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 Telephoto Lenses:
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1. 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, widlife, or birds 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 $70 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 unit 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 a nice tabletop tripod, which keeps the lens stable in low-light conditions.
Build quality is excellent thanks to the aluminum materials – a major advantage for an outdoor photographer – but what really impresses me is the MIAO LAB’s versatility; at the wide end, you can shoot animals and people, while at the long end, you can shoot sports players on the opposite side of the field and pretty much anything that looks impossibly far away.
As someone who shoots a lot of bird photography, I can assure you that the reach is perfect for a variety of avian subjects. On the shorter end, you can capture tame birds, such as swans, and on the longer end, you can capture impressively crisp shots of sparrows and swallows as they swoop across distant fields (assuming you can keep up with them, of course!). 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.
The MIAO LAB 20-40x is, without a doubt, the best super-telephoto iPhone lens on the market. Of course, like all super-telephoto lenses, the MIAO LAB does come with limitations. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for the portrait or street specialist – the minimum 20x focal length will be far too long – and the lens itself is quite large. But the price is quite affordable – sub-$70 USD isn’t bad at all, especially for a well-made smartphone lens – so if you’re set on capturing distant subjects with your iPhone and you love the idea of a powerful zoom, it’s a perfect choice.
2. 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 and includes an 18x telephoto lens that 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 $50 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. I generally like to use a lens like this to photograph birds and squirrels at my backyard feeder, but thanks to the impressive zoom, I can capture herons, egrets, and even songbirds when hiking in my local parks. 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. You won’t have a problem in most outdoor shooting scenarios even if you’re tough on your gear, but as with most lenses, I wouldn’t recommend working in the snow or rain. Note that 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 longer telephoto lenses for iPhones) is the size. When mounted to your iPhone, it pokes out rather far, so it’s not ideal if you’re trying to discreetly shoot street photos, nor does it work great if you plan to carry it around in your pocket while out and about.
On the other hand, the kit comes with plenty of cool features, including a little bonus: 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. If you need a bargain-priced lens kit that can do it all, the Sevenka lens kit is a great purchase.
3. 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.
$99.99 at time of publication
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, including 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 tele lens would hold up under scrutiny, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s 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, before photographing the waves lapping up at your feet.
Optically, Moment’s tele lens performs extremely well. The center of the frame is impressively sharp, and photos only become soft as you move out toward the corners. It’s one of the sharpest iPhone lenses I’ve ever encountered, so if you’re hoping to order prints of your photos or include them in a photography portfolio, it’ll serve you well. The 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 an app 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, and I wouldn’t hesitate to photograph in dusty or sandy conditions.
While this 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.
4. 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 and is an outstanding pick for beginner smartphone photographers who want to test out a telephoto lens without breaking the bank. The focal length is long without going overboard, which is exactly what you need if you’re working with small and distant subjects, such as deer, animals at the zoo, birds, and even distant flowers. Plus, the Bostionye 20x lens works well for sports photography even if 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. That way, you can experiment with a wide variety of shooting techniques and can really round out your Instagram feed with photos of people, landscapes, wildlife, and so much more.
Like pretty much every other long telephoto lens for iPhones, this lens requires some finesse. For instance, it’ll be tough to track moving subjects at such high magnifications; you’ll need to do some practicing before you can quickly lock onto a bird in flight. And the lens body itself is long and a bit unwieldy, which means that I don’t feel great about keeping it mounted to my phone when traveling or walking around busy cities.
The Bostionye 20x does come with a handy accessory: a small tripod that’ll help you balance your iPhone when shooting with the hefty tele lens attached, which will help reduce blur due to camera shake in low-light scenarios (e.g. when photographing indoor sports). And the Bostionye tele lens clips straight onto your smartphone camera, 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).
The image quality is good but not great. The lens displays distortion and softness, especially around the frame edges, so it’s not the best choice if you plan to make huge crops or print large photos. On the other hand, images do look decent in the center of the frame, and the results should satisfy beginners looking for a first telephoto lens at a great price.
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 High Power 36x HD telephoto lens is designed for casual iPhone photographers looking to add a super-telephoto focal length to their collection without overpaying, and in general, it’s a solid pick. Most of the tele lenses on the market don’t go out this far; the one key exception is the MIAO LAB, which extends to 40x but costs slightly more (see above!).
In other words, the 36x zoom is impressive, and you can take advantage of it to snap photos of tiny birds on trees, distant flowers in a meadow, and more. Then there’s the astrophotography potential that Apexel emphasizes in its marketing materials. While I haven’t personally had the chance to photograph the night sky with the lens, I have reviewed a number of moon and star pictures taken by other users, and I was impressed.
Unfortunately, while this 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, and this isn’t always an option when you’re photographing standard super-telephoto subjects such as sports players or rapidly moving wildlife.
I want to emphasize that this isn’t a light, convenient tele lens. If you want one of those, grab one of the shorter options on this list; you’ll sacrifice some reach, but you’ll get a model that’s far better suited to street, portrait, and walkaround travel photography. 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 makes it heavier but 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. It’ll attach 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).
Finally, from an optical perspective, this isn’t the best telephoto lens out there. The center is barely sharp and displays some notable fringing, so while your shots will look perfectly acceptable on Instagram, you probably won’t want to make any prints to hang on your wall, say. However, for the beginner who needs a lens for bird snaps, wildlife shots, or even astrophotography, the Apexel High Power 36x HD is a reasonable choice.
6. Apple iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro offers a 77mm telephoto lens plus two additional cameras. If you’re willing to pay nearly $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 I just buy a new smartphone instead?
Several iPhones offer built-in telephoto capabilities, including the iPhone 14 Pro. While the focal length isn’t particularly long (around 77mm, or 3x), 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 14 Pro debuted in late 2022, and its three-camera setup was immediately hailed as a dramatic improvement over the iPhone 13 Pro, not least due to the addition of a 48 MP standard camera that can be “converted” into a 2x telephoto camera when the need arises. 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 77mm telephoto lens on the iPhone 14 Pro comes in. Native telephoto lenses also offer less color fringing and limited vignetting, so you won’t need to spend time fiddling around in editing apps, and your images will look far more professional.
The iPhone 14 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). There’s also the powerful 48 MP main camera (with a 24mm focal length for shooting wide-angle portraits, documentary photos, and natural-looking landscapes), which also offers 2x telephoto capabilities thanks to its outstanding megapixel count.
One of the best reasons to photograph with an iPhone is how discreet the process can be. These days, everyone looks at their phones all the time, so it’s easy to snatch a few shots of passersby on the street without drawing their attention. And your portrait subjects will feel more at ease when posing before a bare, unadorned iPhone instead of a clip-on telephoto accessory or a mirrorless camera. If you think that a fancy-looking lens is needed for pro-level pictures, that’s simply not the case; there are a number of well-respected photographers who use an iPhone, and their work is outstanding.
So if you’re in search of an excellent smartphone camera (or three), and you like the idea of capturing photos with a no-frills telephoto lens, check out the newest iPhone!
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 iPhone telephoto lens that fits your budget and photographic requirements, whether you’re looking to capture beautiful bird photos, detailed portraits, or anything in between.
Finally, if you’re after a super-telephoto option for bird, wildlife, and sports shooting, I highly recommend the MIAO LAB HD 20-40x, which combines outstanding image quality with an amazing range of focal lengths.
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