One of the most important parts of any smartphone these days is the camera, because chances are it is the only one you have.
The iPhone has a long tradition of excellence in this department, but with so many options currently available, it can be difficult to know which model is best suited to your particular needs. Well, help is right at your fingertips, with our quick guide to the best iPhone for photography, whether you want a simple shooter for snaps or optics suited for serious enthusiasts.
If you want a perspective that goes beyond photographic capabilities, then there’s our best iPhone guide, too.
Best iPhone for everyday photos
For the majority of people, all we want is a classic camera that launches quickly so we can capture those past moments in a flash. There are no bad cameras in the current iPhone lineup (well, there hardly ever is), so you can take your pick and know that it will give great results.
The iPhone SE (2020) camera is a good option, because not only does it take great photos, but it’s also built into the cheapest iPhone on the market. The single 12MP wide camera has an aperture of f / 1.8, so it’s a good all-rounder, with optical image stabilization keeping things crisp and the 5x digital zoom a useful tool in a pinch.
Here are the lowest prices currently available for the iPhone SE:
It’s actually the same camera as the iPhone XR, but the SE version features improved Smart HDR for more impressive color and contrast, along with three additional portrait lighting modes, likely thanks to using the A13 Bionic chip.
If you want an ultra-wide camera as well, for landscapes and capturing more scenes without having to walk backwards, the iPhone 11 adds an F / 2.4 aperture lens alongside the wide camera on the left. ‘iPhone SE and XR. You will also benefit from night mode, for low light photography, and a 2x optical zoom (much better than digital).
Best iPhone for selfies
If selfies are a high priority, you’ll probably want to rule out the iPhone SE, as the lack of the TrueDepth camera array used for Face ID means it can’t really keep up with its more expensive brethren. The iPhone XR is also starting to fall out of favor, as it is the only Face ID model to still feature the old 7MP sensor, while the iPhone 11 and above all comes with the 12MP f / 2.2 version.
In this case, the iPhone 12 is the best of the bunch when you consider features and price. Not only does it have the same sensor as the iPhone 11 (not to mention all models up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max), but you also get Smart HDR 3, HDR video recording, night mode, as well as photo processing. Deep Fusion which adds additional levels of quality to the shots.
There’s a Portrait mode, for those professional-looking selfies, with six different lighting effects that can make you feel like you’re in a studio rather than your bedroom. Selfie heaven.
Best iPhone to Record Videos
Videography is its own thing these days, and iPhones are well equipped to capture high definition images with ease and with impressive results.
Even the iPhone SE will record 4K video at up to 60 fps, with optical image stabilization as standard. There is also support for Slo-Mo up to 1080p at 120 or 240 fps, time-lapse recording (again with stabilization), and stereo. So if you’re on a budget but want some solid images, the iPhone SE is again a serious contender.
Of course, if you want more advanced features, you’ll have to move higher in the chain. The iPhone 11 has all the features of the OS, plus a wide dynamic range of up to 60 fps (the maximum OS at 30 fps), 2x optical zoom with the additional camera, and audio zoom for improved sound quality when people are talking. Upgrade to the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini and you’ll also get HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps and time-lapse in night mode for those moody midnight cityscapes.
The Pro range does bring some bells and whistles, however, with the iPhone 12 Pro featuring 2x optical zoom (to accompany the 2x optical zoom outside iPhone 12), as well as boost HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps.
This is surpassed by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which adds sensor-shift optical image stabilization for rock-solid images, as well as 2.5x optical zoom. Whether you really need it depends on your aspirations as a filmmaker.
For our money, the iPhone 12 Pro is probably the best mix of features and price, especially since we recommend buying more storage capacity than the 128GB that comes with the base model, as the 4K video shooting will soon occupy this space.
Best iPhone for Photography Lovers
As you can already see, the iPhone line has some great camera options, but if you’re someone who takes your photography seriously and don’t want to go the DSLR route, enthusiastic iPhoneographers will know. that the one to buy is the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Here you get the Ultra Wide (f / 2.4), Wide (f / 1.6), and Telephoto (f / 2.2) triple lens add-on that comes on both Pro models, as well as Night Mode, Deep Fusion, and the Apple ProRAW feature. . that means you can edit RAW files rather than HEICs or JPGs. There are also Smart HDR 3, various Portrait modes, and the video capabilities described in the previous section.
The real advantage of the iPhone 12 Pro Max over the iPhone 12 Pro is that shift sensor optical image stabilization that could be the difference between a perfectly sharp shot and a slight blur from any movement. This is even more essential when you consider the increased optical zoom range of 2.5x as opposed to 2x.
Yes, those are good margins, but that’s almost always the difference between dabblers and pros. Either of the iPhone 12 Pro models will give you amazing results, but if you want the best, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is.
Of course, there are only a few months left until the new models arrive, so read the camera features of the iPhone 13 coming in 2021 to see whether or not you want to wait for the iPhone 13.
Once you’ve captured your photos you’ll want to make sure you can get the most out of them, so take a look at our best photo editing software for Mac as well as our guide on how to edit photos on a desktop. Mac.