It might be understandable that you’re looking for an iPhone 14, but the 2022 iPhone Photography Awards have just landed to prove that you don’t really need that rumored 48MP camera to take incredible pictures.
The annual competition, which is run independently of Apple but is now in its 15th year, has just announced its impressive list of winners. And it’s no exception to the latest iPhones, with winners stretching all the way back to the iPhone 6S Plus from 2015.
We’ve done some tallying and 44% of the winners were actually built on models from the iPhone 11 series or earlier. That said, the most represented phone by far is the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which was behind 23% of the competition’s prize-winning shots.
The IPPA 2022 awards rules state that photographs “should not be altered in any desktop image processing program such as Photoshop”, so how come there is such a diverse range of styles across the categories, from “abstract” to “travel”?
That’s because the rules allow you to “use any iOS apps”, which means that some of the best photo editing apps and the best camera apps are almost certainly behind some of the shots you see in our gallery below. That said, many photos are likely to be straight “out of camera” and, collectively, the set shows what iPhone cameras are capable of, whatever model you have.
Analysis: Determine the content and nail the basics
Besides emphasizing that you don’t need the latest iPhone to take great photos, the lesson from this year’s iPhone Photography Awards is that you only need two things for a great picture: interesting content and an understanding of the basics of photography.
You’ll notice that effects like Portrait mode and filters are notably absent from the photos below. Instead, the winners demonstrate familiarity with the main rules of composition, an eye for good light, and an openness to finding new angles on familiar subjects.
We’d bet that most of the winning entries were shot using the iPhone’s main camera, rather than the telephoto or super-wide. The IPPA rules state that “iPhone plug-in lenses may be used”, so some of the best iPhone lenses may be used for additional access. But for the most part, a bit of light editing is likely to be needed, given the arresting material.
If you want to enter next year’s competition, check out our guides on how to take professional portrait photos with your iPhone and how to take epic landscape photos with your iPhone. For now, though, here’s a gallery of this year’s iPhone Photography Awards winners (use our left navigation bar to jump to your favorite category).