iPhone SE camera and iOS 10

Hardware & Accessories

I recently upgraded from an iPhone 5s running iOS 9 to an iPhone SE running iOS 10.

One thing I have noticed is that no matter how hard I try, the phone always says the pictures I've taken are either slightly blurry or blurry. I've even tried putting the phone on something stable to eliminate the possibility that I'm moving the phone during the exposure, but still get slightly blurry to blurry photos.

I've never had this problem with the iPhone 5s and iOS versions 8 and 9. I always got pictures that were described as crisp or sharp.

So, is this a bug in iOS 10 or a defective camera in the phone?



Submitted by Orko on Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is this, are Troy and I the only people on these forums that use an iPhone SE running iOS 10?

I need to know if this is a problem with iOS 10 or a defective phone so I can return it.

So some kind of feedback would be appreciated!

Submitted by Justin on Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's not an iPhone SE thing. I've seen this happen on my phone. I honestly don't have a clue why it does this. It's no big deal, as I don't use much OCR or whatever for the camera anyway. The most I use the camera is for TapTap See.

Submitted by JeffB on Sunday, January 22, 2017

This sounds like a big deal to me. Have you tried cleaning the lenze? I'm not sure the best thing to use for cleaning it but that might help.

This phone is brand new, I've had it only a week, it seems too new for the lens to be dirty, never the less, I made sure it was clean and still can't get anything better than slightly blurry.

I don't use it all that often, but I do have KNFB Reader and want the ability to be able to use it when needed.

Submitted by Jeff on Sunday, January 22, 2017

I don't have an iPhone SE, but if it were me experiencing this problem, I'd take it into an Apple store or where you bought the phone and ask them to take a clear picture. If they can't do it, perhaps there's a problem with the phone. If they can get a good picture from your phone, then ask them to observe you taking a picture to see if they can give you some pointers on keeping the phone stable.

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, January 22, 2017

In reply to by Jeff

I don't think the problem is my technique because I always got clear, sharp pictures when I had my iPhone 5s.

Unfortunately, the nearest Apple store is probably in Tampa, if there's even one there, and I'm at least 20 miles away in Clearwater.

Submitted by JeffB on Sunday, January 22, 2017

Could you take it to the location you brought the phone or a place that sells them?

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, January 22, 2017

In reply to by JeffB

I bought the phone online through AT&T, so I guess I could take it to an AT&T store, but the closest store that has the 64GB version is about 60 miles away in Lakeland.

But before I do that, I was hoping to get some feedback from other SE owners to make a determination of whether this is a hardware or software problem. If it's a software problem with iOS 10, then going to a store and getting a replacement phone wouldn't accomplish anything.

Submitted by Seanoevil on Sunday, January 22, 2017


I have had an iPhone5 and a iPhone6S on IOS10. Both of which took a number of photos described as Blurry or slightly blurry.

I have not been reliably able to determine exactly why some are described as Blurry or Slightly Blurry, as to a sighted person I am told that there is often no discernible difference to a clear or crisp photo.

What I suggest that you try:
1. Show images to a sighted person. Ask their advice about image quality.
2. If your concern is KNFB Reader, test it to see whether it works to your satisfaction or not.

As a final note, good lighting is paramount to good photography. Make sure that you are taking photos in good light, where possible with the light source behind you. When taking photos of documents for OCR, make sure that you follow the App Makers advice. Light or dark backgrounds to your images can have a dramatic impact.



Submitted by Orko on Saturday, January 28, 2017


I am not new to photography. Before I lost my vision, one of my hobbies was macro photography, mostly of nature, and mostly of insects. Also in my original post, I said that with my iPhone 5s I always got pictures that were described as sharp or crisp. So I don't believe my picture taking skills are the problem here.


I traded my folks lunch at one of our favorite places to eat for a trip to the Apple store across the bay from where I live. One of their photography gurus said that even though the lens specifications such as its f stop rating are the same, cameras with a higher megapixel rating need more light than cameras with a lower megapixel rating because the CCD aray that takes the picture is the same size so each pixel gets less light because it is smaller. To put it in terms of the old school film cameras. An 8.5 megapixel camera will behave like it has ASA 100 film in it, but the same camera with a 12 megapixel rating will behave like it has ASA 64 film in it. Meaning that to take the same picture as the 8.5 megapixel camera you either need more light or a slower shutter. While at the Apple store, I took several pictures and they all came out crisp or sharp. They suggested turning on the flash if I can't get more light.

Submitted by Justin on Saturday, January 28, 2017

That makes a lot of sense, as I generally use the flash on my 6S plus. When I use Tap tap see or other OCR apps I use flash anyway, even though i should be getting plenty of light in the rooms

Submitted by Orko on Tuesday, January 31, 2017

After working with the camera in the iPhone SE now for a week, I've come to the conclusion that, when compared to the camera in the iPhone 5s for ease of use, the camera in the iPhone SE is actually a downgrade.

With the iPhone SE, I had to really work at it, and never got a single sharp, in focus picture, while in the exact same situation, without having to do any work, I never failed to get shart, in focus pictures from the iPhone 5s.

If I hadn't already sold off the iPhone 5s, I'd return this iPhone SE as not worth the price paid for it,

Then send Apple a big fat middle finger for my opinion of the iPhone SE! oo|oo

Submitted by Siobhan on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hi. Funny you mention Clearwater, i'm in palm Harbor fl. Anyway, the iphone sE is for those who enjoy the small screen, that is the iphone five style. I enjoy though I thought I wouldn't, a large screen so it's six S plus for me, and if I want the eight, that's what I'll do, the big screen. As you're familiar with the camera terms, you now realize, it was a "cheaper alternative" so I'm kind of not surprised you got pics that weren't great. I'm sorry to say that, I don't mean to offend you, just saying I wouldn't enjoy having a phone like that. I waited, and I have gone with major upgrades. Three G S which talked, four, five, now six S though I almost got the seven. No it's not the headphone jack, I don't use them, it was a matter of timing. Anyway depending on if you can get there, I think you have a two week return policy, I'd call, and personally play the blind card, see what either apple or A T and t will do for you. You're one person, but your money si what they're after so they should help. Jmo I know people don't want to do that I do and it works.

But that's just it, I had a 5s, not any of the 6s or 7s, it was my understanding that the iPhone SE was considered an upgrade from a 5s. I sometimes need to operate the phone single handed because the other hand is holding something I want to use the phone with, so the smaller size works great for me. I definitely didn't want the larger form factor that was the 6 and 7 series.

Anyway, going from a 5s to a SE is *supposed* to be an upgrade. And while I'll admit the SE is faster, and it does have more memory and storage if I need them, I expected that the camera would be just as good and easy to use as the camera in the 5s was, but I instead find that the camera needs a lot more light to accomplish what the camera in the 5s needed to do the same thing.

Over all the SE was an upgrade from the 5s, but the poor performance from the camera makes it not worth it. Unfortunately I already promised my 5s to someone else and won't go back on my word.

I'll just have to learn to live with the SE's camera and be thankful that this will more than likely be my last iPhone. By the time I need to buy another phone, I suspect that Android will have caught up to, if not surpassed Apple's accessibility. I know a lot of blind people that use and are happy with Android, I'm just not yet ready to make that switch.

Submitted by Orko on Friday, February 3, 2017

I now regret ever buying the SE and should have just stayed with the 5s. I will get some satisfaction though, since Apple is unwilling to resolve this problem in any way that is satisfactory to me I will be filing a consumer complaint with the Better Business Bureau against them. Even if nothing comes of it, it will at least be a black mark on Apple's record.

Submitted by Toonhead on Friday, February 3, 2017

I would make your next purchase an android phone. However...i'd be curious to know if the cameras on android devices are comparable to an iPhone? You might be able to go on a site like Ebay or craigslist and get an iPhone 5s for cheap.

Submitted by david s on Saturday, February 4, 2017


So you’re complaint is Apple put in a better camera on the SE than the older model of iPhone you used previously and now all your pictures are blurred? Really?

Have you tried it with KNFB reader with the flash on? Did it work okay or was none of your documents read. Have you asked your friends or relatives to check your pictures to see if they are clear or blurred? Are you setting the flash to off or auto?

You mentioned you took several pictures in the Apple store that were crisp. This tells me the camera is okay.

As far as Android, the manufacturers are always trying to out do each other by installing higher mega pizel cameras and I don’t see that trend slowing anytime soon.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, February 9, 2017

My experience has been that in upgrading from the 5s to the SE I went from a camera that was easy to take sharp pictures with, even in available light, to a camera that would not take pictures better than being slightly blurry unless you flood the area with lots of light.

To my mind that's not even what I'd call keeping the status quo, it's more like going from a high quality camera with very good optics to a cheap toy camera, and for the money I paid, that is completely unacceptable.

To resolve this, I have found a brand new 64 GB 5s on eBay for my carrier. Somebody else can deal with this SE and its piece of shit camera, and Apple can enjoy their consumer complaint.

Submitted by Orko on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I got a hold of an iPhone 5s and thought my problems with the camera were over. Wrong!

When I first got the 5s it had iOS 9 on it. I first took some pictures with it and got the same good results I was used to getting with my original 5s.

Then I upgraded to the current iOS 10.2.1, and the always blurry pictures unless you have lots of light problem returned!

So, it is something iOS 10 is doing that makes available light pictures difficult at best to take where earlier versions of iOS didn't have this problem.

So there's one Apple with a huge ugly worm in it for Apple to add to their basket of screw ups.

Submitted by Seanoevil on Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Apart from the IOS Software describing your Photos as Blurry, have you done any objective assessment of the quality of the photos you are taking?
I have not heard of one single complaint that iPhones of the Five Variety, running IOS10, are any less capable than their higher numbered peers when using OCR software like KNFB Reader.
If your findings are different, please provide a detailed and objective review. Many would be grateful.

As I mentioned previously on this thread, images sometimes described as Blurry by the software does not appear that way at all to the sighted. That is the objective review of many photos taken by me and reviewed by my sighted Peers. Again, what objective review have you done and does it differ from what my sighted peers advised me?

You mentioned changing to Android. The Android Camera, to my knowledge anyway, provides no verbal description of the Blurriness of photos taken. Is a photo taken on an iPhone5 and described as blurry by Apple automatically worse than a photo taken on an Android camera without a software generated criticism? If so, by what objective measure did you reach that conclusion? In other words, If an Android Camera takes a Blurry photo and doesn't tell you it's blurry, is it blurry?

What I am really asking is - , other than Apples own software, somewhat self critically describing your photos as Blurry, what actual problem are you having and how is it impacting your use of the device?


Submitted by david s on Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I’m not sure if you are looking for help, sympathy or just want to complain. Here in Applevis, we try to help each other out the best we can and look at how we do things to make sure it’s not an ID10T error. We also look at the responses we get and try them out. Instead, you tell people to reread your post and not bother to answer some of the questions or suggestions offered to you.

Here is something you can think about. With IOS 9.x, perhaps the photo interpreter was not as refined as it is in IOS 10.x. So you think all the photos with IOS 9 was clear when in fact it was not. Unless you can see the photo yourself, you will never really know unless you ask someone.

To get back to the topic, I asked a few sighted friends with the SE to do an experiment. Two pictures were taken by each person. One with a flash and one without. According to the people that took the pictures, both of them are clear. But when we turned on VO, at times it would say the picture is blurred. Two of them are photographers by trade so I know there technique is not the issue. As one of them said, clarity is in the eye of the beholder and is glad her publisher is not as critical as the IOS.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Orko on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Other that when I took the iPhone SE to the Apple store which my parents said was brightly lit, I've not had access to a sighted person to critique the quality of my pictures. I'm single and thus live alone.

The only real test of the camera I can do is KNFB reader which I did at the Apple Store, but have no idea how big the letters were that it had to recognize.

I actually take very few pictures, my most common use of the camera is apps like TapTapSee or BeSpecular and while those apps take photos so using the flash could help them, what about BeMyEyes which sehnds video?

I know most people here are Apple fan boys who resist finding anything wrong with anything Apple does, you talk about me being objective, but honestly, how objective are you?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if VO is on, the user is relying on it to give an accurate critique of the quality of the photos they've taken. Making it too sensitive does nothing that helps anybody. I can easily see where a computer can see a picture as blurry that a human would see as sharp. If Apple is going to have iOS critique the user's photos, they need to keep that in mind. And how are they determining sharpness anyway? What if I step out side and take a picture of the sky that shows nothing but blue sky and soft fluffy clouds?

Personally, maybe it would be best if Apple allowed you to turn off such critiques. If, as I now suspect, there is nothing wrong with the iPhone SE or the pictures I've been taking, then the problem has to be Apple's picture analyser, so it should be possible to turn it off.

Submitted by Justin on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Videos shouldn't be a problem at all. Heres a suggestion. Try taking a couple pics outside when it's daylight then take a couple pics inside where it's darker. See if your pics outside say blurry/etc. Other than what is suggested above, I can't help you. Are there any sighted friends you have that can come look at your pics and determine if they're blurry/etc?

Submitted by david s on Thursday, February 16, 2017


Okay. Now that you provided more info instead of complaining, we can try to figure this out. First, I agree with you that the photo analyzer should have an option to turn it on or off. Send the suggestion to apple accessability.

Do you get the blurred comment even when you look at the pictures in the camera roll or album? I asked because some thing I noticed recently is when someone sends me a text message with a picture, in the message app, it says the picture is blurred. But when I save the picture with the photo app, it tells me it’s clear. I also took some pictures of plants in my backyard and immediately the camera said the picture is blurred. But in the photo app, it said it was clear. So check the photo app and see what it says.

It sounds like you’re not using your iPhone much. Grab some of your mail, it could be junk mail, and use KNFB reader. See how the scan comes out. Make sure the flash is on. Did KNFB reader read it okay?

If you’re new to IOS or can’t figure something out, post a question. We were all newbies at one point.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Orko on Friday, February 17, 2017

You have a point there about the photo app, I don't have any pictures now to experiment with, but I do recall some things.

As best as I can recall, the photo app didn't seem to have anything to say about my photos other than when they were taken and whether they are in portrait or landscape mode. It was the photo viewer from within the camera app that had all the slightly blurry and blurry comments.

For KNFB Reader, last night while watching Family Feud, which isn't audio described, as they were revealing the unexposed answered, which I can't understand what the audience says when it reads them, Steve Harvey laughed, then said that that was messed up, about one of them. I used KNFB Reader to try and find out what that answer had been. It had no problem reading the answers, though apparently not all of them because I still don't know what was messed up. So apparently, Apple's analyser is way too critical about pictures.

No, I am single and live alone. While growing up, I had to wear very thick bifocals and was mercilessly teased and bullied because of it. So as a defnse, I shied away from people in general, so I never had many friends or learned the social skills most people learn during their school years. And now what few friends I did have, have either moved away, or broken contact with me. So, no, I don't really have anyone that I could show pictures taken with the phone to.

Submitted by david s on Sunday, February 19, 2017


Is there a Braille institute or senior center you can go to? Perhaps take dial a ride to one of those places if they are near by.

Perhaps the Braille institute in your area offers IOS photography or beginner’s or advanced guide to using IOS. I know the Braille near me teaches these things.

With the senior center, you will find folks that can check your photos. You will also find folks there that are into their IOS devices, both beginners and advanced. But be aware, they may talk your ears off. LOL.

So get out there to take photos and make some friends.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, February 19, 2017

I've concluded that Apples picture analyser is just another useless and thus ignorable gee whiz, whiz bang feature Apple threw in to make people believe they are getting something when really they aren't.

When I was a kid, and long before I lost my vision, photography, and especially macro photography was one of my hobbies, so I'm not knew to proper picture taking techniques. So unless the camera knows that it is being used by a blind person so different techniques are required, I do believe I know how to take good pictures.

To be sure, I spent a day with some family members at a picnic in the park, and took lots of pictures in a variety of situations and lighting conditions. At the end of the day everybody reviewed the pictures I'd taken and told me that there was nothing wrong with any of them, so I should just ignore what the iPhone and iOS was telling me about the pictures.

And for other proof, I used KNFB Reader on some news print and it was able to read it, though the columns did confuse it, because I had it in single column mode.

Satisfied that the iOS picture analyser is a liar and a piece of crap, I now ignore it and hope Apple simply removes it, or at least gives us the option to turn it off.

When there is no one around to double check it for you, it is very counter productive to have an analyser that doesn't give accurate results.

As I said before, yet another shiny apple with a big ugly worm in it to toss into the basket with all of Apple's other screw ups.

Submitted by Toonhead on Sunday, February 19, 2017

As we all know, Apple is not perfect. As an earlier poster pointed out, if the photo analyzer is not working correctly, write to Apple accessibility, and tell them and give them all the info you gave us here. It might seem like you're repeating yourself, but they need to know. Sometimes they can fix things in short order, sometimes not. Even if they don't you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you reported the problem. After that the rest is up to them.

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, February 19, 2017

I just copied and pasted my last message to them. I don't expect them to do anything about it, because I believe that just like most other companies that aren't actually manufacturing assistive technology, Apple is just using accessibility to generate good will, which is a valid marketing strategy. Apple and Microsoft and all other companies like them, don't give a hang about your disability or your ability to access their products, all they are interested in is the color of your money and how they can take it from you.

Submitted by Joseph on Monday, February 20, 2017

if that's true, and all these companies want is your money, why, aside from generating good will, do they make these products/services usable to us, and not charge for it? They'd get more money if they charged for accessibility even if it's built in. Just saying.

Submitted by Toonhead on Monday, February 20, 2017

If you feel as if Apple is only interested in doing this for good will, i'm going to invite you to spend some time with an android phone for all your daily work so you can get a comparison. I'd be interested to see your experiences with one so you know how things are from both sides of the fence.

Submitted by Bobcat on Monday, February 20, 2017

I recently updated my SE to iOS 10. I just did a quick selfy test.
Many were blurry when "live photo" was off. But one was sharp.
They were all sharp when "live photo" was on.

I wonder if the remote diagnostic can detect such a camera problem. Worth calling Apple support about.

Submitted by Bobcat on Monday, February 20, 2017

This is a feature I didn't notice before. I made sure focus lock was off when I tested.
Double tap the view finder to toggle.