Apple iPhone XR tips and tricks: Getting more from your new iPhone
The Apple iPhone XR is here. Apple’s buttonless smartphone for everyone comes with a large 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display, a single 12-megapixel camera on the back, and a battery that outshines even the iPhone XS Max.
But how do you do use it? With no button, those moving from the iPhone 6, 7, or 8, might find the new phone a little daunting.
Whether you want to master the new gesture-based navigation, find out how Portrait Mode works in the camera, or even set up a Memoji, there’s plenty to learn. In the guide below you’ll find almost everything you need to know about the new iPhones, and the new iOS 12 software Apple launched recently.
iPhone XR gestures
Like the iPhone X launched in 2017, the iPhone XR doesn’t feature a physical home button, instead opting for gestures to control the new interface. It will take a few days to get use to the change, but stick with it. By day three you’ll wonder how you ever coped without it and using an “old” iPhone will seem old and antiquated.
Unlock your iPhone XR: Look at the phone and swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It really is that easy and you don’t need to wait for the padlock icon at the top to change to the unlock graphic before swiping up.
Tap to wake: Simply tap on your iPhone XR screen when it’s off to wake it up and see what notifications you have. To unlock it with FaceID you’ll still have to pick it up and look at it.
Back to the Homescreen: Whatever app you are in, if you want to go back to the Homescreen simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If you are in an app that is running landscape, you’ll need to remember sliding up from the bottom of the screen (i.e., the side) rather than where the Home button used to be.
Take a screenshot: Simply press the power button and the volume up button together quickly and it’ll snap a screenshot of whatever is on the screen.
Getting to Control Centre: It used to be a swipe up, now it’s a swipe down from the top right of the screen. Although the iPhone XR doesn’t have 3D Touch, you can still long press on the icons to gain access to further settings within each icon.
Accessing open apps: Previously you double tapped on the Home button to reveal what apps you had open. Now you swipe up and then pause with your finger on the screen. You can then see the apps you have opened in the order you opened them.
Launch Siri: While you can use the “Hey Siri” hot word to wake up Apple’s digital assistant, there’s still a way to launch the function using a button press. Press and hold the wake/sleep button on the right side of the phone until the Siri interface pops up on screen.
Switch your phone off: Because long-pressing the wake/sleep button launches Siri now, there’s a new method for switching the phone off. To do so, you need to press and hold the wake/sleep button and the volume down button at the same time. Now slide to power off.
Launch Apple Pay: Again, the wake/sleep button is the key here. Double tap it and it’ll bring up your Apple Wallet, then scan your face and it will ask you to hold your phone close to the payment machine.
Access widgets on the lock screen: Swipe from left to right on your lock screen, great for checking your activity rings.
Create your own Memoji: Open Messages and start a new message. Tap the little monkey icon above the keyboard, and then hit the “+” button to create your own character. Now you can customise face shape, skin tone, hair colour, eyes, jewellery and much more.
Use your Memoji/Animoji in a FaceTime call: Start a FaceTime call, then press the little star icon in the bottom corner. Now tap the Memoji you want to use.
Memoji your selfies: So, if you decide your Memoji face is better than your real life face, you can send selfies with the Memoji replacing your own head in Messages. Start a new message and tap the camera icon, and then press that star button. Now choose the Animoji option, by tapping that monkey’s head again. Select your Memoji and tap the ‘x’ not the “done” button and then take your picture.
Record a Memoji video: Sadly Memoji aren’t available as an option in the camera app, but that doesn’t mean you can’t record one. As with the photo selfie, go to messages, tap on the camera icon and then slide to video and then tap on the star. Load the Animoji or your Memoji and off you go.
iOS 12 iPhone XR Notification tips
Notifications set to Deliver quietly: If you are worried that you are getting too many notifications you can set how they deliver on an app by app basis. Swipe left when you’ve got a notification on the Lock screen and tap on Manage. Tap Deliver Quietly. Quiet notifications appear in Notification Centre, but do not appear on the Lock screen, play a sound present a banner or badge the app icon. You’ve just got to remember to check from time to time.
Turn off notifications from an app: Same method as the “Deliver Quietly” feature, except you tap the “Turn off…” option.
Open Notification Centre on Lock screen: From your lock screen, swipe up from the middle of the screen and you’ll see a long list of previous notifications if you have any.
Check Notifications at any time: To check your Notifications at any time, simply swipe down from the top left side of the screen to reveal them.
Using Screen Time
Checking your Screen Time: You can check how you’ve been using your phone with the new Screen Time feature in iOS 12. You can find the reports in Settings > Screen Time.
Schedule Downtime: If you need a little help using your phone less, you can restrict what apps you use when. Head to Settings > Screen Time and choose the Downtime option. Toggle the switch to the “on” position and choose to schedule a time when only specific apps and phone calls are allowed. It’s great for stopping you or your kids using their phones after a set time for example.
Set app limits: App Limits let you choose which category of apps you want to add a time limit to. Select the category and then “add” before choosing a time limit and hitting “set”.
Choose “always allowed” apps: While you might be keen to lock down your phone to stop you using it, that’s no good if your primary way of contacting people is via an app that gets locked out. Use this feature to always allow certain apps regardless of what limits you apply.
Content & Privacy restrictions: This section is also within the main Screen Time settings menu and particularly useful if you’re a parent with kids who use iOS devices. Using it you can restrict all manner of content and options, including iTunes and in-app purchases, location services, advertising and so on. It’s worth taking a look at.
Siri Shortcuts: There are lots of little “helps” the iPhone XR offers via Siri Shortcuts. To see the ones suggested for you go to Settings > Siri & Search and pick what you think would be helpful from the automatically generated suggestions. Tap “all shortcuts” to see more. If you want to install specific “shortcuts” for a range of different apps that aren’t suggested by the iPhone you can do this by downloading the dedicated Siri Shortcuts app from the app store.
iPhone XR: Display tips
Standard or Zoomed display: Since iPhone 6 Plus you’ve been able to choose between two resolution options. You can change the display setting from Standard or Zoomed on the iPhone XR too. To switch between the two – if you’ve changed your mind after setup – go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom and select Standard or Zoomed.
Enable True Tone display: If you didn’t do it at step you can change it at any time. To get the iPhone’s screen to automatically adjust its colour balance and temperature to match the ambient light in the room, head to Control Centre and force press the screen brightness slider. Now tap the True Tone button. You can also go to Settings > Display and Brightness and toggle the “True Tone” switch.
iPhone XR Photos and Camera tips
Enable/disable Smart HDR: One of the new iPhone’s camera advancements is Smart HDR which helps boost colours, light and detail in difficult lighting conditions. It’s on by default, but if you want to manually switch it on or off you can head to Settings > Camera and find the Smart HDR toggle switch.
Keep a normal photo alongside HDR: Right beneath the Smart HDR toggle is a “Keep Normal Photo” option which saves a regular, non HDR version of your photo as well as the Smart HDR photo.
Portrait Lighting effects: To shoot Portrait Mode shots with artificial lighting effects, first go to shoot in Portrait mode. Portrait Mode only works with people on the iPhone XR when shooting with the rear-facing camera. To select your Portrait Mode shooting style press and hold on the screen where it says “Natural Light” and then move your finger to the right.
Edit Portrait Lighting effects after shooting: Open any Portrait shot in Photos and then tap “edit”. After a second or two you’ll see the lighting effect icon at the bottom of the image, tap it and swipe exactly as you did when shooting the image.
Edit Portrait mode Depth: With the new iPhone XR, you can adjust the blur effect after shooting the Portrait shot. Head to Photos and select the photo you want to adjust, then select “edit”. You’ll see a depth slider at the bottom of the screen. Swipe right to increase the blur strength, swipe left to decrease it.
How to Merge People in Photos app: Photos in iOS has the ability to scan your photos and detect people and places. If you find that the app has picked out the same person, but says they are different people, you can merge the albums together. To do this, go to the Photos app > Albums and select People & Places. Tap on the word “Select” at the top right of the screen and then select the images of the people you want to merge, then tap “merge”.
Remove people in Photos app: Go to Photos App, Albums, and select People & Places. To remove tap on “Select” and then tap on the people you don’t want to see before tapping on “Remove”in the bottom left of your iPhone screen.
iPhone XR Control Centre tips
Add new controls: Like the previous version of iOS, you can add and remove controls from Control Centre. Head to Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls and then choose which controls you’d like to add.
Reorganise controls: To change the order of those controls you’ve added, tap and hold the three-bar menu on the right of whichever control you’d like to move, then move it up and down the list to wherever you’d like it to be.
Expand controls: Some controls can become full screen, just press harder on the control you want to expand, and it’ll fill the screen.
Activate screen recording: One of the new options you can add to Control Centre is Screen Recording. Make sure you add the control, then open Control Centre and press the icon that looks like a solid white circle inside a thin white ring. From now on it’ll record everything that happens on your screen. Press the control again when you’re done, and it’ll save a video to your Photos app automatically.
Adjust flashlight/torch brightness: You can switch on your camera flash, using it as a torch, by opening Control Centre and tapping on the torch icon. If you want to adjust the brightness, force press the icon, then adjust the full-screen slider that appears.
Quickly switch where audio is played: One cool feature is the ability to change where music is playing. While music is playing, through Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever, force press on the music control or just tap the little icon in the top corner of the music control. This brings up a pop-up showing available devices that you can play through. This could be connected earphones, a Bluetooth speaker, Apple TV, your iPhone or any AirPlay device.
Set a quick timer: Instead of heading to the timer app, you can force press on the timer icon, then slide up or down on the full-screen to set a timer anywhere from one minute to two hours long.
How to access HomeKit devices: Open Control Center and then tap on the little icon that looks like a house.
iPhone XR Battery tips
Check your average battery consumption: In iOS 12 you can head to Settings > Battery and you’ll see two graphs. One shows the battery level, the other shows your screen on and screen off activity. There are two tabs. One shows your last 24 hours, the other shows up to two weeks. This way you can see how active your phone life is on average, and breakdowns showing your average screen on and screen off times show beneath the graphs.
Enable Low-Power Mode: The Low Power Mode (Settings > Battery) lets you reduce power consumption. The feature disables or reduces background app refresh, auto-downloads, mail fetch, and more (when enabled). You can turn it on at any point, or you are prompted to turn it on at the 20 and 10 per cent notification markers. You can also add a control to Control Centre, and access it quickly by swiping up to access CC and tapping on the battery icon.
Find battery guzzling apps: iOS specifically tells you which apps are using the most juice. Go to Settings > Battery and then scroll down to the section that gives you a detailed look at all your battery-guzzling apps.
Check your battery via the Battery widget: Within the widgets in Today view, there’s a card that lets you see the battery life remaining in your iPhone, Apple Watch and connected headphones. Just swipe from left to right on your homescreen to get to your Today view and scroll until you see the “Batteries” widget.
Charge wirelessly: To make use of the iPhone’s wireless charging capabilities, buy a wireless charger. Any Qi charger will work, but to charge more efficiently you need one optimised for Apple’s 7.5W charging.
Fast charge it: If you have a 29W, 61W or 87W USB Type-C power adapter for a MacBook, you can plug in your iPhone XS using a Type-C to Lightning cable and watch it charge really quickly. Up to 50 per cent in in 30 minutes.
iPhone XR: Keyboard tips
Go one-handed: iOS 12’s QuickType keyboard lets you type one-handed, which is great on the bigger devices like the iPhone XR and XS Max. Press and hold the emoji or globe icon and then keyboard settings. Select either the left or right sided keyboard. It shrinks the keyboard and moves it to one side of the display. Go back to full size by tapping the little arrow.
Use your keyboard as a trackpad: Previously with 3D Touch displays you use the keyboard area as a trackpad to move the cursor on screen. You still can, but it works a little differently here. Instead of force pressing anywhere on the keyboard, press and hold on the spacebar instead.
Face ID tips
Adding another face to Face ID: If you regularly change appearance you can now add a second Face to Face ID to say the iPhone XR getting confused. This is also really handy if you want to add your partner so they can use your phone while you’re driving for example.
Have you found any tips we’ve missed? Share them in the comments below.