When it comes to smartphone requirements, a fantastic camera is usually on the top of everybody's list.
While it's easy to see how far iPhone cameras have developed since the first generation, understanding the differences between models is much more difficult. To take a closer look at what's currently available, we put the new generation of iPhones up against previous releases.
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini
The much-anticipated iPhone 13 series brings four new handsets onto the market, each of which boasts an industry-leading camera system, with multiple lenses and a whole host of software to explore. iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini are each equipped with a dual-lens rear camera, comprised of one 12MP wide lens, and a second 12MP ultra wide lens, to help you capture those stunning landscape shots, or get the whole family into a group photo. All the standard photography settings you’d expect from a premium iPhone are included – such as Night Mode, Time-lapse, Portrait Mode, and Portrait Lighting with six different effects.
With 2x Optical Zoom range, you can also experiment with closeup photography, catching every minute detail in superb clarity. Meanwhile, when you’re filming in 4K, you’ll also be able to make the most of Audio Zoom – a feature which focuses on the sounds that matter most, leaving out any disruptive background noise for a professional-grade cut.
One exciting videography setting that Apple has debuted on the iPhone 13 series is Cinematic Mode. Much like the standard video recording mode, this feature defaults to a 16:9 aspect ratio, but it also provides you with an aperture number in the top-right corner, which you can tap to manually alter the depth of field. This setting can also automatically identify the most important subject in shot and change the focus accordingly. So, if someone else in your video starts to speak, or a new person enters the frame, Cinematic Mode detects this, and anticipates the necessary change in depth control. To access Cinematic Mode, just open the camera app, go to the regular video mode and swipe right once more to the next available choice.
iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
The two flagship devices in the iPhone 13 series have even more to offer when it comes to camera tech. Both iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max feature three 12MP lenses – one telephoto, one wide, and one ultra wide. On top of the inclusion of an additional lens, there’s also a LiDAR scanner on board, which enables Night portraits and faster autofocus after dark, so you can take beautiful headshots in low light.
This combination of hardware also allows you to record Macro video, thanks to the ultra wide lens which can focus from just 2mm away, granting you new perspective on everyday objects. Put 6x Optical zoom range to the test too, and capture the whorls of a fingerprint, or the precise grain of a leaf – there’s no end to the possibilities.
Just like iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13, the Pro and Pro Max have Apple’s new Cinematic mode, and HDR video recording with Dolby Vision. This last feature records more details about a specific scene, to give you greater autonomy during the editing process – with Dolby Vision, you can edit your footage at a granular level, frame by frame. Both of these flagships are rated IP68 water and dust resistant, so there’s no need to worry about filming in the rain, and with Cinematic video stabilisation, you can bank on getting smooth video, even when you’re on the move.
As well as this, Night mode is present on every camera in the iPhone 13 series, including the 12MP front camera on each device. These are all TrueDepth cameras, which emit thousands of infrared dots to accurately map your facial data, enabling you to unlock your phone seamlessly with Face ID.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini
With advanced dual-lens cameras on the rear, and a brilliant 12MP True Depth camera on the front, budding photographers won't be let down by iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini. Pulling out all the stops, Apple has added identical specs to both handsets - meaning fans of smaller smartphones won't have to miss out on the latest camera tech.
On the back there's a dual-lens camera system, with a 12MP wide lens and 12MP ultra wide lens. Upgraded from previous iPhone models, the main wide lens now uses an f/1.6 aperture, enabling the rear camera to take in 27% more light. Combined with Night Mode on both lenses and Apple's new Deep Fusion technology, capturing photos in low-light conditions has never been easier.
And that's not all, you'll also find Optical Image Stabilisation on both iPhones, 2x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom, and Apple's own Portrait Mode and Depth Control. Zoom in without sacrificing photo quality, experiment with new styles and explore the blurred background bokeh effect. You can even shoot with confidence, knowing Smart HDR 3 has your back. New for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, this feature will automatically adjust your camera's settings, fixing the white balance and enhancing details and colours for the best results.
4K Dolby Vision HDR up to 30fps is now possible with any of the iPhone 12 series. A first for smartphones, this professional 10-bit HDR video format means you can expect to produce outstanding, cinematic videos directly from your phone. There's end-to-end support too, so you can record in real-time then edit and play back video all in Dolby Vision.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
If you've been enticed by iPhone 12, but you're after more advanced camera specs, then you're sure to love iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Featuring a triple-lens camera (reserved only for Apple's Pro models), you can shoot like a professional straight from your smartphone.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are both packed with Apple's finest smartphone photography specs. There's a 12MP wide lens, 12MP ultra wide lens and a final 12MP telephoto lens, with all three equipped with Night Mode for beautifully clear and vibrant results. iPhone 12 Pro Max, however, has a larger sensor on its wide lens, resulting in a huge 87% improvement when shooting in darker environments. Pro Max is also capable of some seriously impressive zoom capabilities: you can look forward to 5x optical zoom, 12x digital zoom, 2.5x zoom in and 2x zoom out. Even when shooting from far away, you can expect nothing less than super detail shots.
iPhone 12 Pro has plenty to offer too. It sees a 27% improvement in low-light, and has its own cutting-edge zoom specs, with a 4x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom and 2x zoom in and zoom out. You'll have everything you need to take up-close macro shots or photos from far away, and exclusive Apple features like Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3 and Apple ProRAW help you to take your smartphone photography and edits further.
Just like iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, you can record with the outstanding 4K Dolby Vision. For Pro models, there's a choice between 30fps or 60fps, and the specs don’t stop there. As well as shooting in real time in 10-bit HDR quality, you can edit Dolby Vision directly on the devices, and even play your homemade film for friends via AirPlay.
iPhone SE (Second Generation)
Apple is calling it the "best single-camera system on an iPhone", so the second generation iPhone SE is a brilliant choice if you'd prefer to stick to a mid-range budget for your next handset. New for 2020, the new iPhone SE has been built with a 12MP rear camera and 7MP front-facing camera - that's plenty of megapixels to snap professional-looking shots in both bright and low light.
iPhone SE shares many of the photography features found on Apple's premium handsets, including Portrait Mode with all six Portrait Lighting effects. You'll be able to get creative with the subject of your shot, and on both the front and rear cameras you can access Depth Control, which will use machine learning and monocular depth estimation to allow you to adjust the amount of background blur in each picture. Simply use the toggle to add more or less blur to a photo - you can even do this after you've taken the shot.
Next-generation Smart HDR, meanwhile, helps to enhance every single photo taken. It intelligently adjusts highlights and shadows to ensure your picture has the very best lighting, removing any overexposed or unnaturally dark areas.
Last but not least is iPhone SE video. You can record on the rear camera at an amazing 4K up to 60fps, and with stereo audio recording the sound will be crisp and crystal clear. You can even use the new QuickTake feature to take a still photo while filming - perfect for capturing unforgettable moments to share on social.
iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple's first triple-lens rear camera can be found on both iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max - two of Apple's flagships released in September 2019. With an additional lens, Apple has taken smartphone photography up a notch, and all three lenses measure 12MP.
The 12MP Ultra Wide lens shoots with a 120-degree field of view. This means you'll be able to see four times more, making it a perfect option for capturing breath-taking landscapes. The 12MP Wide lens helps autofocus happen at lightning speed - even in low light. Finally, the 12MP Telephoto lens uses 2x optical zoom to give you more control over the depth in your images. You can manually switch between all three lenses quickly and easily, so you'll never miss that vital moment.
Both iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max include a new feature called Night Mode which ensures low-light images are refined, well-lit and showcase colour beautifully. Portrait Mode and Portrait Lightning have been improved as well, with new effects added for more flattering photos.
4K video recording, slow-motion selfies (aka Slofies) and a new 12MP True Depth selfie camera are all yours to explore on both phones.
iPhone Xs and Xs Max
As Apple's current flagship devices, it should come as no surprise that both iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max are home to the manufacturer's most advanced cameras. Both share the same specs, the major difference between these two handsets has to do with screen size: iPhone Xs measures 5.8 inches while iPhone Xs Max is a whopping 6.5 inches.
Back to cameras, on the rear of iPhone Xs and Xs Max you'll find an innovative dual-lens 12MP camera. Both a wide-angle and telephoto lens are on board, alongside dual optical image stabilisation to reduce blurriness in your photos. The rear camera is also capable of 2x optical zoom and has a digital zoom up to 10x. You can record in 4K as well, at either 24, 30 or 60fps, take videos in slo-mo and use either a 2x optical zoom or digital zoom up to 6x when filming.
You'll find the phenomenal 7MP True Depth camera system on iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max too. As well as capturing your best angle in selfies, it makes some of Apple's most sought-after features possible. Tracking over 50 of your facial muscles, you'll be able to use Face ID to unlock your phone and make use of Animoji and Memoji on both handsets.
Smart HDR - an improvement on Auto HDR - made its debut in 2018, and intelligently combines multiple photos with different exposure levels to create the perfectly composed, well-lit photo. There's also Portrait Lighting and Portrait Mode, now with advanced bokeh for an improved blurred effect. Depth Control is brand-new from Apple for 2018 too, and this feature enables you to adjust the depth of field of an image even after you've pressed the shutter button.
Released alongside iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, the iPhone XR's cameras share many of the same brilliant features, including Smart HDR, Portrait Lighting and the new and improved Portrait Mode with Depth Control. In fact, there are only a handful of differences to mention, with the most notable surrounding the rear camera.
Unlike iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, the iPhone XR has a single-lens 12MP rear camera. With an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and a digital zoom up to 5x however, you can still expect sensational photos, even in conditions with low light levels. Combined with the features above, you can expect some seriously great shots.
As for the front-facing camera, it's exactly the same. The 7MP True Depth camera works equally as well on iPhone XR as it does on the Xs and Xs Max, making Animoji and Memoji possible.
You can shoot in 4K, record 1080p HD video at either 30 or 60fps and take slo-mo videos whenever you please. The digital zoom up to 3x on iPhone XR isn't quite as advanced however, compared to the Xs and Xs Max's ability to zoom up to 6x.
The smaller brother to iPhone 8 Plus, you'll find a 12MP single-lens rear camera on the iPhone 8. However, unlike iPhone XR, this handset doesn't offer Portrait Lighting or Portrait Mode.
There is optical image stabilisation on board though, to help you focus on family members and friends who just won't stay still for a photo, and a Quad-LED True Tone flash with slow sync to help you take snaps in darker environments. Auto HDR is also available, to help you accurately represent bright objects like the sky when other areas of the image are much darker.
The front-facing camera still measures 7MP, but on iPhone 8 you won't find Apple's True Depth camera system. Instead the Facetime HD camera is used to take your selfies, and help you chat to loved ones when you're far away using Facetime or another video messaging service, like Skype.
Finally, when it comes to video you'll be able to shoot in 4K and 1080p HD. The rear camera's recording ability can offer a digital zoom of up to 3x, and there's slo-mo support too.
iPhone 8 Plus
The dual-lens 12MP camera on iPhone 8 offers both a wide-angle lens and telephoto lens, helping you to squeeze more into one picture and zoom in further without sacrificing your image's quality. Single optical image stabilisation, a 2x optical zoom, a digital zoom up to 10x and the ability to record in 4K are all possible with iPhone 8 Plus as well.
However, Portrait Mode is only available on the rear camera and there's no advanced bokeh effect or Depth Control feature to hand. Portrait Lighting remains the same however, with its 5 fantastic effects. You'll be met by Auto HDR as well, not Smart HDR, so that may be something to consider when it comes to making your decision before you upgrade.
Like iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus also has a 7MP Facetime HD camera. You won't be able to create your own Memoji or Animoji, or use Face ID to unlock the device, but you certainly can take amazing selfies whenever you feel like it.
Whichever iPhone you choose, you can be confident that two high-spec cameras will be ready and waiting for you. And, whether you have your eye on iPhone 13 Pro Max or iPhone 12 Mini, you'll always be able to find an unbeatable deal online at Mobiles.co.uk.