An iPhone tele lens can help you capture beautiful photos of distant wildlife, sports players, scenery, and more. In fact, with a good tele lens on hand, you can create the type of detailed, close-up images that’ll impress even the most serious photographers.
Unfortunately, not all telephoto glass is created equal. Many of these lenses are made from cheap materials, produce blurry images, and will give all-around bad results, so it’s essential that you choose your lens carefully.
I’ve spent dozens of hours researching the best iPhone tele lenses, and in this article, I share my favorites, including options for all budgets and skill levels. Whether you’re a serious iPhone shooter looking to expand your photographic capabilities or you’re a beginner in need of a focal length boost, you’re bound to find a model that fits your goals!
Best iPhone Tele Lenses:
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1. Sevenka 6-in-1 Lens Kit (with 18x Telephoto Lens)
The Sevenka lens kit offers a well-built set of lenses for a great price. You get an 18x telephoto lens (which doubles as a monocular!).
If you’re after a budget-priced tele lens for your iPhone, look no further than the Sevenka lens kit, which offers a whopping six lenses for under $30 USD.
The crown jewel of this lens set is the zoom telephoto; with its 18x magnification, you can capture detailed photos of distant birds, wildlife, and more. Image quality is decent, though you will notice some slight fringing around the corners of the frame (fortunately, this can be minimized in post-processing, or you can just roll with it for a bit of artistic flair!).
While the lenses are plastic, the build quality is very solid. And handling the telephoto lens is pretty easy – just clip it to your iPhone, turn the rings to focus, and you’ll have a sharp image in no time at all.
My main gripe with the Sevenka telephoto lens (as with all iPhone super-tele lenses) is its size. When mounted to your iPhone, it pokes out rather far, but as long as you have room to maneuver, you should be fine.
And there’s a little bonus, too: the telephoto lens doubles as a monocular. Just add the soft cap, and you’ll have a serviceable setup for bird watching or viewing sports from a distance.
The Sevenka kit also packs several other useful items, including an iPhone fisheye lens (for an ultra-wide, circular effect), an iPhone wide-angle lens (for capturing stunning landscapes), and an iPhone macro lens (for detailed close-up photography).
Sevenka claims that its lenses work on “almost all smartphones,” including plenty of iPhones and Samsung models. Check out Sevenka's list of compatible phones, or – if your phone isn’t listed – you can always contact Sevenka directly.
Bottom line: If you need a bargain-priced lens kit that can do it all, the Sevenka lens kit is a great purchase.
2. Moment Tele 58mm Lens
Moment’s high-quality tele lens is perfect for beginners and experienced photographers alike thanks to its top-notch image quality and build.
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Note: The Moment 58mm is not always available on Amazon, but you can buy the lens directly from the Moment Shop.
Moment is a heavy-hitter in the smartphone lens department, offering several well-regarded options: a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, and the Moment Tele 58mm lens.
Because Moment is known for their smartphone optics, I was hoping that the Moment tele lens would hold up under scrutiny, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Let’s start with the focal length: 58mm. The Moment telephoto is a relatively short lens, especially compared to other lenses on this list. It won’t get you close enough for photos of distant birds or even for action sports scenes, but the Moment lens will effectively double your iPhone’s focal length. This will provide you with the perfect level of magnification for tighter portrait shots and more distant scenic shots. You can use the lens to photograph your kids on a beach, then turn and snap some shots of the distant horizon.
Optically, Moment’s tele lens performs well. The center of the frame is impressively sharp, and photos only become soft as you move out toward the corners. Colors look good, though some chromatic aberration is present toward the outside of the frame. If the fringing irks you, you shouldn’t have much trouble removing it in a program like Lightroom.
As for build quality: The Moment lenses are some of the best on the market. The telephoto lens is manufactured from aerospace-grade metal; it feels strong and built to last.
While the Moment telephoto lens is compatible with many smartphones (including most iPhone models), you cannot use it without the Moment smartphone case, which is sold separately. The case attaches the lens to your iPhone camera, so make sure you buy it along with the lens.
3. Bostionye Camera Lens Kit (with 20x Telephoto Lens)
The Bostionye lens kit is perfect for beginners looking to have some fun with a telephoto lens (and the quality is decent, too!).
The Bostionye lens kit features a well-priced, powerful 20x telephoto lens – a great pick for beginner telephoto photographers, especially those aiming to shoot wildlife and birds. The focal length is on the longer end, which is exactly what you need if you’re working with small and distant subjects. Plus, the Bostionye 20x lens works great for sports photography when you’re positioned high up in the stands.
The kit also contains a handful of additional lenses, including a macro lens for close-up photography, a wide-angle lens for scenic shots, a fisheye lens that produces breathtaking distortion, and several creative filters for artistic photography.
Like pretty much every other long telephoto lens for iPhones, you’ll need to get used to some big optics. It’ll be tough to find your subjects at such high magnifications; you’ll need to do a lot of hunting before you can lock onto anything. And the lens body itself is long and a bit unwieldy.
Fortunately, the Bostionye 20x comes with a handy accessory: a small tripod that’ll help you balance your iPhone when shooting with the hefty tele lens attached.
The Bostionye tele lens clips straight onto your smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing accessories. Nor should you have compatibility issues; the entire lens kit works well with iPhones (and plenty of Android models, too).
Image quality is good but not great. The lens displays distortion and softness, especially around the frame edges. But images look decent in the center of the frame, and the results should satisfy beginners looking for a first telephoto lens at a great price.
4. MIAO LAB HD 20-40x Zoom Lens
The MIAO LAB HD 20-40x is the sharpest and most versatile long tele lens on the market. If you want to shoot sports or wildlife with your smartphone, it’s the best lens you can buy.
If you’re after a long telephoto lens for wildlife, distant sports, and birds, the MIAO LAB HD 20-40x is a capable – and well-priced – pick.
For less than $75 USD, here’s what you get:
- A 20-40x zoom lens
- A tabletop tripod (for added stability)
- A nifty little eyecup (the lens can be used as a monocular)
- A compact storage bag
The MIAO LAB 20-40x lens is unlike any smartphone super-telephoto I’ve encountered. It offers a whopping 20x to 40x zoom range, which is certainly powerful enough to capture sports and wildlife. And it delivers beautiful image quality, with zero vignetting and fringing at 20x and only limited fringing at 40x. You’re also helped by the tabletop tripod, which keeps the lens stable in low-light conditions.
Build quality is excellent thanks to the aluminum materials, but what really impresses me is the MIAO LAB’s versatility; at the wide end, you can shoot distant animals and people, while at the long end, you can shoot birds and pretty much anything that looks impossibly far away. In fact, this is the only smartphone zoom lens that combines such incredible reach with stellar optics, which is why I highly recommend it for the budding bird/wildlife photographer.
Honestly, the MIAO LAB 20-40x is, without a doubt, the best super-telephoto iPhone lens I’ve encountered. And the price is quite affordable – sub-$70 USD isn’t bad at all, especially in the realm of smartphone lenses – so if you’re set on capturing distant subjects with your smartphone and you love the idea of a powerful zoom, it’s the perfect choice.
5. Apexel High Power 36x HD Telephoto Lens
The Apexel High Power lens offers unprecedented power; with 36x zoom, you can photograph wildlife, birds, and even the moon.
The Apexel telephoto lens is for specialty shooters – primarily bird and wildlife photographers, though it’s also worth testing it out as an astrophotography lens.
Obviously, 36x is an impressive focal length, and you can use it to snap photos of tiny birds on trees, distant flowers in a meadow, and more. While such a long lens performs well in terms of reach, it comes with some drawbacks; it’s tough to focus, and it’s even tougher to track a subject in the field.
To this end, Apexel has included a manual focus ring, which lets you alter focus on the lens body itself. But at 36x, you should be aware that you cannot technically zoom in and out. So if you find yourself cutting off parts of your subject, your only option is to back up a few steps.
No, this isn’t a light, convenient tele lens. If you want one of those, grab one of the shorter options on this list. The Apexel is quite lengthy, which is why it comes with a tripod collar and a mini tripod. It’s also made of high-quality aluminum, which should keep you from worrying about it breaking after a bit of use.
You can use this lens on many (but not all!) iPhones, so make sure to check its compatibility before buying. You can choose to attach it to your iPhone via a clip or as part of a case setup (though the case is an accessory that doesn’t come with the lens).
This isn’t the best telephoto lens out there. The center is barely sharp and displays some notable fringing. However, for the beginner who wants a lens for bird, wildlife, or even astrophotography, the Apexel High Power 36x HD is a reasonable choice.
6. iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro offers a 65mm telephoto lens plus two additional cameras. If you’re willing to pay $1000+, you’ll walk away with a very capable system.
Before you go out and buy an external telephoto lens, it’s worth asking: Should you buy a new smartphone instead?
Several iPhones offer built-in telephoto capabilities, including the iPhone 13 Pro. While the focal length isn’t particularly long (around 77mm), the telephoto lens lets you capture tighter portraits and detailed street photos. So if you’re looking for just a bit of extra reach, consider an iPhone.
The iPhone 13 Pro debuted just last year to general acclaim, which makes its three-camera setup very appealing. Of course, a new iPhone has its downsides, including a huge price tag, but it also comes with some benefits.
For instance, an iPhone tele lens offers something that most external telephoto lenses can’t match: superb sharpness.
Simply put, any iPhone with an external lens just won’t be as sharp as the iPhone without that lens. The more glass you have in front of the native camera, the lower the overall sharpness. Sometimes, this drop in sharpness is worth it, such as when you’re shooting distant wildlife that you can’t possibly capture with just the native camera.
But sometimes it makes sense to ensure top-notch image quality, and that’s where the telephoto lens of the iPhone 13 Pro comes in. Native telephoto lenses also offer less color fringing and limited vignetting.
And the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera setup is just all-around great; you get the 12 MP 77mm tele lens (with optical image stabilization for sharper shots in low light) along with a very nice ultra-wide lens (for stunning landscapes and architectural shots), and of course, a powerful main camera (with a 26mm focal length for shooting wide-angle portraits, documentary photos, and natural-looking landscapes).
So if you’re in search of an excellent smartphone camera (or three), check out the newest iPhone!
7. ShiftCam 60mm Telephoto ProLens
ShiftCam’s 60mm portrait lens offers stunning image quality in a well-built package.
Looking for an iPhone tele lens that’ll capture beautiful portraits, street photos, and more? The ShiftCam 60mm Telephoto ProLens offers both outstanding image quality and a robust build. Yes, the price is on the higher side, but if you care about quality, then the ShiftCam 60mm is worth the investment.
Somehow, ShiftCam has managed to create a lens that looks great, feels great, and takes stellar images. Photos are sharp from corner to corner. There’s no significant vignetting or chromatic aberration. If you’re a serious photographer in search of a top-quality iPhone portrait lens, then it’s an outstanding option.
And if you’re a fan of hiking, biking, or bad-weather photography, you’ll love how durable the lens is. According to ShiftCam, the body is constructed from aluminum, so it should hold up under significant stress.
The ShiftCam 60mm Telephoto ProLens is also highly versatile. The lens comes with a “universal mount” that clips directly to your iPhone, but you also have the option to purchase an in-case mount, which interfaces with “virtually any case of your choice.” Alternatively, you can grab a ShiftCam case, which includes the in-case mount and is available for several generations of iPhones.
It’s worth noting that the ShiftCam telephoto lens doesn’t offer a ton of zoom. The focal length equates to 60mm on a full-frame camera, which is great for portraits and street shooting but won’t get you close enough for sports, wildlife, or bird photography.
Really, it all depends on what you’re after. If you like the idea of capturing high-quality portraits, this little lens kit is a great buy. But if you’re looking to shoot distant subjects such as birds, I’d highly recommend you check out one of the super-telephoto options on this list.
The Best iPhone Tele Lens: Key Items to Consider
When it comes to picking a telephoto lens for your iPhone, you don’t want to go out and grab the first working glass you come across. There are plenty of low-quality iPhone lenses out there that will give you blurry, poorly rendered images of your subject.
Instead, you want to find the lens that accommodates your needs while ensuring you capture beautiful smartphone photos.
There are a few factors to take into account:
Before you choose a telephoto lens for your iPhone, ask yourself:
What do I want to photograph?
If you’re simply looking for a lens that gets you slightly closer to your subjects than the native iPhone lens – so that you can capture half-body portraits or headshots, for instance – you’ll only need a telephoto lens with a small amount of zoom, such as 5x (or even 2x).
However, if you want to capture nice photos of distant players at a sports game, you’ll need something longer. A 10x telephoto lens is a good start.
And if you want to photograph birds in distant trees, you’ll need the greater reach provided by a 15x or 20x telephoto lens.
Unfortunately, most iPhone tele lenses don’t offer a range of focal lengths. In other words, you can’t shoot at 5x and then zoom in to 10x; you’re stuck with a single focal length. This limits your flexibility as a photographer, but over time, you’ll learn to make it work.
Even if you have a tele lens with a good focal length, you should make sure it offers excellent optical quality.
What does this entail?
First, the best iPhone tele lenses should be sharp in the center. It’s a bit too much to expect corner-to-corner sharpness, but you want to take photos that aren’t noticeably blurry in the middle of the frame.
The best tele lenses should also have limited chromatic aberration and vignetting. Chromatic aberration refers to fringing, often on high-contrast edges. Vignetting refers to a darkening at the edges of the frame. In tele lenses, chromatic aberration is caused by optical imperfections. Vignetting, on the other hand, is often a compatibility problem and is caused when the external tele lens obscures part of the internal iPhone lens.
Regardless, they’re both optical issues you should avoid if possible. A lack of fringing and vignetting will make your photos look far more professional.
When it comes to tele lenses for iPhones, manufacturers often skimp on build quality to keep the price down.
Unfortunately, this results in cheap lenses that will last for a few weeks before breaking.
It’s key that you recognize which lenses will stand the test of time. The best lenses are made of metal, not plastic. And they have a good, solid feel when you hold them in your hands.
Some iPhone lenses are made to work on pretty much any smartphone, be it Apple or Android. Other iPhone lenses are made to work on only iPhones or even single iPhone models.
Before you purchase an iPhone telephoto lens, you want to make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone. And there are advantages to purchasing lenses that are compatible with additional iPhones and Android devices: If you end up buying a new iPhone or purchasing a Google Pixel, you’ll be able to use your tele lens without a problem, which will save you money in the long run.
You can’t evaluate iPhone telephoto lenses without considering price.
Fortunately, even the best tele lenses are fairly cheap – and for those who only have a few dollars to spend, you’ll still be able to grab a budget tele lens.
Do budget tele lenses perform worse than the pricey ones?
Generally speaking, yes. But there are some impressive budget lenses that offer a whole lot of power for a low price.
Pick the Perfect iPhone Tele Lens
Hopefully, you now have a sense of the best iPhone tele lens for your needs.
Just remember that there are plenty of great options out there! Whether you get the Sevenka 6-in-1 lens kit, the Apexel telephoto lens, or even an iPhone 13 Pro, you’ll end up with a lens that can take beautiful photos.
So buy your lens, then have fun shooting!
Amazing images await.
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3 thoughts on “The Best iPhone Tele Lenses: 7 Amazing Picks in 2023”
This information is very helpful. It helped me to determine what kind of accessories I want/need for my iPhone.
I’ll be going on safari and want the ability to get close-up pictures of the animals. Am looking at the MIAO LAB HD 20-40x Zoom Lens but am not sure it will be practical in the field. I may not be able to use a tripod to stabilize. Any thoughts or other suggestions?
Thank you for your reviews of cellphone telephoto lenses. Based upon your review, I planned to purchase the MIAO LAB HD 20-40x however it is not available for Australia, but may be similar to the SEGEMS.
Also, most tele lens only suit 2X camera lens cellphones, so our 3X camera iPhone 11 Pro may need an alternative. Time to revive the old DSLR