Title- Are Attachable Lenses For Smartphone Cameras Really Necessary?

Are Attachable Lenses For Smartphone Cameras Worth It?

If you’re interested in taking up mobile photography as a hobby or you are just curious about it, you may have seen a number of lenses made specifically for smartphone cameras being marketed all over the internet.

If you know nothing about smartphone lenses, you may wonder if these mobile camera accessories are at all necessary. And if they are, why? Do they improve a smartphone camera’s picture quality? Are they worth it?

The short answer is yes, they can be worth it, but it depends. If you only take photos with your phone casually, then there probably is no need for you to buy an external lens for your mobile camera, especially if you have a phone with multiple cameras. But if you’re a more serious mobile photographer or you love macro photography with a phone, then it might be worth your while to invest in a phone camera lens, even if your phone has more than one camera.

What makes a mobile camera lens worth it is that it can change the camera’s angle-of-view to make it either show more of a scene than the phone’s camera normally would or magnify the subject and bring it closer, depending on the lens used. Even phones with multiple cameras can benefit from add-on lenses.

That being said, however, it is important to understand that external lenses do not automatically improve the quality of photos your mobile camera produces.

To learn more about attachable smartphone camera lenses, you can continue reading below.

What are attachable smartphone lenses?

Attachable lenses for smartphones are mobile camera accessories that are made by a number of third-party companies in order to enhance the mobile photography experience. To use one, all you have to do is attach it in front of your smartphone’s camera and you’re good to go.

There are two popular ways to attach an external lens to a smartphone-- via a lens clip or a special phone case. Mobile camera lenses that attach to a phone via a lens clip usually can be used with a wide variety of smartphone models because, in most cases, they can be adjusted to fit the position of any smartphone’s camera array.


Smartphone lenses that need a special phone case in order to sit perfectly in front of a phone’s camera cannot be used universally. If your particular model of a smartphone does not have the required smartphone case, you can’t use the lens.

What do smartphone lenses do?

The purpose of attachable smartphone lenses is to enhance your mobile photography experiencing by expanding on the visual capacity of a smartphone’s camera. This is done by changing the phone camera’s focal length and angle-of-view, or how much of the scene can fit in the frame of the shot.

The primary camera of a lot of smartphones commonly has a wide-angle lens, with a full-frame equivalent focal length of anywhere between 22mm to 28mm, depending on the phone. This may be quite okay for wide shots, but attaching an external wide-angle lens can give you an even shorter focal length for an even wider angle-of-view.

And because digital zoom increasingly degrades the picture quality of smartphone pictures, adding a lens that can magnify your subject is a better alternative. You can bring your subject closer without having to sacrifice the picture quality.

Some lenses such as the fisheye lens can be used for special effects instead of everyday photography, which allows you to get even more creative with your mobile shots.

Types of external mobile phone lenses

There are a number of different lenses you can attach to a smartphone camera. They all have different focal lengths and affect the final image differently.

Wide-angle lens: Has a wide angle-of-view. Perfect for landscapes and street photography

Super wide-angle lens: Also known as an ultrawide-angle lens, it has an even wider angle-of-view than a wide-angle lens.

Fisheye lens: This lens’s angle-of-view is so wide, it distorts around the edges and creates a bugling effect in the middle. A cool effect, but not for everyday use.

Macro lens: Allows for extreme close-up photography for small objects or fine detail. Great for photographing insects and plants from up close.

Telephoto: Has a long focal length and a narrow angle-of-view. Can bring distant objects closer. Ideal for portrait photography.

Filters: Some smartphone camera lens kits come with filters such as a polarizer filter, kaleidoscope filter, starburst filter, ND filter, and colour filter. These don’t change the focal length or angle-of-view of the smartphone camera and can be used together with other add-on lenses.

Which phones benefit from add-on lenses?


Single-camera smartphones

Smartphones with only one camera benefit the most from add-on lenses. That’s because you can only get one angle-of-view from that one camera, which is usually a wide-angle. Using attachable lenses allows you to expand the capabilities of your mobile camera for some truly amazing shots.


Dual-camera smartphones

Phones with two cameras are at a better advantage than those with only one because they usually have lenses with different focal lengths. A popular combination is a primary camera with a wide-angle lens coupled with a second camera that has a telephoto lens.


However, not all dual-camera smartphones have the same combination of cameras. Some mobile phones have an ultrawide-angle lens instead of a telephoto lens. Others even have identical cameras with the only difference being that one of the cameras has a monochrome sensor.


Attaching an external smartphone lens to a dual-camera mobile phone allows you to take shots that the phone would otherwise be unable to. Also, attaching a telephoto lens to a phone’s telephoto camera will further increase its focal length and bring the subject even closer.


Mulitple-camera smartphones

They say ‘the more the merrier’, and that can also be said about smartphone cameras. Phones with three, four, or more cameras have the benefit of giving you different types of shots. It is not uncommon to find smartphones that have cameras with a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, a macro lens, and an ultrawide-angle lens.


This begs the question: if a smartphone has all these cameras, is it still necessary to attach a smartphone lens?


If you want the best quality image, then the answer is yes. The truth is the primary camera of most, if not all, smartphones with multiple cameras are the best camera with the best specifications. The other cameras, in some cases, are of significantly inferior quality, as shown below.


Huawei P40 Pro+ camera specs. Source: GSM Arena

So, attaching a macro lens to the primary camera will allow you to take better macro shots using the primary camera instead of the phone’s lower-quality macro camera.

For example, if you love macro photography, you also stand to benefit from attaching a macro lens to the primary camera than using the phone’s macro lens. The truth is the macro camera on most smartphones that have one only has a 5MP sensor at most, and the quality is not great. You stand a better chance of capturing great macro photos if you use the primary camera with an add-on macro lens.

ALSO READ: Smartphones With Macro Cameras

Will using an add-on lens improve your phone’s picture quality?

No, not at all. Smartphone add-on lenses only serve to change your camera’s angle-of-view and nothing else. They can allow you to capture more of a scene than you normally would be able to or get so close to your subject that you can pick up some fine detail in your image.

But just like how new tyres on a car enhance its performance but don’t increase its maximum speed, attachable smartphone lenses enhance the camera’s angle-of-view but don’t change the quality of the photos the camera produces. That is all dependent on the specs of the camera itself and all its components.

ALSO READ: What Determines The Quality of A Smartphone Camera?

Is it worth it to buy lenses for your smartphone?

As mentioned in the beginning, if you’re not much of a mobile photographer or pursue it as a hobby, then there probably isn’t much value for you in purchasing lenses for your smartphone. But, if you do more than just casually take photos with your phone, then it’s worth investing in some lenses for your mobile.

However, you need to pay attention to the quality of the lens. There are plenty of cheap smartphone camera lenses out there, some of which produce really poor results because of the lack of quality. If you expect your investment in a mobile camera lens to be worth it, then you need to get a good quality lens. Unfortunately, those don’t always come cheap.

For example, a macro lens from Moment, a very popular phone camera lens company, can cost as much as $119.99 from Amazon, whereas a cheaper macro lens could cost as little as $15.00. However, the quality of the photos produced by these lenses will not be the same.

If you’re unsure if putting up a lot of money for a smartphone lens is for you, then you could perhaps buy a cheaper one just to see if it does anything for you. If the quality of the photos produced by the lens is not great but you can see the value of using a smartphone lens, then perhaps in time you could invest in a better lens.

If you’re going to use the lens regularly, then it’ll definitely be worth it.

ALSO READ: The Best Macro Lenses For Smartphones


Although you can do mobile photography without using any extra smartphone lenses, there are some real benefits to using them. And even if your phone has more than one camera, it still works to your advantage to use an add-on lens on the primary camera so that you can take the best quality mobile photos possible.

But remember, you can’t rely on attachable lenses to make your smartphone photos look good. For that, you need to have a phone with a good camera, knowledge of how it works, the skills to take good photos with a phone, and the ability to get the most out of it despite its limitations.


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