What iPhone has the best camera

iPhone debuted in 2007, and since then, its camera capabilities have grown exponentially. Each new model has produced new and exciting features, better resolution, and more sophisticated controls so that today even serious photographers use the iPhone camera system to take photos and videos that are sometimes indistinguishable from photos produced with a fancy DSLR camera.

Aside from impressive technical specs, iPhone has become our go-to camera for its portability. The best camera is the one you’ll actually use, and since most of us carry our iPhones with us everywhere, it’s possible to capture every magical moment you come across and want to preserve for posterity.

When iPhone came out in 2007, the camera was innovative and impressive, with a 2-megapixel rear camera, but no flash or any type of optical stabilization. The ability to shoot video and autofocus came with iPhone 3Gs, and the front-facing selfie camera appeared with iPhone 4. Advancements continued every year, with the most recent iPhone 15 Pro Max boasting a 48-megapixel rear camera, three lenses, and 8064 x 6048 resolution.

It would be easy to say that iPhone’s newest and most expensive model has the best camera, but that would only tell half the story. The truth is that, sometimes, minor improvements aren’t worth the upgrade unless you’re already in the market for a new phone.

What iPhone has the best camera?

The iPhone camera system has evolved at a rapid pace over the past 16 years, and it’s true that each new iPhone makes huge advancements that outperform last year’s model. Does that mean that you should upgrade to iPhone’s newest and most expensive model, currently iPhone 15 Pro Max?

The answer is… it depends.

In some cases, it makes more sense to wait a few years before upgrading because the leap from one year to the next won’t make a vast difference in your camera’s capabilities. On the other hand, if you are shooting with an older iPhone camera, you will likely be blown away by the images produced by the newest iPhone.

Will you choose your next iPhone based on the camera alone? Probably not, but consumers consistently rate the camera as one of the most important aspects when choosing a phone upgrade.

If you are in the market for a new iPhone, you will want to find out which iPhone has the best camera quality, while also paying attention to price, storage space, processing power, and battery life.

Below, we’ll dig a little deeper into the camera capabilities of Apple’s newest iPhone models: iPhone 15 Pro Max, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max, which is my current model.

The Pro and Pro Max versions of each iPhone model always make camera improvements over the less expensive models for each release, so if photography is a big concern when purchasing a new phone, we don’t recommend iPhone 14, 15, or 15 plus.

Clean up your photo gallery with CleanMy®Phone

With exceptional photo quality also comes exceptional photo size, which means you will quickly gobble up even the most robust storage on your iPhone. The answer to this dilemma is to ensure a system where you can quickly clean up your photo library by deleting duplicate, similar, or blurry images with a single swipe. CleanMy®Phone makes this task so easy! Here’s how to use it to pare down photos on your iPhone before or after you upgrade.

  1. Download CleanMy®Phone and open it on your iPhone. If this is your first time using it, allow the app to have full access to your photo library.
  2. From the Declutter tab, tap Scan.
  3. Once the scan is complete, you’ll see folders like Duplicates, Screenshots, Blur, Instagram, and others.
  4. Open any folder and review the photos picked for deletion — no worries, your favorites won't be preselected.
  5. Tap Clean to remove the clutter.
  6. When you're done cleaning out your library, go to the Photos app and tap Albums > Recently Deleted.
  7. Tap Select > Three dots > Delete All to free up space on your phone.

Comparing the cameras on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro Max

You can count on Apple making big improvements to the camera and video features on every new iPhone it produces, but more often than not, it’s the software and technology that is improving, and not the camera hardware.

With the exception of the optical zoom, which jumped to 5x on iPhone 15 Pro Max, the camera hardware is identical between the three models. There are a few significant differences in the sensors and software technology that, when combined with the camera hardware, make for stunning photos in all types of conditions.

Both video capabilities and the front-facing camera are virtually unchanged between the three models. Let’s find out which iPhone takes the best pictures.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Camera

iPhone 15 Pro Max comes out on top of the other two models mentioned for two significant reasons:

  1. It features a larger sensor at 1/1.18 inches, which provides better images in low lighting, as well as a shallower depth of field for portraiture and macro shots.
  2. 2x and 5x optical zoom lenses for telephoto and wide-angle finesse in a variety of settings. The digital zoom increases telephoto capabilities to 25x.

With the 48-megapixel main camera, the 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, and the 12-megapixel telephoto camera, the photography capabilities of iPhone 15 Pro Max are already impressive. Software enhancements like Photonic Engine and Smart HDR 5 make crisp, clear photos the norm.

The new antiglare lens coating on the ultrawide camera excels in strong light, and improved night-mode capabilities make for crisper shots in low light, with far less noise. iPhone Pro Max also features next-generation portraits with Focus and Depth Control, which is new for 2023.

iPhone 15 Pro Camera

iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro both take incredible images in a variety of settings and lighting conditions, so if cost is a factor, iPhone 15 Pro may be a better choice. It’s currently $200 cheaper than iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The screen size of iPhone 15 Pro is 6.1” compared to 6.7” for iPhone Pro Max, so if a big screen is important to you, iPhone 15 Pro Max will serve you better than its smaller counterpart.

If you plan to take a lot of telephoto images, iPhone 15 Pro Max will come out on top with a 5x optical zoom, compared to the 3x optical zoom of iPhone 15 Pro. If those zoom shots aren’t a huge deal, then the contest becomes tighter.

The ultrawide camera on both iPhone 15 models features a useful antiglare lens coating and improved night mode, which creates exceptional low-light photos. iPhone 15 Pro also features Next-generation portraits with Focus and Depth Control, which is new for 2023. However, newer iPhones have always excelled at portraiture, so in my opinion, this is not a big deal.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Except for the larger size, iPhone 14 Pro Max has more in common with iPhone 15 Pro, taking top-notch photos in all types of lighting conditions, but lacking that incredible 5x optical zoom that is so prominently featured in iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Like iPhone 15 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro Max features a 6.7” Super Retina XDR display, so it’s great for framing shots and editing them to their full potential. It comes with Smart HDR 4 for photos, which was upgraded to Smart HDR 5 for iPhone 15 models. Portrait mode features Focus and Depth Control, but not the newly released next-generation portrait mode.

When it comes to camera performance, iPhone 15 Pro Max is the clear winner, but unless the 5x optical zoom is important to you for taking telephoto shots, I don’t think it’s worth upgrading, especially if you already own iPhone 14 Pro Max.

If you own an older iPhone model and want professional, high-resolution images, then it makes sense to upgrade to iPhone 15 Pro Max so you can take advantage of all of the advanced features. Bottom line – no matter which of these three models you choose, you can count on crisp, clear photos and videos, regardless of the lighting conditions.


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