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Last updated: 08 February 2022
In just over a decade, Instagram has revolutionised advertising; created overnight celebrities; transformed our relationships with food and our faces; even inspired plastic surgery trends; and transfixed us all with the endless scroll. So it’s little wonder that wannabe influencers and obsessive ‘grammers are selecting their smartphones with the platform in mind.
Whether you’re looking to create sponsored photoshoots or just scroll through your friend’s selfies, we have the Instagram-ready smartphone for you.
Best for influencer pros: iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max
Some influencers will insist you need a separate camera and a laptop equipped with the latest photo-editing software to execute the best shots, curate content for your hundreds of thousands of followers, and manage your growing business. But some of the best do it all from one supercharged smartphone. Which do we suggest?
Many influencers already favour iPhones, but Apple has kitted out its latest models—the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max—with features that ensure no media star can do without one. Its set of three lenses allows you to shoot your meals in focus from just 2cm away and snag great fashion sightseeing shots from a distance, with optical zoom.
AI-driven filtering systems will up your postproduction game, allowing you to adjust the colour temperature, shadows and contrast more precisely than with traditional software methods. Excellent processing power means post-production editing apps like instasize work like a dream.
For Instagram's reels feature, Apple has also boosted the iPhone’s video capabilities, for higher-quality recording and more editing flexibility, including the option to change the degree of background blurring after the footage has been shot.
Best for social media posters: Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
We don’t all want to earn money from our social media. Some of us merely want to snap selfies and document our breakfasts. For that, consider the Asus Zenfone 8 Flip, a camera that takes professional-grade photos from both the front and the back.
While all phone manufacturers have been upgrading their front-facing shooters, the Zenfone 8 Flip gets around the front/back divide entirely with a neat swivel that flips the rear-facing camera around to snap your beaming face. That means there’s no difference in the quality of your selfies and your landscape shots—perfect for balance on your Instagram grid.
Best for scrollers: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3
If you just prefer to peruse Instagram rather than share your own content, your smartphone needs are different. You want a phone with a sharp display; a speedy processor and a lot of RAM so browsing feels effortless; a generous screen but a sleek profile, making it easy to hold and carry around; a robust battery life so you don’t need to constantly plug in.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 fits the bill—and then some. Samsung broke the mobile phone mould when it created the Fold, a device that effortlessly transitions from handset to tablet. However, it’s very pricy and tricky for users with small hands to handle. The Flip3 takes the bendy design and makes it more accessible. Like the flip phones of old, it flips vertically. But this baby is all glass, with a seamless display. That means it’s portable but packs a lavish screen. And it props itself up so you can browse for hours without straining your wrist. You can also use the split-screen feature to scroll Instagram while watching video content or, ahem, a Zoom call.
The one drawback might be its modest battery, but you can still get in eight hours of scrolling before having to juice up.
Best all-around camera: Google Pixel 6
Instagram runs on photos and the Google Pixel 6 shines here. In fact, it rocks probably the best cameras ever loaded onto a smartphone—all for a tidy £600.
The Pixel 6's main camera is a 50-megapixel shooter, feeding reams of data into Google’s nearly wizard-like image-processing software. The wide f/1.9 aperture is perfect for low-light photography. In better lighting conditions, the Pixel has great colour saturation, crisp whites, and inky blacks. The main camera is supplemented by a 12MP ultrawide lens on the back. And for you selfie-takers, there’s an 8MP front-facing camera, perfectly oriented in the top centre of the display, and a portrait mode that beautifully highlights faces and blurs backgrounds.
Best on a budget: iPhone SE (2020)
We mentioned before that Apple’s iPhone is influencer-approved, offering an unbeatable combination of style, pin-sharp displays, and impeccable cameras.
But if you can’t afford to shell out for a top-end model like the bank-breaking iPhone 13 Pro (£949), the rebooted iPhone SE is a great compromise. Retailing for just £389, the SE comes with a speedy processor; respectable main and front-facing cameras with portrait mode and HDR; an LCD screen that’s perfectly respectable for its price point. All this makes for a tidy little package that’s pretty good at just about everything it does, including browsing and uploading to Instagram. And with all the money you save, you can afford to get roped into a few alluring Instagram adverts.