Tech Tip: When a Smartphone’s Camera Loses Its Focus


Q. My phone’s camera has taken blurry photos since I dropped it. Is there a way to repair the camera, or do I need to get a new phone?

A. A smartphone’s camera is just one of its many internal components, and it can probably be replaced for much less money and effort than it would take to buy and set up a new phone. It could cost perhaps $50 or $60, depending on the phone model and repair shop. (The phone’s casing will be opened so the new camera unit can be installed. Before you have it serviced, back up everything to the cloud or your computer so your data is safe.)


A distorted or blurry photo, like the image shown on the right, can be the sign of a damaged smartphone camera.

J.D. Biersdorfer

First, you may want to rule out any software or physical issues with the phone and its camera. Make sure that the lens is not dirty and that the latest app and system updates have been installed. Reset the camera app’s settings if you have not already done so. Try another camera app to make sure the problem does not lie in the software, and test the camera in a variety of situations. The phone’s manufacturer may even have suggestions for specific issues or be aware of defective hardware, like Apple’s iSight Camera Replacement Program for iPhone 6 Plus.

If you have concluded the camera is indeed damaged, seeking out a repair shop is the next step. A quick web search should turn up the smartphone repair shops in your area, along with mail-in service centers, but read the professional and customer reviews of any place under consideration. Retail chains like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot also offer repair services, as do Apple stores.

Repair options can include sending the phone to a service depot for several days, or having a technician fix it on the spot. If you have an extended warranty like Apple’s AppleCare, repairs may be free or less expensive than for out-of-warranty iPhones. The plan has a $99 iPhone Express Replacement Service benefit for damaged devices.

If you do not want to part with your phone during the repair period — and do not mind prying open the device — you might be able to replace the broken camera yourself. The iFixit repair-guide site has a number of free tutorials showing how to install a new camera in several smartphone models, and it sells the tools and parts, too.

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