Best photographic accessories for your smartphone

If you want to elevate your smartphone photography above the ordinary, there are plenty of affordable accessories to help you do so. Here are 15 to get you going.
By Cliff Joseph, Contributing Writer
1 of 16 Nastco, Getty Images/iStockphoto


It's taken a while but, barring the occasional flood alert, it looks as though summer has finally arrived (in the UK). It's going to be a busy one too, with numerous social, music and sporting events lined up for the season. That means photo opportunities, and if you want to elevate your photographic skills above the usual Instagram selfies, there are plenty of affordable accessories to help you do so.

2 of 16 Exolens


The Exolens range is very much aimed at serious photographers, as the company has worked with the industry veterans at Zeiss to produce a number of high-quality lenses.

Its top-of-the-range Optics By Zeiss lenses cost around £200/$200, but the most affordable option is probably the Exolens Edge kit for £100/$100. This includes both wide-angle and telephoto lenses, which can be attached directly to an iPhone -- or even an iPad -- using the connector provided. The company also makes a special bracket for £50/$60, which doesn't look particularly elegant but can be used with non-Apple smartphones as well.

The Exolens range is available via Amazon in both the UK and US, but the pricing and technical information on Amazon can be rather inconsistent, so it might be worth looking at one of the specialist photography stores instead, to make sure you get the right advice.

from £100/$100

3 of 16 Moment

Moment Photo Case

Moment provides plenty of options for the keen photographer, from a free gesture-controlled photo app to holidays in the Grand Canyon with photographer guides to help you get the best shots.

More straightforwardly, its Photo Case acts as a conventional protective case for a wide range of smartphones, including all recent iPhone models, as well as Google's Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S8 range. The Photo Case costs just £27/$30, although iPhone users can get a second version of the case that includes a rechargeable battery pack for £89.50/$100.

The Photo Case also allows you to connect Moment's range of high-quality lenses, which start at around £75/$100 for wide-angle and portrait, going up to $120 for the forthcoming widescreen, anamorphic lens.

from £27/$30

4 of 16 Olloclip

Olloclip Core Lens Set

Olloclip makes a wide range of lenses and accessories, although it mainly concentrates on Apple's iPhone rather than Android smartphones. Its latest lenses for the iPhone X are sold individually, but the company sells several kits for other iPhone models that combine a number of different lenses at highly competitive prices.

The Core Lens Set includes three lenses for just £99.95/$99.99. There's a 120-degree wide-angle lens, a 180-degree fish-eye lens for VR and panoramic shots, and a 15x macro lens for close-up shooting. This particular kit is designed for the iPhone 7/8/Plus, but similar lens kits are also available for the iPhone 5 and 6, and even the smaller iPhone SE.

Compatibility Apple iPhone 7/8/Plus

(UK sales via the Apple Store)

5 of 16 Olloclip

Olloclip Pivot

The selfie-stick must surely be a sign of the imminent collapse of civilisation but, thankfully, Olloclip's Pivot is primarily designed for shooting other people, rather than indulging your ego on Instagram.

As the name suggests, the Pivot allows you to rotate your smartphone through an angle of up to 225 degrees in order to get just the right shot. And while Olloclip's range of lenses is mostly iPhone-only, the clamping mechanism on the Pivot can be adjusted to grip any smartphone or compact camera between 4 inches and 5.5 inches in size. There's also a built-in cold-shoe mount so you can use additional accessories such as a light or microphone. The Pivot is water-resistant too, so it can be used with smartphones or action-cams that have a waterproof case.


(UK sales via the Apple Store)

6 of 16 BitPlay

BitPlay SNAP!

At first glance, BitPlay's SNAP! looks like a fairly conventional protective case for your iPhone, although it does include a mechanical shutter button that can be used to shoot more easily with the iPhone's built-in camera. It's iPhone-only, at the moment, with cases available for the iPhone 6 through X (and Plus models), and there's a ruggedized SNAP! Pro version due for release soon as well.

However, the SNAP! case also allows you to connect BitPlay's own range of lenses, which includes a variety of affordable wide-angle, fish-eye and macro lenses, typically priced around £25/$25, as well as Premium HD telephoto and wide-angle lenses at £85/$85 for the more serious photographer.


7 of 16 Flir

Flir One

The Flir One is a thermal imaging sensor that has a variety of uses: it lets you see in the dark, shoot your own Predator movies, or detect temperature levels in your home that could reveal loss of heat through poor insulation, or unsafe wiring that might start a fire.

There are two versions of the Flir One, with a Lightning connector for the current iPhone range, or USB-C for newer Android phones. There's also a more expensive Flir Pro model (£444), which provides higher thermal resolution, allowing engineers and other professional users to detect very fine differences in heat levels.

(US sales via Amazon)

Read more
Thermal imaging on your smartphone gets serious

8 of 16 Joby

Joby GripTight GorillaPod Action Kit

The eye-catching GorillaPod tripod range is popular with many smartphone photographers, thanks to its competitive pricing and a flexible design that allows you to quickly bend and adjust the legs to different heights and angles.

Prices start at just £45 for the GorillaPod Action Kit, which includes a 'GripTight' mount that can hold smartphones and action cams measuring 56-91mm. However, the success of the GorillaPod has led the company to extend the range, including a magnetic version that can grip onto metal bars or surfaces to support the camera at difficult angles, and a Mobile Rig that adds two flexible 'arms' for attaching accessories such as lights or a microphone for vlogging.

(UK sales via the Apple Store)

9 of 16 DJI

DJI Osmo Mobile 2

The Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal is sold through the Apple Store in the UK, with Apple promoting it as an iPhone exclusive. However, the clamping mechanism on DJI's Mobile 2 will actually work with any smartphone measuring 58.6mm-84.8mm wide and up to 8.4mm thick.

It might seem expensive, but the Mobile 2 is a lot more than a simple selfie-stick, as it includes motors and sensors that allow it act as a motion-stabiliser, reducing vibration so that you can shoot on the move. There's a joystick control on the handle that allows you to smoothly pan and tilt your smartphone, along with a zoom slider that lets you adjust the zoom without touching the screen. There's also a DJI app for iOS and Android devices that provides additional features, such as time-lapse and panoramic shooting modes.


(UK sales via the Apple Store)

10 of 16 Movo

Movo MTP2000

Originally designed for use with conventional cameras and tripods, the affordable MTP2000 tripod head now includes an adapter that can be used to mount a variety of smartphones and action cams.

You can sit the MTP2000 on any flat surface, or use the screw connector on the base to attach it to a tripod. The non-electric timer mechanism doesn't require batteries, and will simply rotate through a full 360 degrees in 120 minutes in order to record panoramic or time-lapse videos. Those settings are fixed on this low-cost model, but Movo also makes a 60-minute model for the same price, or you can buy a rechargeable motorised version for £85/$100 that allows you to adjust both rotation and timing settings.

(UK sales via Amazon)

11 of 16 HISY

HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote

The HISY remote control is simplicity itself, and a useful alternative to grinning like a fool at your smartphone on the end of a selfie-stick. It is, essentially, just a button that connects to your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth and acts as a shutter control for taking photos and videos from a distance (up to 30m/100ft outdoors with a clear line of sight).

It's a handy option for getting yourself into group photos, or setting up action shots at a tricky angle. The HISY remote includes a small folding stand to support your smartphone while you run to get into the frame, and there's a little carrying cable that attaches to the smartphone's headphone socket -- assuming it still has one -- for instant access.


(UK sales via the Apple Store)

12 of 16 Manfrotto

Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod

Manfrotto makes a range of grips and stands for smartphones and compact cameras, some of which can clip together like Lego bricks to create customized rigs for all your photo gear. Its simplest and most affordable smartphone option is the compact Pixi Mini Tripod, which costs just £38/$30 when sold together with a smartphone clamp.

The tripod is small and light enough to carry around in a backpack, and can be adjusted to a maximum height of 21cm, or collapsed down so that the three legs combine to form a hand-grip for shooting on the move. The adjustable clamp can hold smartphones measuring up to 840mm wide. It can also be detached from the tripod, and the standard ¼-inch screw connector on the base of the clamp allows you to use it with larger tripods and grips that you may already own.


13 of 16 Insta360

Insta360 One

Originally developed for the iPhone, the Insta360 One is now compatible with a number of recent Android smartphones too (full info on the website, as above). Described as 'a camera crew in your hand', the Insta360 One is actually a fully functional camera that can be used on its own and controlled via Bluetooth, with a rechargeable battery that lets it shoot continuously for around 70 minutes. But, for maximum control, you can attach it to your smartphone, using the screen as your viewfinder, and controlling the camera's many features with the Insta360 app.

This kit also includes a small tripod, selfie-stick, and even a special 'bullet-time' grip that allows you to shoot in slow-motion through 360 degrees. The company sells other accessories too, such as a waterproof mount for surfboards, and a chest-strap for bungie-jumping and other extreme sports.


(UK sales via the Apple Store)

14 of 16 Joby

Joby GripTight PRO TelePod

Joby's GripTight Pro TelePod is the grown-up, professional version of the little GorillaPod. Designed for vlogging and other content-creation tasks, the TelePod is made of tough, lightweight fibreglass for use on the move. It can be used as either a conventional tripod or a hand-grip, extending to a maximum height/length of 79cm. The clamp mechanism can adjust to hold most smartphones and compact action cams, and there's a screw connector on the top that can be used to mount lights or a microphone. The TelePod also includes a Bluetooth control button that allows you to shoot via remote control from a distance.

(UK sales via the Apple Store)

15 of 16 Manfrotto

Manfrotto Lumimuse 3

Most smartphone cameras have an automatic flash that you can use in low-light conditions, but flash lighting can be rather harsh -- especially for portraits and still-life shots. Manfrotto's Lumimuse is a range of compact and portable LED lights that you can use in any location to get just the right lighting.

Prices start at £49.95/$44 for the Lumimuse 3, which includes three LED lights that provide 220lux at a distance of 1m. There's a standard screw connector for attaching the light to a grip or tripod, and the internal battery can be recharged via USB when you're shooting outdoors. Other models in the Lumimuse range use six or eight LEDs for stronger lighting, and the company also makes a range of filters that can be used to enhance your lighting effects.


16 of 16 Olixar

Olixar 3-in-1 Universal Camera Lens Clip

Olixar is best known for its range of affordable smartphone cases and screen protectors (not to mention its toilet-seat night light, which gives new meaning to the term 'motion-activated') so you probably won't be winning any Pulitzer prizes with its 3-in-1 Universal Camera Lens Clip. Even so, this is a good option for beginners who want to experiment with their smartphone camera without spending too much money.

As the name suggests, the kit contains three lenses -- wide-angle, fish-eye, and macro -- that can be attached to your smartphone's own lens. The lens clip attachment isn't particularly elegant, but is designed to fit a range of smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.


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