Navigating the Numbers : Understanding iPhone Camera Specs

I'm tackling the sometimes confusing world of iPhone camera specs and third-party iPhone lenses.

Today, I'm tackling the sometimes confusing world of iPhone camera specs and third-party iPhone lenses. I'll write about exciting technical aspects of iPhone photography, such as focal lengths, crop factors, and lens capabilities. My post focuses on the iPhone 11 Pro, but with some Googlefoo, you can look up your pocket camera information.

Understanding Focal Lengths and Crop Factors

I'll start with the basics. The iPhone 11 Pro boasts three different cameras, each with a unique focal length. But here's where the misunderstanding begins: Apple gives these focal lengths in 35mm full-frame equivalent terms. So, when the Photos app shows information for a lens like the "Telephoto", it's not the actual physical length but how it compares to the traditional 35mm camera system. However, Apple's technical literature does not mention this. I'll wait while you visit Apple's website to read the technical specs for iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro. As a photographer and someone who understands physics, I assumed the focal length was quoted in full-frame terms. However, Apple's technical literature must mention this explicitly.

Screenshot from iOS Photos App
Screenshot from iOS Photos App · 15 January 2024 ·

The physical focal length of the iPhone 11 Pro's cameras are listed in the table below, along with their crop factor. I also calculated the crop factors for each iPhone 11 Pro camera based on their sensor sizes. This number is important; it helps us understand how the iPhone's sensor size affects the field of view compared to a full-frame1 camera.

Camera Lens (Physical Focal Length) Sensor Size (mm) Crop Factor 35mm Full-Frame Equivalent Focal Length
Telephoto 6mm 4.15 x 3.11 8.34 50.04mm
Wide 4.25mm 5.88 x 4.42 5.88 24.99mm
Ultra-Wide 1.54mm 3.96 x 2.97 8.74 13.46mm

This table shows the conversion of the physical focal lengths to their 35mm full-frame equivalents based on each camera's crop factor. Using the telephoto lens as an example, multiply the physical focal length of 6mm by the crop factor of 8.34 to get a 35mm full-frame equivalent of 50.04mm. In the iOS Photos app, this is shown as 52mm. The sensor sizes I found online may be wrong.

Adobe Lightroom reveals the information that Apple seems intent on hiding away. I redid the table above using the information reported in Adobe Lightroom and removed the possibly inaccurate sensor dimensions.

Camera Lens (Physical Focal Length) 35mm Full-Frame Equivalent Focal Length Crop Factor
Telephoto 6mm 52mm 8.67
Wide 4.25mm 26mm 6.12
Ultra-Wide 1.54mm 13mm 8.44
Adobe Lightroom EXIF
Adobe Lightroom EXIF

With its 136mm full-frame equivalent focal length, the ultra-wide lens is ideal for capturing wide landscapes or architectural scenes where I want to fit more into the frame. The wide lens, at 26mm, is versatile for everyday photography, including street scenes and portraits, offering a natural perspective. With a 52mm equivalent, the "short" telephoto lens helps you get closer to distant subjects for portrait photography, where I want to focus on the subject with a somewhat blurred background.

Third-party Lens Magic

Now that I have a basis for understanding the iPhone's technical specs, let's talk about a third-party "lens" like the Moment 58mm Tele Mobile Lens. I have read positive reviews about Moment mobile lenses and was touched by a bit of G.A.S.2, I dropped in on their website to look around. Moment, unfortunately, assumes I know that this 58mm focal length is achieved with the iPhone's "default" 4.25mm camera (26mm FF FOV). That confusion is, in fact, what prompted me to write this blog post. In my opinion, the "58mm" name is a distraction and a misnomer.

Moment 58mm Tele Mobile Lens
Moment 58mm Tele Mobile Lens

An optical multiplier is a lens attachment that increases the effective focal length of a camera lens, allowing for closer magnification of distant subjects without compromising image quality. According to the information on the Moment website, the Moment 58mm Tele Mobile Lens is a "~2X" optical multiplier. So, when used on the native 4.25mm, 6mm and 1.54mm lenses on the iPhone, we get different focal lengths and fields of view.

Here's how it breaks down:

Camera Physical Focal Length With Moment 2X Multiplier 35mm FF FOV
Telephoto 6mm 12mm 104mm
Wide 4.25mm 8.50mm 52mm
Ultra-Wide 1.54mm 3.08mm 26mm

I found a link on Reddit that explains the expected focal lengths. I also received an email from Moment explaining that the multiplier is 1.75. With that revised information and assuming it's correct, here's what I think I know about using a Moment lens with an iPhone 11 Pro. So "~2X" means "1.75x". That’s technically correct.

Camera Physical Focal Length With Moment 1.75X Multiplier 35mm FF FOV
Telephoto 6mm 10.5mm 91mm
Wide 4.25mm 7.44mm 45.5mm
Ultra-Wide 1.54mm 2.7mm 22.75mm

Why This Matters

Understanding these specifications is important for photographers like myself who want to make the most of their pocket cameras. Knowing the crop factors and how the Moment lens alters the field of view, I can make informed decisions about my photography purchases.

Now that I understand that the Moment lenses are just optical multipliers, I can see how they open up new possibilities. They enhance the iPhone's capabilities, offering versatility for casual snapshots or skilled compositions.

I think the 45.5mmm FF equivalent focal length is nearly perfect for street and general photography. The 91mm FF equivalent focal length is an excellent focal length for portraits.

Final Thoughts

Photography is an art and a science. We blend technical knowledge with creative vision. Whether you're a professional photographer or a hobbyist, understanding your tools can transform how you capture the world around you.

  1. Apple. (n.d.). iPhone 11 Pro - Technical Specifications. Retrieved from
  2. Reddit user drunk_caterpillar. (2019, September 28). Gate dimensions of individual iPhone 11 Pro sensors with comparisons to traditional film formats. Retrieved from

  1. Full-frame refers to a digital camera sensor size that matches the 36mm x 24mm dimensions of traditional 35mm film, frequently used as a standard for comparing different camera sensor sizes ?
  2. G.A.S., or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, refers to the urge to continuously acquire new equipment or gear, often driven by the belief that it will improve one's skills or results, typically seen in hobbies like photography or music. ?


I’ve got a bit of G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome).

Of all the iPhones I have owned, it's the iPhone 4 that I've held onto. Something about its design resonated with me – I never used a case with it because I loved the tactile sensation of its elegant, industrial design in my hand. Despite the well-publicised reception problems, I still consider it the best iPhone ever crafted. It was more than a phone; it was a statement piece.

Now, there's the iPhone 15 Pro, and I find myself wrestling with a familiar outbreak of G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome). I've been using the iPhone 11 Pro, and it's been a remarkable device in its own right. But the allure of the new, the promise of the undiscovered, is a seductress that's hard to resist.

The 15 Pro deserves a place next to the inimitable iPhone 4, which Steve Jobs himself described as related to a 'beautiful old Leica camera'. This iPhone feels like a camera. ~ iPhone 15 Pro Max review by lux

Reading reviews like that for the iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn't make it any easier. When they compare the 15 Pro to the iconic iPhone 4, mentioning how Steve Jobs likened it to a 'beautiful old Leica camera', it strikes a chord. The iPhone 4 was not just a phone but a work of art reminiscent of a classic camera, combining aesthetics with functionality. To hear the iPhone 15 Pro described in similar terms is tempting.

For me, it's not just about having the latest gadget; it's about owning a design that feels like it's been crafted, not just manufactured. It's about holding a device that surpasses its primary function and becomes something more, something akin to a camera – a tool for creativity and expression.

So, as I consider upgrading to the iPhone 15 Pro, I'm reminded of what drew me to the iPhone 4. It's about more than just the specs or the new features. It's about how the device feels in my hand, the memories it evokes, and the potential for creativity it unlocks. Maybe it's not just gear acquisition; it's about recapturing that sense of awe and inspiration I felt with the iPhone 4.

Pocket Camera

I always take my pocket camera on my walks.

A few months ago, I started taking 30-minute walks around my neighbourhood. I always bring my pocket camera. I use the native photo app, Halide by Lux, or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile app on my iPhone 11 Pro.

Halide is a powerful photography tool for mobile devices with advanced manual controls to fine-tune settings like focus, exposure, and ISO. It has an elegant user interface and high-quality image processing.

I subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography suite for $10/month, giving me access to Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop on macOS or iPad, and 20GB of cloud storage. I also get the mobile applications Photoshop Express and Lightroom Mobile.

Salisbury Road, Backlit Trees
Salisbury Road · October 25, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile is a pocket-friendly tool that packs powerful editing tools, RAW support, and seamless cloud integration. It allows me to capture, edit, and share stunning photos on the go.

Blue Spring Road ,Maple Trees, Fall
Blue Spring Road · October 18, 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2