What Is iPhone Action Mode? And Which iPhones Have It?



iPhone Action Mode is a new video recording feature that aims to make shaky action videos more stable. Here’s how it works…


The iPhone 14 series is now out and they introduce a new camera feature called Action Mode. What’s nice about this new feature is it’s not just limited to the iPhone 14 Pro series and its more advanced triple-lens rear camera system.

Action Mode is an included feature on ALL iPhone 14 models, including the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

But just what is Action Mode and how do you use it? Here’s what you need to know…

What Is iPhone Action Mode? And Which iPhones Have It?
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What Is iPhone Action Mode?

OK, the first thing to know about iPhone’s Action Mode is that it is a camera feature on the iPhone 14 series However, it’s not a still camera feature. Action Mode refers to a new type of video recording the iPhone 14 series is capable of.

Here’s how Apple describes Action Mode:

“It uses the full sensor with more over scan and advanced roll correction to make video look incredibly stable when you’re in the middle of the action. Simply toggle it on for great-looking, smooth video without having to carry extra gear like a gimble. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR.”

Apple

So what’s all that mean? Well, a simpler way to describe it is Action Mode on iPhone is a video recording mode that uses digital trickery to stabilize video that would usually be very, very shaky.

Think of action-type videos you might record: like someone running or shooting a video from a fast-moving car. Normally, such video would be very shaky. But Action Mode helps alleviate that shakiness by applying digital video stabilization to your action video.

How Does Action Mode Work?

As with most things computational photography, Action Mode works using a number of highly advanced algorithms to stabilize shaky video footage. But there’s a hardware element to it too.

You see, when you record video in Action Mode, you are actually recording it through the iPhone 14’s ultra-wide angle lens. This is also sometimes referred to as a fish eye lens (though it technically isn’t). But the iPhone 14’s ultra-wide angle lens is that mode you use when you see a lot more in your picture edge-to-edge than what you see when shooting with the normal lens.

What Action Mode does is take this ultra-wide angle footage, zoom in a bit on it – thus cropping out the edges of the video (which are usually the space of the video that has the most shakiness), and then apply algorithms to further digitally stabilize the shaky video.

Wants The Point Of Action Mode?

While it’s true the average iPhone user might have no need for Action Mode, what Apple is attempting to do with it is essentially eliminate the need for a gimble, which is a piece of hardware for digital video cameras (and iPhones, too) that can stabilize the device even when being bumped around. This gimble makes shaky video less shaky using accessory hardware.

While Action Mode probably can’t replace a dedicated hardware gimble it’s most likely more than enough for the average iPhone user who just wants to record their kid’s soccer game without the footage shaking all over the place.

How Do You Use Action Mode?

Using Action Mode on the iPhone 14 series is easy:

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Swipe to select the video recording option.
  3. Tap the Action Mode icon on the video record screen. The Action Mode icon is a stick figure with little motion lines trailing them.

And check out:

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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