Nothing breaks your heart like a broken iPhone camera.
They’re pricey, they’re high-powered, and most of all it’s attached to the one thing that’s in your pocket day in and day out.
But I have good news. That break might be fixable, but to determine if it is or not, we have to diagnose it first.
In this brief overview, we’re going to cover the main reasons that your phone camera might be broken, and give you some quick fixes to take care of it to save you money on repairs.
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How to Know if Camera Malfunctions are Hardware-Related or Software-Related
What you want is software malfunctions, because software can be diagnosed and repaired fairly easily.
Hardware-related problems are a whole different can of worms.
If your camera was booting up fine yesterday and now it’s a completely black screen, it could just be a software issue that requires some minor fixes.
If you try those fixes and they don’t do a thing, it could be hardware related.
The most obvious sign of hardware damage is when you open up the app and see gashes across the screen, which implies that the lens is broken.
If you can inspect the lens closely and see cracks or damage, you could have scraped it against a table or hard surface.
How to Fix a Hardware Breakdown
The camera on your iPhone is small.
It is replaceable, but it’s not a pretty solution.
If you have an iPhone 8 or previous model, you can buy a spare lens online and go through a YouTube tutorial to fix it.
However, more and more iPhone 8s are being outmoded every single day as Apple customers upgrade to the iPhone X.
That’s where it gets tricky. The iPhone X camera is proprietary, so you can’t just buy a replacement lens and have someone walk you through it.
Apple wants you to send the entire phone back to them to get a replacement, and that’s only going to be useful if you have AppleCare+.
Without AppleCare+, it’s going to cost you roughly 95% to 115% the cost of a brand new iPhone X.
The camera is one of the biggest selling points, because there aren’t too many software improvements from the iPhone 8 up to the X series.
Basically, if you shatter the lens on your iPhone X, at least you still have a phone, but your camera is done for.
It would be more beneficial to just replace the entire phone.
6 Ways to Fix a Broken iPhone Camera
Now, if it’s not a hardware breakdown and you just don’t know what’s going on that’s making it act so strange, that’s okay.
There are plenty of quick fixes that can restore your camera.
Your lens could be scratched if you’re just getting this thick blur every time you use your camera.
If you’re not using a silicone case to keep the lens elevated off of hard surfaces, you might have already damaged the lens beyond repair.
Hopefully that’s not the case, and you can test this by taking a microfiber cloth and gently brushing off the lens, then retesting your camera.
Lens blurring can also be the cause of improper focus, so don’t immediately assume that scratches are to blame.
Lens blurring from improper focusing could mean that your phone’s software is stuck in a loop of trying to focus, but not actually zoning in on anything.
Restart your phone or put it on a tripod and leave it alone while it tries to auto correct its focus on a subject.
Smartphone photographers have their own opinions about cameras flashes, but even if it’s not something you use often, you still want it to work when you need it.
If all the settings are flipped on and it says your flash should work, you have to run a couple of little tests.
As always, shut the phone down and turn it back on again.
We’re all guilty of plugging in our phones at 5% and never letting the thing actually shut down and rest.
If that doesn’t work, go to your control center and flip on the flashlight mode.
If that doesn’t come on, then you have a hardware issue where the light inside of the flash bulb is actually broken.
It’s not recommended to open the camera up and check if it’s loose, as I’ve seen advised on some forums, because they’re so small that they’re nestled in place. They don’t just come loose.
One last attempt at getting your flash to work could be going to your privacy settings, and turning off the location settings.
Most of us have this on at all times, and for some reason that unbeknownst to many iPhone users (myself included), turning off the location settings will allow the flashlight to work.
Test the flashlight, and if it works now, it means the flash works. You can turn your location services back on at this point.
Camera App Freezes
If it’s just the camera app that’s freezing, it very well could be a problem with Apple.
We get iPhone software updates constantly, and that’s because Apple is trying to send out updates to correct bugs that weren’t checked when a new iPhone was launched, or make corrections to certain settings, but those updates can create new bugs.
Try updating your iOS and seeing if anyone else online is having this same problem.
If they are, there’s a chance that an Apple representative will respond to massive forum posts with some sort of ETA on a fix.
If nobody else is having this problem, you have a quick list of settings you can alter to try and fix this.
Go into your settings menu, then go into restrictions under general settings.
Put in your password and turn the camera to the on position, indicated by a green icon.
While you might have to enact this again a few times until an update comes through, it’s a relatively quick fix that unfreezes your camera.
I would recommend getting a third-party camera app anyway, but especially if your stock camera app keeps freezing.
This is probably the most frustrating on the list, because you can’t even diagnose the root of the problem properly.
A solid black screen could be a few different things, so close out of the camera app and try these methods.
Restart your iPhone, and once it’s back online, switch between your rear and front camera repeatedly until the camera unlocks.
If that doesn’t work, you can update your iOS (even if it’s already updated) to fix this problem as well.
Go into your settings, then your accessibility via the general settings tab, and restart the camera app.
From that point, request an update from iOS, and it will try to download an update.
Even if you get a message saying that your software is up-to-date, this might have unhinged the problem.
Sometimes the stock camera app just malfunctions.
Switching to a third-party camera app, even if it’s only for a few minutes, could be enough to correct the issue.
If you go back to the stock app and it still won’t work, that’s a software problem that may be fixed by our other methods here, or you might have to wait for an iOS update.
If you’re already using a third-party camera app and that one isn’t working, download a free-to-use camera app (doesn’t matter which one) and see if that encounters a problem.
Because it’s new to the device, it can avoid problems or corruption that the other apps might be facing.
Close Out All Apps
I mentioned earlier that we’re all guilty of waiting until our phone is at 5%, plugging it in, and not letting it rest.
Well that also means that your phone is riddled with apps that are running in the background.
Even if you’ve closed them out, some processes could still be running. Start by closing out every single app, and then reopening the camera.
If the issue persists, shut your phone off—not to restart mode—and come back in a few minutes to try again.
Your phone undergoes different processes when you restart it than when you turn it off, and may leave some apps running so that they can be easily reopened when the phone turns back on.
Camera Technician in the Making
While an iPhone isn’t as complex as a full-scale digital camera with high-powered lenses, there’s still a lot that goes into them, and knowing how to fix these issues could save you hundreds of dollars down the line.
If problems persist or you’re able to diagnose that it’s strictly hardware-related, remember that you have a warranty.
If your phone is under contract and a payment method by a service provider, there might be something that they can do to help.