Dark Spot on iPhone Camera?

by Michael on July 20, 2009 · 50 comments

About two weeks ago, I ordered a new iPhone 3Gs from AT&T. It arrived quickly (within two business days) and I rushed over to pick it up. Once activated, I tested it out and everything seemed to be working well, so I headed home.


Unfortunately, once I got home I noticed a dark spot on the iPhone camera. It appeared on the display as a dark spot about the size of the tip of my pinky finger (see below). My first spot was that there was a problem with the display. However, it looked fine in other apps, and the dark spot was actually present in the pictures when I downloaded them from the camera.

Dark Spot in iPhone Camera

Note that the above pic is a crappy photo of a yellow wall in poor light. Not my best work, but it illustrates the problem reasonably well. If only I knew how to take an iPhone screenshot when I was having the problem!

Since the problem wasn’t the faulty display, my next thought was that there must a smudge or some sort of gunk on the lens. As it turned out, however, the lens was as clean as could be. That meant the dark spot must have be coming from inside my beautiful new iPhone.

The next day, I headed back to AT&T and they verified the problem. Unfortunately, once you walk out the door with an iPhone, AT&T can’t (or won’t?) help you. Instead, you have to deal with Apple. The good news here is that Apple service rocks.

All I had to do was call 1-800-MY-IPHONE (1-800-694-7466), explain the problem, and they set up a replacement. They shipped the phone out that afternoon, and I had it the next morning around 10AM. Also, since the 3Gs is such a new model, I got a brand new iPhone instead of a refurb.

Anyway, it seems that this is pretty rare problem, as I couldn’t find any other mentions, even after extensive Googling. While I’ve found multiple reports of dead pixels, black spots caused by a bad spot on the sensor, etc., I haven’t come across any reports of mysterious dark spots. Thus, I thought I’d document the problem here in case someone else runs into it and is likewise compelled to search the web for answers.


{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom C July 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm

i have the exact same problem. Only on the camera and it appears in the pictures taken. Too bad its not in the shape of Jesus. then i can be rich. Guess i’m getting another iphone.

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Michael July 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for your comment, Tom. I’d be curious to know how common this problem is. The good news is that Apple should swap it out quickly for you.

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James July 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I bought iphone 3gs on the release date and today got the similar problem where black triangular shaped spot showing up on the camera and the picture i took.

I am gonna see how apple responds when I give them a call tomorrow.

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Henry August 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I have the exact same issue with my new 3GS.
Dark spot is the size of a pencil eraser.
I have only found one other instance googling.

I called the number you provided (thanks for making it easy, btw) and have arranged to go to the Apple Store for an exchange.

I think someone sneezed on the assembly line.

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Michael August 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Henry: Out of curiosity, which 3Gs did you get? Mine is a black 32GB model. Just wondering if there’s a pattern to which phones are affected.

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Ely August 24, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Have the same issue, thanks for posting this i thought I was nuts and unlucky at first. I just got the phone yesturday as well. It’s also a 32g black g3s. There may be a pattern in the quality control with them trying to pump these quick enough to meet demand.

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Troy August 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm

My G3s 32 Gig is one week old and has started to evidence the exact same issue. Heading to the apple store today.

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james September 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

Hi, I also have the same problem. My phone camera has been fine for 2 months then this developed out of the blue. Any idea of the cause?

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gStAv October 13, 2009 at 11:17 am

Hi you guys!

Had the exact same problem.
Got it when I dropped my phone from 2 feet(!) onto rubber floor (at the gym).

Resolved it by slap my baby with the cam side agains my knee two times!!

No more dark spots in cam mode nor in photos taken! hehe!
Not the vanilla-way to go maybe, but well worth a shot for you who don´t want to wait in line for a new phone once again (,me included).

Will send it to service later if this problem happend again.

Let me hear if this works for you too! :)

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gStAv October 13, 2009 at 11:18 am

oh, have a iPhone 3G[S], 32Gb Black

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mferg January 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I’ve been having the same problem, which also started when I dropped my iphone.

i’ve just given your knee slapping trick a try gStAV, and guess what – it’s fixed it!!!

Thanks very much for the tip!

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Todd February 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Same problem on my 3GS shortly after a drop. Didn’t try the knee slap. Just took it in a got a new one at the Apple store.

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Zhikai March 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm

hey! thanks for the tips, i slap it a few times and the dark spot eventually disappear. been having this problem for quite a while.
now the problem is solved and hopefully the slapping didnt damage the camera much. =)

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mommadanyell May 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Knee-slap didn’t help me, but I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one with the problem!

Apple store friends, here I come……

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Alijan July 10, 2010 at 4:02 am

gStAv October 13, 2009 at 11:17 am

Hi you guys!

Had the exact same problem.
Got it when I dropped my phone from 2 feet(!) onto rubber floor (at the gym).

Resolved it by slap my baby with the cam side agains my knee two times!!

No more dark spots in cam mode nor in photos taken! hehe!
Not the vanilla-way to go maybe, but well worth a shot for you who don´t want to wait in line for a new phone once again (,me included).

Will send it to service later if this problem happend again.

Let me hear if this works for you too!

Dude i had the same problem (after a bad fall for my phone) and my phone is out of warranty so i was fearing the worse , i thought I’d give the slap on knee solution a shot and IT WORKED !!!! You are a genius mate !

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Charlie July 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I had the same problem.
If physically cleaning does not work, download the powerful free editing software GIMP at http://www.freeze.com/download/Design/Art/Gimp?f=7pXcVwaFS&a=6591&adid=4362974540.
Then use the cloning tool to eliminate the spots on your pictures
1) Select the Clone tool from the toolbox (looks like a head and torso)
2) Point your mouse over the area that is to be copied over the dark spot i.e. a piece of sky in an outdoor shot, and hold down the CTRL key.
3) Release the CTRL key and use your mouse to brush over the dark spot.

This worked great for me to touch up my pictures with unremovable spots that began to appear using my Canon A570.

Good luck.

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Shaun August 11, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I had the same problem and lightly tapped against my palm (camera side down) a couple times, and the spot is now gone. It must have been some residue left over from the factory. Anyway, thanks for the great tip!

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Ben August 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Hey thanks so much for making this blog. I was having the same problem with my flip video camcorder. I spent quite a while searching google, but nobody seemed to be having the same problem… Anyways, I was in the middle of filming a youtube show with it (which I already put hours of sweaty work towards) when the problem showed up. I did not want to hake to spend another $100 dollars for another camera. Anyways, I tried the knee-slapping method and after one slap the spot was totally gone! THANK YOU SO MUCH gStAv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Daniel limdholm September 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

I got the same problem on My iphone 4. I guess it happened when it slided out of my pants. Ie drop of 1-2 inches. Anyway, i tapped it to My knee and it sent out of the picture. Didnt go brutal on the poor thing.

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anna October 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

holy cow! it worked :)

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Jill December 8, 2010 at 3:44 pm

The same thing just happened to my iPhone.. I dropped it and the next time i tried to use my camera there was three little black marks about the size of a pencil point .. I’ve tried cleaning the lense and tapping on the lense and nothing will work .. the only way to fix the problem is to get a whole new phone ?

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Jure Goručan January 6, 2011 at 11:44 am

Slapping trick also worked on my iPhone 4! Thanks a lot :)

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Mindy April 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

Wow! The knee trick worked! It’s like an effin’ etch-a-sketch, dude!

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Heather April 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Heh, came here via a Google search. I had a spot that appeared in all my photos as well. Smacked it a few times (gently!) and it’s gone now.

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Brana June 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

OMG gStAv you RULE! Your tip worked! Slapped it and it went away! Thanks so much dude!

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Turner June 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

slapping it on my hand like 20 times work for me! it was with an lg optimus though

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aaron August 2, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Iphone 4 with identical problem – developed yesterday. Almost exact location as picture above.

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mitchie September 5, 2011 at 1:28 am

20 hand taps works for me! :)

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James Fancher September 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I used the knee slap method on my iphone 4 after several other approaches. I had two spots – the first six slaps reduced it to one and several more and the other was gone. BTW shaking the phone – blowing – and a Q-tip had no effect.

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Katoagogo November 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

I have an iPhone 4. Just had a 2 foot drop to a soft floor, black spot appeared on the lens and in the pictures. Read about the slap solution, performed the action several times, and the spot has disappeared. Thanks so much for this post. Otherwise I’d still be crying over the spilt iphone.

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AngeL January 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

My iPhone fall down and I began to check it immediately! After few minutes I realized that I got some problems with my camera! Awful grey spot!!! I was searching for a solution of this problem, but I didn’t find anything on Russian websites (I’m from Russia)…fortunately, I came here…thank you a lot!!! This slap solution works!!!! I’m happy…hope,this spot won’t appear again!!!

Please, let me know, if somebody faced this problem again!

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TS February 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm

my brand new iphone 4s has same issue (after two days) no dropping.
Tried some careful slaping and taping but no luck. Guess I need to get in line at the apple store.

cheers

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jokejong March 9, 2012 at 4:17 am

i encountered the same problem with my iphone4. i took real care of the phone.. used it for 1yr plus..

it’s a bug with the camera.

called apple and they wanted me to replace it 1-to-1 with a refurbished but looks good! brand new battery too. Thank God for apple-care! :)

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Karl March 20, 2012 at 1:56 am

I just tried the slapping method and it actually produced another black spot. Very disappointing, what should I do next? I have a Samsung Galaxy S2.

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G4r3th April 23, 2012 at 4:21 am

Thank you so much gStAv! My black 32Gb 3Gs developed a black spot on the camera. I used the slap technique and it is gone. Cheers!

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Leticia April 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I just noticed a black spot exactly like the photo above on my iPhone 4. Unfortunately the slapping technique didn’t work, it actually made the spot bigger but then slapping it more made it reduce down to the original size. I’ve had my iPhone for not even a month, will they still replace it?? Anyways.. I have found a way to take pictures without the black spot being there so I just click on the button to turn the camera around and take pictures like that. This really sucks but it isn’t so bad cause I barely take pictures anyways!

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Ashish May 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

20 little slap helped….awsoommmm trick :))))

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mohamed September 13, 2012 at 3:28 am

thank you so much , had the same problem twice on my galaxy s2, first time the spot gone by it self after couple days, the second time , the knee slapping was so helpful :) it really worked , many thanks guys ;)

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Marília September 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Today I noticed a grey triagle shaped spot and the knee slapping didn’t help. I’m so sad since it’s from USA and I live in Brazil, which means I don’t have free warranty. :(

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Marília September 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm

It’s more like a shade, actually. Not as dark as the spot.

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DJ October 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I tried the knee slap several times and it made the spot bigger and it also moved around! I then slapped it on my palm about 10 times, and that worked!!! Thanks for the tip!!

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Anna October 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I’ve had my iPhone 4 for nine months. I’ve dropped it two or three times, but there was no damage and that was a long time ago. Other than that, I am VERY gentle with my phone. But tonight I was taking pictures and the dark spot just appeared out of nowhere! I’ve been slapping it for a few minutes now and…nothing. But I did discover that the spot doesn’t show up on the video camera, just the picture camera. I don’t know why, because it’s the same exact lens–I even checked and I couldn’t see any lens change when I switched cameras. I’m nervous to tell my parents about the spot because my dad will get mad, either at me or Apple, and I like my phone ’cause it’s perfect except for the spot. So…I dunno, but I’m glad I came across this forum.

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Leticia October 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I commented on here a while ago and I just wanna update ya’ll. My phone took a big fall (drop) like a month or two ago and the spot went away. It’s like an etch a sketch :s but now my phone is back to great condition!

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Stéphane November 29, 2012 at 5:09 am

Slapped it a couple of times as advised in the comments and indeed, it worked! Can’t believe it! So glad I found this post! I’m sharing the info, thanks!

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tbone December 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm

i have the exact same issue. I have a feeling its a small piece of dust that made it’s way on the sensor somehow. Calling Apple gave me no pleasure. Since my warranty expired 2 months ago, they will charge me for a replacement. Baloney! I did make an appt at the Apple store and i am going to try my darndest to see if i can get someone there to just clean the sensor. If not, i am just going to open the damn thing up myself and clean the sensor the same way i do my DSLR. Novoiding the warranty if it’s already expired :)

BTW – the shake/slap method did not work for me. It actually made another more faint circle show up.

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kirstin January 6, 2013 at 5:23 am

The slap method worked well for me! I wonder if it was a bubble somewhere in the camera. Thank you!

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Peter Larson February 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Knee slap worked like a charm! Spot moved down a bit after the first few slaps, then a few more and it was gone.

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Omar April 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I slapped my Iphone and the black dot gone, thank the slap works.

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Santo Fuego April 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Thanks guys! I just tried the slap method on my knee. It WORKED!! camera side facedown and lighty slap about 10 times and ba da bing ba da boom that spot is gone!

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Gwen May 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Omg! It works. I slapped the back of my iPhone4s. 1st, the black spot moved to another side. I slapped three times and it’s gone. Thank you so much. I just don’t want to spend my extra time and money for this problem. My contract is gonna end in 7 months. So you know. Nice!

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