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The best ring lights for phones in 2021

Best ring lights for phones
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best ring lights for phones are ideal for anyone who spends their time vlogging, streaming or engaging in video chats online — or just for taking awesome selfie photos. 

So, what exactly is a ring light? It’s simply an external lighting accessory with a circular, donut-like shape. One of their main characteristics is that they produce a flattering light, particularly when shooting images or video of people, as they don't cast shadows on the face — something which can detract from a portrait or selfie.

You'll often find them marketed as selfie lights or vlogging lights, but they all serve the same purpose — namely to produce a continuous, diffused light which flatters many different subjects.

Many ring lights can be used on multiple devices, and you'll find the standout models in our best ring lights guide — but here we're concentrating on the best ring lights for phones. 

Whether you're using an iPhone or Android handset, the best ring lights for phones will improve the quality of your photos and videos, so read on for our top picks. 

What are the best ring lights for phones?

Nanlite’s Halo 16C Bicolor and Tunable RGB 16-Inch LED Ring Light is the best ring light for phones overall, as it gives you lots of versatility for the money, while also being solidly built. 

This clever device lets you change the color and brightness of the light, and gives you multiple ways to do so: you can tweak both the temperature of the light and the RGB value. This gives it a flexibility that not every ring light for phones can match. It’s pricey, but it’s also well-built and will last.

But there are other models to consider, particularly if you’re looking to spend less or want something more compact and lightweight. If so, consider Rotolight’s Ultimate Vlogging Kit, which is itself a versatile accessory for your phone that acts as both a mini tripod or an extended camera grip for your phone and the included ring light. It comes with several light filters, so you can also adjust the color of the ring light to match the ambient light you’re working in.

At the very low end, price-wise, is the Xinbaohong Rechargeable Portable Clip-on Selfie Ring Light, which you can buy for as little as $10.99 but which will still have a positive effect on your photos and video, albeit a less dramatic one than the top choices here.

Check out all of our picks for the best ring lights for phones below.

The best ring lights for phones you can buy today

best ring lights for phones: Nanlite Halo 16C Bicolor and Tunable RGB 16in LED Ring Light review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Nanlite Halo 16C Bicolor and Tunable RGB 16-Inch LED Ring Light

A versatile ring light with touch controls and Wi-Fi capabilities

Specifications
Color temperature: 2700-6500K
Power: 15v DC
Dimensions: 406mm outer / 304mm inner
Weight: 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable color temperature and brightness+Versatile+Includes both CCT and RGB color modes
Reasons to avoid
-Touch control pads not as precise as knobs-Lacks a stand

The Nanlite Halo 16C is the best ring light for phones, on account of its versatility and build quality.

You get a huge number of settings at your fingertips, since you're able to adjust the light’s color temperature, hue and brightness all independently. We were particularly impressed by its ability to produce many different types of light, including vibrantly colored light, via the RGB settings, which you won't find on every ring light.

What's more, you can adjust these options via two touch pads, dragging your finger over the pad to select the desired output. It’s an intuitive way to change the color of the light in a very subtle — or dramatic — fashion. That said, to get a really precise setting you might want to invest in the optional remote, available for $12.99.

The Nanlite Halo 16C is well kitted out, with a smartphone bracket, mirror and carrying case all included — though not a stand. There's also a USB pass-through feature, so you can charge the phone while it’s in mounted in the center of the ring, plus built-in Wi-Fi so you can control it from other devices. Oh, and build quality is excellent — this is a ring light that will last you. It's pricey, yes, but well worth the outlay if you'll be using it regularly.

best ring lights for phones: Inkletech 21-inch ring light in front of a wall

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

2. Inkeltech 21-inch Ring Light with Tripod

A well-priced ring light with large diameter and tripod

Specifications
Color temperature: 3000K-6000K
Power: 100V/240V
Dimensions: 530mm outer / 420mm inner
Weight: 7.78 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Wireless remote control+Large diameter+Tripod included
Reasons to avoid
-Build of the light and tripod could be stronger

This 21-inch model from Inkeltech is a great value option in our best ring lights for phones list, since it comes with a large tripod plus two remotes and a carrying case. The ring light's large diameter gives you plenty of room to position your phone, camera or other device and it also offers three hot shoe mounts, complete with metal inserts for screwing in the phone holder or other accessories.  

The dual remote controls are particularly useful, allowing you to adjust the brightness and color of the light, without needing to be right next to it. But on the downside, it lacks the wide range in color temperature or an RGB mode that you’ll find on the Nanlite ring light above, and both the tripod and ring light itself could have a sturdier build. Still, at this price it's a fine choice of ring light for your phone.

best ring lights for phones: Rotolight ring light

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

3. Rotolight Ultimate Vlogging Kit

A reasonably priced ring light with a fixed 5500K color temperature

Specifications
Color temperature: 5600K (fixed) or 4100K/3200K with filters
Power: 3x AA batteries
Dimensions: 130mm outer / 38mm inner
Weight: 11 pounds.
Reasons to buy
+Stepless dimming from 1-100 percent+Comes with 61in light stand+Bluetooth control
Reasons to avoid
-Color temperature is fixed at 5600K unless you use filters

As you might expect from its name, the Rotolight Ultimate Vlogging Kit is aimed squarely at content creators who spend their days making videos or streaming to YouTube and other platforms. And given the very reasonable price, it does an excellent job in that regard.

One of the standout features of this powerful vlogging ring light kit is that it comes with a mini tripod that can turn into an extended camera grip. That's ideal for those who regularly switch between shooting in a studio setting and capturing footage out on the road. On the flipside, though you can change the light's color temperature to an extent with filters, there's no way to adjust the brightness level. But if you're looking for something small and portable, this could be the right ring light for your phone.

best ring lights for phones: Raya Bendie-Brite Folding USB Bi-Color LED Ring Light

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

4. Raya Bendie-Brite Folding USB Bi-Color LED Ring Light (10 Inches)

A versatile, portable ring light with touch controls

Specifications
Color temperature: 2700K-5600K
Power: Micro USB / 5V DC
Dimensions: 260mm
Weight: 13.4 ounces.
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight, portable and folds for easy carrying+Touch controls
Reasons to avoid
-Build isn’t as sturdy as pro-level models

The 10-inch Raya Bendie-Brite is another good option for anyone who wants to get out and about with their ring light — it's small, lightweight and best of all, folds in the middle so you can easily carry it in a small bag.

It's a pretty good performer, too, particularly given that you can find it for less than $50 online. It offers a decent amount of versatility, in that you can change both the brightness and the color temperature of the light, while mounting options include both a flexible phone holder that fits most smartphones and a ball head that screws onto a tripod — though you'll have to supply that separately.  

Like the Nanlite it has touch-sensitive control pads for changing the settings, but in our testing these weren’t quite as precise as other models in its class.

best ring lights for phones: UBeesize 10" Selfie Ring Light and Tripod

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

5. UBeesize 10" Selfie Ring Light and Tripod

A decent budget kit that comes with a tripod

Specifications
Color temperature: 3 settings: Warm, Cool White and Daylight
Power: USB
Dimensions: 254mm
Weight: 2.99 pounds (ring light only)
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable color temperature and brightness+Tripod included+Remote on USB cable 
Reasons to avoid
-Tripod could be sturdier

The UBeesize 10" Selfie Ring Light and Tripod is another ring light that — you guessed it — comes with a tripod, in this case a decent medium-sized one that extends from 16 to 50 inches. It's not the sturdiest you'll ever use, but it features a 3-way tripod head that gives you plenty of flexibility over how you angle it, plus a helpful level gauge and, of course, a smartphone mount. 

You also get a good amount of control over the light it emits, with the ability to change both the brightness and the color temperature; as a further plus point, each of these settings can be selected via a remote handily attached to the included USB cable. It lacks the finer control you get on our top picks, but it's certainly worth considering that you should be able to find it for less than $30. That's a lot of kit at that price.

best ring lights for phones: XINBAOHONG Rechargeable Portable Clip-on Selfie Ring Light

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

6. Xinbaohong Rechargeable Portable Clip-on Selfie Ring Light

A great value option that's super-easy to use

Specifications
Color temperature: 6000K (fixed)
Power: Rechargeable battery
Dimensions: 83mm
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Very easy to Use+Lightweight and compact design
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks versatility

If budget, rather than quality, is your primary concern then look no further than the Xinbaohong Rechargeable Clip-on ring light — it's available for just $11. No, you won't get the wealth of options available on the best ring lights for phones — let alone the best ring lights overall — but it's cheap enough that if you just want something to improve your selfies, it's worth considering.  

Rather than having a separate mount for the phone, it simply clips on to the top of the device; you can also use it on tablets, or even a laptop’s webcam. It's small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, comes with a micro USB cable and has three settings for brightness — though color temperature is fixed. Just be aware that if your phone has a multi-cam setup, the Xinbaohong's design may cover one or more of the lenses.

best ring lights for phones: Inkeltech Selfie ring light

(Image credit: Terry Sullivan/Tom's Guide)

7. Inkeltech Selfie Ring Light Dimmable LED Light Ring with Tripod

A portable ring light with tripod and remote

Specifications
Color temperature: 2700-6500K
Power: USB
Dimensions: 250mm outer / 195mm inner
Weight: 3.25 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

The second Inkeltech entry in our list of the best ring lights for phones is another good low-value option if you're prioritizing portability. Like several other options here, it folds in the middle so you can easily carry it around with you, and at just 10 inches in diameter it won't take up too much space on your desk, either. It comes with a tripod and carrying case, too.

You get a good amount of control over the light, with both color temperature and brightness adjustable either via buttons on the ring light or the included Bluetooth remote, but the buttons aren't as easy to use as the touch pads or knobs found on some options and in our testing we felt the tripod was a little flimsy.

How to choose the best ring light for your phone

With so many ring lights available at so many different price points, how do you choose which model is right for you, and your phone?

Price
First, consider how much you’re willing to spend. Our guide gives you a good idea of the price range of ring lights for phones, which can run as little as $6.99 or as much as $199.99. Also factor in that you might need to buy a tripod or stand separately, as not all ring lights come with one — although all in this list will include a mount for the phone itself.

Use cases
If you're just capturing casual photos on your phone, then you won’t need to spend a fortune here. But if you're regularly shooting for a YouTube channel or similar, you’ll want to pay more for a ring light that offers better quality and will last longer.

Features
Some of the best ring lights for phones will offer advanced features, such as the ability to adjust the light’s color temperature or RGB output. Some are also powered by an AC adapter, whereas others use batteries — or have both options. Consider your needs.

Size
Additionally, consider the size of the light: some are quite small and portable, which means you can take them on the road with you; others are larger and heavier, which may weigh you down.

Apps
When using a ring light, you may get frustrated when you adjust a setting on the light. Let's say you reduced the brightness by 25 per cent: what many phones will do is autocorrect the exposure. So, in effect, although you’ve adjusted the brightness level, your phone has “autocorrected” itself and made the image look like nothing’s changed. So, you may want to consider downloading a pro-style photo or video app on your phone that will allow you to manually set exposure settings; this will allow you to then make adjustments to the ring light… and actually see the results.