iphone camera photographing a plant

Why Does Your iPhone Camera Keep Refocusing? (Solutions)

Does your iPhone camera keep refocusing? Learn the causes, simple solutions, and alternate workarounds to this common issue.

This guide to why your iPhone camera keeps refocusing will help you understand the reasons behind this common issue and provide effective solutions.

As an avid iPhone photographer myself, I’ve encountered this autofocus problem and know how frustrating it can be when your camera fails to capture the perfect shot due to constant refocusing.

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But fear not! In this article, I’ll share my insights and knowledge to help you overcome this issue and regain control over your iPhone camera’s autofocus feature.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of the potential causes of the problem and practical solutions to resolve it. Let’s dive in and put an end to those blurry shots!

iPhone AutoFocus and Auto Exposure (AE) Feature Explanation

A person holding a black iphone 12 pro case.

When it comes to capturing those stunning moments with your iPhone camera, the autofocus feature plays a crucial role.

The auto focus function is designed to automatically adjust the focus of your camera lens, ensuring that the subject appears sharp and clear in your photos.

Alongside autofocus, the auto exposure (AE) feature works in tandem to optimize the brightness and contrast of your images.

However, despite the sophisticated technology behind these features, they can sometimes encounter issues that lead to constant refocusing.

Reasons for iPhone Autofocus Issues

Understanding the reasons behind your iPhone camera’s persistent refocusing is the first step toward finding a suitable solution.

1. Software Bugs and Glitches Causing Autofocus Instability

One of the primary reasons your iPhone camera may keep refocusing is the presence of software bugs or glitches.

As with any electronic device, iPhones are not exempt from temporary software hiccups.

These glitches can interfere with the proper functioning of the autofocus mechanism, causing it to continuously seek focus even when it’s unnecessary.

Fortunately, software issues are often resolved through software updates released by Apple, which addresses and fixes such bugs.

2. Hardware Issues: Faulty Lens Position or Lens Protector

Sometimes, the autofocus issue may stem from hardware-related factors.

For instance, a misaligned lens position can disrupt the autofocus system’s accuracy, leading to frequent refocusing.

Additionally, if there is a protective layer, such as a lens protector, that is not properly aligned or has accumulated dirt or smudges, it can interfere with the camera’s ability to focus correctly.

In such cases, ensuring the lens is clean and free from obstructions and checking the lens position can help alleviate the autofocus issue.

3. Third-Party Apps Interfering with Autofocus Functionality

While the App Store offers a wide range of third-party camera apps with exciting features, it’s important to note that some apps may not be fully optimized for the iPhone’s autofocus capabilities.

Incompatibilities or conflicts between these apps and the native camera app can cause autofocus instability, leading to continuous refocusing.

If you suspect a third-party app is the culprit behind the autofocus issue, try using the native camera app to see if the problem persists.

4. Environmental Factors Affecting Autofocus

The environment in which you capture photos can also impact autofocus performance.

Low light conditions, for example, can pose challenges to the autofocus system, as it relies on detecting contrast to lock onto a subject.

In dimly lit settings, the camera may struggle to find a clear focus point, resulting in continuous refocusing.

Similarly, highly reflective surfaces or complex backgrounds can confuse the autofocus system, causing it to search for focus points in the wrong areas.

Adjusting the lighting or changing the composition can often resolve these environmental autofocus issues.

Solutions to iPhone Autofocus Problems

iphone camera photographing a lens

Resolving autofocus problems may require a combination of troubleshooting steps and, in some cases, professional intervention.

By following these solutions, you’ll be on your way to capturing sharp and focused photos with your iPhone once again.

1. Basic Troubleshooting Steps

When faced with autofocus issues on your iPhone camera, there are several simple troubleshooting steps you can take to address the problem:

Clean the Lens

Begin by gently wiping the camera lens with a soft cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to remove any smudges or dirt that may be obstructing the autofocus sensor. A clean lens ensures optimal performance.

Restart the iPhone (Soft Reset)

Sometimes, temporary glitches or software bugs can cause autofocus instability. Performing a soft reset on your iPhone can help resolve these issues.

Simply press and hold the power button until the “Slide to power off” slider appears. Slide it to power off your device, then wait a few seconds before pressing the power button again to turn it back on.

Check for Software Updates

Keeping your iPhone’s operating system up to date is crucial for optimal performance. Software updates often include bug fixes and improvements that can address autofocus-related issues.

Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for any available updates and install them if necessary.

2. Performing a Factory Reset

If the basic troubleshooting steps mentioned earlier do not resolve the autofocus problem, you may consider performing a factory reset.

A factory reset restores your iPhone to its original settings, effectively eliminating any software glitches or misconfigurations that may be causing the autofocus issue.

However, it’s important to note that a factory reset erases all data on your device, so be sure to back up your iPhone before proceeding.

You can perform a factory reset by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

3. Utilizing Manual Focus

In some situations, taking control of the focus point yourself can provide a workaround for autofocus issues.

Most camera apps, including the native iPhone camera app, allow you to switch to manual focus mode. By selecting manual focus, you can manually adjust the focus to ensure it remains fixed on your desired subject.

This can be particularly useful for close-up shots or when shooting subjects with unpredictable movement.

4. Seeking Professional Assistance

If you have tried the aforementioned troubleshooting steps and the autofocus problem persists, it may be worth seeking professional assistance.

Apple Stores have experienced technicians who can diagnose hardware issues and provide the necessary repairs or replacements if required.

They have the expertise to identify any underlying hardware issues that may be causing the autofocus instability.

How to Use an iPhone Camera with Autofocus Issues

Dealing with autofocus issues on your iPhone camera can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your photography on hold.

Here are some tips to help you work around autofocus problems and still capture great shots:

1. Manual Focus

When facing autofocus instability, switch to manual focus mode on your camera app. This allows you to take control of the focus point by tapping on the desired area of the screen.

Experiment with different focal points and adjust accordingly to achieve the desired sharpness in your photos.

2. Tap-and-Hold Focus

Another workaround is to use the tap-and-hold focus technique. Simply tap and hold on the screen where you want the camera to focus and lock the focus in place.

This way, even if the autofocus continuously refocuses, your selected focus point remains fixed.

3. Lock Exposure

In conjunction with manual focus, consider locking the exposure settings on your iPhone camera. By doing so, you can ensure consistent exposure levels even if the autofocus is struggling.

Simply tap and hold on the screen until you see the AE/AF Lock indicator appear, indicating that exposure and focus are locked.

4. Shoot in Burst Mode

Burst mode can be particularly useful when dealing with autofocus issues.

By capturing a series of rapid-fire shots, you increase your chances of capturing a well-focused image. Later, you can review the burst and select the sharpest shot.

5. Edit and Enhance

Even if your initial shots are affected by autofocus problems, don’t forget the power of editing.

Utilize photo editing apps to fine-tune your images, adjusting sharpness, clarity, and other parameters to enhance the overall quality.


Can a software issue cause autofocus problems?

Absolutely! Software issues, such as bugs or glitches, can indeed lead to autofocus problems on your iPhone camera.

These temporary software hiccups can interfere with the autofocus mechanism, causing it to constantly refocus.

Will a software update fix autofocus glitches?

Apple regularly releases software updates that include bug fixes and improvements, which can specifically target autofocus-related issues.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to check for software updates and install them to ensure you have the latest version of the operating system, which may resolve autofocus glitches.

Is it necessary to clean the lens regularly for optimal image quality?

Keeping the lens of your iPhone camera clean is essential for optimal image quality.

Smudges, fingerprints, or dirt on the lens can obstruct the autofocus sensor, resulting in blurry or unfocused photos. Remember to be gentle when cleaning the lens to avoid scratching its surface.


While autofocus issues can be a hindrance, there are practical solutions to overcome them and continue capturing stunning photos with your iPhone camera.

By understanding the reasons behind autofocus problems and implementing troubleshooting steps, manual focus techniques, and creative workarounds, you can still achieve impressive results.

Embrace the possibilities, experiment with different techniques, and let your creativity thrive. Happy shooting!

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Shotkit Writer, Product Tester & Instagram Manager

Jeff Collier is an experienced film photographer who enjoys experimenting with modern digital photography equipment, software and apps. He’s also an ex-world champion triathlete and avid cyclist, clocking hundreds of km each week in the beautiful Tweed Valley of northern NSW, Australia.

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