6 Smartphone Camera Tricks You Probably Are Not Aware Of

Believe it or not, so-called “camera phones” were once derided as little more than a novelty. Fast forward a few years and high-quality camera sensors are a staple of smartphones. In fact, smartphone cameras have all but completely replaced traditional point and shoot cameras. But smartphone cameras aren’t just for proliferating the selfie culture. They can actually do quite a bit more than simply snap a few photos. Here are some little-known smartphone camera tricks that can make your life easier.

1. See infrared light

Infrared beams are invisible to the naked eye. However most digital camera sensors, including the one in your phone, can “see” infrared as a purplish light. There aren’t many practical applications for this, but you can check to see if the batteries in your various remotes need replacing.


Open the camera app on your phone and point the questionable remote at your phone’s camera sensor. While looking at your phone’s display, press a few buttons on the remote. If you can’t see any purple light, replace the batteries in the remote and try again.

2. Use the volume button to snap a photo

Ask any selfie enthusiast, sometimes it’s hard to balance your phone and tap the screen to take a photo. Even when snapping a normal photo, you have to sacrifice the stability two hands afford by removing one hand to tap the screen. This can result in shaky, amateurish images. However there is a better way. Virtually every single smartphone out there has the ability to take a photo by simply pressing the volume rocker. Forget the onscreen shutter button, and enjoy greater control and better compositions in your photos.


3. Scan negatives

If you have old negatives that you would like to have a look at, you can do so without spending money on getting them developed. If your camera app has a negative effect, you can digitize your negatives without downloading an app or paying for a dime. Simply hold the negative strip up to a light source and snap a photo of the negative film strip with your camera’s negative effect. The negative effect of the camera will essentially reverse the color of the negative – the end result being a cheap and easy way to scan your old negatives and bring them into the digital age.


4. Read barcodes

Everyone knows that your camera can read QR codes, but there are apps that enable you to read standard barcodes as well. Barcode readers can help the average consumer lean more about a product. Businesses can use barcode readers for inventory management. In addition, you can use an app like RedLaser to help you sniff out the best deals on the web.


5. Monitor your heart

Fitness trackers are incredibly popular helping people get back into shape. In addition to monitoring steps, more and more trackers have the ability to measure a user’s heart rate. Unfortunately, fitness trackers can be quite expensive. Luckily, you don’t need an expensive piece of rubber around your wrist to give you that information. Instead, download the Instant Heart Rate app, place your finger on your phone’s camera sensor, and start monitoring your heart’s health. The app will give you heart rate measurements and even a real time PPG graph.


6. Translate (virtually) any language

Heading to someplace exotic for your next vacation? Grab the Google Translate app, and instantly translate text from 103 different languages. Simply point your phone’s camera at the foreign text and a translation is instantly provided on your screen. With your smartphone and Google Translate, you’ll never have to stumble through a conversation with a local just to find the bathroom.



Smartphone cameras have come a long way since their initial inception. From grainy novelties to powerful and competent shooters, smartphone cameras have revolutionized the way we capture and share memories. But your camera isn’t just for taking pretty pictures of your lunch. With technology advancing by leaps and bounds every day, the camera embedded in your smartphone is quickly becoming a legitimate tool to make your life easier. What is your favourite little-known smartphone camera trick? Are there any apps that utilise the camera that the MakeTechEasier community should know about? Let us know in the comments!

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