iPhone vs DSLR

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Updated November 9, 2022

The best digital cameras come in many forms. Sometimes they come as their own device, such as one of the best DSLR cameras, and other times they’re part of multi-tooled gadgets, like a smartphone. There’s much debate between these two camera types. So below, we’re going to run through the difference between iPhone vs DSLR cameras.


  • iPhone cameras can capture beautiful images and video but don’t yet compare to the quality of a standalone camera option.
  • DSLRs are considered higher-end cameras with better image quality and feature and lens options.
  • DSLRs are best used as professional cameras for capturing high-resolution images.

If you’re not an Apple user, we have a more general article explaining phone cameras vs DSLRs.

Insider Tip

iPhone users can set the focus by touching a specific area on the screen before taking a photo.

Difference Between DSLR Camera vs iPhone Camera

So, do the engineers over at Apple even compare to the top camera manufacturers like Canon or Nikon? The answer, as it so often is, depends. There are a handful of specs and areas to consider, and you need to match what fits your personal preferences.

All that being said, there are some definitive lessons to draw from comparing the hardware and feature options between cell phone cameras vs digital cameras, like DSLRs. But remember, these differences vary depending on the iPhone’s generation and the specs of the DSLR camera.

Image Quality

To put the matter to rest: if it’s photo quality you seek, you’re in better hands with the DSLR. The Apple camera is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and it gets better with each passing generation. However, a DSLR outperforms the smartphone camera in many areas.

A DSLR camera’s resolution, image sensor, and focal length are all superior to even the most modern iPhone (currently the iPhone 14 Pro Max). In addition, a larger sensor makes it ideal for professional photography and high and low-light images.

The DSLR also has the advantage of optical zoom, which means that it uses a lens to zoom physically. Apple iPhones use digital zoom, making pictures grainy when zoomed in.

If you want to learn more about how other digital cameras compare, we have an article covering DSLRs vs point and shoot cameras.


Anyone who owns Apple products understands how user-friendly the interface is. Navigating Apple smartphone photography is simple, while in comparison, DSLRs can be complicated. There’s a lot to understand, and it takes a while to fully figure out the manual settings required to capture the best photo in different situations.

iPhones are also just plain easier to lug around. They fit in your pocket and weigh much less than DSLRs.


Photographing the sun without a solar filter will damage your camera’s digital sensor.

Features and Lenses

While an adequate amount of features are built into the Apple camera software, they don’t match up to the seemingly infinite amount of manual options, controls, and lenses available with DSLR cameras.

STAT: In 2021, over 3 trillion (yes, trillion) photographs were taken by Apple iPhone users. (source)


It’s hard to compare pricing because iPhones are much more than a cell phone camera. But DSLRs range anywhere from a few hundred to fifty thousand dollars. On average, DSLRs cost around $600-$1,000. Of course, an iPhone costs similarly, but you get much more than a camera feature.

iPhone vs DSLR FAQs

What are mirrorless cameras?

Mirrorless cameras have a digital sensor directly exposed to the light and use an electronic viewfinder to let the photographer see the image they’re capturing.

When should I use portrait mode?

Portrait mode is for whenever you want to blur the background and highlight a specific subject.

How do I improve my iPhone camera’s quality?

Always check your lighting, and do what you can to stabilize the phone while taking photos.
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