Here Are the 12 Best iPhone Photos of 2021 — and the Winner Was Shot on an iPhone 7

Here Are the 12 Best iPhone Photos of 2021 — and the Winner Was Shot on an iPhone 7
Transylvanian Shepherds by Istvan Kerekes won the grand prize and was shot on an iPhone 7. (Photo: Istvan Kerekes, IPPAWARDS)

DSLR or smartphone? It’s an age-old debate that photographers, enthusiasts, and journalists have been waging ever since phone cameras started getting ood. Among gadget nerds, the addition of advanced lenses or improved camera software are often used as reasons for justifying a phone upgrade — perhaps before you actually need to. However, many of the winning photos in the 2021 iPhone Photography Awards were taken on older iPhones and still look pretty dang amazing.

The grand prize-winning photo, “Transylvanian Shepherds,” was taken by Hungarian photojournalist Istvan Kerekes on an iPhone 7. And that’s not an outlier, either. Several winners throughout multiple categories were taken on iPhones that are several years old. The rules of the competition also state that photographers can’t use desktop versions of photo-editing software, though mobile versions are allowed.

Here’s a collection of some of our favourites, and you can check out the full list of winners here. Remember: The best camera is the one you have with you.

Photographer of the Year: Bonding by Sharan Shetty

Bonding by Sharan Shetty was shot on an iPhone X. (Photo: Sharan Shetty, IPPAWARDS) Bonding by Sharan Shetty was shot on an iPhone X. (Photo: Sharan Shetty, IPPAWARDS)

The Photographer of the Year Award went to Sharan Shetty for this photo, titled “Bonding.” It was shot on an iPhone X in Azerbaijan.

A Walk on Mars by Dan Liu

Photo: Dan Liu Photo: Dan Liu

This sci-fi shot by Dan Liu, titled “A Walk on Mars,” was taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max in Qinghai, China.

Side-Walking on Air by Jeff Rayner

Photo: Jeff Rayner, IPPAWARDS Photo: Jeff Rayner, IPPAWARDS

This ethereal photo won third place overall and was taken by Jeff Rayner with an iPhone X in Los Angeles. It’s titled “Side-walking on Air.”

Frozen Lines by Matteo Lava

Photo: Matteo Lava, IPPAWARDS Photo: Matteo Lava, IPPAWARDS

This photo looks incredibly detailed, no? Well, “Frozen Lines” by Matteo Lava won third place in the Abstract category. It was shot on an iPhone 8 Plus.

Candy by Yuexiang Wang

Photo: Yuexiang Wang, IPPAWARDS Photo: Yuexiang Wang, IPPAWARDS

“Candy” by Yuexiang Wang won first place in the Architecture category. It was shot in Shanghai, China, on an iPhone 8 Plus.

Untitled by Yayun Liu

Photo: Yayun Liu, IPPAWARDS Photo: Yayun Liu, IPPAWARDS

This photo by Yayun Liu almost looks like it came out of a video game. It won second place in the Architecture category and was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus.

The Watchman by Diego Moreno

Photo: Diego Moreno, IPPAWARDS Photo: Diego Moreno, IPPAWARDS

This spooky shot is appropriately titled “The Watchman” and won Diego Moreno of Mexico third place in the Children category on an iPhone 5S. All I know is every photo I ever took with an iPhone 5S looked like it was taken on a potato cam.

Clouds by Einat Shteckler

Photo: Einat Shteckler, IPPAWARDS Photo: Einat Shteckler, IPPAWARDS

“Clouds” was shot by Einat Shteckler of Israel on an iPhone 11. It won first place in the Environment category.

The Old Gym by Mahabub Hossain Khan

Photo: Mahabub Hossain Khan, IPPAWARDS Photo: Mahabub Hossain Khan, IPPAWARDS

This photo, “The Old Gym” by Mahabub Hossain Khan, won first place in the Lifestyle category and was shot on an iPhone XS.

Artist’s Preview by Pavlo Kyryliuk

Photo: Pavlo Kyryliuk, IPPAWARDS Photo: Pavlo Kyryliuk, IPPAWARDS

This eerie photo won third place in the Other category. It’s titled “Artist’s Preview” and was shot by Pavlo Kyryliuk on an iPhone X.

Reach the Soul by Quim Fabregas

Photo: Quim Fabregas, IPPAWARDS Photo: Quim Fabregas, IPPAWARDS

“Reach the Soul” by Quim Fabregas won third place in the Portrait category and was shot on an iPhone 8.

Dusk by Enhua Ni

Photo: Enhua Ni, IPPAWARDS Photo: Enhua Ni, IPPAWARDS

“Dusk” by Enhua Ni won second place in the Sunset category and was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus.