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Why you should trust us

I’m a photojournalist, writer, and with a wide range of experience researching, testing, and writing about photography trends, techniques, and tools, including my role as mobile-imaging editor at , the most popular camera site on the Web.

I spoke via email with mobile photography journalist Lars Rehm about the latest in smartphone lens trends and what to look for in such an accessory. Rehm has researched and written about smartphone cameras and accessories since nearly the dawn of smartphone photography for publications like DPReview.

I also read up on every recommended smartphone lens attachment we could find on the Internet, and considered what highly respected review sites such as , , , and had to say. We also asked friends of various levels of smartphone-photography prowess what they would want out of such an attachment.

Who this is for

iPhone lens attachments are useful to anyone trying to get more out of their phone’s built-in camera. They allow you to appear either closer to your subject or farther away from it without reducing resolution. This mimics the effect you’d get from switching lenses on a DSLR or mirrorless camera. The results aren’t always perfect, resulting in distortion, blurriness, color shifts, or all of the above, but depending on your intended use, these drawbacks may be perfectly tolerable.

Most people fall into one of two categories of smartphone photographer: the enthusiast who uses their phone’s camera just as seriously and frequently as they would any other camera in their arsenal, and the more casual snapshot shooter.

For those who fall into this first category, our pick for mobile photography enthusiasts requires a commitment in both price and practice. These higher-quality lenses are heavier and expensive, but the results are exceptional. With a lens such as these, you get much of the imaging capabilities of a cheap point-and-shoot camera, with the familiar UI, mobility, and connectivity of your phone.

On the other hand, our pick for casual smartphone shooters offers a fun way to expand your phone’s photography capabilities with different focal lengths that look great on a phone screen—but don’t hold up as well on larger screens or in prints. Lens quality can’t compare, but we think if you use your phone’s camera more casually—recording everyday events and experiences with the camera that’s always with you and sharing your results on social media—you’ll be satisfied with the results from this lightweight combo.

However, we didn’t consider “sport” or active systems, such as the . These systems seem to fall into another category altogether in which the goal is to transform your smartphone into something more akin to an rather than solely focusing on optics. We might look at this segment in the future.

If spending more than 0 to enhance your iPhone photos sounds silly, the Internet is flush with inexpensive clip-on lenses that offer an affordable way to try the concept. We dug deep to find a suitable recommendation in this category. You’re bound to encounter some distortion, vignetting, or color fringing, and they typically won’t work if you’re using your phone in a case, but if you’re primarily shooting fun snapshots that you’ll put an Instagram filter on anyway, these photographic imperfections might be worth the bargain.

It’s true that cheap compact cameras don’t have much of an advantage over the best smartphones anymore (optical zoom aside), but still offer substantially better low-light performance and better optics than even the best camera phone paired with the best add-on lenses. Their larger 1-inch sensors are about four times as large as what you’d find in a flagship phone and can gather more light and detail as a result. If you plan on regularly printing, or displaying your photos in a larger format, consider upgrading to our or a if you want interchangeable lenses.

How we picked

We’ve examined more than 90 smartphone lens attachments and conducted hands-on testing with about 40 models since the first iteration of this review in 2015.

We focused first on finding a good wide-angle option as that’s one of the most practical applications of adding a lens attachment to your fixed focal length iPhone lens. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are limited by their fixed wide-angle lenses, equivalent to about 28mm. We wanted to find a wide-angle option that allowed for a wider field of view for adding more context to your shots.

A telephoto lens might be the next most useful lens for many smartphone shooters, though the iPhone 7 Plus has an additional 56mm telephoto lens. The dual-lens system doesn’t default to using the telephoto lens, however, and will still sometimes use the wider lens, opting for digital zoom over optical zoom, and will always use the wider lens for metering information. Digital zoom reduces overall resolution, which produces a grainier photo. A third-party app like Pro Camera can let you choose to use the tele lens.

Macro and ultrawide fish-eye lenses are the next most common, though they tend to fall more into the “fun” category, as the iPhone already allows you to shoot quite close to objects and the fish-eye look is likely one you wouldn’t use in your everyday arsenal.

Regardless of which type of lens you decide on, we wanted to make lens-attachment recommendations that help produce amazing photos, and these were the criteria we applied in sorting the good from the bad:

  • A wider-angle or telephoto lens addition shouldn’t cause significant distortion (warped objects or altered perspective) or vignetting (darkening at the edges of the frame)—although fish-eye lenses are designed to distort intentionally.
  • Ease of attachment and portability. If it’s a hassle to use, you won’t bother.
  • If a case is required, it should be protective and attractive enough to use everyday. Or it should be so easy to apply and remove that you don’t mind doing so. There are a number of cases that both look like sci-fi movie props and are difficult to remove.
  • Forward compatibility should also be a factor and we want to recommend manufacturers who are looking both backward and ahead when it comes to customer support. You shouldn’t have to entirely replace your lens attachment when you upgrade your iPhone, and any modifications to keep it working with the newest model should be reasonably priced.

Finally, a lens attachment shouldn’t run you much more than 0. Such an add-on ought to be a fun gadget, and we can’t imagine spending more than a Benjamin for the luxury.

How we tested

Since the first iteration of this review was published in 2015, we’ve conducted hands-on testing with more than 40 smartphone lens attachments. We tested well-known options from and , as well as from names that are big in the camera world, such as and , and lenses that our readers asked about, such as the . We toted these lenses around Seattle, testing them in some everyday shooting situations. We filled our backpack with them and put them to work while hiking in the Cascade Mountains. We brought them along on an epic summer road trip to see the Grand Canyon, took them sightseeing in France and on vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho. For our latest update we used the iPhone 7 Plus in our testing.

The variety of testing conditions allowed us see how the lenses performed in real life, helping us determine not just how they performed photographically but also how convenient they were for shooting on the go.

We carefully reviewed the results to determine which models were acceptable, and we considered this further hands-on experience to reach our final conclusion.

Best for mobile photography enthusiasts: Moment Lens

Our two top picks for best lenses for iPhone photography sitting on top of an iphone.

Our pick

Moment New Wide Lens Moment New Tele Lens

Moment’s redesigned and lenses and new case-mounted system are our top choice for serious mobile photographers because they offer top-notch image quality combined with attractive, portable cases. The mounting system is easy to operate and images look fantastic.

We tested version 2 of the .63x-magnification wide-angle lens (an 18mm equivalent; about 1.5 times as wide as the standard iPhone lens) and version 2 of the 2x telephoto lens (60mm equivalent). (In an appeal to photography fanatics, Moment markets each lens by defining equivalent lens length in the nomenclature typically reserved for full-frame camera systems.) Moment also redesigned its macro lens and 15mm-equivalent Superfish.

In our tests images came out crisp and clear, with very little distortion and no vignetting. We noted only minimal chromatic aberration (a common problem with cheaply made lenses in which colors fringe and blur, especially at high-contrast edges).

Pull Quote

Images came out crisp and clear, with very little distortion and no vignetting.

Moment’s glass lenses are heavy, but easy to use. You’ll definitely notice their weight in your hand and your pocket, but the solid mounting system and superior optics are worth the portability hit. They attach to the Moment case using a bayonet mount, like attaching a lens to your DSLR. Each lens can fit over either of the iPhone 7 Plus’s dual lenses. They are easy to stow in a bag or pocket when not in use because each comes with a lens cap to protect from dust and scratching and a small drawstring microfiber bag, which can also be useful for wiping off smudges.


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    Moment’s tele lens lets you narrow the view from your iPhone’s camera so you can emphasize what’s most important in the scene you’re shooting.

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    The iPhone’s built-in lens provides too wide a view for this scene. The Moment tele lens (above) helps instill order and makes a more pleasing image.

One drawback of the Moment lenses (that turned out not to be a drawback) is that you can use them only with a Moment case, such as the () we used in our testing. Moment says it because, “It turns out that the vertical stack between our glass and the lens on the phone varied by device due to unpredictable tolerances, leaving some customers with great images and others with dark corners.” By making its own cases, Moment could better control the placement of its lenses in relation to the iPhone’s lens. And it also allows them to support other phones, like the Google Pixel and Samsung S8.

We have been hesitant to recommend a lens accessory that required the use of a case in the past, but we liked the Moment so much we started using it whether we had the lenses with us or not. It feels comfortable and smooth in your hand, with enough rubbery grip on the edges to keep your phone secure. We loved the look of the real wood on the backing, but it also comes in black canvas. There’s also a for 0. The case system should also make it easier to continue using your Moment lenses when you upgrade your phone; a new case is rather an inevitable purchase with each new phone, but the glass should work with the next generation of your device.

Pull Quote

We liked the Moment [case] so much we started using it whether we had the lenses with us or not.

If you’re ready to invest further in mobile photography, Moment offers more accessories, from – and -lens cases, to and straps to with half-press functionality when paired with the Moment app. That app offers separate focus and and exposure controls, as well as RAW photo capabilities. Moment also offers a filter mount that lets you use 62mm, threaded filters, such as a , , or , with any of their lenses. All this continuing innovation is reassuring if you’re looking to invest in a system that’s changing fast.

A picture of a group of people standing on a porch surrounded by plants, with a house visible in the background. Moment’s wide lens doesn’t suffer from dark corners or distortion and remains sharp throughout the frame.

We aren’t the only ones who like Moment lenses. writes, “From lens design to the packaging they were brilliant. … [They] deliver the quality beyond the price point.”

, “If you’re looking to step up the game of what your mobile phone can do, then the Moment lenses are seriously your best bet.” Later, he concludes, “These lenses are sharp, offer beautiful bokeh, and even though the color rendition isn’t the great right out of the camera, that can easily be fixed in a world where everyone edits their images and applies their favorite filter before uploading.”

, “I love how the lenses feel in my hand as well as on my smartphone. I love that I can trust in the photos I take through the lenses.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The 2.0 version of the Moment wide is larger than its predecessor and more glass can mean more opportunity for sun flare, which we observed on occasion. A well-placed hand may suffice in lieu of a lens hood.

As with nearly all the lenses we tested, you can’t use your phone camera’s flash when using Moment, which the lens attachment covers up.

Best for casual smartphone shooters: Olloclip Core Lens set

An also great pick for best lense for iphone photography, the Olloclip core lens set.

Also great

Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7 & 7 Plus

Though our enthusiast picks offer exceptional performance, we also acknowledge that most people aren’t expecting to take much more than casual snapshots with their iPhones, let alone pay 0 or more for a single lens accessory. For more casual mobile photographers, offers three lens options for about the same price as the Moment in an attachment that’s about the size of a set of car keys and slides over the top of your smartphone. The versatility and portability of this lightweight wide-angle/fish-eye/macro combo make it a solid choice for a casual smartphone shooter looking to experiment with their iPhone photography. Each lens can be flipped around to accommodate either the wide or tele lens of the iPhone 7 Plus, and each fits over the front-facing camera as well.

The Super-wide lens offers a 120-degree field of view (about 0.63x) that is handy for capturing landscapes and can be useful if you want to catch a group shot using the selfie camera. In comparison with the almost-flawless Moment Wide, you’ll notice mild barrel distortion and softening toward the edges of the frame. The 15x macro and 180-degree fish-eye are fun to play with, but also not without flaws: The macro shows blurring at the edges and the fish-eye lens displays thick vignetting on all corners. If you’re prone to pixel peeping or just ready to take your iPhone photography to the next level, you’ll want to opt for a nicer set of lenses.

One of the Olloclip core lenses attached to an iPhone.

We’ve steered clear of recommending the Olloclip in past reviews because there wasn’t an acceptable case to pair the lens attachment with, therefore forcing you to use the lenses with a case we couldn’t get behind or without a case at all, likely just when you’re putting your smartphone into risky positions to get the right shot. Olloclip now offers a slim plastic case that fits with its latest generation of lenses and iPhones that’s decent enough to recommend. It’s slim and comfortable enough to use every day, but we don’t like that it’s available only in a clear plastic that already looks stained after a couple months of testing. Although the company’s case isn’t required to use the lenses, we don’t recommend going caseless.

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    The Olloclip wide-angle lens expands on the view offered by the iPhone’s built-in lens.

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    The fish-eye lens image floats in the blackened corners that come with a lot of fish-eye lenses, but it delivers an very impressive amount of detail for an add-on lens.

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    This view from the iPhone’s built-in lens provides a comparison for this scene when looking at the images captured through the Olloclip lenses.

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    Though the H on this sugar packet looks almost pixelated, that’s just because the Olloclip’s macro lens provides such a detailed close-up view of the printing.

Although it’s tough for these lens manufacturers to keep up with smartphone innovations, it’s possible the Olloclip will fit with future generations of the iPhone. The lenses pop out and should be able to be swapped into a new clip attachment. Olloclip’s expanding line gives us confidence in investing its systems.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Though we think most people will find the Olloclip’s image quality acceptable for their everyday smartphone snapshots, photography enthusiasts and pixel peepers should look to our pick for mobile-photography enthusiasts. The Olloclip images show some distortion and loss of detail. We did see a dark corner appear in a few of our test images too, so it’s possible to knock the lens alignment out of whack if you’re not paying attention, further degrading the quality of your images.

And although the front-lens compatibility is fun, you will notice even more of these issues when pairing an Olloclip lens with the front-facing camera.

As with nearly all the lenses we tested, you can’t use your phone’s camera’s flash when using Olloclip, which the lens attachment covers up.

Olloclip’s Core lens set doesn’t include a telephoto option, but the new does. It’s more than the Core set, however, and features only two lenses, the 2x telephoto and the Super-wide. The telephoto lens is also offered in Olloclip’s , but we prefer the Super-wide over the Ultra-wide offered in the Core combo. In addition to being more expensive, the Olloclip Ultra-wide lens’ 155-degree field of view verges on overlapping with the included fish-eye lens.

The for the latest generation of iPhone is serviceable, but not our favorite case by any means. The clear plastic already looks tarnished after just a couple months of use. It’s more protective than going caseless, but unlike the Moment case, we would never use it individually without the lenses.

Budget pick

The three lenses that come with our budget pick, the Amir cell phone camera lens kit.

Budget pick

Amir 3-in-1 Clip-On Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit

is a solid choice if you’re not ready to commit to a more expensive and involved lens accessory system and aren’t overly concerned about image quality. The kit features a 0.36x wide-angle lens that delivers a wide field of view that was more useful than the ones included in similar lens kits, which were either ineffective, or so wide that they veered into fish-eye territory. A 25x macro and 180-degree fish-eye lens are also included. Each can be fitted over the front-facing lens or rear lens(es).

The Amir is a fun and affordable lens kit, but image quality doesn’t stack up well against that of either the Olloclip or the Moment: You’ll notice some softening and distortion at the edge of the frame, and we sometimes saw darker corners. But maybe these subtle flaws aren’t a major concern if you’re just looking to jazz up your Facebook feed with some new angles.

Each lens and clip is about the size of a car key and slips easily into a pocket when not in use, or you can keep all three in the small zippered box that comes with the kit. We’re sure the plastic lens caps would be quickly lost, as they fall off easily, but as long as you keep the included lens cloth with you for removing dust and don’t store the lens somewhere that’s likely to scratch the glass, these seem to hold up well enough for occasional use.

A close up of one of our budget lenses attached to an iPhone.

These clip-on lenses fit the iPhone and other brands of smartphones, and will likely fit the next generations of these devices as well. If you’d like to share these lenses between a couple of phones or tablets in your household, this kit has the versatility to work with quite a few different devices.

We found the Amir lenses fit with some thinner smartphone cases, but not with all the thin cases we tried. If your current case doesn’t work with the Amir lens set, we recommend investing in a thin case to use while shooting with the lens clip-ons; it’s always less expensive than replacing your phone.

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    The Amir wide-angle (right) lets you include much more of the scene in your photo than your iPhone’s built-in lens (left), though the Amir wide lens also shows some visible distortion.

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    The Amir wide-angle (right) lets you include much more of the scene in your photo than your iPhone’s built-in lens (left), though the Amir wide lens also shows some visible distortion.

These type of clip-on lenses are prone to slipping out of position and off the phone entirely. For careful and casual use, they’re a fun way to experiment with your iPhone photography, but you do risk ruining your images with dark corners and blurring if the lens slips even only slightly.

Another budget option for iPhone Plus

A phone with a Ztylus Switch 6 attached to it. The case covers the whole body of the phone and has six different lenses built into it.

Also great

Ztylus Switch 6

If you’re looking for a multiple-lens attachment that works with the dual-lens system on the iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the is an interesting case-mounted option that packs six tiny lens attachments into a removable attachment about the size of a key fob. The plate slides into a bracket on the back of the Switch 6 case and can be pushed up and over the iPhone’s camera lenses or back down the bracket or removed entirely when not in use.

The attachment includes a 120-degree wide-angle and 2x telephoto lens combo, a 10x macro and 20x macro combo and a 180-degree fish-eye and 2x telephoto lens combo. A plastic cover protects the lenses from dust.


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    The Ztylus’s wide-angle lens lets you get more of the scene into your image.

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    The telephoto lens adds more reach, but with a bit of loss of image quality.

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    The fish-eye lens presents a very wide view with the blackened edges typical of some fish-eyes.

Although it is handy to have so many options in a single case, the lens quality can’t compare with that of our top picks. The wide-angle lens causes both distortion and softness, especially toward the edge of the image. The fish-eye shows heavy vignetting and significant edge distortion. The telephoto element doesn’t offer significantly more reach than the phone’s built-in lenses, and the tiny optics degrade overall quality and clarity.

The hard plastic case is sufficient to use when you’re shooting with the Switch 6 lenses, but feels too stiff to warrant everyday use. It’s not difficult to remove, however.

The competition

We’ve examined more than 90 smartphone lens attachments and conducted hands-on testing with about 40 models since the first iteration of this review in 2015.

For this latest update, we dug into a wide array of clip-on lens attachments, which continue to be best-sellers on Amazon. But popularity doesn’t equate to quality and we ruled out a lot of contenders that looked promising but failed to deliver adequate results.

Aukey is a popular brand that we’ve recommended in the past. However, it is no longer making the we liked. We took a look at several of Aukey’s current offerings, including a that includes fish-eye, wide-angle, and macro lenses that looked comparable with our new budget pick. We found the Amir 3-in-1 Clip-On Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit offers a wider field of view on its wide lens, thus proving a bit more useful. (We noticed the same issue with the 5-in-1 set we examined, another very similar clip-on set, but we preferred the wider angle of view on the Amir set.)

Aukey also offers some larger clip-on lenses that piqued our interest, like the (product number is PL-WD07) which is often an Amazon best-seller. The image quality wasn’t really any better than our budget pick’s though, and the lens is about the size of a mirrorless model, which ends up feeling unbalanced on an iPhone. The heavier weight also made the lens more prone to slip out of place and we could often see the edges of the lens in the frame.

Once an alternate pick, the high-quality stopped updating its products after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The offers large lenses and a unique mount but doesn’t give you the option to use a protective case. The latest version of the ExoLens, the result of a pairing with lens maker Zeiss, piqued our interest. The large lenses are nearly the size of those on a mirrorless camera. The angular metal attachment system can’t possibly fit with a case, however, so you end up shooting with a large lens that feels off-balance and seems to put both your phone and lens attachment at risk. And in our tests, these were some of the worst lenses we tried: We thought all that sizable glass would be ideal for capturing the majesty of the Grand Canyon, but we ended up with blurry images and dark edges. We think our ExoLens mount may have moved, but that isn’t something a smartphone shooter wants to be constantly checking for while snapping away.

Our previous budget pick, the , is still a fun toy, and it offers a fish-eye lens, a combo macro, a wide-angle lens, and a rather ridiculous-looking 8x telephoto (which requires the included mini tripod) all for about . But our new top budget pick, Amir’s 3-in-1 Clip-On Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit, wins out with better lens quality and the bargain price of .

is one of the most popular among the magnetic attachments offered online, but they produce too much barrel distortion and vignetting for more serious mobile photography, and our new budget pick offers comparable lenses for about less, though without a 2x tele.

looked expectedly fresh and hip, but installation rests on an elastic band that can move and shift—and pop off. The setup feels complicated, and the really heavy lenses feel imbalanced.

As you can with most small tech products, for nearly every category of iPhone lenses—such as magnetic lenses—you can find several companies selling what appear to be identical products on Amazon. For example, compare with or . Though these products may well be the same, and are likely sourced from the same original manufacturers, the brands reselling them can differ in the level of quality control and customer support they offer. When we encountered seemingly identical products in our research, we took price, reviews, and the brand’s track record into consideration.

We saw many clip-on lens systems similar to (now discontinued), but you get what you pay for at this level: In our tests, image quality suffered greatly without gaining much zoom or producing a usable wide-angle result. Images were quite distorted, with dark edges.

Other models looked more promising. The offered better lens quality at an affordable price and worked with a slim case, but in our tests the clip slid around a lot and shifted the lens away from the center of the camera.

Mpow proves that bigger is not always better with its substantial , which weighs nearly as much as my Canon 50mm lens and is almost as big. In our tests all that glass felt heavy and made the iPhone feel unbalanced, and barrel distortion was obvious.

Other manufacturers offer lens systems with cases, including and the Ztylus kit. The Klyp+ case’s sharp, hard-plastic edges felt awful in the hand, and we really had to use a lot of force to put it on and take it off our phone, all the while wincing at the feeling that something was about to break.

The lets you flip through a macro, a wide-angle, a fish-eye, and a circular polarizing filter contained within a component of the case. But it’s tricky to install and remove, as a small screw holds the bottom and top pieces together. In our testing we managed not to lose the screw, but we felt like it was only a matter of time until we did. Another disappointment: The velvety inner lining began to wrinkle each time we removed the case, until it became almost impossible to manhandle the case off. Tearing off the lining seemed to resolve the issue, but we don’t think we should have to modify a 0 gadget in such a way. It’s true that the Ztylus case system may be something you’re meant to commit to, but we found the case too smooth and potentially slippery to buy into such a commitment.

The uses the same style of case as the Ztylus Revolver Kit, and the new version we tested lacked the middle velvety lining part that had given us trouble previously. Unfortunately, the wide-angle lens produced a lot of distortion and blurring, particularly in one spot.

Because we sought out items that addressed the two most common lens-attachment uses in mobile photography—the need for a wider angle and the need to zoom in optically—we dismissed more novel options such as the tilt-shift .

What to look forward to

Smartphone lens manufacturers are always playing catch-up when the newest iPhone arrives. The good news about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is that both have identical dimensions to their predecessors and both our top picks will fit the new-generation 8 models. Moment and Olloclip have confirmed their iPhone 7 and 7 Plus cases and lenses fit the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Of course the new camera location and redesigned optics of the iPhone X could prove trickier. Moment has committed to offering a new case for the iPhone X, so if the optics are compatible with its lenses, that’s a fairly inexpensive upgrade to continue using Moment lenses. Olloclip has not yet announced its plans for the iPhone X, but we would expect the current model won’t fit that version of the iPhone.


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  2. Brad Puet, , Lifewire, June 9, 2017

  3. Chris Gampat, , The Phoblographer, June 26, 2015

  4. Sam Rutherford, , Tom’s Guide, September 20, 2017

  5. Joshua Goldman, , CNET, July 7, 2015

  6. Buster Hein, , Cult of Mac, February 4, 2015

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  8. Kyle Ford, , Fstoppers, September 2, 2014

  9. Emily Price, , Macworld, April 6, 2015