The Apple iPhone XR launched in 2018 but Apple still sells it alongside the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The 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 great battery.
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.
|• iPhone XR gestures||• iPhone XR: Display tips|
|• Using Memoji||• iPhone XR: Photos and Camera tips|
|• iOS 12 iPhone XR Notification tips||• iPhone XR Control Centre tips|
|• Using Screen Time||• iPhone XR Battery tips|
|• Siri shortcuts||• iPhone XR: Keyboard tips|
Whether you want to master the 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 iPhone XR, but you can always read our iPhone 11 tips for some extra tips on the iOS 13 software.
Apple iPhone XR gestures
Like the iPhone X that launched in 2017, the iPhone XR doesn't feature a physical home button, instead opting for gestures to control the 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 Face ID you'll still have to pick it up slightly 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. The iPhone XR doesn't have 3D Touch, but it does have Haptic Touch, allowing you to long press on the icons to gain access to further settings within each icon. Read our separate feature on Haptic Touch and what you can do with it.
Accessing open apps: Previously you double tapped on the Home button to reveal what apps you had open. On the iPhone XR, 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, there's another method for switching the phone off. To do so, press and hold the wake/sleep button and the volume down button at the same time, then 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 for Apple Pay, 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. This tip is great for checking your activity rings if you have an Apple Watch or checking WhatsApp chat icons. If you scroll to the bottom, you can edit the widgets and add more.
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 (swipe left to right). You can then 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: 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 the star button in the bottom left corner. 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, tap on the video option and then tap on the star in the bottom left corner. Load the Animoji or your Memoji and off you go.
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 Screen Time feature. 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. Open Settings > Screen Time > App Limits. From here, you'll be able to 'Add Limit' before choosing what you add it to, whether it be Social Networking, All Apps and Categories or Productivity apps, for example.
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. Open Settings > Screen Time > Always Allowed. From here, choose which app you add to your always allowed list 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 - head to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions.
Siri Shortcuts: There are lots of little "helps" the iPhone XR offers via Siri Shortcuts and Suggestions. Open Settings > Siri & Search. From here, you can turn Siri suggestions on or off for each app listed and choose which apps Siri learns from.
If you want to install specific Siri Shortcuts, open the dedicated Siri Shortcuts app.
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 > View under Display Zoom > Select Standard or Zoomed.
Enable True Tone display: To get the iPhone XR's screen to automatically adjust its colour balance and temperature to match the ambient light in the room, swipe down from the top right of your screen to pull down Control Centre and then force press the screen brightness slider. Now tap the True Tone button.
You can also go to Settings > Display and Brightness > Toggle the "True Tone" switch.
Enable dark mode: To enable Dark Mode on the iPhone XR, or schedule when you want dark mode or light mode to turn on, head to Settings > Display & Brightness > Select Dark or Light. For scheduling options, tap "Options" and you can choose Sunset to Sunrise or Custom Schedule.
iPhone XR Photos and Camera tips
Enable/disable Smart HDR: Smart HDR 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 > Toggle Smart HDR on or off.
Keep a normal photo alongside HDR: Right beneath the Smart HDR toggle in Settings > Camera, 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 open the iPhone XR's camera app and select 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" in the top right corner. 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 iPhone XR, you can adjust the blur effect after shooting the Portrait shot. Head to Photos and choose the photo you want to adjust, then select "edit" in the top right corner. 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 > Scroll down to People & Places > Tap on the People album > Tap "Select" in the top right of the screen > Select the images of the people you want to merge > Tap "Merge" > Confirm they are they same person by tapping "Yes".
Remove people in Photos app: Go to Photos App > Albums > Scroll down to People & Places > Tap People. To remove a person, 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: You can add and remove controls from Control Centre. Head to Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > Choose which controls you'd like to add.
Reorganise controls: To change the order of the controls you've added, open Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > Tap and hold the three-bar menu on the right of whichever control you'd like to move > Move it up and down the list to wherever you'd like it to be.
Expand controls: Some controls can become full screen. Swipe down from the right of your iPhone XR's display and press harder on the control you want to expand. If it is compatible, it'll fill the screen.
Activate screen recording: It's possible to add Screen Recording to Control Centre, allowing you to record everything that happens on your screen when you press it on. To add the control, open Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > Tap the "+" next to Screen Recording.
You'll then be able to swipe down from the top right of your screen and press the icon that looks like a solid white circle inside a thin white ring to start screen recording. Press the icon 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 (swipe down from the top right of your screen) 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: It's possible 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 Centre (swipe down from the top right of your screen) and then tap on the little icon that looks like a house. You'll need to have added the Home control to your Control Centre. To add the control, open Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > Tap the "+" next to Home.
iPhone XR battery tips
Check your average battery consumption: 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 the last 10 days.
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 the Low Power Mode control to Control Centre, and access it quickly by swiping down from the top right of your screen.
Find battery guzzling apps: 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 XR using a Type-C to Lightning cable and watch it charge really quickly. You'll get up to 50 per cent battery in 30 minutes.
iPhone XR: Keyboard tips
Go one-handed: The QuickType keyboard lets you type one-handed, which is great on the bigger devices like the iPhone XR. 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 with the iPhone XR's Haptic Touch. Instead of force pressing anywhere on the keyboard, press and hold on the spacebar instead.
Swipe to type: It's also possible to swipe to type on the iPhone XR's keyboard (as long as it is running iOS 13 and above). Just swipe your finger or thumb from letter to letter without taking it off. Take it off when you want to move onto the next word. It makes typing much faster when you get used to it.
Face ID tips
Adding another face to Face ID: If you regularly change appearance you can add a second Face to Face ID to save 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.
Open Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Enter your Passcode > Set Up Alternative Appearance > Follow the setup instructions.