The microphone that plugs into phone or camera: what’s the difference?

The microphone that plugs into a phone or camera is a recording device that can directly connect to your phone or camera and capture target sounds. Compared to the mic built-in in your shooting device, it offers high-quality audio and meets various needs like vlogging, live streaming. But as recording microphones, what are the differences between them? Today let’s have a look.

Connector is key difference

Connectors of microphone that plugs into phone and camera

Connector is the key to figuring out whether it is a microphone for the camera or for the phone. Microphone for phone usually features Type C or Lightning connector and some go with 3.5mm one called TRRS. And that one for camera recording uses either 3.5mm mini-plug jacks or XLR connector to connect.

It is quite simple to tell what a microphone is used for if it has a USB C, Lightning, or XLR connector. But what if it is equipped with a connector that goes for a 3.5mm jack? Here is the tip for you.

TRS stands for “tip, ring, and sleeve.” It’s most commonly found on cameras and other audio equipment. TRS is indicated by two black rings on the plug. Because this type of connector only carries one signal, you may have two of them on your device. The first is for audio input of the on-camera microphone, and the second is for audio output.

TRRS stands for “tip, ring, ring sleeve,” and it’s a feature seen in computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. It differs from TRS in that it has three black rings and carries two signals. As a result, this jack may serve as both the input of mobile microphone and earphone output.

Differences in characteristics between microphone for cell phone and camera

When we use these two microphones, there are also differences in the shooting performance.  

Sound quality

When we use a microphone, sound quality is the most important aspect to look at. The microphone that plugs into the phone or camera captures and transfers higher quality sounds than the inbuilt mic does, while an external microphone for the camera records the best audio, a result of XLR and TRS cable.

These two cables are balanced and relatively immune to noise caused by interference like radio frequencies. How does it work? Actually, there are two identical versions of the signal traveling along with it but inverted in polarity, so is the noise signal. When it recombines these signals, the noise cancels each other out. This is why they capture better audio and are the standard for professional sounds.

Recording time

Recording time also matters in filmmaking. A microphone offering long time shooting enables high efficiency. Generally speaking, the recording time is determined by two things, the battery life of your device and the microphone.

For phone microphones, we know that a charging port is usually used to connect the microphone since many smartphones have removed the 3.5mm jack. So no matter the mic is powered by a device or battery, it is not ideal for a really long time recording. But luckily, some microphone manufacturers have noticed the problem and now a mic with a charging port for the phone is available.

As for the camera mic, things are different. Firstly, it doesn’t occupy the powering port so the DSLR is able to work continuously. Moreover, if you use a device that power one, the time can be even longer.

Use microphone that plugs into phone

Uses: they are suitable for different shootings

From the above, we know that microphones for phone recording and cameras perform quite differently. How about the situations they are used in?

The smartphone is commonly used in our daily life and is usually taken with us, so a mic working for it is good at mobile recording due to its portability. For example, if you are playing a game and you feel like recording narration for the game video, you can take out your mic, plug it into your phone and then start shooting immediately with a simple setup. Besides that, it is also a good choice to use it for vlogs, live streaming, and suchlike.

As for the camera microphone, it is a perfect microphone for video recording requiring high-end audio such as studio, podcast, etc.


The microphone that plugs into the phone is a great audio solution to content creators, so is the camera microphone. You can choose any device you want to record your video and they will help achieve an excellent viewing experience.

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