The 8 Best Magnifying Glass Apps of 2020

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/gettyImages

Did you know there are apps that turn your smartphone into a magnifying glass to help you read printed writing? They use the built-in camera on your smart device to scan documents or pages and enlarge the text on-screen. Some also contain additional features like color filters and reading lights. They're 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 often depends more on the camera in your Android or iOS device than the app you use. Many cheaper models 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 that activates your smart device’s built-in flashlight. 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 wants from a magnifier app. You can use it to zoom in on printed text with up to 10 times magnification, apply filters 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 you if you have large fingers and 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 has the usual magnifier zoom and lighting features one expects, 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 much like 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 if you find yourself often struggling to read in unusual lighting conditions.

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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 improved 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 provides light for making it easier to see in dark situations. What sets this app apart 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 is accessed by selecting 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 if you 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 app for iOS and Android that features the same magnifying glass functionality as others on this list but also boasts 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, you can also swipe left and right to cycle through a variety of color filters that make differentiating between certain colors easier. There’s also a built-in color detection tool that can tell you the name of the color you're pointing the app at, and a color blind test if you may be curious about your 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 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 Android magnifier app if you often have trouble finding your way around apps. With its super-large and colorful icons, it goes out of its way to make itself approachable to those with weaker vision.

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

You can pinch the screen with two fingers to zoom in but the more intuitive option is the giant plus button, which automatically zooms in at pre-determined levels with a single tap. 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. This allows it 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 you use the popular pinch gesture for zooming in and out, in addition to a slider on the right side of the screen. This is one of the easiest magnifier smartphone apps out there, making it ideal if you're an older user who often feels 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 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 they need.