The iPhone’s LED flash is a great companion to have for your iPhone’s camera, as it can shine some light in darker places when you’re taking photos, but the built-in flash on the iPhone can be used for some much more.
By default, Apple allows users to use your iPhone’s LED flash as a flashlight, which you can access in Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This is a great digital tool to have on you, as you can use it to find your way around if the power went out or you accidentally dropped your keys on the ground at night.
The iPhone 5s’s LED flash comes with two LEDs that are at different color temperatures (known as “True Tone”), allowing for better photos thanks to the iPhone 5s automatically choosing the right color temperature based on the ambient light in the room.
Plus, these two LEDs make for even brighter flashlight, which is awesome. However, you can still use the LED flash for much more than just a simple flashlight. We went searching and discovering for nifty uses for the LED flash that you might not have even thought about before, with some tricks being done with the help of third-party apps, and others simply require a bit of simple DIY knowledge.
Use the LED Flash as a Lantern
There’s a difference between a flashlight and a lantern. Flashlights give you a beam of bright light in one direction, while lanterns provide light in all directions, acting as a lamp of sorts. While the iPhone LED flash itself isn’t bright enough to act as a sufficient lantern, you can turn it into one with just a couple of household items.
Take a full water bottle and attach it to your iPhone with a rubber band, with the water bottle covering the LED flash. Now turn on the flashlight and discover just how much more light fills a dark room. The difference is astonishing.
The water’s ability to amplify the light should allow you to at least see where you’re going if the power is out. Otherwise it can make for a great light source if you’re camping in a tent or just need some light shining on your desk while you write.
Use the Proximity Sensor for Instant Light
The flashlight feature on the iPhone is great and all, but sometimes it would be nice if you didn’t have to turn it on during some situations. This is where a specific third-party app comes in handy.
It’s called FlashLight and it uses your iPhone’s proximity sensor to automatically turn on and turn off the LED flashlight.
This is a great app to have if you need to use the flashlight function, but your hands might be too occupied to keep turning it on and off again. By simply setting your iPhone face down, the LED flashlight will turn off. Then, when you pick it up again, the flashlight will automatically turn on.
Receive LED Flash Notifications
If you need to keep your iPhone on silent, but still want to be able to know if you receive notifications, enabling LED flash notifications is a great way to so.
If you’re in a library or a similar location where iPhone noises are frowned upon, you usually need to put your device on silent or at least in vibrate only mode, but sometimes you can’t hear the vibration if your iPhone is sitting on a desk. This is where LED flash notifications come in handy.
The great thing about this feature is that it’s built right into iOS, so there’s no need to install a third-party app.
To enable LED flash notifications, open up the Settings app and navigate to General > Accessibility and turn on LED Flash for Alerts. Enjoy!
Monitor Your Heart Rate
While the Galaxy S5 has a built-in heart rate monitor, you can still get the same functionality on the iPhone. There are cases that you can get for your iPhone that allow you to do this, but you don’t even need that.
Heart Fitness is an app available for free in the iTunes App Store that uses your iPhone’s camera and LED flash to monitor your heart rate.
All you do is cover both the camera lens and the LED flash with your finger. The LED flash lights up your finger and as blood pumps in and out of your finger, the camera reads these pulses and can then get a heart rate reading. I’ve tried this app in the past and it seems to be as accurate as something like this could be.
Of course, if you want the most accurate heart rate reading, the best thing to do is monitor your heart rate physically and manually.
Turn It Into a Strobe Light
This one is more fun than useful, but it’s one that we thought we should mention. Turning your iPhone’s LED flash into a strobe light could have many different uses.
RoboStrobe is a free app that allows you to customize the strobe effects of your LED flash and adjust the speed at which it blinks. You can use this app to get people’s attention if yelling won’t work (like if you’re leading a group of people on a tour at night, this app could be a good one).
You can also pair it with the water bottle trick above and use it at a house dance party to as a cheap makeshift dance light.
Similarly, there’s also an app called Light Morse Code that allows you to use your iPhone’s LED flash as a morse code communication system. Obviously, most people don’t even know morse code in the first place, but there’s one phrase that almost everyone knows, and that’s S.O.S.
This can be a great addition to your app arsenal, especially in emergencies.