Best iPhone for Photographers iMore 2021
iPhone cameras get better each year. For the first time, the company's flagship device has a three-camera system for taking shots in any environment. It's this system that makes the iPhone 11 Pro Max our most recommended iPhone for smartphone photographers in 2020. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: iPhone 11 Pro Max
- Runner Up: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best Alternative: iPhone 11
- Best Budget: iPhone XR
Best Overall: iPhone 11 Pro Max
The largest of Apple's two current flagship devices offers the most advanced internals found on a large display iPhone to date. The iPhone 11 Pro Max features a 6.5-inch (diagonal) all-screen OLED Multi‑Touch display with a triple camera. These are an Ultra-Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120-degree field of view, Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture, and Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture. There's a front-facing 12MP TrueDepth camera too.
Among the impressive camera features found on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is Smart HDR, which automatically adds more highlight and shadow detail to your photos. It does so using fast sensors, an enhanced ISP, and advanced algorithms. With an adjustable depth of field, the iPhone 11 Pro can blur the background as much or as little as you want. In doing so, you can create amazing portraits in seconds.
The iPhone 11 Pro isn't just great at taking photos. It also offers an A13 Bionic chip with a third-generation Neural Engine for fast performance. The chip uses real-time machine learning to transform the way you experience photos, gaming, augmented reality, and more.
Of course, all of these goodies come at a price. The iPhone 11 Pro has a starting price of $1,099. It's available in space gray, silver, gold, and midnight green.
- Biggest iPhone display to date
- Great rear- and front-facing camera
- Blazing fast
- Difficult to hold with one hand
Zero limits on Apple's best handset to date. Go big or go home!
Runner Up: iPhone 11 Pro
The iPhone 11 Pro offers a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display. Beyond this, it's nearly identical to the iPhone 11 Pro Max right down to its three cameras system. Like the iPhone 11 Pro Max (and iPhone 11), the iPhone 11 Pro has an A13 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, Face ID, and wireless charging. For this, you'll pay at least $999, up to $1,349 for the most expensive model.
If you want everything, Apple has to offer on a smartphone and have smaller hands (or just prefer a smaller phone), go with this model. Otherwise, photographers should stick with our No. 1 pick above.
- Same camera specs as Max
- Current flagship
- Limited color options
it's the flagship
Buy the iPhone 11 Pro if you want the best in a slightly smaller package.
Best Alternative: iPhone 11
Called Apple's "most compelling" iPhone to date, the colorful iPhone 11 is a terrific choice for most buyers. However, it doesn't offer the same camera specs as the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
On the iPhone 11, you'll find a dual 12MP back camera with Ulta Wide (ƒ/2.4 aperture) and Wide (ƒ/1.8 aperture) cameras with an optical zoom of 2x and digital zoom of 5x. On the front, check out the 12MP TrueDepth camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture.
Measuring 6.1-inches diagonally, the iPhone 11 is significantly less expensive than the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The lower price comes with some drawbacks, however. Although the iPhone 11 includes the same A13 Bionic chip with the next-generation Neural Engine as the other two, it ships without an OLED. Instead, there's a Liquid Retina HD display. The lower-priced model also has limited storage capacity.
If you're buying an iPhone based on camera specs alone, you should stick with the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max. Otherwise, the iPhone 11 is an excellent choice, given its price.
- Large display for less
- Colorful choices
- LCD, not OLED
- No triple camera on the back
Almost as good for less.
Cheaper than the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max with nearly the same internals.
Best Budget: iPhone XR
On the iPhone XR, you'll find a single 12MP back camera (ƒ/1.8 aperture) with a digital zoom of 5x. The rear camera offers optical image stabilization, wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh, and Depth Control, Portrait Lighting with three effects (Natural, Studio, Contour), and Smart HDR for photos.
The biggest negative: this handset was released in 2018 and could soon receive its retirement papers.
- Beautifully designed
- Unique color choices
- Getting older
- No dual camera on the back
Look at those colors.
Beginning photographers (young and old) should consider this beautiful camera from 2018.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best iPhone you can currently buy as a smartphone photographer. The iPhone 11 Pro Max features a 6.5-inch (diagonal) all-screen OLED Multi‑Touch display with a triple camera with Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto options. There's also a 12MP TrueDepth front camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture. Yes, the handset is expensive. Nonetheless, it should provide you with years of enjoyment. Happy snapping!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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