Student in classroom using an iOS magnification app.

Comparisons of Digital Telescope/Monocular apps for iPhone for Functional Orientation and Mobility Assistance

Comparison of magnification devices: native and purchased smart phone apps and monocular.

If you don’t carry your monocular everywhere…

The new iOS 10 for iPhone has a new native magnifier app as a part of its accessibility features suite under Vision.

I engaged a student, A, who has 20/300 high myopia with best correction, and who is able to use a monocular as a successfully functional low vision mobility aid to view distant targets, to compare the new IOS feature and 2 other non-native apps.


Two other apps looked plausible. I downloaded them and practiced with them first and formed my own opinion as a COMS.


iOS 10 Native Magnifier within Camera App

Screenshot of Settings app open to Accessibility page with Magnifier marked.

screenshot of Settings app open to Magnifier page.

Screenshot of Accessibility Shortcuts with VoiceOver and Magnifier options.

Once enabled, you can now open the Magnifier from anywhere with a quick triple-click of the home button, including from the lock screen.

Snap a Freeze Frame, Zoom-in, Lock Focus and Turn on the Flash.

The Magnifier UI is a customized camera UI that lets you snap a freeze frame with the circular button in the middle.

You can zoom-in easily using the onscreen slider or by swiping up the screen before after snapping a shot. You can optionally turn on the flash if you need extra light by tapping the small lightning bolt icon in the bottom left corner.

Tapping on the display or the padlock icon in the bottom left corner will lock the focus.

Screenshot of Zoomed Magnifier app.

Screenshot of  padlock icon at the bottom of the Magnifier screen.

You can also adjust colors…

How to Invert and Adjust Colors

After you snap a freeze frame and zoom-in, you can adjust colors by tapping the small icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

Screenshot of Magnifier app with color options.

That will present you with a different UI that gives you controls for brightness and contrast with onscreen sliders, the ability to invert colors, and a few presets like Yellow/Blue, Grayscale, White/Blue, etc .

The feature was designed for those with vision impairments, allowing for easier reading of labels and other small text that might otherwise be difficult to read, and officially arrived in iOS 10 alongside a handful of other new Accessibility features.

Supervision + Magnifier


SuperVision+ is the only magnifying glass app on the market that offers a supreme live image stabilization capability. Highly magnified images are usually shaking. It is a problem especially for old people. No more image shaking with SuperVision+ magnifier (magnifying glass).

Editor’s Note: SuperVision+ is no longer available.

Binoculars B4


Binoculars B4 (30x zoom, photo & video recording).

The best super digital binocular app, with photo and video recording.
30x zoom binocular camera app with handy zoom scroller
simple and easy to use!

We tested all three apps:

Pictures of student attempting to use the Android version and the iPhone version.

Student using the Android version of SuperVision+

Student using the iOS version of SuperVision + app.

Pictures of student comparing phone apps with a hand held telescope.

Student standing on the sidewalk using smart phone app to read the bus stop sign

Student standing on the sidewalk using a monocular to read bus stop sign.

Basic Review

The upshot

Both the Student A and I independently came down on the side of the hand held telescope as being significantly better. The apps are not a replacement—yet. But the phone apps are ok in a pinch for distance, because telescopes often get left home, but the phone does not.

By ruth.weinrib

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