5 Advanced Phone Photography Tips For Share-Worthy Shots

Woman photographs scenic view with phone
Want brighter, bolder, better photos? Step outside your camera phone's standard settings.

Whether you're taking in the view on vacation or capturing the vibe at a party, phone photography lets you take beautiful shots with just a tap. But if you haven't yet explored your phone's camera settings, you might be missing out on a few simple tricks that can make your pictures even more striking. Want to give it a shot? Check out the tips below, and you'll be on your way to pro-level phone photos in no time.

1. Adjust Focus

When you set the focus manually, you're able to choose exactly which part of a photo will be the sharpest. Doing so is easy – for most phone cameras, you'll just need to tap the area you'd like to focus on. iPhone users have an added advantage with the AE/AF Focus Lock feature. Doing so enables the camera to stay in focus and at your preferred exposure setting, even as you move or light fluctuates.

This feature is invaluable if you're moving the camera to capture an object from different angles. Just tap and hold the area you want to focus on, and then wait for the AE/AF Lock notification to appear. To lock in the same settings for multiple shots, tap and hold the focus area until it pulses, then tap anywhere on the screen to release.

2. Control Exposure

You gain more control to avoid washed out shots and capture sharp images at night.

In a perfect world, you'd always have natural light for every photo. But in reality, smartphone photographers have to deal with a lot of unfavorable conditions. Fortunately, that's where exposure settings come in. Exposure refers to how dark or light a photo will be once captured. Through a combination of shutter speed (how long it takes to capture a shot), aperture (the area in which light can enter the camera phone), and ISO speed (the sensitivity of the image sensor to light), you gain more control to avoid washed out shots, capture sharp images at night, and create photos with beautiful contrast.

iPhone users can adjust exposure after manually setting the focus. You'll find an icon that looks like the sun next to the yellow square surrounding the focus area. Tap it and drag it up and down until you find the right level of exposure. The process is similar for most Android phones too – tapping on the screen will bring up a slider that lets you brighten or darken the shot as needed. Not all Android phones include this setting, so you may need to check out a third-party app to try it.

3. Use HDR Mode

HDR Mode refers to the camera's dynamic range, or the ratio of light to dark that it will capture. High dynamic range (HDR) expands that range for more nuanced shots with rich colors and dramatic contrasts between light and dark. This option is ideal for natural scenes and nighttime photography – consider it your best friend at a concert. You'll want to avoid it for fast-moving action, however, along with already bold colors.

When iPhone users open their camera, they'll notice HDR in the black bar at the top of the app. Tapping it will open the setting's options, allowing you to turn it on and off. You can also opt for an auto setting that will deploy HDR mode effortlessly. Android users can check their phone's camera app menus to see if this feature is available under Settings, Shooting Modes, or Camera Scenes. Other models allow you to turn on HDR mode by tapping and holding the viewfinder, then selecting HDR.

4. Get An App

If your phone's camera doesn't come with easy access to manual settings, don't sweat it. You can up your game even if your phone doesn't allow manual control with a host of camera apps that deliver advanced features. Here are a few of our favorites:

Camera+ 2

Camera+ 2 puts shutter speed, focus, ISO settings, exposure, and more at your fingertips. As a bonus, you can save your shots in RAW format, ensuring the highest level of quality when you're ready to edit. Get it for iOS.


VSCO lets you shoot in RAW mode, adjust exposure, set white balance, and configure ISO, as well as access advanced editing tools. With an annual subscription, you can enjoy an expanded library of enhancement presets, and members can join challenges, get feedback, and more. It's available for iOS and Android.

Camera FV-5

Camera FV-5 is designed for the pro photographer. You'll have to pay for RAW support, but the free version offers manual controls, EXIF data displayed in the viewfinder, and a long-exposure mode that brings night shots to life. Try it for Android phones.

Photography Made SIMPLE

With a better understanding of all your camera phone can do and the right apps, you don't need to invest in a high-end DSLR to be a real photographer. In fact, with the right phone and a little creativity, you're well on your way to capturing gorgeous photos with every press of the shutter. So where can you get a phone with a camera that will ensure you never miss a moment?

Make the move to SIMPLE Mobile, where you can keep the phone you love or choose one of the hottest phones with some of the best cameras available right now. And with flexible plans that deliver more speed and more data for less on a lightning-fast 4G LTE† network, it's easy to share your photos in an instant. To get started, learn more about us today and see why it's time to say out with the old, in with the SIMPLE.

†Actual availability, coverage and speed may vary. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. See Terms and Conditions of Service at SimpleMobile.com. When downloading and using mobile app, standard data rates may apply.