These award-winning iPhone photos show what you can do with your older model

You might understandably be pining for an iPhone 14, but the iPhone Photography Awards 2022 has just landed to proved you don't really need that rumored 48MP camera to take incredible snaps.

The annual competition, which runs independently from Apple but is now in its 15th year, has just announced its impressive winner's list. And it's by no means dominated by the latest iPhones, with the winners stretching all the way back to the iPhone 6S Plus from 2015.

We've done some tallying up and 44% of the winners were actually taken on models from the iPhone 11 series or earlier. That said, the most well-represented phone by far is the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which was behind 23% of the competition's award-winning shots.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, from 2020, was the most well-represented model among this year's iPhone Photography Awards award winners. (Image credit: Apple)

The rules of the IPPA 2022 awards state that photos "should not be altered in any desktop image processing program such as Photoshop", so how is there such a varied range of styles across the categories, from "abstract" to "travel"?

That's because the rules do allow you to "use any iOS apps", which means some of the best photo editing apps and the best camera apps are almost certainly behind some of the shots you can see in our gallery below. That said, many photos are also likely straight "out of camera" and, collectively, the set shows what's possible with iPhone cameras, whichever model you have.


Analysis: Find a subject and nail the basics

Two iPhones showing portrait photos of men

Our guide on how to take portrait photos with your iPhone contains some pro tips on getting shots like the ones above. (Image credit: Future)

Other than underlining 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 snap: an interesting subject and an understanding of the photographic basics.

You'll notice that effects like Portrait mode and filters are notably absent from the photos below. Instead, the winners show a familiarity with the main rules of composition, an eye for good light, and an openness to finding new angles on familiar subjects.

We'd wager that most winning entries were shot using the iPhone's main camera, rather than the telephoto or super-wide. The IPPA's rules do state that "iPhone add-on lenses can be used", so it's possible that some may have used some of the best iPhone lenses for some extra reach. But in the main, a little light editing is all that's likely been required, given the arresting subjects.

If you fancy making an entry for 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 winners of the iPhone Photography Awards (use our navigation bar on the left to jump to your favorite category).

Overall winner

A soldier talking to a young boy in front of ruins

'Photographer of the Year Grand Prize' winner. By Antonio Denti (Italy). Location: Mosul, Iraq. Shot on iPhone 11. (Image credit: Antonio Denti / IPPAWARDS)

Abstract

An abstract photo of a basketball court

'First Place - Abstract' winner. By Marcello Raggini (San Marino). Shot on iPhone 11. (Image credit: Marcello Raggini / IPPAWARDS)

Animals

Two cows in a doorway

'First Place - Animals' winner. By Pier Luigi Dodi (Italy). Shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max. (Image credit: Pier Luigi Dodi / IPPAWARDS)

Architecture

The shadow of a tall building over a city

'First Place - Architecture' winner. By Kaustav Sarkar (India). Location: Empire State, New York. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro. (Image credit: Kaustav Sarkar / IPPAWARDS)

Children

A child with orange hair holding a balloon

'First Place - Children' winner. By Huapeng-Zhao (China). Shot on iPhone 13 Pro Max. (Image credit: Huapeng-Zhao / IPPAWARDS)

City Life

An aerial view of a large motorway junction

'First Place - City Life' winner. By Yongmei Wang (China). Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max. (Image credit: Yongmei Wang / IPPAWARDS)

Environment

A large chimney emitting smoke

'First Place - Environment' winner. By Yang Li (China). Location: Hegang, Heilongjiang Province. iPhone 11 Pro Max. (Image credit: Yang Li / IPPAWARDS)

Landscape

A road going through a misty forest

'First Place - Landscape' winner. By Linda Repasky (USA). Location: Ware, Massachussets. Shot on iPhone 13 Pro. (Image credit: Linda Repasky / IPPAWARDS)

Lifestyle

Underwater shot of a boy swimming

'First Place - Lifestyle' winner. By Laila Bakker (Netherlands). Shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max. (Image credit: Laila Bakker / IPPAWARDS)

Nature

View through some silver trees with yellow leaves

'First Place - Nature' winner. By Andrea Buchanan (USA). Location: Utah. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max. (Image credit: Andrea Buchanan / IPPAWARDS)

Portrait

A man leaning against a black and white wall

'First Place - Portrait' winner. By Arevik Martirosyan (USA). Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max. (Image credit: Arevik Martirosyan / IPPAWARDS)

Sunset

A hot air balloon in front of a sunset

'First Place - Sunset' winner. By Leping Cheng (China). Location: Xiamen, China. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max. (Image credit: Leping Cheng / IPPAWARDS)

Travel

Three people's legs off the back of a boat

'First Place - Travel' winner. By Marina Klutse (USA). Location: Caño de la Guasa, Colombia. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Marina Klutse / IPPAWARDS)

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