Discover the 28 lesser-known iPhone features you should be aware of
One iPhone hack that makes life easier is being able to customise Control Centre. By adding your favourite and most-used widgets to Control Centre, you can access them with a simple swipe down, even when your iPhone is locked. This is super handy when you need a feature immediately.
With Back Tap enabled, you can assign a range of different functions to both a double and a triple finger tap on the back of your phone, kind of like gestures on a trackpad. You could, for example, use a double tap for your torch and a triple tap for your Camera – these are both incredibly useful when you’re using your phone at odd angles and can’t reach the Lock Screen icons or the Control Centre pull-down menu.
iOS comes with advanced sharing abilities using Siri. Instead of sharing the old-fashioned way by tapping the Share button, you can use Siri to share whatever is on your screen with a contact. It’s not a life-changing feature, but comes in handy when you need to share something quickly or don’t have your hands free to do so.
Even people with the smallest hands can find the compact keyboards of phone screens a little hassle-prone. Scanning through large chunks of text to find the exact spot you want to edit can be a tricky task, although it has been improved in iOS 17. To help with this, your iPhone features a hidden trackpad, which can be used to scan easily and precisely across your screen. Just press and hold the Space bar on your iPhone’s keyboard to turn that keyboard into a trackpad.
While many modern iPhone models like the iPhone 15 Pro are waterproofed to IP68, it’s still no fun to get stuck out in the rain. Handily, the iOS Weather app has you covered with an easy-to-read interactive weather map so you can easily see the day ahead’s weather and never get caught out again.
A little-known feature that can save you a ton of time is the ability to drag and drop between iPhone apps. With the drag and drop feature, you can quickly and easily import an image or video from your photos or a web page, or even a PDF from your files, and drop it into an app like Notes or Messages.
Like us, you might have thought the native Calculator app was a little basic, especially when compared to those giant calculators you used in maths class at school. Well, maybe you should give it another chance: the humble Calculator app actually has a few tricks up its sleeve. Turn the iPhone landscape to unveil a scientific calculator, and swipe left or right at the top of the display to delete digits.
It used to be that scanning a document to turn physical pages into a digital file required a dedicated scanner or all-in-one printer. And indeed, for perfect copies, this is still the case. But what if you just need to quickly turn that line from your textbook into a quote in your notes app? Unsurprisingly, iOS has a neat solution, and your iPhone’s camera is also a handy tool to convert physical text into digital.
If you’ve ever typed in a code to find your IMEI or phone number (*#06#) when selling your phone, you may have an inkling of what this one’s about. What you might not know, though, is that as well as codes to find those numbers, there are also codes to tell your iPhone to do a whole range of things, from hiding your number (141 followed by the person’s number and area code), to diverting calls (**61 when you don’t answer, **62 when your iPhone is unreachable, or **67 when your iPhone is busy) and even launching a field test mode (turn off Wi-Fi, then enter 3001#12345#) to see data about your cellular connection.
Spotlight search saves a lot of time when you need to get to something fast. To take that one step further, you can now access Spotlight directly from your Lock Screen, meaning you can search immediately without needing to wait for Face ID to do its thing.
Ever get jealous of Android users with their neat LED notification lights? What you may not know is that the iPhone has a little-known accessibility feature which gives users a notification light, too. The iPhone’s LED flash can be set to flash for alerts, such as messages and other notifications.
You can still use Face ID when you’re wearing a mask or other facial obstruction like a scarf. Once you turn on the switch to use Face ID with a mask on for the first time, you’ll have to rescan your face. The good news is that you can turn the feature on/off without having to rescan your face each time.
On top of being a pocket-sized computer and camera, your iPhone also doubles up as a magic wand. That’s right. You can use Siri to cast spells from Harry Potter and enable functions without having to lay a finger on your screen.
Instead of trying to find a place or folder for any apps you don’t use – or you don’t want people to see – it’s easier to just move them out of sight completely with this little-known trick. You can now remove an app from your Home Screen without deleting it completely, using the App Library.
While we’re all familiar with the ubiquitous two-finger pinch zooming function across touchscreen devices, a simple yet relatively obscure feature of iOS is one-finger zooming on Apple Maps and Google Maps. This useful trick enables the use of both Apple Maps and Google Maps one-handed and one-fingered, which comes into its own when navigating a new place with full hands.
If you’re in need of a bit of relaxation, you can use the Background Sounds feature to pump soothing ambient noise through your AirPods, including rainfall, streams, oceans, and white noise.
If you’ve ever done a full-scale rearrange of your iPhone’s Home Screen, you’ll know how tedious it can be to move each and every app one by one – so don’t. One of the handiest little-known features of the iPhone is that you can drag and move multiple apps all at once. This enables you to clean up your Home Screen in a fraction of the time.
Ever miss those 15, 10 and 5% battery alerts your iPhone gives you because your phone’s on silent? Thankfully, you can avoid this using a shortcut to set alerts at 30 or 40%, giving you more of a heads up that you’re starting to get low.
One of our favourite Messages features is the ability to track flights within a chat – that’s right, you can actually track live flights using Messages! If you’ve got a friend or family member flying in to see you, or you’re flying out to them, you can use Messages to track the flight and see important information, such as the flight’s departure time, whether the flight is running late, the expected arrival time and even the arriving baggage carousel number.
Dark Mode will turn your phone’s theme to primarily dark, which reduces the effects of bright, white and blue light, in turn making your phone more pleasant and comfortable to use at night. iPhones can even automatically switch between Dark Mode and light appearance based on the time of day.
It’s common for the iPhone to periodically slow down and stutter, and you may have noticed your device occasionally behaving sluggishly, particularly when trying to flick between or open apps, or when performing tasks using intensive apps. Sometimes, your iPhone may freeze altogether.
You need to know how to sign documents on your iPhone. After all, when was the last time you signed for something with a pen? Many contracts like lease agreements and bank information are handled almost solely online now, and with the rise of remote working, no one has time to send a signed letter in the mail.
Knowing how to remove the background of a photo on iPhone is really useful, enabling you to instantly isolate your subject from a distracting background. It also enables you to set the subject of your image against a new background.
If you don’t know how to delete multiple contacts on an iPhone, you’re not alone. Many people resort to doing it over iCloud. You might think that you’d be able to perform a function like this by selecting multiple contacts using an Edit button, tapping a bullet point next to individual contacts and trashing them.
The iPhone has a built-in way to clear online clutter and let you see web pages more clearly. It’s called Reader, and it’s built into Safari. Not every website or web page supports Reader, but many do.
Knowing how to create Zip files on iPhone is a useful skill. It allows you to compress files so they take up less space – potentially saving you the cost of upgrading to a larger capacity iPhone or having to buy more room on iCloud.
Knowing how to identify any song on iPhone is something that’ll come in incredibly handy all the time. Perhaps you’re out shopping and hear a song over the radio; whatever the reason, using the iPhone’s built-in Shazam app, you can usually find out exactly what song it is you’re hearing.
One of the biggest - and most welcome – improvements in iOS 17 is better autocorrection suggestions when typing in Messages and elsewhere. You can even quickly accept inline suggestions when typing by pressing the Space bar when a predicted word appears. However, if you find its suggestions annoying, or you just want more control over how iOS 17 handles the words that you type, head to Settings > General > Keyboard.