iPhone vs DSLR

Updated: Sep 20, 2023 5:45 PM
iphone vs dslr

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.

However, whether you use an iPhone or DSLR, make sure you pair it with the Aptoyu 8-LED selfie ring light for the best video and photos.


  • 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.

Alternatively, if you want more for your DSLR, then you’ll want to look at our list of digital camera accessories.

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, especially if you’re discovering how to vlog with iPhone. Plus, if you’re using a Digital SLR, you’ll want to know how to set DSLR camera manually.

Smartphone cameras like iPhone cams provide remarkable convenience for casual snapshots and mobile photography. However, professional photographers require the advanced capabilities and versatility of a DSLR.

The larger sensor allows adjustable depth of field, better low-light photos, and capture of RAW photos with greater data for editing. Interchangeable lenses provide more creative options. Optical viewfinders facilitate fast action shots. With manual exposure control and raw shooting ability, DSLRs provide the tools for the meticulous crafting of each beautiful photo.

For perfectly balanced photos across a range of conditions, the hands-on control of a DSLR still surpasses the computational photography of mobile devices. While smartphones continue improving, they remain an on-the-go compromise over the photographic potential of a dedicated camera.

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. With that said, you might be interested in learning the difference between entry level DSLRs and professional cameras.

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.

The larger sensor provides a greater dynamic range for HDR images and better noise control for sharp photos in low light, where smartphones struggle and tend to produce dark images. Plus, travel photography is marginally better with a smartphone. Shallow depth of field artistic effects are also possible with a DSLR and adjustable aperture. With RAW image files and manual post-processing, you have more control over the quality of images.

Video capture is also higher quality, with more frame rates, bit rates, and lens options available. While the stock camera app on a smartphone is designed for quick sharing, a DSLR puts photographic control first, allowing you to craft stunning images not possible on even the latest mobile device. Image quality remains the top reason to choose a dedicated camera over a mobile phone.

Yet, don’t rule out other models before you make a choice. For instance, compare digital or film cameras first.

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.

Nathan Rizzuti Avatar

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