Understanding aperture and lowlight on smartphones

Let’s dig into the technical aspects of photography and cameras on smartphones.

When you’re taking a photograph, light is controlled by three camera functions – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture – where ISO controls the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light, shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to light, and aperture is responsible for the amount of light entering the lens.

In this article, we’re going to have a look at what the camera aperture means and why they matter in smartphone photography, especially on triple-lens smartphones. 

First, let’s have a quick look at what is the aperture. 

What is aperture? 

Aperture is the opening of the lens that light goes through to land on your camera’s image sensor to make a picture. When you change the size of the opening, it changes your exposure in a few different ways.

Aperture is like the camera’s eye and works similarly to the human eye.

The pupil of the human eye shrinks or expands in different lighting conditions. Like on a bright day or a dark street depending on how much light is needed to filter on the retina of the eye. Cameras have been designed in the same way, just replace the pupil with aperture and the retina with the camera sensor.

Aperture sizes are measured by f-stops. A high f-stop like f/22 means that the aperture hole is very small, and a low f-stop like f/1.8 means that the aperture is wide open.

If you shoot with the aperture wide open (f/1.8), then more light is allowed into the camera than if the aperture is closed down (f/22) to only allow a tiny hole of light to enter the camera.

Now you should have a basic understanding of aperture, so let’s talk about the aperture on the new smartphones. And as an example, we’ll use the new iPhone 11 Pro with it’s three different cameras, which all have different focal lengths and apertures. 

iPhone 11 Pro Aperture differences

Main wide camera

  • f/1.8 aperture
  • 26mm equivalent focal length
  • 12-megapixel resolution
  • 100% autofocus pixels
  • Optical image stabilisation

Ultra wide camera

  • f/2.4 aperture
  • 13mm equivalent focal length
  • 0.5x, 120-degree field-of-view
  • 12-megapixel resolution


  • f/2.0 aperture
  • 56mm equivalent focal length
  • 2x optical zoom
  • 12-megapixel resolution
  • Optical image stabilisation (OIS)
iPhone 11 aperture differences

So as you can see, the three different cameras have three different apertures.

The crown jewel lens of the iPhone 11 Pro, is no doubt, the main wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture + few other great features like the Optical image stabilization and 100% autofocus pixels.

The new Ultra-wide camera is the new guy in town on the iPhone. It’s fun, easy to use and makes very good results in good lighting conditions. The downside to this lens is, that the aperture is only an f/2.4. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but for an example, the iPhone 4 has an aperture of f/2.8. There are a few reasons, why it’s not so easy to make an ultra-wide lens with a fast aperture, but let’s not dive so deep into it this time. To sum it up it’s a great lens during the day, but as soon as it gets darker, you will see it in the quality of the image.

Last, the telephoto camera comes with an upgraded f/2.0 aperture lens. Which will help to deal with lowlight shooting conditions much better than the previous f/2.4 aperture lens.

You can get very creative with the triple camera lens setup as you have everything from ultra-wide to telephoto, but the different lenses just aren’t on the same level of optical performance.

Get the best results with the main wide camera lens and a Black Eye lens.

The main wide camera lens is the winner of the three and also your good friend when you need the highest quality images on your iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.

If you’re a serious smartphone photographer who wants the Ultra-wide and telephoto on your smartphone, then you should consider using our wide selection of lenses on the main wide camera of the smartphone.

You need to use a lens on top of the iPhone main wide camera lens to get the best results in lowlight photography.

When there’s not much natural light available, like at sunrise, sunset or in the night, you should only use the main camera and one Black Eye lens attached to it. This way you’ll still enjoy the great image quality and lowlight performance of the f/1.8 aperture lens. There’s a big difference in image quality this way and you’ll thank us later.

All of our lenses work perfectly on the main wide camera, and you don’t need a special app to use them which is awesome!

Night photo mode test

We wanted to test the low-light capabilities of the iPhone 11 Pro Ultra-wide and see the difference when using the main wide camera and attaching Black Eye Lenses with it. So here you go! As you can see in the first image shot with using the iPhone 11 Pro’s ultra-wide with an f/2.4 aperture, it’s doesn’t do so well in low light, compared when shooting with the main wide camera with an aperture of f/1.8.

All photos are taken hand-held using the night photo mode on the iPhone 11 Pro.

iPhone 11 Pro Built-In Ultra-wide
iPhone 11 Pro + Pro Cinema Wide G4
iPhone 11 Pro + Pro Fisheye G4
iPhone 11 Pro + Wide G4
  1. iPhone 11 Pro Built-In Ultra-wide.
  2. iPhone 11 Pro Main Wide + Pro Cinema Wide G4
  3. iPhone 11 Pro Main Wide + Pro Fisheye G4
  4. iPhone 11 Pro Main Wide + Wide G4