Quick review: Aukey Super Wide Angle smartphone lens
Aukey is a mobile device accessory maker that has been in the clip-on lens business for quite some time. We've had a chance to try out one of the company's latest models, the 'Super Wide Angle' lens which at 238 degrees offers quite an extreme angle of view.
It's compatible with any smartphone but we've found it to work best with the latest iPhone generation as the back of the lens neatly slots onto the iPhone's lens protrusion, holding it firmly in place. On devices with a smooth, non-protruding camera-module, such as the Motorola Moto X Force / Droid Turbo 2 which we also tried the lens on, you might have to optimize the position of the lens by moving it around very slightly, using a trial and error approach, until the preview image on the screen shows the best sharpness.
The lens is made from six optical elements and with its metal housing feels, for a smartphone accessory, reassuringly solid and weighty. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the plastic clip that holds it in place. It did its job without any issues during our testing but doesn't look like it was made to last a lifetime. There is also a plastic lens cap that should always be on the lens when it's not in use. Due to the bulbous shape of the front element it is extremely prone to fingerprint smearing.
As you can see in the samples below the angle of view is quite extreme, making it virtually impossible to keep your finger and sometimes feet out of the frame. On the other hand, the lens is great for capturing a very large portion of your surroundings without resorting to panorama modes or similar software tricks. It can also make for fun selfies in confined spaces.
Looking at the samples it's clear that optical quality should not be your number one priority when shooting with the Aukey lens. Images are generally softer than the standard output of the iPhone camera but sharpness is acceptable at the very center of the frame. That said, sharpness drops off quickly as you move toward the outer regions of the frame and corners are extremely soft. On the upside, lens flare and other artifacts are well controlled.
The lens can also be used with the iPhone's panorama mode but as you can see the stitching algorithm gets confused by the changed angle of view and actually ends up capturing a 720 degree image.
Of course you can also shoot video footage with the lens attached to your smartphone below. The clip below was recorded with an iPhone 6s Plus. As you can see the video footage suffers from the same image quality issues as the stills but, thanks to the lower video resolution, they are not quite as intrusive. Nevertheless the Aukey lens is an option for video shooters who want to to squeeze as much scenery as possible into their frames. Just take into account that on most smartphone cameras digital video stabilization will slightly crop the picture and therefore reduce the angle of view.
As mentioned above we also tried the lens on the Motorola Moto X Force / Droid Turbo 2 with its 21MP camera. It's more difficult to position the lens correctly on the Moto than on the iPhone and the end results we got were generally softer than on the iPhone. Still, the Aukey lens gives you the same enormous angle of view as on the iPhone and popping it on the front camera can be lots of fun as well.
Overall the Aukey Super Wide Angle lens is fun accessory that can provide entertainment when taking images of groups of friends but also allows you to capture small confined spaces in one single shot, making it an additional creative tool in the box. Unfortunately the optical quality isn't fantastic but in line with other accessory lenses. As long as you can live with the image quality limitations, the Super Wide Angle is fun to use and doesn't break the bank. It is currently available for $42.99 on Amazon.com
- Very wide angle of view
- Good build quality of lens
- Compatible with most smartphone cameras (although works best with iPhone)
- Lens flare is well controlled
- Slightly flimsy attachment clip
- Exposed front element prone to scratching and fingerprints
- Fairly strong image softness away from center of the frame