The 8 Best Magnifying Glass Apps of 2019

Your phone can make it easy to read the fine print

A blond middle-ages woman reading a sheet of paper with her smartphone magnifying glass app.

JGI/JamieGrill/Getty Images

Something many people aren’t aware of is there are apps that turn your smartphone into a magnifying glass to help you read printed writing. These magnifying glass apps use the built-in cameras on smart devices to scan documents or pages and enlarge the text on-screen.

Some of these Android and iPhone magnifier apps contain additional features like color filters and reading lights, and can prove invaluable to those who still like to read newspapers, magazines, and books. Here are eight of the best magnifying glass apps for Android and iOS devices.

With magnifying glass apps, the image quality of the magnification will often depend more on the camera in your Android or iOS device than the app that you use. Many cheaper models will use lower quality cameras that can result in static and blurring and can limit how far you can zoom.

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Best Magnifier App With Light: Magnifying Glass + Flashlight

Magnifying Glass + Flashlight app on an iPhone XS smartphone.

RV AppStudios LLC

What We Like

  • The brightness slider for the light is a great idea and works well.

  • The ability to freeze what the camera sees is incredibly functional.

What We Don't Like

  • Simply opening the app turns on the smartphone’s light, which is inconvenient in most situations.

  • The text in the app’s instructions are ironically very small and hard to read.

Magnifying Glass + Flashlight is a free app for iOS and Android devices that makes reading small text much easier. Using the device’s camera, the app displays exactly what it sees on the screen and allows you to zoom in and out by sliding your finger up and down.

This app also features a reading light feature that activates your smart device’s built-in light. The light’s brightness can be adjusted via an easy-to-use slider on the left side of the app, while the screen’s brightness can be dimmed or brightened by sliding your fingers left and right.

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Best All-Round Magnifying Glass for Android: Magnifying Glass

Magnifying Glass app on an Android tablet.

Pony Mobile

What We Like

  • App features zoom, lighting, and filter functionality.

  • Pinch and slider controls for zooming.

What We Don't Like

  • App buttons are a bit on the small side.

  • In-app ads are annoying.

Magnifying Glass is a free Android app that features all of the functionality one would want from a magnifier app. You can use it to zoom in on printed text with up to 10 times magnification, apply filers for easier reading, and activate your Android tablet or phone’s light when reading in dim light or in the dark.

The app’s controls are a bit on the small side, which may frustrate those with large fingers using a device with a small screen, but it’s very easy to use and isn’t too confusing unlike many of the other magnifier apps in the Google Play app store.

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Best Magnifier App for Good Android Cameras: Magnifier & Microscope [Cozy]

Magnifier & Microscope [Cozy] app on an Android tablet.

Hantor

What We Like

  • Strong microscope zoom feature for inspecting really small text.

  • Contrast options that other apps don’t have.

What We Don't Like

  • Contrast and brightness sliders are a bit difficult to use on tablets.

  • No in-app controls for returning to the main screen.

The Cozy Magnifier & Microscope app features the usual magnifier zoom and lighting features one would expect from such an app, but what makes it stand apart are its contrast and brightness sliders that add an aspect of image editing to the reading experience.

These sliders work in much the same way as similar tools in image editing apps, and their inclusion here means you can adjust the lighting of whatever the camera sees in real-time without having to take a photo and open it in a separate image editing app. Combined with the free color filters, this magnifier Android app is a good choice for those who find themselves often struggling to read in conditions with unusual lighting.

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Most Feature Packed iPhone Magnifying Glass App: BigMagnify Free

BigMagnify Free app on an iPhone XS.

Dave Cheng

What We Like

  • Supports iOS 7, which is great for people with older Apple devices.

  • Built-in filters are fantastic for improving readability on colored paper.

What We Don't Like

  • The UI is a bit confusing at first and hard to control.

  • Icons are very small and a bit transparent, which makes them hard to see.

BigMagnify Free is another free iPhone magnifier app that uses the camera to enlarge text, and the light for making it easier to see in dark situations. What sets this app apart, though, is its built-in filters which manage to improve text legibility enormously by making letters stand our more when printed on colored or patterned pages.

The sharpen filter, which can be accessed by tapping on the filter icon at the top of the screen, not only makes text bolder but, in some cases, adds a white outline around the letters to make them as clear as possible. BigMagnify Free is a great choice for those who have trouble reading modern magazine pages.

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Best Magnifying App for Color Blind Readers: NowYouSee helping Color Blind

NowYouSee helping Color Blind app on iOS.

NowYouSee

What We Like

  • Lots of options for a variety of color blindness experiences.

  • Ability to load photos from a device in addition to using the camera.

What We Don't Like

  • The color blind test loads a web page and isn’t done in-app.

  • The color detection tool is very hard to cancel.

NowYouSee is a free magnifying app for iOS and Android that features the same magnifying glass functionality as other apps on this list, but also boasts support for a range of tools aimed at supporting those who suffer from color blindness.

In addition to the zoom feature, which can be done from pinching the screen with two fingers, users can also swipe left and right to cycle through a variety of color filters to make it easier for those who have difficulty seeing or differentiating between certain colors.

There’s also a built-in color detection tool that can tell the user the name of the color they’re pointing the app at, and a color blind test for users who may be curious about their own eyesight.

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Magnifier App With Biggest Buttons: Reading Glasses

Reading Glasses app on Android.

 Roca Software Apps

What We Like

  • Super-large icons that are easy to see.

  • Takes very little time to learn the controls.

What We Don't Like

  • No slider controls for the zoom.

  • The graphic design for the icons is very basic.

Reading Glasses is a good magnifier app for Android owners who often have trouble finding their way around apps. With its super-large and colorful icons, Reading Glasses goes out of its way to make itself approachable to those whose vision may not be as good as it used to be.

Some cheaper Android tablets don’t have a built-in LED flash so they will be unable to use any of the lighting features in these magnifying glass apps.

Users can pinch the screen with two fingers to zoom in but the more intuitive option is the giant plus button which can automatically zoom in at pre-determined levels with a single tap. Added filter options also provide additional tools for reading clarity.

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Easiest iPhone Magnifier App: Magnifying Glass With Light

Magnifying Glass With Light app on an iPhone XS.

Falcon In Motion LLC

What We Like

  • Very easy to zoom in and out and turn the light on and off.

  • Offers both pinch controls and slider option for zooming.

What We Don't Like

  • Advanced filters require a $1.99 paid upgrade.

  • Ad banners get in the way.

Magnifying Glass With Light, or Mag Light, as it’s called once installed on your iPhone, boasts an incredibly streamlined display that takes advantage of almost all of the screen’s real estate to show as much of what the camera sees as possible.

While most other magnifying glass apps only provide one way to zoom in on text, Mag Light lets users use the popular pinch gesture for zooming in and out, in addition to a slider on the right side of the screen which can be adjusted with one finger. This is one of the easiest magnifier smartphone apps out there, making it ideal for older users who often feel overwhelmed with modern apps and all of their features.

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Simplest Android Magnifier App: Magnifying Glass

Magnifying Glass app on an Android tablet.

Beacon Studio

What We Like

  • Supports older Android devices running 4.0.3 and up.

  • Very streamlined app design that’s easy to use.

What We Don't Like

  • App features the occasional fullscreen ad that may frustrate some.

  • Those wanting advanced filters will need to look elsewhere.

The Android Magnifying Glass app is as simple as its name with a clean UI that’s easy to use and a basic feature set that gets the job done but won’t overwhelm the user.

With Magnifying Glass, you can use your Android smartphone or tablet to zoom in on any text the device’s camera can see while activating the light to get a better look when lighting conditions aren’t at their best. There are no bells and whistles to speak of, but for most people, especially more mature users, this is all that they’ll need.