It can take several years to become proficient at direct ophthalmoscopy; the instrument’s single eyepiece allows only one individual to view the image at a time, which is considered disadvantageous during teaching. The introduction of smartphone ophthalmoscopes enables groups of teachers and students to view images together which could encourage peer-to-peer learning. In addition, the technology is significantly cheaper than the direct ophthalmoscope. User acceptability and engagement is essential to the success of any (medical) technological innovation. We sought to understand student opinions of a new commercially-available smartphone device for fundus examination, and compare usability to the traditional ophthalmoscope, from the perspective of both student practitioners and patients. Fifty-four undergraduate optometry students with prior experience of the traditional direct ophthalmoscope were asked to examine at least one eye with the D-EYE smartphone ophthalmoscope and also given an opportunity to experience the D-EYE from a patient’s perspective. Minimal instructions were provided and all examinations conducted through undilated pupils. Participants completed an opinion survey to feedback on aspects such as the ease of handling and working distance. Compared to the direct ophthalmoscope, 92% of students preferred the (longer) working distance of the D-EYE; 77% felt it was easier to handle; and 92% preferred the patient experience with the D-EYE. Despite the positive feedback, only 43% of students preferred the D-EYE when assuming the role of the practitioner. Free text responses indicated that students felt the D-EYE may be most useful as a teaching tool. Student opinions indicated that smartphone ophthalmoscopes are an effective training tool for students as an accompaniment to learning the traditional ophthalmoscope method.