The Best Smartphones With Telephoto Lens in 2023

Everywhere you turn, you hear the buzz around telephoto lenses. What is a telephoto lens and what makes it special? What functionality does it add to a phone camera, and which are the best smartphones with telephoto lens? 

You must have noticed that more and more smartphones have multiple cameras now – cameras with two lenses are called dual camera, cameras with three lenses are called triple camera, cameras with four lenses are called quad camera, and cameras with five lenses are called penta camera.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones with telephoto lens
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones with telephoto lens

We might get to six lenses one day. But that isn’t the issue. A telephoto lens is one of the type of lenses that we see on many of the best smartphone cameras around today. You won’t find it on cheap smartphones, because it is a bit of advanced technology and it also costs more.

What are the advantages of a telephoto lens?

What does a telephoto lens do? It processes distance and so helps with zooming. Telephoto lenses use optical zoom, instead of digital zoom, to produce better photos of subjects that are far away. It is an advanced feature in cell phone cameras. As such, smartphones with telephoto lens tend to exist at the high-end section of the market.

What is the difference between digital zoom and optical zoom? In simple, layman terms, optical zoom produces higher quality photos when you zoom in on an object, compared to digital zoom. So, optical zoom is what you want. And phones with telephoto lens is where you will find it.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro is the first mid-range smartphone with a top camera
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro penta camera has two telephoto lenses

Is telephoto lens on a phone worth it?

If you often need to zoom into and capture objects that are far away, or need to often take macro photos, you should get a phone with telephoto lens. If you do not ever need to zoom into any scenery or arrangement, do not bother.

Here are all smartphones with telephoto lens

You would be forgiven for thinking that there are only a handful of smartphones with telephoto lenses around. But there are scores of them – over 70, and we have compiled the list below for you. The top 15 models listed below easily are the best smartphones with telephoto lens you can buy today.

  1. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max. Released in September 2023.
  2. Apple iPhone 15 Pro. Released in September 2023.
  3. Xiaomi 13T. Released in September 2023.
  4. Xiaomi 13 Pro. Released on September 2023.
  5. Huawei Mate 60 Pro+. Released in August 2023.
  6. Huawei Mate 60 Pro. Released in August 2023.
  7. Xiaomi 13 Ultra. Released in April 2023.
  8. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Released in February 2023.
  9. Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus. Released in February 2023.
  10. Samsung Galaxy S23. Released in February 2023. Our Samsung S23 review.
  11. TECNO Phantom X2 Pro. Released in January 2023.
  12. Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. Announced September 2022.
  13. Apple iPhone 14 Pro. Announced September 2022.
  14. Xiaomi 13 Pro Released in December 2022.
  15. Google Pixel 7 Pro. Announced October 2022.
  16. Xiaomi 13. Released in December 2022.
  17. Motorola Edge+ 2023, Released in May 2023.
  18. Motorola Edge 40 Pro. Released in April 2023.
  19. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. Announced February 2022
  20. Samsung Galaxy S22 5G. Announced February 2022
  21. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4.
  22. Motorola Moto X40.
  23. OnePlus 10 Pro. Announced January 2022
  24. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. Announced September 2021.
  25. Apple iPhone 13 Pro. Announced September 2021.
  26. Google Pixel 6 Pro. Announced October 2021.
  27. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Android smartphone. Announced Jan 2021. Features 6.8″ display, Exynos 2100 chipset, 5000 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 16 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
  28. Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Android smartphone. Announced Jan 2021. Features 6.2″ display, Exynos 2100 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
  29. Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G Android smartphone. Announced Jan 2021. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 2100 chipset, 4800 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
  30. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Announced Oct 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Apple A14 Bionic chipset, 3687 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant ceramic glass.
  31. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G: Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.9″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
  32. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Android smartphone. Announced Sep 2020. Features 6.5″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  33. vivo iQOO 7 Android smartphone. Announced Jan 2021. Features 6.62″ display, Snapdragon 888 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM.
  34. Apple iPhone 7 Plus smartphone. Announced Sep 2016. Features 5.5″ display, Apple A10 Fusion chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 28mm, 1/3″, OIS) + 12 MP primary camera, 7 MP front camera, 2900 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 3 GB RAM, Ion-strengthened glass.
  35. Samsung Galaxy S20: Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.2″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  36. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G: Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.9″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 5000 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 16 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  37. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Android smartphone. Announced Sep 2020. Features 6.5″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  38. Apple iPhone X smartphone. Announced Sep 2017. Features 5.8″ display, Apple A11 Bionic chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 28mm, 1.22µm) + 12 MP primary camera, 7 MP front camera, 2716 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 3 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant glass.
  39. Apple iPhone 12 Pro smartphone. Announced Oct 2020. Features 6.1″ display, Apple A14 Bionic chipset, 2815 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant ceramic glass.
  40. Apple iPhone 8 Plus smartphone. Announced Sep 2017. Features 5.5″ display, Apple A11 Bionic chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 28mm, OIS) + 12 MP primary camera, 7 MP front camera, 2691 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 3 GB RAM, Ion-strengthened glass.
  41. vivo X60 Pro 5G Android smartphone. Announced Dec 2020. Features 6.56″ display, Exynos 1080 chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM.
  42. Samsung Galaxy S10 Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2019. Features 6.1″ display, Exynos 9820 chipset, 3400 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  43. Samsung Galaxy S20+ Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  44. Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphone. Announced Sep 2019. Features 6.5″ display, Apple A13 Bionic chipset, 3969 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant glass.
  45. Samsung Galaxy S10+ Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2019. Features 6.4″ display, Exynos 9820 chipset, 4100 mAh battery, 1024 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  46. OPPO Reno5 Pro+ 5G Android smartphone. Announced Dec 2020. Features 6.55″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM.
  47. Sony Xperia 5 II Android smartphone. Announced Sep 2020. Features 6.1″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  48. OnePlus 8 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Apr 2020. Features 6.78″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4510 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  49. Samsung Galaxy Note10+ Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2019. Features 6.8″ display, Exynos 9825 chipset, 4300 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  50. Apple iPhone XS Max smartphone. Announced Sep 2018. Features 6.5″ display, Apple A12 Bionic chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm) + 12 MP primary camera, 7 MP front camera, 3174 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant glass.
  51. Apple iPhone 11 Pro smartphone. Announced Sep 2019. Features 5.8″ display, Apple A13 Bionic chipset, 3046 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant glass.
  52. Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 16 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  53. Samsung Galaxy Note9 Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2018. Features 6.4″ display, Exynos 9810 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  54. Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro Android smartphone. Announced May 2020. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4700 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  55. Sony Xperia 1 II Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.5″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  56. Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite Android smartphone. Announced Jan 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 9810 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Gorilla Glass 3.
  57. Apple iPhone XS smartphone. Announced Sep 2018. Features 5.8″ display, Apple A12 Bionic chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm) + 12 MP primary camera, 7 MP front camera, 2658 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, Scratch-resistant glass.
  58. Samsung Galaxy S9+ Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2018. Features 6.2″ display, Exynos 9810 chipset, Dual: 12 MP (f/1.5-2.4, 26mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF) + 12MP primary camera, 8 MP front camera, 3500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5. See our Samsung Galaxy S9+ review.
  59. Huawei Mate 40 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2020. Features 6.76″ display, Kirin 9000 5G chipset, 4400 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  60. Samsung Galaxy Note10 Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2019. Features 6.3″ display, Exynos 9825 chipset, 3500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  61. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4300 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  62. Huawei P40 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.58″ display, Kirin 990 5G chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  63. Realme 6 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.6″ display, Snapdragon 720G chipset, 4300 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  64. Huawei P30 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2019. Features 6.47″ display, Kirin 980 chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  65. Samsung Galaxy Note8 Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2017. Features 6.3″ display, Exynos 8895 chipset, 3300 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  66. Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2020. Features 6.76″ display, Kirin 9000 5G chipset, 4400 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM.
  67. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.9″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
  68. Xiaomi Mi 9T Android smartphone. Announced Jun 2019. Features 6.39″ display, Snapdragon 730 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  69. OnePlus 7 Pro Android smartphone. Announced May 2019. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 855 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  70. Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Nov 2019. Features 6.47″ display, Snapdragon 730G chipset, 5260 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5. See our Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro review.
  71. Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Android smartphone. Announced Nov 2019. Features 6.47″ display, Snapdragon 730G chipset, 5260 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  72. Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  73. Samsung Galaxy S20 5G Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.2″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  74. Huawei P40 Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.1″ display, Kirin 990 5G chipset, 3800 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  75. Sony Xperia 10 II Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.0″ display, Snapdragon 665 chipset, 3600 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 4 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  76. vivo X50 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Jun 2020. Features 6.56″ display, Snapdragon 765G chipset, 4315 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  77. Huawei Mate 20 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2018. Features 6.39″ display, Kirin 980 chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  78. OnePlus 7T Android smartphone. Announced Sep 2019. Features 6.55″ display, Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 3800 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  79. vivo X60 5G Android smartphone. Announced Dec 2020. Features 6.56″ display, Exynos 1080 chipset, 4300 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  80. Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  81. Xiaomi Mi 9 Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2019. Features 6.39″ display, Snapdragon 855 chipset, 3300 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  82. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.9″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 5000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  83. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 7.6″ display, Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM.
  84. Huawei P20 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2018. Features 6.1″ display, Kirin 970 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  85. Oppo Reno3 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.4″ display, MT6779V Helio P95 chipset, 4025 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  86. Huawei P30 Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2019. Features 6.1″ display, Kirin 980 chipset, 3650 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM. See our Huawei P30 review.
  87. Realme X3 SuperZoom Android smartphone. Announced May 2020. Features 6.6″ display, Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  88. Asus Zenfone 7 Pro ZS671KS Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 5000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  89. Oppo Find X2 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4260 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
  90. Realme X50 Pro 5G Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2020. Features 6.44″ display, Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4200 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  91. Realme X2 Pro Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2019. Features 6.5″ display, Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  92. Oppo Reno4 Pro 5G Android smartphone. Announced Jun 2020. Features 6.55″ display, Snapdragon 765G chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  93. Oppo Reno3 Android smartphone. Announced Mar 2020. Features 6.4″ display, MT6779 Helio P90 chipset, 4025 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  94. Xiaomi Redmi K30 Ultra Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.67″ display, MT6889Z Dimensity 1000+ chipset, 4500 mAh battery, 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  95. Google Pixel 4 XL Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2019. Features 6.3″ display, Snapdragon 855 chipset, 3700 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  96. Huawei nova 7 5G Android smartphone. Announced Apr 2020. Features 6.53″ display, Kirin 985 5G chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM.
  97. Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Android smartphone. Announced Aug 2020. Features 6.7″ display, Exynos 990 chipset, 4300 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  98. OnePlus 7T Pro Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2019. Features 6.67″ display, Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 4085 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 12 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
  99. LG V50 ThinQ 5G Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2019. Features 6.4″ display, Snapdragon 855 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, MIL-STD-810G compliant, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra unboxing
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a periscope telephoto lens and is one of the best smartphones with telephoto lenses

Which phones have periscope lens?

A Periscope lens is an advancement on the concept of telephoto lensallowing for much better optical zoom in a thin profile. As such, a camera with a periscope lens is really badass. Here are some top phones with a periscope lens:

  1. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
  2. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
  3. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G
  4. Huawei Mate 60 Pro
  5. Xiaomi 13 Ultra
  6. Huawei Mate 60 Pro+
  7. Oppo Find X6 Pro
  8. NIO Phone
  9. Xiaomi 12S Ultra
  10. Vivo X90 Pro+

Of course, having a periscope automatically makes these models some of the best smartphones with telephoto lens.

Samsung phones with a telephoto lens
Samsung Galaxy S devices are some of the top smartphones with telephoto lens

The best smartphones with telephoto lens: The top picks

So, which are the best smartphones with telephoto lens? Premium flagship phones from Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, Apple, Google Pixel, and Samsung have telephoto lenses (and some have the almighty periscope lens), and have proven themselves to be the top camera phones.

As such, you can safely buy the latest premium flagship phone from any of those brands and know for sure that you own one of the best smartphones with telephoto lens in the world. Your target list should include iPhone Pro Max 15 and newer, Samsung Galaxy S Ultra range from S22, and Google Pixel Pro range from Pixel 6.

Buying one of these gets you a superb camera phone and makes you an owner of one of the best smartphones with telephoto lens in the market.

What’s the phone with the best zoom?

As of September 2023, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has the best zoom in any smartphone on the market.

Can you add a telephoto lens to phone?

Yes, you can. There are clip-on or attachable lenses available as phone accessories. As such, even if your phone does not have a telephoto lens built in, you can buy an attachable zoom lens and clip on to it. Voila! You are in business and can start shooting amazing zoom photographs. Here is what it looks like:

attachable zoom lens
attachable zoom lens for your smartphone

The fantastic thing about using an attachable zoom lens is that you wil be able to zoom in more with it than you can with smartphones with telephoto lens. Why? Just look at the length of that attachable zoom lens; you couldn’t fit that thing in a smartphone. The one pictured above is capable of up to 20x optical zoom. The best smartphones with telephoto lens can do 10x optical zoom at the most.

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