iPhone Camera vs. DSLR/Mirrorless Camera: Which One is Better?

Phone cameras have improved over time, but can you get the same results from an iPhone that you would expect from a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Not really. However, depending on your needs, a phone camera may be more convenient.

I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a photographer for more than four years. My primary specialty is sports photography, and I’ve covered many events across different sports, from basketball to soccer.

In this article, I’ll talk about the iPhone camera vs. DSLR/mirrorless camera debate and what type of camera might be right for you.

If you’re deciding whether your iPhone is enough or you need a more professional camera, keep reading for the full info.

iPhone Camera VS DSLR/Mirrorless Cameras

Simply put, the best camera is a matter of your needs

If you value convenience over everything else, an iPhone camera will probably work better than a DSLR. But if you want fast shooting speeds and high quality, and you don’t care about the camera’s size, a DSLR will work well for you.

On the other hand, if you want high image quality but also want a smaller camera, mirrorless models are a good compromise between both of these options.

The important thing when deciding between an iPhone camera and a DSLR or mirrorless camera is figuring out what you need out of it.

The Advantages of an iPhone Camera

Obviously, the main advantage of using an iPhone camera, or any phone camera in general, is convenience. 

Instead of carrying a camera around your neck or lugging around a camera bag, you can simply pull your phone out of your pocket and take a picture.

The quality of iPhone cameras has improved since earlier years, too. The iPhone 14, for example, currently provides 12 megapixels of resolution with each of its cameras. 

While that might not sound like a lot compared to professional cameras with higher resolutions like 18, 24, or even 36 megapixels, it’s still enough to take 4K photos that will impress your non-photographer friends.

The Drawbacks of iPhone Cameras

Even though 12 megapixels is a high enough resolution to take good-looking photos, it’s still limited compared to many of the more professional cameras on the market. Whether this matters or not depends on why you’re taking photos.

If you’re shooting photos to turn into prints, you’ll need a higher resolution to keep the same quality when the picture is enlarged for printing. Also, higher resolutions are better if you intend on cropping your photos during editing.

However, the resolution isn’t the only disadvantage that phone cameras, in general, have against DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Processors and lens quality arguably impact image output more, and we’ll get into that in the next section.

Where DSLR Cameras Excel

Modern DSLR cameras usually have higher resolutions than the 12 megapixels offered by current-generation iPhones. But their real advantage lies in their more specialized hardware.

DSLR cameras don’t have to deal with the size constraints of phone cameras, so the hardware is generally much better at one specific purpose: taking photos. Their processors and lenses can capture more detail compared to their phone-based counterparts.

Have you ever taken a picture or something with vibrant details using a phone, only for the image to come out flat looking or less vivid than in real life? That’s partly because of the limits mobile cameras have in processing, as well as lens quality.

Of course, DSLRs aren’t perfect, either. They’re known for their size, and most of the time, it’s just less convenient to carry around a DSLR camera than a phone. Also, many people already have iPhones but don’t have the extra money to buy an expensive DSLR.

Are Mirrorless Cameras Better?

If the camera size is a concern for you, mirrorless cameras probably work better. In fact, the photography industry, in general, is trending towards mirrorless taking over as the top platform.

These cameras are smaller but offer the same image quality as DSLR cameras. While some problems have historically kept mirrorless cameras from being adopted as widely, such as battery life and limited lens selection, these are going away as they get more popular.

Also, because their components are smaller and cheaper to produce, the price of mirrorless cameras for the consumer is often lower than DSLRs with similar specs.

If you need something that combines the quality of DSLR cameras with the smaller size of mobile cameras, looking into mirrorless options is probably a good idea.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the debate on the iPhone camera vs. DSLR/mirrorless camera.

Do Professional Photographers Use iPhones?

Not really. At times, you might hear about a professional photographer using an iPhone for their work. However, this is usually for the sake of experimenting. Almost no pro photographers actually use a phone as their main camera.

Do Professionals Use DSLR Or Mirrorless Cameras?

It depends on the photographer. Some professionals use one or the other, and some use both. Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras are capable of producing professional-grade results.

Why Is A DSLR Better Than An iPhone Camera?

Put simply, an iPhone camera has to fit into a small phone casing, while a DSLR camera has no such size restrictions and can make use of larger and higher-quality components.


If you just want to take pictures to impress your non-photographer friends, an iPhone camera is good enough for the job. But if you want to preserve all the details of a scene, or if you’re going to do professional photography, you’ll need either a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Do you use phone cameras in your photography? Tell us in the comments!

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