Today smartphones and tablets do not merely pervade our daily life, but also play a major role in STEM education in general, and in experimental investigations in particular. Enabling teachers and students to make use of these new techniques in physics lessons requires supplying capable and affordable applications. Our article presents the improvement of a low-cost technique turning smartphones into powerful magnifying glasses or microscopes. Adding only a 3D-printed clip attached to the smartphone’s camera and inserting a small glass bead in this clip enables smartphones to take pictures with up to 780x magnification (see Fig. 1). In addition, the construction of the smartphone attachments helps to explain and examine the differences between magnifying glasses and microscopes, and shows that the widespread term “smartphone microscope” for this technique is inaccurate from a physics educational perspective.

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