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Apple iPhone X Tips, Tricks and Best Hidden Features

It’s no secret that the iPhone X is a game-changer in the mobile space for all manner of reasons; not just the technology inside but what it represents for Apple and the state of smartphones right now.

From a practical standpoint its new 19.5:9 aspect ratio, notched display and home buttonless front have fundamentally changed how you interact with iOS. As such, we’ve got a whole host of tips and tricks on how to zip around this pricey new blower and even pull off some feats that iPhone 8 users could only dream of.

The Basics

With no home button, Apple’s jiggled some of the hardware shortcuts long-time iPhone users will have grown accustomed to so you’ll need to re-learn where they are.

How to take a screenshot

To snap a still of what’s on-screen just press the side button and the volume up key simultaneously.

How to access Siri

Long-pressing the side button now summons Siri, as does using the “Hey, Siri“ voice command, assuming it’s setup. You can toggle this option on and off from the Siri & Search section of the settings menu.

How to use Apple Pay

Double-tapping the side button activates Apple Play, but the phone needs to be able to see your face to authenticate the transaction using Face ID before anything goes through.

Powering off

With the side button now serving so many other functions, you can’t simply hold it to bring up the power off control, instead hold the side button and either volume button to access the slide to power off interface instead.

Advanced Actions

With everything we’ve covered so far, you should now be able to swipe, tap and press your way around your iPhone X without too much trouble but there’s so much more it’s capable of.

Accessing the App Switcher

Swiping up from the gesture bar at the bottom of the screen is the standard way to access the app switcher but if you don’t like that momentary delay, swiping up in an arch shape towards the left or right of the screen moves things along just a touch faster.

Swipe to multitask

Drag your finger along the gesture bar to move between other open apps quickly.

Faster Face ID

Face ID is pretty reliable and pretty fast but most iPhone X novices usually wait for the little padlock icon on-screen to open up before swiping up. In truth, the True Depth camera system is so good that you can usually just raise and swipe without pausing.

Bringing back Reachability

If you’re prone to one-handed use then the iPhone X’s tall display will undoubtedly give you some trouble, that is unless you switch on Reachability, which shifts the entire interface downwards momentarily to make elements near the top more accessible.

To activate it, head to Settings, General, Accessibility and then flip the Reachability toggle found under the Interaction section. From then on simply swipe down on the gesture bar to move the phone’s UI. Why this feature isn’t enabled by default is unknown but once you start using it you’ll realise that it’s a necessity if you want to navigate iOS efficiently.

Tap to wake

The iPhone X not only sports raise-to-wake but also tap-to-wake as well, letting you simply tap the screen once to wake it up and check for notifications of the time.

You can disable and enable this feature from Interaction menu found in the same directory as detailed in the previous tip.

How to screen record

Screenshots are great but thanks to iOS 11 you can now record video of what’s going on on-screen. Open Settings, head to Control Centre and then select Customise Controls to add Screen Recording to the list by tapping the green ‘+’ icon on the subsequent screen.

From then on, when accessing Control Centre you’ll see a new icon that when pressed initiates a screen recording after a three-second countdown. When pressed again, recording stops and the video file is immediately stored in the Photos app.

Checking battery percentage

With the small about of screen real-estate on either side of the iPhone X’s infamous notch, Apple has removed the ability to see the battery percentage on-screen at all times. Instead, opening Control Centre by swiping down from the top right will reveal the battery percentage too.

Alternative ways to open apps

Whilst Reachability is one way to get to apps that are difficult to reach one-handed, there are a couple of other convenient alternatives to simply tapping, which might be easier in certain situations. For one, you can simply ask Siri by using the “Hey, Siri” wake command and then asking it to open the app of your choice.

The second option is to use Spotlight. Swipe downwards on any of your home screens to bring up a search bar and keyboard, then type the name of the app you’re after and tap on the relevant result.

Bringing back the home button

Going for a near-bezel-less design meant getting rid of the iPhone’s iconic home button, but that doesn’t mean swiping the gesture bar around is now the only way to jump back home or navigate to between apps.

Switch on Assistive Touch in the phone’s Accessibility menu and you’ll then see a floating button which can be configured to behave exactly like the iPhone home button of old or bring up a special floating menu with a range of actions including summoning the Notifications Centra and Control Centre. You can also configure different behaviours for single taps, double taps, long presses and 3D presses.

Force quitting apps

Whilst Apple has now confirmed that force-closing apps in the pursuit of better battery life is a futile endeavour there will still be times when one app or another locks up or misbehaves in such a way that shutting it down is the only option.

To pull this action off on the iPhone X open the app switcher with the swipe up arc motion we covered earlier and then long-press on the app you want to shut down. A red minus symbol will then appear which you can tap to close your chosen app.

Longer Animoji recording

Animoji are one of the iPhone X’s star features, using the phone’s True Depth camera system to map and track your face in order to turn you into an animated cat, or fox, or even a poop emoji.

The biggest drawback is that clips are limited to just ten seconds at a time if you use the native tools within iMessage. Luckily, there are ways around this artificial threshold with a little fiddling.

First, you’ll want to add the screen recorder to Control Centre if you haven’t already (see above) and start recording. Then, hop back to Animoji screen within iMessage and simply start pulling faces.

Screen recording doesn’t include external audio and apps like voice memo are disabled when using iMessage, so if you want to include sound (for the time being) you’ll have to resort to a secondary device  and edit them together afterwards or download a song and edit it alongside your screen recording footage to create one of the increasingly popular Animoji Karaoke videos already out there.

Double tap or pinch to zoom video

Your average 16:9 aspect ratio video will appear pillarboxed with black bars either side when watching on the iPhone X’s particularly expansive screen but if you desire you can push content out so that it occupies every pixel on offer, provided you don’t mind chopping the top and bottom of the frame out and a little of the side of frame thanks to ‘the notch.

To do so either double tap or pinch apart to zoom in whilst playing a video, the latter method is ideal when apps already make use of the double tap gesture, such as YouTube.

Smart Invert

For the most part, iOS is a bright and colourful interface that’s eye-catching, to say the least. If it’s a little too bright for your tastes, however, or you want to save even more power in day to day use, then you might find Smart Invert handy.

Unlike Classic Invert which simply flips every colour on-screen to its chromatic opposite, Smart Invert flips everything save for images, video and select apps that support their own dark theme already (like Twitter). It’s essentially an OS-wide dark mode in its own right.

Look for Display Accommodations in the phone’s Accessibility menu and within that open the Invert Colours option at the top. It’s here that you’ll find options for both Smart and Classic Invert.

You can pick the iPhone X up from O2 right now from as low as £58 a month, which includes a free cinema pass. Find out more about available tariffs, offers and pricing on O2’s site, here.