Macro photography is super-close-up photography that makes small things larger than life. It is in between regular close-up photography, which can be done with any camera, and microscopy, which makes visible that which cannot be seen with the naked eye.
To take macro photographs with your smartphone, you’ll either have to buy a lens attachment or try a do-it-yourself method.
Buying a Macro Lens for Your Smartphone
You can take macro photographs with your smartphone using a special lens. A company called Photojojo is the top supplier of ready-made macro lenses for iPhones and Android phones. Their macro lens is available from Amazon for $15 with free Prime delivery. The product includes a wide angle lens; to use it, you gently screw it onto the macro lens, and they operate in concert. So you actually get two specialty lenses for the price of one.
Photojojo also has a variety pack available, which includes the macro/wide angle combo, a telephoto lens, and a fisheye lens. I have all three (four), and they are great fun. To use them, you attach the included self-stick magnetic ring to your smartphone so that it encircles your phone’s camera lens. The various lenses then attach magnetically, so it’s easy to swap them out. I’ve found that eventually the glue does wear off on the magnetic ring, but they provide a few extras and I have not run out yet. I suppose you could superglue the ring on if you were sure you wanted it to be permanent, but I believe the medium-stickiness of the glue is intentional so that you can remove the ring if you want.
One word of advice in using the Photojojo macro lens: when you are attaching the macro lens to the wide angle lens, don’t screw it on too tightly. The threads are delicate and easy to strip. Points for Photojojo: the threads on mine became stripped, and they sent me a replacement with no hassles.
DIY Macro Lens for Your Smartphone
If you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, check out this Instructable on how to take apart an old digital camera to create a macro lens for your smartphone.
You can also take a look at our page on the Laser Pointer Method. When you use just one focus lens from a laser pointer, and clip it onto your smartphone with a bobby pin, you have a functional macro lens for about one dollar.