Remember when you needed to take a whole separate device with you when you wanted to take a quality picture? Maybe you don't, but smartphones have made that largely a thing of the past. Except when the camera can't take a decent picture because everything comes out blurry. Don't miss the opportunity for a perfect shot because your camera isn't up to the job. Keep reading and get yourself sorted!
Before undertaking any of the more time consuming solutions below, these are a few fundamentals to get you started.
- Restart your phone. It’s amazing what a simple power off and on can clear up.
- Tap a specific point in the image preview on screen. This will prompt the iPhone to focus on the selected area. Your blur may just be a poorly focused shot. Tap different areas of the image to change the focal point.
- Ensure the camera in use is the one you intend. The image on screen may be for the front facing camera rather than the rear one, or vice versa.
- Force the camera app closed. It may just be hung on something; forcing the app to restart could resolve this.
- If you’re using a third party app, check the iPhone camera app to see if the image is sharper. Other apps with camera functionality built in will not always take full advantage of the camera.
Camera is Obstructed
In order for your camera to take pictures, it needs a clear line of sight to the image you're trying to capture. It's easy to miss that something is getting in the way of your camera, especially if the something is your finger.
- Clean the glass lens over your cameras with a microfiber cloth. Debris on the glass could be causing blurry pictures or blacking out the camera altogether.
- If your issue is with the front facing camera, verify your screen protector is not in the way.
- Check for glass damage to the camera area. The camera itself may be perfectly fine, but the glass over the camera sensor can crack, affecting image quality. This glass can be replaced, in many cases, even without replacing the rest of the back glass.
Now that we live in a world where an iPhone could have two, three, or four camera sensors, finding where the issue lies can be a bit more complex.
- Verify you are using the intended camera by hitting the button to flip between front facing and rear cameras.
- Check which mode you are using. If you are not using a mode intended for your environment, the image may show up incorrectly (i.e. using Portrait mode when you're not taking a portrait).
Any software which contains errors can cause the camera to work improperly. Before opening your phone to take parts out, ensure it's not a simple software fluke.
- See if you can use the camera elsewhere. Try a different app with built in camera function.
- If the camera works in other functions, open the App Switcher and close the problematic app.
- Reopen the affected app and try to recreate the issue. If it reoccurs, check the App Store for updates and install them. Uninstall and reinstall the app if no updates are present.
- If it is also unresponsive in other functions, this could be an Operating System issue. Use a PC with iTunes or a Mac to check for and install any updates.
- To rule out software entirely, be sure you have a current backup, and restore your phone via a computer to ensure a fresh copy of the Operating System is used. This will delete all data on the phone. Try without restoring your back up at first to keep testing limited to a bare OS.
Damaged Optical Image Stabilization
Most rear facing iPhone cameras make use of optical image stabilization technology. As you snap a photo, it uses readings from the gyroscope to attempt to compensate for camera movement so your images don’t come out blurry. Repeat exposure to strong vibration or a heavy drop can cause this mechanism to malfunction.
- Damage typically causes the camera to appear as though it is constantly shaking. You may even be able to hear or see it moving around in the housing.
- The best fix for this is a rear camera replacement. The movement of the camera sensor is controlled by small electromagnets and circuitry inside the camera. Repairing those is difficult and time consuming.
- Avoid solutions which involve affixing a strong magnet to your camera assembly. It may resolve the issue, but risks wreaking havoc on the rest of your phone if the magnet doesn't stay put.
YouTuber Luke Miani publicized a software incompatibility in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max at launch. Optical image stabilization would fail in some third party apps. This resulted in cameras vibrating violently enough to cause audible rattle. This was ultimately resolved in a software update. Be sure to cover software related troubleshooting steps.
This can also be caused by any number of other camera related faults. Issues with only one of the many camera sensors can cause issues with others, or the whole photo-taking system.
- Isolate which camera is faulty by checking the front facing camera or various camera modes. Use other apps to see if they are also affected.
- Replace the offending camera or camera assembly. Note: Replacing the camera in the iPhone 12 and newer may trigger a warning about genuine parts. Front facing camera replacements will also break Face ID functionality.
Despite the common conception that many iPhones are waterproof, that is pure myth. Even with increasing levels of resistance, water will find a way.
- Check your camera lens for signs of condensation. It tends to collect over the glass protecting the camera sensor.
- Condensation in the camera may indicate more serious liquid ingress to your phone. Skip the rice and use the iPhone Liquid Damage Guide for your best chance at minimizing any the damage.
The logic board is the hub for the vast majority of an iPhone's functionality. Any number of the small components on the board may have failed or become damaged, resulting in this sort of issue.
- Board damage can be caused by liquid contact, electrical damage, a significant drop, or even flexion from being repeatedly shoved into your pocket. Check to see if your board looks bent, has signs of liquid or burn, or loose components.
- You can inspect your logic board by following the appropriate logic board guide for your model iPhone.
- Be especially aware of connectors or components around the connectors.
- Replacing the logic board is often the most practical solution for a DIYer with a board fault.
- If you’re feeling especially motivated, the tiny components on the board can be repaired with microsoldering. It is an art unto itself, but a worthy endeavor for those who are adventurous. If you’re curious and want to know more about getting into microsoldering, here’s some good reading and some good watching to get you started.