Are you looking to purchase an outstanding iPhone tele lens? One that will get you excellent-quality images of distant subjects?
If so, then you’re in the right place.
Because this article is dedicated to breaking down the best iPhone tele lenses for you. I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know before buying an iPhone telephoto lens–and then I’ll help you determine the best iPhone telephoto lens for your needs.
Let’s dive right in.
The Best iPhone Tele Lens: Key Things 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 lens you come across. Because there are plenty of low-quality iPhone lenses out there–which 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 some beautiful smartphone photos.
There are a few factors that go into this equation:
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 photos of distant players at a football game, you’ll need something longer. A 10x telephoto lens would be a good start.
And if you want to photograph birds in distant trees, you’ll need something even longer, such as 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. Instead, you’re stuck with a single focal length. This limits your flexibility as a photographer, but you’ll learn to make it work with some practice.
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Even if you have a tele lens with a good focal length, you also want to make sure it offers excellent optical quality.
What does this involve?
First, the best iPhone tele lenses should be sharp in the center. It’s a bit too much to expect 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 something to watch out for due to optical imperfections. Vignetting, on the other hand, is often a compatibility problem, where the external tele lens obscures part of the internal iPhone lens.
Regardless, these are both optical issues you should avoid if possible. A lack of fringing and vignetting will make your photos look far more professional.
Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Sharp Smartphone Photography
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.
That’s why it’s key that you recognize which lenses will stand the test of time and which lenses won’t. The best lenses are made of metal, not plastic. And they have a good, solid feel to them when you hold them in your hands.
Some iPhone lenses are made to work on pretty much any smartphone, Apple or Android.
Other iPhone lenses are made to work on only iPhones.
Still others only work on 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.
And speaking of money:
You can’t evaluate the best iPhone telephoto lenses without considering price.
Fortunately, even the best tele lenses are fairly cheap–and for those who don’t have the budget for these, you’ll be able to grab a budget tele lens for bargain prices.
Do budget tele lenses perform worse than the pricey ones?
Generally speaking, yes. But there are some impressive budget lenses, which give a whole lot of power for a low price.
The Best iPhone Tele Lenses: Our 7 Top Picks
Now that you’re aware of the factors that go into picking the perfect telephoto lens for your needs, it’s time to look at the list of options.
Some of these lenses offer the highest quality available.
Others offer great quality for the price.
So, no matter your budget, there’s something for everyone.
Let’s start with our number one pick for best iPhone telephoto lens:
Moment is a heavy-hitter in the smartphone lens department, offering a several well-regarded options: a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, and a telephoto 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’s not going to get you close enough for photos of distant birds, or even for action sports scenes, but the Moment lens will effectively double your focal length when shooting with the standard lens on iPhones. This gives you a perfect level of magnification for tighter portrait shots and more distant scenic shots. You can use it to photograph your kids on a beach, then turn and snap some shots of the distant horizon.
Note that you can also use the Moment telephoto lens on an iPhone telephoto lens, giving you an effective focal length of around 120mm. At this focal length, you’ll be in the ballpark for headshots, images of people from a distance (e.g., for street photography), and sports photography.
Optically, Moment’s tele lens does well. The center of the frame is impressively sharp, only becoming 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 this 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 and feels strong, like it’ll 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 allows the lens to attach to your iPhone camera, so make sure you get it along with the lens.
To purchase the Moment 58mm telephoto lens, our pick for best iPhone tele, click below:
The highest quality telephoto lens you can buy
Moment’s high-quality telephoto lens is perfect for getting crisp shots. The design is highly-compatible and will last years!
Who has use for a 20x telephoto zoom lens?
Anyone who’s looking to capture close-up photos of ultra-distant subjects, such as wildlife or birds. That’s precisely what this Mikikin telephoto lens is made for, offering intense zoom capabilities (at a bargain price, no less!).
Build quality on both telephoto lenses is good, with the bodies made out of aluminum. While the lenses are a bit clunky (the 20X, in particular, is very long), you won’t have to worry about them breaking after a bit of use.
As for the optics, the Mikikin lenses perform quite well, offering clear images even at 20x–a surprise, given the ultra-low price and huge zoom capabilities.
All in all, the Mikikin 5 in 1 set is the perfect purchase for anyone looking to shoot either distant subjects or tighter portraits, especially if you’re on a budget. It also comes with a wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, and a macro lens, and you always have the option to get creative with these lenses, too.
You can click to purchase the Mikikin 5 in 1 set below:
The Best Tele Lens Set
An ultra-low priced kit with impressive capabilities
This lens set offers two telephoto lens options, which is great for allowing you to experiment more with shots. The overall quality of the lenses is decently high despite the low-cost.
The Sony DISC-QX 10 is an unorthodox choice for smartphone photographers. In fact, it’s technically neither a lens nor a smartphone camera. Rather, it’s a Sony camera that interfaces with your smartphone and allows you to take photos with an 18 MP sensor.
Yes, it’s the priciest camera on this list. But it’s also the most versatile; it works by connecting to your iPhone via Wi-Fi, where you can then take photos from your iPhone LCD. The Sony QX 10 clips onto your iPhone for standard photography, but you can also separate the external camera from your iPhone. This allows you to get into weird angles and even take selfies while looking at the iPhone screen.
Speaking of versatility: The Sony QX 10 is the only lens on this list that actually zooms. This will allow you to tighten or widen your compositions without moving, which can be a huge advantage when shooting in inflexible environments. The lens won’t allow you to photograph distant songbirds, but you should be able to capture tighter portraits and street photos.
And the Sony QX 10 provides the best image quality of any external lens I’ve encountered. Images are impressively sharp in the center and at the corners, and fringing is very well-managed. While most external iPhone lenses feel like a compromise, the Sony QX 10 does not.
Of course, this versatility and image quality comes with a tradeoff of its ow:/ the price isn’t exactly low, with the Sony QX 10 costing as much as some amateur DSLR lenses, and more than some. But for those who require the absolute best, this Sony lens is the way to go.
My biggest gripe about the Sony QX 10 is its build quality. The camera/lens combo isn’t cheap, but it’s not rugged, either. For this reason, I recommend treating it kindly.
Also note that, while the Sony QX 10 can be used with many smartphones, you should check to make sure that your model is supported before purchasing. Some users have reported connectivity problems, so look out for this, as well.
But despite a couple of problems, the Sony DSC still manages to come out on top, offering amazing image quality and flexibility (for a price).
To purchase the Sony DSC-QX 10 camera/lens, click below:
Great High-End Pick
An unorthodox choice that produces stunning images
This lens choice is perfect for getting photo quality you just wouldn’t achieve on your phone. You get a bigger sensor and higher MP rating, making for some truly impressive images.
The is a powerful option, especially for wildlife and bird photographers. 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 CoPedvic 22X can double as a sports photography lens if you find yourself high up in the stands.
Like pretty much every other long telephoto lens for iPhones, you’ll need to get used to some big optics. For one, 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, this telephoto lens comes with an upside: Build-quality and handling is impressive, especially for a budget-quality smartphone option. The lens itself is made of aircraft aluminum, and it has a built-in manual zoom function that lets you focus more easily at different distances.
And you’ll be pleased to know that the CoPedvic telephoto lens comes with a bonus: a small tripod that’ll help you balance your iPhone for longer exposures with such a hefty lens attached.
The CoPedvic telephoto clips straight onto your smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing accessories. Nor should you have compatibility issues; the entire CoPedvic lens kit works on every iPhone model since the iPhone 6 (and it works on a number of Android phones, as well!).
Image quality is good but not great; the lens displays significant distortion and softness, especially around the edges (giving an admittedly artistic look). But the center performs well, and should be able to satisfy beginners looking for a first telephoto lens at a great price.
To purchase the CoPedvic telephoto lens (along with its companion tripod, wide-angle lens, macro lens, and fisheye lens), click below:
A great first lens set option
This kit is perfect for beginners who want to experiment with a range of lenses. This kit is well built and designed for easy handling. Perfect for those new to using external lenses.
If you came to this article looking for a mid-range telephoto lens, then you’re in luck. The Eweima 4 in 1 kit offers a 12X telephoto, one that will get you close enough for some tight shots, but won’t zoom in so far that you struggle to focus.
Who will appreciate a 12X lens?
First, sports photographers. You’ll be able to use a 12X zoom to grab shots of players on the field, maybe even headshots, but you won’t feel like you have unnecessary magnification.
Second, if you’re looking to take photos of backyard wildlife, you’ll be a big fan of this focal length. 12X zoom is perfect for capturing images of critters as they come to your feeders. You won’t be able to grab shots of the smallest, most distant birds (for these, you’ll want a longer telephoto), but you’ll do just fine when focusing on closer wildlife.
Like most of the other telephotos on this list, the Eweima telephoto lens offers manual focusing capabilities. This allows you to focus by turning a ring on the body of the lens. Note that, in addition to doing better photography with the Eweima telephoto, this manual focus will also allow you to use the 12X lens as a monocular, for watching sports games or even birdwatching.
Build-quality on the Eweima lens set is good, though you may want a tripod for shooting in low light. Fortunately, Eweima has thought this through, because the 4 in 1 kit contains a miniature tripod that’s perfect for low-light photography.
Optically, I’m not blown away by this 12X telephoto lens, but it’s not bad, especially not for the ultra-low price. The center of images look decently sharp, while the corners are decidedly soft. If you’re a perfectionist, look elsewhere on this list; otherwise, you’ll appreciate what the Eweima telephoto lens can offer, and you’ll also like the wide-angle lens, macro lens, and fisheye lens that comes along with it.
For a mid-range telephoto lens at an excellent price, check out the Eeweima 12X telephoto:
A low cost kit with decent lenses
This len set is great for those on a budget. It offers a selection of 4 different lenses including a 12X telephoto lens
The Apexel telephoto lens is for specialty shooters:
Those who need massive amounts of reach, primarily for bird and wildlife photography, though it’s worth testing this out as an astrophotography lens.
Obviously, 36X is an impressive focal length, far greater than anything else on this list. You can use it to snap photos of tiny birds on trees, distant flowers in a field, and more. While such a long lens performs well in terms of reach, it comes with some drawbacks; namely, it’s tough to focus, and 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, only change the point of focus. This means that, if you find yourself cutting off parts of your subject, your only move is to back up a few steps.
On the other hand, 36X magnification on an iPhone is astonishing, and will allow you to capture shots that most smartphone photographers have never even dreamed of. You’ll be able to capture some beautiful photos of the moon.
No, it’s not a light, convenient telephoto. If you want one of those, grab the Moment 58mm (discussed above). The Apexel is quite lengthy, which is why it comes with a tripod collar and a mini tripod–once you’ve attached these, you’ll be able to take sharp images without worrying about camera shake. It’s also made of high-quality aluminum, which should keep you from worrying about it breaking after a bit of use.
As for compatibility, you can use this lens on many (but not all!) iPhones, including the iPhone XR, XS, X, 8, 7, 6s, and 6 Plus. 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; both the fringing and the softness become worse as you move toward the edges.
However, if you want to shoot at 36X on your iPhone, you don’t have many options. So for the beginner who wants a lens for bird, wildlife, or astrophotography, the Apexel High Power 36X HD telephoto lens is a good way to go.
You can purchase the Apexel 36X telephoto lens here:
Best for Specialists
High-power zoom that produces decent images.
This lens has an impressive amount of zoom and really allows you to get creative with your shots. It is compatible with most iPhones.
Before you go out and buy an external telephoto lens, it’s worth asking:
Should you buy a new iPhone, instead?
You see, several iPhones offer built-in telephoto capabilities, including the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone 11 Pro. While the focal length isn’t particularly long (around 60mm), the telephoto lens offers you the ability to capture tighter portraits and street photos. So if you’re looking for just a bit of extra reach, consider an iPhone.
The iPhone 11 Pro has debuted just recently to general acclaim, which makes its 3-camera setup (which includes a telephoto lens) very appealing. Of course, a new iPhone has its downsides, including the huge price tag, but it also comes with some benefits.
First of all, a new iPhone 11 Pro will come with optical improvements over the previous iPhones, such as better low light imaging. And it also offers something that most external telephoto lenses cannot match: 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. The only exceptions are lenses like the Sony QX 10, which doesn’t actually go in front of the iPhone lens, but instead interfaces with the smartphone LCD.
Sometimes, this drop in sharpness is worth it, such as when you’re shooting distant wildlife that you can’t possibly get close enough to photograph with just the native camera.
But sometimes it makes sense to maintain image quality, and that’s where the telephoto lens of an iPhone 11 Pro comes in. Native telephoto lenses also offer less color fringing and limited vignetting.
Plus, a built-in telephoto lens saves you from having to worry about your external lens breaking or getting lost.
So if you’re looking for a small telephoto lens, check out the newest iPhone:
The best if you’re looking for a new phone
The iPhone 11 Pro comes with a telephoto lens built-in which is great for getting stunning telephoto images. Using the telephoto lens you will get tack sharp images!
Related Post: Comparing the 10 Best Smartphone Cameras in 2019
The Best iPhone Tele Lenses: Conclusion
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, most of them offered at excellent prices. Whether you get the Moment 58mm for some portrait and street shooting, the Sony QX 10 for amazing flexibility, the Apexel 36X lens, or even an iPhone 11 Pro with its telephoto lens, you’ll end up with a lens that can take some impressive photos.
So get your lens, get out, and start shooting.
Amazing images await.
Our pick for the best iPhone tele lens is the Moment 58mm telephoto, which gives you 2X optical zoom, along with good image quality (especially in the center of the frame) and stellar build quality.
However, those who are looking for a lower-priced option should check out the Mikikin 5 in 1 kit, which includes a 20X lens. Though it doesn’t offer as strong image quality as the Moment 58mm, the price is far lower, and the optics are good for the price. Plus, you’ll get several other fun lenses as part of the package. It’s also easily mounted on most smartphones, while the Moment lens requires a special case to even get started.
There is no one best iPhone telephoto focal length; it all depends on your needs! If you want to shoot portrait photography or street photography, a 2X telephoto lens (around 50mm-60mm) should work well. However, if you want to shoot distant sports, aim for a lens around 10X (or even 15X, if you’re dealing with large distances). And for those who want to shoot birds or the moon, even greater distances (20X, or even 36X) will be best.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Mikikin 5 in 1 kit, which offers a 20X lens and decent image quality. Another great option is the Eweima 4 in 1, which is a slightly more midrange focal length option (12X) at a bargain price.
The Moment 58mm telephoto lens is a great option. In fact, it’s our pick for the best iPhone tele lens you can buy. It balances image quality (which is good, especially in the center), build quality (which is amazing, through and through), and price (which is reasonable, though not cheap).
Of course, the 2X optical zoom isn’t for everybody. If you’re hoping to do portrait, street, or casual walkaround photography, 2X is great. But for those looking to shoot distant wildlife, you’ll want significantly more reach.
You should purchase an iPhone telephoto lens if you’re looking to expand your reach. iPhones only offer around 25mm of reach (which jumps to around 60mm on the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, XS, and 11 Pro). While the common 25mm lens is nice for landscape shots, sometimes you just want to zoom in more. And that’s where iPhone telephoto lenses come in. They’ll get you much closer to the scene, sometimes as much as 36X closer, and will allow you to capture details that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Another cool thing is that most of these telephoto iPhone lenses double as monoculars. So you can always slip them off your iPhone and watch birds or a sports game through them!
Jaymes Dempsey is a professional macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan; his work is published across the web, from Digital Photography School to PetaPixel.
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