How to take amazing photos with your iPhone or Android phone: CNET's top tips

CNET's pro photographers give their top tips on taking stunning photos using just the phone in your pocket.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
4 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

You don't need to be a wealthy Instagram star with the best dSLRs to take incredible photos. Today's top phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, Galaxy S21 Ultra or other great Android phones have photography skills that rival many dedicated cameras. Even many older generation phones still pack amazing quality cameras that are more than capable of racking up those Insta likes. Regardless of the phone you have, CNET has been busy testing every feature of today's phone cameras, and we've put together a whole range of how-to guides and tutorials that will take you through everything you need to start taking incredible images using just your phone. 

If you're keen to learn more, bookmark this page, as we'll be updating it with new content as it gets published. So treat this article as your comprehensive guide to mastering cell phone photography.

Start here: Basic phone photography camera tips and tricks

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In this guide, we take you through the main steps you'll need to take to start shooting better-looking images on Android phones or iPhones, from composition tips to using manual control and editing for impact. If you're serious about your phone photography, there's more to using the phone's camera than just pointing it at your subject and pressing a button. Professional photographers like me are regularly blown away by the shots I can get from my phone. Along the way, I've gathered some photography tips that anyone can use.

The best photo editing apps for iPhone and Android

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Taking the image is only part of the process of creating beautiful photographic art. These are our favorite apps for taking that shot to the next level, whether you want to create stunning natural scenes or more creative, dreamlike digital art and composites. This list includes awesome free photo editing apps, as well as ones that offer superb features for a monthly subscription fee. 

Take better night mode photos

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With recent iPhones and Android phones packing amazing night modes, you don't need to head home once the sun goes down. Here are our top tips on how to make use of night mode to get your best ever night time photos. 

Take amazing landscape photos using your camera phone

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If snagging glorious landscape images is on your travel photography bucket list, this guide will explain how smartphone photography can use the weather, natural light and composition to your advantage when shooting with just a phone camera app. While some of the tips apply to recent handsets with multiple lens options, many are relevant whether your phone is three months or three years old, Apple or Android.

How to take macro photos (close-up shots) with any phone

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More interested in the tiny world under your feet? In this guide we show what additional lenses you'll need to capture intimate macro details of insects and other wildlife on any phone (a macro lens is a must). "Macro photography" is taking a photo of a subject in extreme close-up so it appears life-size or larger in the resulting image, all without compromising image quality. Close-up photos are popular especially for nature photography, because they can capture details of insects, flowers and more with incredible clarity. And you can achieve this effect even with your phone camera.

Creative photo projects to try at home with your phone

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Whether you're bored at home due to the pandemic, or just looking for something to keep your creativity up, these projects are great fun to try. Better yet, they're all things you can do at home, using just your phone, so there's no excuse to not give them a try.

Take badass car pics with your phone

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If you love all things automotive, then step this way. We take an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera to some beautiful countryside to shoot the car with just the smartphone cameras on our Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. I'm going to take you through my top photography tips on how to get pro-level images of cars using just your phone's built-in camera. Plus, how photographers use photo editing apps to turn a good shot into a great one (and we're not talking Instagram filters).

The only action sports photography tutorial you need

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Heading out to the skate park with your mates this weekend for some street photography? Read through our photography tips on using light, angles and burst mode to capture awesome action photos. Snagging great action photos doesn't require a pro-level dSLR. Your iPhone camera is capable of capturing some brilliant moments, as long as you put in a bit of effort too. We also share our favorite editing apps for action shots.

How to take concert photos with an iPhone

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Maybe you've got tickets for a concert (remember those?) and want to come away with some great visual memories. Don't be that person spoiling the view with an iPad in the air -- check out our tips for taking great iPhone photos at a rock show. Stage lights make concert pictures tricky, so we share an editing app trick that compensates for dim lighting, tips for using a wide-angle lens and zoom and a shutter button technique that makes it easier to capture fleeting scenes better within your camera app.