If you use your iPhone in bed, you’re definitely not alone – but sometimes, even the dimmest setting leaves the iPhone too bright. Here’s how to use the phone’s own accessibility settings to make it even dimmer.
Apple has taken steps in recent weeks to make your iPhone easier to use at night. Thanks to the f.lux-inspired Night Shift software, the display on your iPhone or iPad (if you’re running iOS 9.3 and later) will gently take on an orange-red tint in an attempt to save your eyes from sleep-destroying blue light. Unfortunately, Night Shift does nothing to help protect your eyes from how bright the iPhone’s screen is.
You can access the iPhone’s Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and dragging the light slider all the way to the left to dim your iPhone. Even on its lowest setting, however, that screen is simply too bright for the phone to be comfortably used in a fully dark room, and Apple doesn’t make it easy to lower your iPhone brightness even further.
There is a way around that, and it’s through your iPhone’s accessibility features. Apple actually engineers the iPhone with a lot of technology to make it easier to use for people with various accessibility requirements. You can change the way your iPhone animates menu transitions, the color it uses – you can even magnify the screen, either in a small area, or the whole screen all at once.
We’re going to take advantage of that zoom functionality, but instead of magnifying text to make it easier to read, we’ll use it to put a filter on top of your iPhone’s screen and block some of the light. This approach is popular in Android, both to lower the brightness and to change the color temperature, and we’ll use it to good effect here.
How to make your iPhone brightness go lower than the minimum
First, you’ll want to head into your iPhone’s Settings app, so click on the gear icon. Scroll down until you see the entry for General, and tap on the bar. On the General screen, look for the Accessibility section, and tap on that option. Here’s where we’ll find the settings we need to change.
On the Accessibility settings screen, you’ll find a list of items related to your iPhone’s various accessibility features. Feel free to explore around, you might find that you like your iPhone better with a number of these settings enabled or disabled (for example, if you don’t like the way iOS zooms in to folders and apps, you can enable the Reduce Motion option).
Find the option labeled Zoom and click on it.
Here, things get a little complicated. First, make sure the option for Show Controller is turned on. This will enable an on-screen tool when we turn on the iPhone zoom functionality. Next, look below the Show Controller to Zoom Region. Tap on it and you’ll see two options – make sure that Full Screen Zoom has a checkmark next to it; if it doesn’t, tap to select it.
Now, go back to the Zoom screen and look for Zoom Filter, near the bottom of the page. This setting lets you choose an additional effect to go along with your zoom screen. You can probably guess, but we want Low Light, which will dim your iPhone’s display dramatically. Finally, back on the Zoom settings page, slide the Maximum Zoom Level slider, found at the very bottom of the page, all the way to the left. This will make the Zoom setting easier to manage until we can get rid of the magnification.
All right! Now we’re ready to turn it on and test things out. Go to the top of the page and tap on the switch next to Zoom. You’ll probably see everything get bigger and dimmer, all at the same time. Let’s fix that magnification issue. Remember how we turned on the Show Controller option? You should see a strange black and white circle appear when you turn on Zoom. Tap on it, and you’ ll get a pop-up with options for the Zoom functionality. At the bottom of this pop-up is a magnification slider; slide it all the way to the left, then tap on Hide Controller. Tap anywhere outside of this pop-up to get rid of it.
All right! Now we’ve managed to make your iPhone screen dimmer – but how do we make it easy to turn on and off? Happily, there’s a setting for that, too. Go back to the top of the page and turn off Zoom for now, just so the screen is easier to see. Go back out to the main Accessibility settings page and scroll all the way to the bottom of this window. You’ll see a setting for Accessibility Shortcut. Tap on it, and you’ll see that Apple has created a shortcut to various accessibility settings: a triple-click of your iPhone’s home button.
Tap on the listing for Zoom and you’ll see a checkmark appear next to it. That’s it, we’re finished. Press your home button to go back to your iPhone’s home screen. To enable your new, dimmer iPhone setting, click the home button three times in rapid suggestion – remember how a double press will bring up the multitasking screen? Do it exactly like that, except press three times, instead. You’ll see your iPhone get quite a bit dimmer, and if you turn your backlight to its lowest setting and enable your new low-light filter, you’ll finally have an iPhone that you can use in bed without searing your eyes and disturbing any partners. You might find that it’s actually too dim for some functions; try turning your backlight up a little without disabling your filter to find a happy medium for you. When you want to exit the filter, another triple-click of the home button, and you’ll be back to normal.