3 Best Older Phones For Mobile Photography

While some mobile photographers strive to have the latest and greatest smartphones on the market, a brand-new phone doesn’t always mean better photography. There are still plenty of great older phones for mobile photography and filmmaking.

older phones still great for mobile filmmaking
Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

If you’re looking for an older phone that is still great for photography and filmmaking, you have plenty of options without having to shell out the cash for the newest model. Here are three of the best older phones still on the market that are perfect for mobile creators on a budget.

Mobile Photography on Older Phones

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Just because the smartphone in your pocket isn’t the newest flagship model doesn’t mean it can’t perform. You may be surprised to learn just how impressive last year’s smartphone cameras were, so strap in and be prepared to be impressed with the mobile photography on older phones.

If you have one of these phones and want to get a little more out of it, then consider a mounted lens from someone like Moment, Sandmarc, or Beastgrip. Yes, all three of these phones have impressive camera set-ups, but adding one of these mounted lenses will make them even more impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 Camera review
Photo by Deny Abdurahman on Unsplash

Samsung Galaxy S10 Release Date: 2019

Samsung Galaxy S10 Camera Specs:

  • 12MP Wide Lens with variable f/1.5 to f/2.4
  • 12MP Telephoto Lens with f/2.4
  • 16MP Ultra-Wide Lens with f/2.2

Samsung Galaxy S10 Video Specs:

  • 4k@60 fps (without EIS)
  • 4k@30 fps
  • 1080p@30/60/240 fps
  • 720p@960 fps

The Samsung Galaxy S10 has since been replaced by the Galaxy S20, but this older model still has what it takes to impress any mobile photographer. It comes in three options: S10e, S10, and S10 Plus.

The main difference for photographers between the three models is the camera. The S10e is lacking the 12mp telephoto lens that comes on the S10 and S10 Plus. The S10 Plus also comes with an 8mp depth-sensing front camera for those picture-perfect selfies.

All three models come with a 16mp ultrawide lens and a 12mp dual-pixel wide angle lens. The ultrawide lens gives you a full 123 degrees of view. The telephoto lens of the S10 and S10 Plus gives you 2x optical zoom.

The cameras in the S10 series also offer dual aperture, which allows you to shoot in low-light environments without the usual loss in photo quality.

There is some difference in battery as well. The S10e has an average battery life of just under 10 hours, while the S10 Plus has over 12 hours of average battery life. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it is important to consider if you plan on doing long photoshoots away from a power source.

All three models can record 4K UltraHD video with a framerate of up to 60 fps. They can also record 1089p at a rate of up to 240fps. All three also support HDR10+.

While you may want to consider downloading a third-party camera app onto your Galaxy S10, the camera app that comes on the phone isn’t too shabby. It has a variety of camera modes and allows you to change shooting methods if desired.

The app also gives you some options in terms of filters, so if you aren’t interested in editing your photos enough to download another app, you can still do minimal editing within the camera app itself.

While the S10 Plus has the most to offer in terms of photography, the other two models are still great options if you’re looking for an older Samsung phone that still keep up with newer models.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Camera review
Photo by Chris Carzoli on Unsplash

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Release Date: 2019

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Camera Specs:

  • 12MP 13mm Ultrawide Lens featuring ƒ/2.4 and 120° FOV
  • 12MP 26mm Wide Lens featuring ƒ/1.8
  • 12MP 52mm Telephoto Lens featuring ƒ/2.0

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Video Specs:

  • 4k@60/30/24 fps
  • 1080p@240/120/60/30/24 fps
  • 720p@240/120/60/30/24 fps

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro was hailed as one of the best smartphones for mobile photographers when it first came out. It has since been replaced by the iPhone 12 Pro, but it remains an excellent option for photographers who can’t afford or choose not to buy the newest iPhone. If you’re considering great older phones for mobile photography and filmmaking, then this is a great option because of how compatible everything is with iPhone. Whether you’re considering something like Moment lenses or the BeastCam Pro Camera App you’ll be able to pull the trigger with hesitation which isn’t the case for the other phones on this list.

The iPhone 11 Pro stand out from other older models of iPhone because of its triple camera lenses. The camera gives you the option of shooting with a wide-angle lens, ultra-wide lens, or telephoto. All three are 12 megapixels.

In the camera app, you’ll see the options for the three different lenses as 0.5x, 1x, and 2x. These are the ultra-wide angle lens, regular wide lens, and telephoto lens respectively.

Another great feature of the iPhone 11 Pro is called Deep Fusion. Deep Fusion isn’t an option in the camera app, your phone simply decides when to use this technology when it’s appropriate.

So how does Deep Fusion improve your photos? It’s simple. The camera automatically blends multiple exposures together in order to produce a photo with even more detail that HDR can provide.

This means, when you zoom in on your photos, things like skin, clothing, and animal fur will have a lot more texture than photos shot with older iPhones.

The iPhone 11 Pro also offers Night Mode, which helps with shooting in low light environments. Again, the 11 Pro will show up automatically if it decides there isn’t enough light to take the photo as it normally would.

However, for photographers who would prefer not to use Night Mode, Apple does give you the option of adjusting the shutter speed or disabling Night Mode completely. This is helpful for photographers who want full control over their photos and want to be in charge of how much light their phone is taking in.

For fans of the iPhone that can’t justify buying that iPhone 12 Pro just yet, the 11 Pro is a great option. In fact, it shares much of its technology with the 12 Pro, so you’ll have nearly the same power in terms of photography as someone with the latest and greatest iPhone.

OnePlus 7T

OnePlus 7T Camera review
Photo by Denny Ryanto on Unsplash

OnePlus 7T Release Date: 2019

OnePlus 7T Camera Specs:

  • 48MP Wide Lens featuring f/1.6 and Sony IMX586 sensor
  • 16MP Ultrawide Lens featuring f/2.2 and 117°
  • 8MP Telephoto Lens featuring f/2.4

OnePlus 7T Video Specs:

  • 4k@30/60 fps
  • 1080p@240 fps
  • 720p@480/960 fps

The OnePlus 7T is our third choice of stellar older smartphones for photography. When it was first released, it was deemed one of the best phones on the market for mobile photographers. However, it’s recently been replaced by the OnePlus 8T.

The OnePlus 7T features a powerful triple lens camera to suit any type of mobile photographer. The ultra-wide-angle lens offers 117 degrees of view to ensure you capture your entire scene.

The telephoto lens gives you 2x optical zoom as well, so you can get closer without sacrificing photo quality. The main camera is a 48mp wide lens that will blow you away with its clarity.

The OnePlus 7T also has a variety of different modes to help you get the best photo possible, no matter what you’re photographing.

Macro Mode allows you to snap a photo from as close as 2.5 centimeters away without having to worry about a blurry or out-of-focus photo. If you’re hesitant to buy a detachable macro lens for your phone, this is the phone for you.

Nightscape mode is ideal for photographing in low light. It combines information from multiple exposures to give you the best lighting and a wider dynamic range.

Like other smartphones of its era, the 7T also has a Portrait Mode. Portrait Mode is ideal for getting that beautifully soft bokeh behind your subjects. Your portraits will never be the same once you start using the two different focal lengths available.

The OnePlus 7T might be older, but it’s hardly out of date. The incredible technology in this smartphone is enough to impress any mobile photographer.

Why Last Year’s Phone Camera Is Still Legit

Gear for Photogramobile photography wide angle lensphing Plants With a Phone
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) – shot on iPhone XR with Olloclip Super Wide

You can definitely use last year’s mobile with the best phone lenses on the market. The majority of the best options on the market are iPhone only which is certainly worth mentioning, but Android users don’t fret because there are options for you too.

Using some sort of universal lens mount you’ll be able to attach most lenses to most mobile devices. Don’t spend 3x the money to buy a new smartphone, when one of these older models will suffice. Let us know which older phone you’re shooting with in the comments or by tagging us in the photos you shoot with it on Instagram using #photoswithphones.

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