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

(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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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: Hannah Rooke)
An excellent alternative to create professional looking films using your phone

Specifications

Compatible with: Most smartphones using universal adapter
Lens type: Anamorphic and telephoto
Focal length: 1.33x Anamorphic and 60mm telephoto

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap way to shoot anamorphic footage
+
Compact and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Anamorphic lens moves easily
-
Anamorphic footage must be de-squeezed

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 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. 

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke)
An impressive macro lens for shooting things really really close up

Specifications

Compatible with: Most smartphones
Lens type: Macro
Magnification: 10x
Minimum focusing distance: 10-15mm

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly detailed shots
+
Great for shooting textures, bugs and plants

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very versatile
-
Have to be extremely close to subject

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 fibres 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. 

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)
Perfect for those who want to zoom in and not degrade image quality

Specifications

Compatible with: Latest Apple, Google, Samsung and OnePlus devices
Lens type: Telephoto
Minimum focussing distance : 18cm

Reasons to buy

+
Very good quality
+
Smooth metal finish
+
Securely locks to purpose - built case

Reasons to avoid

-
Have to use a special case

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 is 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 especially is a great alternative. 

(Image credit: Moment)

4. 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

(Image credit: Xenvo)

5. 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)
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6. 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.

(Image credit: Nelomo)
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7. 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

(Image credit: CamKix)
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7. 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.

(Image credit: ShiftCam)
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8. ShiftCam Photography Lens kit for iPhone/Android

The complete photographers kit for shooting on your phone

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. 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 more: ShiftCam lenses for iPhone hands-on review (opens in new tab)

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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For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.