How Many Lumens is a Phone Flashlight?

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Most smart phones have a flashlight that can come in really handy. We tend to carry our phones with us all the time but a handheld flashlight isn’t always on hand.

But how many lumens is a phone flashlight? And how do phone flashlights compare to handheld flashlights?

Phone flashlights vary in brightness but on average are around 40-50 lumens. This is around a tenth of a fairly inexpensive handheld flashlight. Phone flashlights are bright enough to use around the house or inside a tent but not for outdoor exploration.

In the rest of this guide, we’ll take a look at a comparison between phone flashlights and handheld flashlights. We’ll look at which situations a phone flashlight is suitable and some other considerations when using your phone’s flashlight.

How Many Lumens is a Phone Flashlight?

In general, phone flashlights are around 40-50 lumens. However, most phone manufacturers don’t specify how many lumens the flashlights have so getting an exact answer isn’t easy.

You can measure the lumens yourself with the right kit and luckily a few people have already done this so we do have some more precise answers for a few phone models.

Various phones according to a user on Reddit:

  • Sony X Compact: 7 lumens
  • Nexus 5: 47 lumens
  • Samsung S3: 44 lumens

The Iphone X according to a user on Quroa:

  • Highest setting: 50 lumens
  • Lowest setting: 12 lumens

As you can see, 40-50 lumens seems to be about the standard apart from the Sony X Compact which is very weak at only 7 lumens.

Sony phones in general are known to have weak flashlights and there are even mods to boost the brightness. Be cautious when following these guides though. You don’t want to overheat and damage your phone!

As we’ll discuss soon, phone flashlights are only suitable for a limited number of uses anyway so I wouldn’t worry too much if your phone has a weak flashlight.

Compared to Handheld Flashlights

Unless you already know a lot about lumens and flashlights already, you’re going to want to put those 40-50 lumens from a phone flashlight into some context.

For a handheld flashlight that costs under $50, you will get around 500 lumens. If you spend closer to $100 you can get a few thousand lumens.

In the table below, we’ve rounded up some popular flashlights so you can compare them to an average phone’s flashlight. The links will take you to Amazon.

FlashlightPriceLumens
Average phone40-50
ThruNite Archer 2A V3$29.99500
2000
NITECORE i4000R$119.954400

As you can see, even a fairly inexpensive flashlight is many times the brightness of a phone flashlight. Phone flashlights are great in certain cicumstances (we talk more about this in the next section), but can’t be used as a replacement all the time.

Quick note on ‘high lumen’ flashlights:

When inexpensive flashlights are advertised as ‘high lumen’ but don’t specify how many lumens, usually this is because they aren’t really that bright. They are usually still brighter than a phone flashlight, but not as bright as a more expensive, high quality flashlight.

Phone vs. Handheld Flashlights

Now let’s take a look at some situations and when a phone or handheld flashlight is most suitable.

General Use Around the Home

This is where phone flashlights are ideal. Unless you live in a castle, a phone flashlight is plenty bright enough to use around the house. If you’re looking for something in a dark room

Camping

A phone flashlight is ideal for when you’re in your tent. When you’re exploring outside of your tent or moving through the campsite, you’re going to want a handheld flashlight.

Outdoor Exploration

A phone flashlight won’t cut it for outdoor exploration and this is when you’re really going to need a handheld flashlight. Not only is the amount of lumens a concern here, but the battery life of your phone will drain quickly too.

Emergency Situations

In an emergency, a phone flashlight is better than nothing and ideal for moving around indoors. If you need to travel outside or your want a light to illuminate a whole room, a handheld flashlight is what you want.

Other Considerations When Using a Phone Flashlight

  • Battery life: Using the flashlight on your phone will quickly drain the battery so I wouldn’t recommend using it for long periods. This is crucial in emergency situations when you may need to use your phone for contact.
  • Risk of dropping your phone: If you drop a $40 flashlight and it gets lost or damaged it’s not the end of the world. At least it’s better than damaging your $600 smart phone!
  • Ease of use: If you’re trying to light up a hard to reach area or want to use both of your hands a handheld flashlight is much easier to use than a phone.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, phone flashlight brightness varies between devices but they tend to be 40-50 lumens. This is about a tenth of a fairly inexpensive handheld flashlight.

For general use around the house or for in your tent when camping, the flashlight on your phone is ideal. However, for outdoor exploration or prolongued use of a flashlight, you’re going to want a handheld flashlight due to the extra brightness and battery life.