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Apexel 200x phone microscope lens review

More of a macro lens than a microscope, but what could you really expect from something that attaches to your phone camera?

Apexel 200x smartphone microscope
(Image: © Hannah Rooke)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I was excited to receive the Apexel 200x Smartphone microscope – partly because I was a little skeptical and partly because I wanted to see how much more it could see than the naked eye. I used it with the Honor 50 and I think this could be one of the reasons I'm not as impressed as I could be – had I managed to get my hands on the latest iPhone 13 which has a much better camera anyway, I think the results might be different.

Pros

  • +

    Fits any phone

  • +

    Fun to use

Cons

  • -

    Annoying clip on design

  • -

    Needs to be used with phone tripod

When you think of a microscope, you think of the kind of thing you used in school where you sliced thin bits of onion and placed them between two glass slides. Now while I wasn't expecting the magnification powers of something you attach to your phone to be quite as powerful, I was expecting a little more than what is essentially a macro lens. 

It is a fun little gadget if you've got a spare $40 lying around but it's not something I would rush out to buy and I'm yet to find a really good use for it other than showing your mates the individual fibers of their clothes or the shape of their fingerprint. It's not headed for our list of the best microscopes any time soon.

Specification

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)
(opens in new tab)

Light source type: LED
Material: 200X with CPL
Colour: Black or white
Item Dimensions: L x W x H: 6.8 x 3.5 x 2.5 centimetres
Magnification maximum: 200 x
Brand: Apexel

Build and handling

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)
(opens in new tab)

The Apexel microscope (opens in new tab) has a universal clip-on attachment that enables you to slide the microscope into position over your front camera. It's a little fiddly to align but you can slide the microscope up and down in its holder to find where your camera is. I don't particularly like how the clip has to press down on your phone screen, I'd be worried about scratches, and using it with my Honor 50 (opens in new tab) it causes a message to come up that says "do not cover the top of the touch screen. Mistouch prevention enabled. Swipe twice to exit."

This message became very tiresome because it popped up every time my phone locked or I stopped using the camera and while it's not hard to exit that screen, for efficiency I'd rather not have to. 

The device itself feels quite cheap and plasticky but the microscope does slide quite smoothly up and down its holder. There is a button on the front which turns an LED ring light (opens in new tab) on or off if you need a little more light, though it isn't very bright. 

Performance

As I've said before if I was using the Apexel smartphone microscope with a better phone such as the iPhone 13 Pro (opens in new tab), I think I would be a lot more impressed but when fully zoom in, the images aren't very clear. You also need to shoot using a tabletop tripod as it's so sensitive to camera shake which again makes it hard to take a really clear image. 

However, considering it's so cheap and all you need is a phone, it is fun to use and you do get a lot more detail with it than a built-in macro phone lens, but I wouldn't go as far as saying this is a proper microscope. 

It's uses are very limited and I can imagine it would get a bit boring after a while, especially considering the results from it aren't exactly mind-blowing. 

Verdict

This is certainly more of a macro lens than a microscope and while I personally don't have much use for it, I can see why it would be fun to play with. I feel like the phone I used with it really let it down so I would be interested to see how good it is using one of the best camera phones (opens in new tab). I think the design could do with a bit of a rethink, I'm not a huge fan of the clip attachment and even though it has rubber on the screen side it seems like a recipe for getting a scratch. 

Read more
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Best iPhone tripods (opens in new tab)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.