The Best Smartphone Camera Starter Kit to Buy in 2018

Take better pictures with these top camera accessories for your smartphone

Thanks to Instagram, everyone is a photographer these days. But sometimes your smartphone just doesn't have enough camera power to give you that perfect shot (even if you filter it), so it helps to have some add-on accessories. But which ones should you choose? To help you, we've rounded up the best smartphone camera accessories available today. From outdoor photography lenses to mini-tripods and the best selfie stick, there's an accessory for every situation, and for consumers everywhere, that’s picture perfect.

Best Overall Accessory: Olloclip 4-in-1

As advanced as smartphone cameras are, they still aren't able to zoom in on an object or person without image deterioration. Luckily, the accessory industry has attempted to solve this key problem with add-on lenses and the Olloclip 4-in-1 is the best one on the market right now. Generally made for the iPhone, Olloclip also carries lenses for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S4, with the hope that additional devices will be supported down the line. Weighing just under one ounce with attached lenses, you’ll hardly notice the Olloclip when attached and, as an external add-on, there’s no additional shutter delay when capturing a photo. Just point and shoot.

The 4-in-1 clip adds a versatile set of lens options, including a wide angle one for capturing more landscape, a fisheye one for a unique 180-degree field of vision, as well as 10x and 15x macro zoom lenses for close-up action that goes well beyond what the naked eye can naturally discover.

The fisheye and wide-angle provide some unique photographic opportunities, but the Olloclip really shines with the macro lenses. You’ll lose some focus at the edges of your images with macro shots with increased distortion, but it’s a small price to pay for the type of photography your out-of-the-box smartphone camera just can’t do.

On the downside, quickly flipping the lenses around can lead to some unwanted fingerprints, and the mount blocks the rear flash on iPhone models, which is a curious design choice.

Best Selfie Stick: Mpow iSnap X

Out top pick for the best seflie stick is the Mpow iSnap X, which comes Bluetooth-ready and is only 7.1” when collapsed. When extended, the 31.5” telescoping mount provides more than enough distance to capture the perfect moment. As an extra little perk, you’ll have your choice of black, blue or pink-tinged handles to offer a little personalization. The 270-degree adjustable mount means you’ll find the perfect angle to look your best while selfie photographing. Pairing is a cinch. Just turn it on, pair it with your smartphone of choice via Bluetooth and, voila, you’re ready to go.

Read more reviews of the best selfie sticks available to purchase online. 

Best Tripod: Joby GorillaPod

When it comes to tripods for smartphones, few names evoke more universal love than the GorillaPod. Practical, flexible and all around great, the GorillaPod GripTight is an incredible tool for the most casual or professional photographer. The clamp fits any device measuring between 66mm to 99mm and works for most smartphones on today’s market.

Placing the phone into the GripTight grip is easy, just pull the clamp open and push it back in, tighten the screw and you’re ready to go. Bendable legs allow it to be placed in almost any position. It can be used on a flat surface, on a rock, wrapped around a branch or anywhere your imagination can take you. At just 12” tall and .15 pounds, it’s portable enough to be stowed in any sized bag for travel.

​Read more reviews of the best smartphone tripods available to purchase online. 

Best For Nighttime Photography: iBlazr 2

Make red-eye a distant memory with the iBlazr 2, which is our top pick for the best nighttime photography accessory. The 3.5-ounce iBlazr 2’s four LED lights fit into a tiny, portable rectangle that works natively with iPhone or Android stock cameras via Bluetooth. The bundled mount clip works with any smartphone from .24” to .37” wide and adds just four ounces of extra weight.

Providing up to 80 feet of additional illumination, tapping the rear of the device will alter the amount of flash to make sure you’re capturing just enough light for any photo at night. The variable light temperature ranges from 3200K to 5600K and can sync with the camera’s own shutter for no additional lag when shooting. Experimenting with different ranges will help you better understand the limitations of an external flash and make future photographic conditions that much easier to determine.

The built-in battery works for up to 300 flashes or three hours of continuous light on a single charge done via USB. The extra flash power is perfect for adding a little more brightness to nighttime video calls or even doubling as a powerful flashlight.

The companion app, available on both iOS and Android, will allow you to control some intermediate functions such as white balance, ISO and focus to truly capture the perfect shot. While these features are offered on a number of smartphones or available in dozens of camera apps, the “Shotlight” app for the iBlazr 2 allows these changes to be made in real-time and it also supports video recording.

Best Camera Mount: Sony QX1 20.1 Megapixel

When it comes to outdoor photography, few accessories compare to the Sony QX1 20.1-megapixel smartphone attachable mirrorless digital camera. While it may be an expensive purchase, it comes with Wi-Fi and on-board SD card, so transferring images to your computer or smartphone is a breeze. Controlling the camera requires Sony’s PlayMemories app, and it's available for free on both Android and iOS.

The lens can be mounted on Android or iOS smartphones, but we wish it was a little more comfortable to wield one-handed as it can be a little awkward to shoot photos as you figure out hand placement. At just under half a pound, the QX1 potentially weighs more than your smartphone, but far less than a standalone DSLR.

Shutter speeds range from 1/4000ths of a second to 30 seconds, ISO from 100 to 16,000 and there are a varied supply of white balance settings. The QX1 offers video recording at full 1080p and 30fps with an extra built-in microphone to capture added sound.

There is some slowdown between the time you press “capture” and the actual image snap. This means that when you're attempting to capture an object already in motion, the shutter is delayed by at least two seconds, so it could lead to blurry and missed photo opportunities.

Battery life will allow you to capture around 440 photos before recharging, in line with what the standard point-and-shoot would offer on a single day’s charge. Shortcomings aside, the QX1 is the peak of smartphone camera accessories and, for the outdoor adventurer specifically, there’s little question you’ll find your money well spent.


At Lifewire, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.