluminum construction. This lens fits right over the stock lens using a universal clip-on mechanism. Thus you can use it without needing a case. And it’s compatible with both Android and iOS. Attached, it delivers excellent color rendering and central sharpness, even in backlit situations. And it’s designed to minimize ghosting, reflections, and flare.
By default, it’s a wide-angle lens with a 0.45x magnification, perfect for capturing local scenery, landscape, or architectural shots. But, it has an integrated macro lens, too, with a 15x close-up magnification, perfect for grabbing fine details inches away. Together it offers seamless transitions between both focal lengths, beating rivals in their versatility. Other bonuses include a travel case, a lanyard, cleaning cloth, lens caps, a warranty, and a clip-on variable LED light with a warm and natural glow.
Overall, while on the larger side, the Xenvo Pro lens kit offers clever 2-in-1 versatility and solid image quality for the price. And it remains among the most popular conversions as such.
Moment 58mm Tele Lens
The 58mm Tele lens by Moment stands as the best telephoto lens around. It’s a metal lens with a glass coating, compatible with both Android and iOS. And given its construction, it’s ready to withstand even the most vigorous shoots. Attached, it offers a 2x magnification over the field of view on a wide-angle lens. Or you can get a 4x magnification by attaching it to your phone’s telephoto lens. Either way, both lend themselves perfectly for portraits and tight landscape compositions where you want to get closer to the subject. And it’ll do so with outstanding central sharpness and faithful color rendering. Other bonuses include a lens cap, a warranty, and a microfiber carrying case.
Overall, while expensive and phone-specific, Moment’s Tele lens is apt to deliver outstanding mid-range telephoto images. And it does so in an easy-to-use system that’s a standout amongst the competition.
What to Look For in Phone Camera Lenses
You can find smartphone lenses manufactured in several materials. But the most common ones are plastic, aluminum alloy, and glass. During your research, you’ll find that most of the cheaper lenses use a cheap plastic construction. And plastic lenses reduce image quality, creating soft images with less contrast and poor color reproduction. They also tend to damage and scratch easily. As such, most photographers don’t recommend using plastic clip-on lenses, regardless of their apparent build quality.
Instead, most only recommend them as an affordable means to test a focal length beforehand. Instead, focus on clip-on lenses that use glass and aluminum alloy constructions. These will have little effect on image quality, besides minor softness around the edges of the frame or a vignette.
There are many types of smartphone lenses. And not all of these products will fit your particular phone. So look for lenses that specifically list your phone’s make and model.
Camera lenses only modify your smartphone’s existing image capabilities. Therefore, they’re only as good as your phone’s sensor and primary lens. So if your smartphone isn’t of a recent generation, these add-ons will inevitably highlight its flaws, which you don’t want. But, crucially, most of these accessories reduce the details around the edges of the frame and introduce glare or flares in unwanted areas.
And even the best options on the market will introduce some distortion, a vignette, and chromatic aberration due to their optical design. So it’s vital to understand these accessories are more creative. And they’re not ideal for outright quality improvements. Also of note, take caution when using a telephoto lens.
These longer focal lengths of these lenses will increase the effects of handshake, resulting in blurry photos and shaky videos. So it’s a good idea to use a tripod with these lenses. If not, prepare to take extra photos.
Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Photography PX Published May 17, 2021