Text: Leo Barco

Few weeks ago we reported the introduction of the “handyscope”:


Now that I have had the chance to try one iphone 4G- unit out, here is my hands-on review.

For starters, let´s have a look at what’s in the box (click the centre of the images to enlarge them):

The box itself

The cable to charge the device’s battery. USB plug

Brief instructions for a quick start

A handy pouch to carry the device around

The handyscope

Out of the box, front view

Rear view

A tad thicker than expected

The switch to turn the led-lights on and off

Port to connect the charger

On the left-hand side, the indicator that lights up when charging

To take the most out of the device, the application is a must and the first thing you need to do is download it from the app store:

At the App store, just look for handyscope

Its price:10 Euros

Stylish icon for the dashboard

Once the application is running, if you want to customize your preferences, a visit to the adjustments section is in order

Welcoming page

Adjustments/settings section

At the top, the possibility to activate/deactivate the millimetric scale, which gets attached to the image.

You can also move upwards/downwards the position of the shutter/menu within the screen to better suit your needs. However, almost the whole screen is considered a shutter regardless of this adjustment, which is very convenient when shooting in an awkward position and not having to precisely tap on a small portion of the screen. Very nicely implemented and it would be nice that the iphone’s camera worked the same way.

The quality of the image can be selected for lower or higher size/compression. It is my impression that low resolution images might be insufficient, at least for my needs. Not only the image gets too small but also the compression is way too heavy and noise becomes very visible and the details disappear.  See  for yourself:

The left image (higher resolution) has been reduced to match the size of the one to the right (lower resolution: 640X480). It is not only a matter of size but a matter of lack of details and noise (click on the centre of both images to view at full size). No extra-sharpening or other modifications applied.

Maybe the ideal thing to have is the possibility to modify size/compression at other intermediate steps instead of just the high and low resolution.

Please note that images taken at high resolution, weigh between 600 and 1200 Kb. If you have a 16 or 32GB iphone, there is plenty of room for hundreds/thousands of images on your phone, so my recommendation would be to always use the higher resolution setting.

In the adjustments section you can also set the initial screen when opening the app from either camera activation or images review.

Camera or images review to start up

The optional password to protect from fraudulent use of the app is very important:

Aside from the adjustments section there are 3 more sections: camera, images and patients:

Camera, images, patients and settings at the bottom

The images section provides you with a chronologically organized list of the pictures:

This is the appearance of the patients section:

(blurred names on purpose)

Let’s now have a look at the process of taking a photo:

Screen when camera activated

Picture being recorded once you’ve decided to keep it. At high resolution the “wait wheel” goes on for a couple of seconds. If low resolution is chosen the image is recorded straight away with no delays

Now it’s the time to introduce text, patient’s details, and location of the lesion

gender selection to bring up a male/female body part- puppet

the homunculus available comes in very handy to precise location

Lateral view

Enlarging the homunculus

Even larger

Female version

The homunculus can be enlarged to a great extent but for facial lesions might not be enough. Soles, scalp, genitals and interior of the mouth are not available unfortunately.

Once the image is recorded you are allowed to send it via email with a very thoughtful interface that includes patient’s data as part of the message

When sending an email with a dermoscopic image attached, you are prompted to choose between the different sizes available to reduce sending time

Backing up your photos:

When you synchronize your iphone, a copy of the data (photos and introduced info) included in the handyscope app is also recorded in your computer. But, what if you want to get a copy of your pics without the attachment to the app?

You can do that by going to the images section and tapping the folder button:

Folder button at the upper left corner

Now it’s time to choose the photos you want to backup

All clicked images get copied to the “camera roll” library on the iphone

“Working on it” bar at the top

Images appear at the camera roll folder

You can flip through the images as per usual

Now, the not-so-good news.  The copy of your pictures do NOT contain metadata such as EXIF or the data you already introduced in the database. That it’s possibly the most important drawback of the application. The way to work this around is by sending every picture through email with patient’s details enclosed in the text but it still is not a good solution as the job needs to be redone by introducing those details into your “other” database.

Interestingly enough, if you use the handyscope to take dermoscopy pictures “bypassing” the application (which it’s perfectly possible), the recorded pictures DO contain EXIF metada as the rest of pictures normally taken with the iphone. Obviously patient’s details are not there as you never introduced them but you still get the exif metada.

I understand that metadata-free images are lighter to collect and to send but if we had the chance to decide whether to attach the metadata or not with the pictures, the application would certainly increase its value. Is it possible to solve this issue via an app upgrade? Hope so..especially if patient’s details were also enclosed.

Iphone’s normal interface when taking pics

Lesion photographed with the handyscope but without the application

This image DOES contain exif metada

Now, let’s get to the point: Is the Handyscope handy and honours its name? and more important, is the image quality any good?

Well, it’s only my opinion but yes, definitively yes.

I must confess that I get better results off my dermlite photo system: //www.dermlite.com/cms/en/products/digital-products/dl-foto-system.html but it is much bulkier, heavier, more expensive and some extra time is needed to download the pictures and introduce the details into a different database. Also, you can not send the pictures on the go, which might be important to some of you.

It is difficult to tell whether you will feel comfortable with the device or if the picture quality is enough for your needs, but I find the Handyscope the perfect compromise between “pocketability”, usability, image quality and price.

I think this is a perfect example of the mobile technology that is coming in the very near future..or should I say the present?

However, the best thing to do is to try it out for yourself and in the meantime download some of the enclosed following pictures for your own analysis.


-Metadata not included within the backup pictures

-Resolution/size options limited to low/high quality

-Slide-in case only compatible with specific iphone model. Not upgradeable


-Excellent battery life


-Impressive image quality for such a portable device

-Light and well made

-Not excessively expensive for already iphone owners. At 300 euros (VAT included) would be a killer

(Click the centre of the images to enlarge them)

I am grateful to Valeska Heinrich at Fotofinder Germany for the loan of a 4G Handyscope unit to produce this review.

Feel free to add your comments on the blog regarding your experience with the handyscope so that other colleagues benefit from your input.



2 Responses to Handyscope: a personal review

  1. Congratulations Leo for producing an excellent review on handyscope after your personal experience with the product.

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