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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
“Reach the Soul” by Quim Fabregas won third place in the Portrait category and was shot on an iPhone 8.
Dusk by Enhua Ni
“Dusk” by Enhua Ni won second place in the Sunset category and was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus.