Are those clip-on lenses worth it? - review

I don't know about you, but I've always wondered if those clip-on lenses for smartphone cameras were worth using. I've had a chance to try a couple out, and here's what I thought:

A modern smartphone has a camera that is more than adequate for most of the everyday snaps we take - and having the camera with you all the time more than outweighs any disadvantage from having a single, non-zoom lens. But there are occasions when you really would like to have a telephoto lens to get closer to the action, or to take a landscape shot, homing in on a particular detail. Although you can zoom digitally, this drastically reduces the resolution, often producing fuzzy pictures.

The clip-on telephoto lens I tried, the niftily named Havit HV-MPC04, provides a decent optical 2x telephoto to get in closer to your subject without noticeable loss of quality. It's a good looking lens and produces clear, effective shots (in the photos alongside, the side-by-side photo shows the straight camera image and the same image with the telephoto lens in place). The lens, which comes with a cap, attaches easily to a clip, fitting over the top of the phone as shown. By looking through the lens itself it's easy to see when it's aligned with the phone's camera, and then the camera is simply used as normal.

The lens comes in a robust if surprisingly large hard case, making it easy to pop in the pocket and have ready for use. The make-or-break here is whether you are prepared to carry the separate lens with you all the time, and to take the time to remove it from the case and clip it on when you want to take the relevant shot.

I suspect I won't carry it all the time, but I will have it with me on occasions I feel I might need to get that telephoto image - on walks, for instance, or on holiday - and I am sure that my photographs will be significantly better as a result. A 2x magnification may not seem vast, but for shots of scenery or wildlife it will seriously improve the final image.

The Havit HV-MPC04 is available from and

I also tried out a wide-angle lens from the same manufacturer (the Havit HV-MPC03), which is very similar in concept, but gives a wider view. The case and operation are identical and here's the side-by-side view with the basic camera shot on the left.

I think I'm likely to use this less than the telephoto, but it will sometimes come in for those shots - for instance of a building in a city - where you can't get far enough away from the subject.

The Havit HV-MPC03 is available from and