How to quickly fix auto refocusing issues on your iPhone

How to quickly fix auto refocusing issues on your iPhone

Is your iPhone camera auto-refocusing? Even one of the relatively latest iPhones like the iPhone XS Max has focus issues. The culprits behind this problem can either be a simple software bug or something serious like a busted camera lens. But don’t conclude right away. In this post, we talked about how to fix auto refocusing on iPhone.

girl taking a pic on an iPhone 11 Pro Max

How to quickly fix auto refocusing issues on iPhone

The iPhone camera is a well-revered feature of the Apple device. Sadly, auto refocusing on iPhone is apparently a common issue. Users have described auto refocusing on iPhone as nonstop flickering—like someone has been tapping the focus on the camera endlessly. 

But before you visit a technician, you should try a few quick fixes first. Apple technicians aren’t always available these days due to the pandemic; so, you could perform DIY troubleshooting actions. 

Check out these tips:

1. Remove or replace your iPhone case. 

An iPhone case protects the phone’s sensitive parts from being damaged; ironically, some cases might impair your iPhone. For example, a poorly designed iPhone case might eventually gather dust and debris, which can enter the camera cover and clog the lens or the lenses. 

Meanwhile, the iPhone case’s material might also cause camera problems too. In our post about an iPhone camera shaking issue, we talked about how an iPhone case with metal accents might interfere with your iPhone’s gyroscope function. As a result, it might cause a shaking motion in the camera, even if you’re holding it steadily or even if it’s secured on a phone holder. 

So, if you have an iPhone case with metallic or magnetic accents, try removing it or replacing it with a silicone iPhone case. See if it fixes the auto refocusing on iPhone. 

If you have an iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, we suggest getting the DTTO iPhone case.  For an iPhone XS Max, get the Anuck Soft Silicone gel case, and for an iPhone 8 Plus, grab a hold of the Miracase iPhone case. These phone cases are made of silicone gel, which is soft and smooth to the touch and yet so durable. 

2. Lock the Auto-Exposure and Auto-Focus (AE/AF)

Auto refocusing on iPhone can sometimes be simple to fix. For example, you might just need to lock your AE/AF feature. By default, your iPhone camera automatically focuses on a subject. So, to stop it from auto refocusing, you need to lock the AE/AF. Doing this will secure the focus setting and exposure value for your current shot. 

If you haven’t tried locking your AE/AF yet, force-exit your camera. Restart your iPhone and open your camera again. Next, lock the AE/AF and see if your camera regains its focus on another subject. 

Here’s how to lock the AE/AF

  1. On your camera’s viewfinder, tap on the area where you want the camera to focus.
  2. Hold for a few seconds until the yellow icon AE/AF appears.
  3. This means your iPhone camera’s focus is locked on that area. 
  4. If you want to change the focus, tap it again, and hold for a few seconds to unlock it. 


3. Be cautious about your subject’s distance. 

girl taking a pic of autumn leaves on iPhone - auto refocusing on iPhone

Distance might cause auto refocusing on iPhone. That’s because your iPhone’s focus can go awry if the subject is too close or too far from your camera. This is normal, especially if you have a single rear camera at the back. You know what they say: two is better than one. Dual camera systems can help you capture photos with depth more effectively because they have teamwork. 

Now, how do dual-camera systems make that teamwork happen? Well, essentially, one camera (the wide-angle camera lens) does the heavy lifting in capturing the subject, while the other one (telephoto camera lens) gathers light. Through this action, your iPhone camera can capture depth easily, which gives you that beautiful blurred background or bokeh effect. 

So, be cautious about the distance of subjects if your iPhone only has one camera. Remember: it does the heavy lifting alone. So, you could do your part by making sure the subject has the ideal distance of no more than 19 inches away from the camera. The same rule applies to iPhones with dual-camera systems. This could fix auto refocusing on iPhone. 

Tip: If you do need to take pics of subjects from a far distance, we suggest you get a telephoto lens. You should check out the CoPedvic lens kit, which includes a 22x Telephoto lens, 4K HD 0.67X Super Wide Angle Lens, 25X Macro Lens, and 205° Fisheye Lens. It even comes with a small metal tripod. As for taking photos of subjects up close, we recommend getting the Xenvo Pro lens kit, which is a wide-angle lens and a macro lens in one. 

Must-read: 8 genius ways to use iPhone camera burst mode for action photos

4. Force-exit your camera app.

We’re pretty sure you did this a few times already, and it might indeed help fix auto refocusing on iPhone cameras. However, while force-quitting your camera app may “refresh” it, it doesn’t really do anything grand. It doesn’t even affect your iPhone’s battery life.

Ideally, you should only force-close apps when your iPhone becomes unresponsive or you notice it heating more than usual. That’s because the apps are on standby mode so that you can multitask with ease. They are not necessarily running in the background, as many others believe—except if an app is a music app, which plays in the background.  

Additionally, Apple’s smart algorithm can decide if an app should run in the background while you’re multitasking. So, even if multiple apps are open at the same time, that doesn’t mean all of them are active or running in the background. 

If your camera app keeps on auto refocusing and becomes unresponsive, you can try force-quitting it. Check if the auto refocusing disappears.


5. Restart or soft-reset your iPhone.

If force-exiting your camera app didn’t work, then you can soft-reset your iPhone. Even just a minute of rest for your iPhone will do many wonders, especially if you are a heavy user. 

Being a heavy user means that you use your iPhone often to play mobile games in high settings, listen to music in the background while using other apps, or take photos and videos. The minimum screen time of these activities could last more than three hours—although you could take breaks in between those hours. 

If you have the same habits as the ones we mentioned above, your iPhone’s battery and RAM might be working harder than usual. Your RAM might be filled to the brim with files and apps, while your battery heats faster and more often than usual. 

Now, will restarting solve auto-refocusing on iPhone? It might. Although it doesn’t necessarily prolong an iPhone’s health, rebooting your iPhone will clear its cache and refresh its Random Access Memory (RAM). This is because your iPhone’s RAM stores data that it needs to use immediately. When your RAM fills up with all those data, your iPhone’s performance might fall through, too. So, by restarting your iPhone, its system and background processes will restart as well. 

Thus, if you notice that your iPhone is laggy or slow, you can do a quick restart. Your camera app will be refreshed as well, so there’s a chance that an issue like auto refocusing might disappear. 


6. Update to the latest iOS version

iPhone rebooting beside a Macbook - auto refocusing on iPhone

Last September 16, Apple rolled out a major update for iOS devices, which is the iOS 14. The versions that roll out after an update like that always comes with the latest bug fixes and improvements, including the camera app. So, if you haven’t updated to the latest version of the iOS 14 yet, you could try it and see if it fixes the auto refocusing on iPhone. The iOS 14.1 is already available, while the iOS 14.2 is about to be released by Apple. 

Now, remember that along with improvements, you might also encounter new bugs if you update to the latest iOS version. So, if you’re willing to risk it or if you don’t have any choice left before replacing your iPhone, you can update your software. 

The iOS 14 and 14.1 have the following camera improvements you might like: 

  • Fixed camera previews on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (iOS 14.1)
  • Mirrored front camera (iOS 14)
  • New Exposure Compensation Control on the camera (iOS 14)
  • Faster shot-to-shot performance on the camera (iOS 14)

Here’s how to update your iOS to the latest version

  1. Make sure your WiFi is on. 
  2. Go to Settings. 
  3. Tap General. 
  4. Select Software Update.
  5. Tap Install.
  6. Enter your passcode if needed.


7. Nuclear-reset your iPhone. 

If the push ended up being a shove, then you can just hard-reset your iPhone. Unlike a soft-reset, you will delete all your iPhone’s stored data during a hard reset. Yes, all the saved settings, third-party apps, photos, videos, and audio files will be gone. In a nutshell, you will revert an iPhone to its factory settings. 

As you can see, this is our last recommended quick fix because it’s not really a quick fix. Before you hard-reset your iPhone, you have to check iTunes or your Mac first to make sure that your iPhone has caught up with the most recent updates. This will ensure a smooth hard reset later. After that, you still have to create a backup on iCloud or your Mac device before you start the hard reset. 

There’s no guarantee that this will fix auto refocusing on iPhone. But if you’re not that willing to visit an Apple service center because it’s a hassle, then you have no choice but to try it. Besides, you can create a backup and just store your old files again using iTunes. 

Now, if you have decided to do a hard reset, follow these steps: 

How to create a backup on iCloud using your Mac

  1. Make sure your WiFi is on. 
  2. Next, plug in your iPhone to your Mac device.
  3. Wait for it to connect. 
  4. On the Finder, select your iPhone when it appears. 
  5. Click General in the button bar. 
  6. Choose how you want to backup your iPhone. You can either store the backup on your Mac device or on iCloud. 
  7. After choosing, click the “Back Up Now” button. Your iPhone will now proceed to create the backup. 

How to create a backup on your iPhone using iCloud

  1. Make sure your WiFi is on. 
  2. Go to Settings. 
  3. Tap on your name. 
  4. Next, tap on iCloud. 
  5. Toggle iCloud backup. 
  6. Select Back Up Now. 
  7. Wait until iCloud finishes creating a backup. 

How to create a backup on iTunes

If you have a PC, follow these steps to create a backup on iTunes: 

  1. Make sure your WiFi is on. 
  2. Open your iTunes.
  3. Plug in your iPhone to your PC using a USB. 
  4. Wait for it to connect. 
  5. Under locations, select your iPhone when it appears. 
  6. Choose how you want to backup your iPhone. You can either store the backup on your Mac device or on iCloud. 
  7. After choosing, click the “Back Up Now” button. Your iPhone will now proceed to create the backup. 

How to Erase All Content and Settings on your iPhone

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Tap General > Reset > Erase all content and settings. After that, tap Erase iPhone.  
  3. Next, follow the on-screen actions. 
  4. Set up your iPhone as a new device.

After erasing your data, check if the auto refocusing on iPhone has disappeared. As for getting your old files back, you can either restore your backup from iCloud using your iPhone or from your Mac/PC. 

Must-read: Why the camera on your iPhone is black and how to fix it


If none of our quick fixes solve the auto refocusing on iPhone, just give in and look for a nearby Apple technician or service center. If they can’t repair the bug, they might replace your camera or your iPhone itself. Good luck!

Related questions

Why is my iPhone blurry when I turn it on? 

Your iPhone might have auto refocusing problems, or it has a smudged lens cover. Most of the time, it’s not that serious—it only takes three seconds of wiping, and your iPhone camera will be clear as day again. If you want to know more about this, read our article about fixing blurry iPhone cameras.  

How do I stop the glare on my iPhone camera?

The glare might be coming from a bright light source or your camera’s weird position. Sometimes, all it takes is to move a few inches and adjust how you hold your camera until the glare disappears. To know more about glare, you can read our blog post about removing glare on an iPhone camera.