Wear glasses? This neat iPhone camera trick can simulate your natural vision

The iPhone 15 Pro being used in an Olivia Rodrigo music video
Your iPhone's AE/AF function can be used to simulate a person's impaired vision (Image credit: Apple)

Remember the days when a phone was just a phone? No, me neither. In the last 20 years, mobile computing has progressed at a faster rate than perhaps any other industry, with smartphones now capable of much, much more than simply allowing one human being to remotely communicate with another. 

The iPhone, in particular, has evolved from a keyboard-less smartphone to mobile games console to DSLR-rivaling camera, and eagle-eyed Apple fans continue to find new and novel use cases for seemingly mundane iPhone functions even in 2023.

Japanese optician Sakata Yoshi, for instance, recently used his iPhone’s camera lens to demonstrate how people with impaired vision see without the aid of glasses. Why? Well, we’re not entirely sure – but if you’re keen to understand how your glasses-wearing friends or family members see the world au naturel, Yoshi’s video is worth a watch.

As you can see via the X post below, Yoshi simulates (presumably his own) natural vision by using the iPhone’s AF/AE lock camera function. This tool allows you to lock the focus and exposure values when taking a photo, which is useful, say, when shooting scenes with movement in the background, or when trying your hand at close-up macro photography.

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Pretty cool, right? Here’s how you can try Yoshi's method for yourself: 

First, position your iPhone’s camera lens behind a pair of prescription eyeglasses. Click and hold anywhere in the viewfinder until the AF/AE lock function appears at the top of the screen. Then, simply remove the eyeglasses from the view of the iPhone’s camera. Et voilà! That’s how you (or the person whose glasses you've borrowed) sees the world without glasses.

In a separate video, Yoshi also demonstrates how to simulate presbyopia – i.e. the inability to see objects up close – using the same iPhone function without a pair of eyeglasses.

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As you can see, Yoshi focuses on a slightly distant object (the drapes) and activates AF/AE lock by repeating the steps above. Now, his iPhone camera can clearly see objects at a similar distance to the drapes, but objects positioned right in front of the iPhone camera are blurry. This is similar to how someone with presbyopia experiences the world without eyeglasses.

Incidentally, Yoshi’s original X posts on this subject were deleted for violating guidelines, but the optician has prefaced his new tweets with the following message: “This might not go viral again [...] so I'm asking everyone for the first time, please spread the word! Everyone on Twitter! Please share your strength with me!”. Thanks for sharing your discovery with us, Yoshi.

For more lesser-known iPhone features, check out our roundup of the five hidden iOS tricks to help you navigate your iPhone faster.

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Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.