Every iPhone camera compared [2021]

In a world where there are so many photo-worthy moments, you can gain great personal satisfaction from owning a high-quality camera. With technology advancing at a rate that’s often difficult to keep up with, in 2021 is it really worth upgrading your iPhone just for the camera? Is it even much better?  We set out to answer that exact question and have compared every iPhone camera in 2021.

The modern consumer is somewhat spoilt by the array of emerging smartphones on today’s market, but to what extent do iPhone cameras improve as models upgrade?

Though it’s difficult to deny that the newest iPhone models are the ones with the best cameras, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t capture crisp imagery using older handsets.

There are many seasoned iPhones that take great images and videos. What’s even better is that many of these come with significantly lower price tags, where consumer purchasing decisions are usually motivated by balancing price and quality.

So then, taking everything into consideration, what are some of the best iPhones on the market for photography? Let’s explore some insights into smartphone cameras that will transcend your photographic ambitions:

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

As the newest and most advanced iPhone on the market, it is no surprise that the iPhone 12 Pro camera packs the greatest punch. The phone’s 12MP camera sensor might initially signal lackluster performance, however, huge megapixel counts don’t always translate to excellent quality.

In fact, the variety of imaging features on offer here include a triple camera unit with a wide 26mm, ultra-wide 13mm, and even a telephoto 52mm (equivalent focal lengths) camera. You’ll also benefit from a front-facing TrueDepth camera, a feature that brings incredible clarity to the equation.

So, what does the iPhone 12 Pro camera offer that the base iPhone 12 doesn’t? Well, the Pro model has a LiDAR scanner for superior focusing in low light, alongside being capable of processing Apple’s new ProRAW file format.

Specifications

  • LiDAR scanner
  • Triple-camera unit
  • New Apple ProRAW file format

Rear Camera

  • 12MP 13mm f/2.4
  • 12MP 52mm f/2
  • 12MP 26mm f/1.6

Front Camera

  • 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Placing too much emphasis on the specification of a phone can be a grave mistake. The proof is in the pudding, as the iPhone 11 Pro suggests.

For a camera that on the surface would appear to be far from today’s cutting edge standards, the iPhone 11 Pro delivers stunning image processing, colours, exposures, and tones across three cameras.

If the prospect of producing natural imagery is an appealing one, the iPhone 11 Pro is perfect for overcoming the over-smoothed look that can plague modern devices.

The phone’s ultrawide camera is great for capturing landmarks, spectacular interiors, and travel destinations. Though it can’t quite match the edge-to-edge quality of other lenses, the supremely sharp, distortion-free images will captivate the imagination.

Specifications

  • Excellent ‘slofies’
  • Portrait effects
  • Triple-camera array
  • Consistent image quality

Rear Camera

  • 12MP 13mm f/2.4
  • 12MP 26mm f/1.8
  • 12MP 52mm f/2

Front Camera

  • 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth camera

Apple iPhone 11

If you’re looking for the best value for money, the iPhone 11 offers the best bang for your buck. While it’s difficult to justify the higher price tag of the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11 is a fantastic phone for taking crisp images without having to break the bank.

Despite a few drawbacks, like a lack of a telephoto lens and OLED screen, the iPhone 11 provides consistent image quality across an ultra-wide camera lens.

Let’s face it, you’d have to be a photography expert to notice subtle differences like these. The iPhone 11 camera offers enough clarity for you to capture images in great detail.

Specifications

  • Twin-camera array
  • Ultra-wide 13mm lens
  • Consistent Image quality

Rear Camera

  • 12MP 13mm f/2.4
  • 12MP 26mm f/1.8

Front Camera

  • 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth camera

Apple iPhone 12

Though it doesn’t have the same wow-factor as the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12 mesmerises with its jaw-dropping photographic capabilities.

Incorporating a dual-camera system with an ultra-wide 13mm lens, the model can achieve a 5x digital zoom. With a wide 26mm lens to boot, the iPhone 12 is capable of HDR video recording with Dolby Vision at 30fps. This is notably lower than the 60fps on offer with the iPhone 12 Pro, though this makes much less of a difference than you’d expect.

In fact, with a front-facing camera that’s capable of Deep Fusion and Night mode, you can enjoy exciting upgrades from the iPhone 11 that will pique your interest.

You can even accomplish Night mode Time-lapse, alongside an exciting new Ceramic Shield with a 4x better drop performance, one of a few notable upgrades.

Specifications

  • Dual-camera unit
  • New Ceramic Shield Screen
  • 5G

Rear Camera

  • 12MP 13mm f/2.4
  • 12MP 26mm f/1.6

Front Camera

  • 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth camera

iPhone XS

Who remembers when the iPhone XS was considered the best phone on the market? Well, to this day it’s still pretty good! Including the same cameras as the Max model, the iPhone XS preferences natural imagery with impressive colour balance.

It also offers a faithful image preview with every shot, underlining the benefits of image processing before it’s occurred. With the iPhone XS, pleasant imagery will be on the horizon, not to mention 240fps slo-mo at 1080p.

You’ll also relish features like Stage Lighting, included as one of many aspects of the background blur portrait mode. These features are great for isolating headshots, something that proves even outdated models can boast impressive capturing capabilities.

The 2x zoom feature on offer has actually led to many preferring the iPhone XS camera over the iPhone 11, especially as it offers optical image stabilisation for added convenience.

Who would have thought you could achieve so much from a model that was released a few years ago.

Specifications

  • Excellent image quality
  • Same camera hardware as the Max

Rear Cameras

  • 12MP wide-angle lens 
  • 12MP 2x zoom lens

Front Camera

  • 7MP

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12

iPhone 11 Pro 

iPhone 11

iPhone XS

 

 

Cameras (front, back)

Quad

Dual 

Dual

Dual

Triple

Dual

Dual

Dual

Dual

Dual

 

 

Specs

12 MP, f/1.6, f/2.0, f/2.4, TOF 3D LiDAR scanner

12MP, f/1.6, dual pixel

12MP, f/1.8. f/2.0, f/2.4

12MP, f/1.8, f/2.4

12MP, f/1.8, f/2.4

 

 

Features

Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR  

Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR

Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR

Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR

Quad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR 

 

 

Video

4K up to 60fps, 1080p up to 240fps

4K up to 60fps, 1080p up to 240fps

4K up to 60fps, 1080p up to 240fps

4K up to 60fps, 1080p up to 240fps

4K up to 60fps, 1080p up to 240fps

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