The new iPhone XS and iPhone XR are hands down the best iPhones Apple have ever made. Much of that is due to the brilliant display and radical edge-to-edge redesign of the device.
That’s not to mention the incredibly accurate Face ID, which completely replaced the fingerprint reader and physical home button. But because the iPhone XR & XS is such a departure from iPhones of old, it also means that there are a ton of new tricks to learn–many of which aren’t completely obvious just from holding the device in your hands.
Apple has completely changed the way you interact with the handset. From gestures to getting around menus, pretty much everything to do with the handset has changed. And it’s worth learning too. Do you know what the best iPhone is right now? Funnily enough, it’s not actually the flagship model – not when you’re talking about value for money. Check out our Guide To The Best iPhone for more details.
How To Use The iPhone XR & XS – New Controls, New Gestures & New Features
ALL iPhones will look and function like the iPhone XR & XS in the coming years, so you might as well get used to it now, as this design isn’t going anywhere.
Here’s twenty of the top secret iPhone XR & XS tips and tricks I’ve discovered.
1) How To Force Restart Your iPhone XR & XS
The lack of a home button means that many of past iPhone’s functions have been remapped to other hardware or software controls on the iPhone XR & XS.
The ability to force restart the iPhone XR & XS is among those.
To force restart your iPhone XR & XS now you need to press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Side button.
2) How To Trigger SOS on iPhone XR & XS
SOS is a mode on the iPhone that allows you to quickly call emergency services.
To trigger SOS hold the Side button and either Volume button for six seconds.
Alternately you can press the Side button five times in succession to trigger SOS.
3) Control What Apps Face ID Unlocks
Face ID replaces the way you unlock your iPhone.
Now you simply look at the device instead of placing your finger on the now-gone Home button.
But Face ID can also be used to make purchases in the App Store and in apps, authenticate Apple Pay payments, and autofill forms in Safari.
However, you don’t need to allow Face ID to do all of these things if you don’t want.
You can toggle each Face ID feature on or off by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.
4) Always Show Notification Preview Inside iOS 12
A cool feature of the iPhone XR & XS is that notifications are automatically hidden and will only display their content if you are looking at the device.
This ability means other people who have access to your phone can’t see the details of the notifications you receive on your lock screen.
But you can disable this if you want to.
To do so, got to Settings > Notifications > Show Previews and choose Always, When Unlocked, or Never.
5) Customize iOS 12’s Control Center
Control Center got a major overhaul in iOS 11.
Actions are now much easier to implement and have a better layout.
But you can also further customize Control Center on your iPhone XR & XS if you wish. To do so got to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.
Here you can add, subtract or rearrange controls in Control Center.
For example, if you don’t use the Flashlight a lot, you can remove its button from Control Center and replace it with an app you do use a lot–Notes, for example.
6) How To Use iPhone XR & XS One-Handed Keyboard
Both the iPhone XR & XS has a seriously large screen, which sometimes makes one-handed use a bit hard if your hands are on the smaller size.
To combat this, Apple has built-in a one-handed software keyboard.
To access it, simply tap the emoji keyboard icon in any app that uses the keyboard and then select the left or right-handed keyboard icon to shift all the keyboard keys to one side.
7) Bring Back The Home Button on iPhone XR & XS
Okay, you can’t obviously really bring back the physical Home button, but there is a way you can kinda of replicate it using software in iOS.
To do this go to General > Accessibility > Assistive Touch and toggle it on.
You’ll now see a virtual Home button on your screen that you can customize to activate shortcuts.
8) How To Force Quit Apps on iPhone XR & XS
With no Home button it might seem like you can’t force quit apps anymore–but you can.
To do so on the iPhone XR & XS you need to bring up the app switcher. Do this by swiping up and holding on the home bar from the bottom of any screen.
Once the apps appear, swipe to the one you want to force quit and then simply swipe up on the app to force quit it.
9) How To Activate Apple Pay on iPhone XR & XS
With the jettisoning of the Home button, many people are wondering how to bring up Apple Pay on the iPhone XR & XS. Apple has made this easy. Simply double-press the home button and the iPhone XR & XS will bring up your default card and authenticate you using Face ID. Now just hold your iPhone XR or XS by the NFC reader to pay.
10) How To Open The App Switcher on iPhone XR & XS
How about bringing up the app switcher now that there’s no Home button? Again, it’s simple: swipe up on the Home bar at the bottom of any screen, but hold it in place once you get about an inch up the screen.
You’ll see other apps populate your iPhone’s display as if they were cards in the deck. This is the App Switcher and from here you can quickly jump to another app or force quit one.
11) How To Take A Screenshot With iPhone XR & XS
Many people find it confusing how you take a screenshot on the iPhone XR & XS. It actually very simple. Just hold down the Side button and the Volume Up button at the same time. You’ll hear the familiar camera shutter sound and then see a thumbnail of the screenshot you just took in the corner of the display.
12) Quickly Edit A Screenshot
Once you’ve followed the steps above, the screenshot will be saved to your Photos app (once the on-screen thumbnail disappears. But before that happens, you can tap the thumbnail to bring up screenshot edit mode.
In this mode, you’ll find tools that allow you to mark up the screenshot or crop it–and additional tools for sharing it. It’s a great feature that makes screenshots all the more useful.
13) How To Force Reset Your iPhone XR & XS
If your iPhone XR or XS ever freezes, you can force reset it, which will force it to shut down and restart. To do this is easy: simply follow the next steps in order. First, press and release the volume up button. Second, press and release the volume down button. Third, hold down the Side button.
This will cause the iPhone XR & XS to restart. You’ll see the Apple logo show up again after it’s cycled down after pressing the button sequence above and restarted.
14) How To Rearrange Apps on iPhone XR & XS
We all know that you press and hold an app icon until it wiggles to enter your iPhone into app delete or rearrangement mode. But after you’ve made your changes how do you exit this wiggling mode now that the Home button is gone?
It’s hard to miss the first time, but Apple has added a small “Done” button in the right-hand notch of the screen in wiggle mode. Tap it and all the app icons will stabilize and you’ll exit the app arrangement mode.
Alternately, simply swipe up on the Home bar at the bottom of the screen and you’ll exit wiggle mode. This can be done instead of tapping the Home button.
15) How To Slide Between Recent Apps on iPhone XR & XS
I LOVE this feature. While you can use the app switcher (see above) to toggle through your apps, there’s a much quicker way to move from one app to the next. Simply swipe left or right on the Home bar at the bottom of the iPhone’s screen and you’ll progress forwards or backward in the line of apps you’ve recently opened.
16) Control Your Apple TV With iPhone XR & XS
The Control Center on the iPhone XR & XS has a cool trick: it allows you to control your Apple TV if you have one. As long as your iPhone XR or XS and Apple TV are on the same wireless network, it’ll work. Simply go into Control Center and then look for the Apple TV button that appears. Tap it and begin controlling your Apple TV.
17) How To Quiet iPhone XR & XS Alarms With Your Face
A really cool feature of the iPhone XR & XS is Face ID. It allows you to unlock your phone just by looking at it. Face ID also has some other cool features–like this one. When your iPhone XR or XS alarm goes off, you can quiet it simply by picking up your iPhone and looking at it. This tells your iPhone you know about the arm and it will quiet it.
18) How To Send Animojis As Stickers on iPhone XR & XS
Animojis are the animated faces the iPhone XR & XS allows you to create thanks to the Face ID camera. They are really fun ways to send audio text messages. But you can also use Animojis as stickers in messages if you don’t want to send animated ones.
To do this, open up the Animojis app inside of messages and then make the face you want to. Instead of pressing the record button to record a short Animoji clip, simply tap the Animoji face itself and it will be inserted into the text box as a sticker in the text box.
19) How To Enable USB Restricted Mode on iPhone XR & XS
Apple just built a powerful new security feature into the iPhone XR & XS with the latest version of iOS. This introduced what is known as USB Restricted Mode to the iPhone XR & XS. In recent months companies have been making boxes that can be plugged into an iPhone’s USB port and crack an iPhone’s passcode.
To protect against this, Apple has introduced USB Restricted Mode. USB Restricted Mode disabled data sharing between an iPhone and a USB device if the iPhone has not been unlocked for more than an hour. This effectively renders the iPhone cracking boxes useless as they can take hours or days to crack a locked iPhone.
By default, USB Restricted Mode is enabled in iOS. But just in case you want to disable it–or make sure it hasn’t been disabled–go to the Settings app and tap Face ID & Passcode. Enter your passcode and then swipe down until you see a section titled “Allow Access When Locked”.
The last toggle in this section will be a field that says “USB Accessories”. The toggle next to this should be switched to OFF (white). This means USB Restricted Mode is enabled and devices can’t grab or share data from/to your iPhone if the iPhone has not been unlocked for more than an hour.
20) How To Slow Down The Double Click Needed For Apple Pay
Now that the iPhone XR & XS jettisoned the Touch ID sensor, you confirm your Apple Pay payments by using Face ID and double pressing the Side button. By default you need to double press the Side button fairly quickly–but you can actually slow this down.
To do so go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Now scroll down to Side Button. On the Side Button screen, you can select between default, slow, or slowest. Choose the speed that works best for you.
21) Tap To Wake
With the Home button gone, there’s one less way the iPhone XR and XS has to wake itself up. Yes, you can still press the side button–but many people think that’s it. Not so, however. Apple has built a tap to wake function into the iPhone XR’s and XS’s display. Simply tap it once to wake it up.
22) Reachability Is Still There
When Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus they added a feature called Reachability that lets the user drop the screen down on the iPhone’s display so they could more easily tap buttons at the top that may be just out of reach of their thumbs. Many had thought this feature was nixed on the iPhone XR and XS–but that’s not so. First, you do need to enable it, though. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility and under the Interaction section toggle on Reachability. Then from inside any app just swipe down on the new home bar (about half an inch above it) and your entire screen will slide down so you can reach the top elements.
23) Dim Your Screen When Not Looking At It
Since the iPhone XR and XS knows when you are looking at your display or not, it has the ability to instantly dim your screen the second you look away from it and it also automatically returns the brightness to your standard settings once you look at your screen again. This is great for saving battery life.
24) Quickly Disable Face ID
Depending on where you live, the police may be able to legally insist you unlock your smartphone on the spot via its facial recognition features. For some reason, facial biometrics aren’t protected in the way fingerprints and passcodes are in some localities. That’s why Apple has built in a feature that lets you quickly disable Face ID in a pinch without going into your settings. Just press the side button five times and Face ID will be disabled and you’ll need to enter your passcode instead to gain access to your phone.
25) Use Two Pane Landscape View
This tip only applies to the iPhone XS Max but is cool nonetheless. If you hold your XS Mac horizontally while using specific apps you’ll see many of the built-in apps will change to a two-pane mode, including Mail and Notes. This mode is the one you see on an iPad where, for example, you can see a list of all your notes in the Notes app while actively reading or editing a single note.
Do These Tips Work For iPhone 11, 11 Pro & 11 Pro Max?
Apple’s iPhone 11 range, despite some hefty updates to their internal specifications, are more or less the same as the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, from a software perspective. They all run iOS 13, so all of the above tips and tricks will work on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
We’ve already taken a fairly deep-dive into the major differences between Apple’s iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Mostly, it’s to do with the cameras. Internally, however, the handsets are remarkably similar, save for the different iPhone battery sizes – the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the biggest battery ever placed inside an iPhone (it’s a 3969mAh Lithium-ion cell)!
The iPhone 11 is also cheaper than last year’s iPhone XR, making it, perhaps, the best value iPhone ever released. The specs and performance are brilliant, so being able to pick one up for just $699 is going to ensure Apple sells A LOT of these phones – probably double or triple the amount of the volume of iPhone 11 Pro Max sales.
Looking to pick up an iPhone, but don’t want to pay full price? Check out our Guide To Buying Reconditioned iPhones – you could save around 40% on average, which brings the price of an iPhone down to a way more reasonable level!