The new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Plus are here. They mark the second iteration of the new, gesture-based interaction model that Apple started using with the iPhone X. If you’re jumping from an iPhone 8 to an iPhone XS, you’ll find that a lot of things are different. Instead of a Home button, there’s a gesture-based Home bar. And that’s just the beginning. Start mastering your new device with some of the top tips and tricks for iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
Best iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max Tips & Tricks
1. Unlock and Home Gesture
If the iPhone XS is your first iPhone without the Home button, you’ll need to spend some time getting used to the new gestures. But they’re quite easy to pick up and in no time, you’ll be like “Home button? Who?”.
Just swipe up from the Home bar to unlock your device or to go to the Home screen when you’re in an app.
2. Access The New Control Center
Control Center: Swipe down from the right edge (the right ear next to the notch), to access the Control Center.
3. Notification Center Gesture
Notification Center: Swipe down from the notch to access Notification Center.
4. Paying with Apple Pay
Apple Pay: Double-tap the Side button to start the Apple Pay process to pay in the App Store.
5. How to Use Siri on iPhone XS
Tap and hold the Side button to talk to Siri. Or just say, Hey Siri.
6. App Switcher Gestures
Swipe up from the Home bar and wait a bit to open the App Switcher.
Force Quit apps: From the App Switcher, just swipe up a card to force quit an app.
7. Swipe Up Again for Face ID
Face ID in iPhone XS is faster, but sometimes it’s still going to fail. But don’t worry, getting Face ID to try once again isn’t as frustrating on iOS 12. Now, after a failed scan, you can just swipe up again from the Home bar to scan again.
8. Add a Second Face to Face ID
It’s a workaround, but you can now have two people using Face ID for the same phone. If you share your phone with your spouse, your life just got a lot easier. Open Settings -> Face ID & Passcode and select Set Up an Alternative Appearance. Follow the prompts on the screen to set up another face.
9. Get The Home Button Back
If you’ve come from an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, you might be missing the Home button. While you can’t get a physical Home button back, there is a way to use a software Home button on the iPhone XS using an Accessibility feature.
Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> AssistiveTouch and define shortcuts for single tap, double tap, long press and 3D Touch for the AssistiveTouch button. For Single touch, define it to go Home. You can use define other gestures features to define features you find difficult to access.
10. Create Your Own Memoji
iPhone X introduced us to Animoji. Animated emoji characters that responded to your facial expressions. The iPhone XS and iOS 12 take this a step further. You can now use Memoji to create your own Animoji character. This is similar to Bitmoji, only way better.
Because once you’ve created a character that looks like you, you can send it as a sticker, record a video as your character, and even superimpose the Memoji on your face to take a selfie as your Memoji character!
11. Edit Depth Effect From Portrait Mode Photos
The iPhone XS vastly improves how Portrait Mode photos are captured. Not only does it have a much better bokeh effect, but you can also now go in and edit the background blur for any portrait mode shot later on.
Go to Photos, select a Portrait Mode photo and tap on Edit. Now, you’ll see a slider below that will let you change the background blur from f/1.4 to f/16 aperture.
12. Record Videos in 4K
The iPhone XS now lets you record audio in stereo mode! But the default video recording resolution is still set to 1080p. If you want to make use of the awesome new camera, you should try capturing footage in 4K. Go to Settings -> Camera -> Record Video and switch to 4K.
13. Use Third-Party Password Manager
If you use LastPass or 1Password to manage your passwords on the Mac or PC, your life on the iPhone just got a whole lot easier. iOS 12 now allows third-party password managers to integrate into iOS 12’s password autofill feature.
Go to Settings -> Accounts & Passwords -> AutoFill Passwords and enable the app. Next time you go to a login screen, you should see a suggestion to autofill the login details right above the keyboard. Tap on it, and in a second, your Face ID scan will authenticate and you’ll be logged in!
14. Get a Fast Charger
Sadly, the thousand-dollar iPhone XS still doesn’t come with a fast charger. The thing is that Apple officially supports Fast Charging now, and they even sell adapters with a higher power rating.
If you’ve got an iPhone XS Max, you might seriously want to look into fast charging. Because charging that massive battery with a 5W charger is going to take ages.
There are multiple ways to do this. The cheapest way might be to use the iPad’s 12W power adapter. It will charge your iPhone up to twice as fast. And if you’ve already got an iPhone, you don’t need to shell out any extra cash either.
If you want to do this properly though, you need to buy two things: Apple’s 29W USB-C power adapter ($49) and Apple’s USB-C to lightning connector ($29). But that can be quite an expensive combo. You can use a third-party adapter and a cable, as long as it’s rated for USB Power Delivery.
We recommend you check out Anker 30W USB-C Wall Charger (at $22.99, it’s half the price of Apple’s official adapter).
15. Buy a Lighting To Headphone Adapter
You might have noticed already, that your shiny new iPhone came without a Lighting to 3.5mm headphone adapter. Apple has bundled one on new iPhones since iPhone 7 but now, that’s no longer the case. If you’ve already got AirPods or you use Apple’s EarPods anyway, you might not need the adapter.
But for most people, it’s good to have, as a backup. You might need it in your car, one when you’re plugging into speakers at a friend’s house. Apple will sell you a lighting to headphone adapter for $9 [Amazon].
16. Use Landscape Mode on iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS Max qualifies as a Plus model, so it supports the landscape mode for apps. When you’re in apps like Calendar or Settings, put your iPhone in landscape mode. You’ll instantly switch to the two-column view! For example, in the Notes app, you can scroll the notes in the left panel and view the content of the note in the right.
17. Use iPhone X Case on Your iPhone XS
As the dimensions of the iPhone XS are exactly the same as the iPhone X, you’ll be able to use the same cases.
18. Shoot RAW Photos
The iPhone XS takes amazing pictures thanks to the new Smart HDR mode. But what if you want to take matters in you own hand? Use an app like Halide to capture images in RAW format, with manual controls. You can set the exposure, focus, brightness, and more. The app also has an amazing Depth mode.
19. Edit Photos To Make Them Better
You’ve got photos from Smart HDR mode or from Halide. They’re pretty good, but you can make them even better using a photo editing app. Snapseed and Darkroom are our favorites. Both are intuitive to use. Darkroom has an amazing collection of filters to choose from.
20. Automate Tasks Using Siri Shortcuts
Your iPhone XS comes with a built-in automation tool called Siri Shortcuts. Go to Settings -> Siri & Search -> All Shortcuts and you’ll see a list of actions from all installed apps that you can create a Siri shortcut for. Record a phrase for Siri and the next time you say the magic words, your iPhone will do the task for you. It can be resuming a podcast in Overcast or marking an activity as Complete Streaks.
And you can take things to the next level by downloading Apple’s Shortcuts app from the App Store. Here, you can create complex workflows that will do multiple tasks, one after the other. All initiated by talking to Siri.
21. New Way to Screenshot
Press the Side button and Volume Down button together to take a screenshot.
22. How to Hard Reset iPhone XS
There’s a new way to get into the Hard Reset mode on the iPhone XS. This is just an advanced reboot, it won’t wipe any data. Press Volume Up, then Volume Down and then quickly hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo on the screen.
23. Get Better at Using Gestures
Once you’re accustomed to the new gestures, you’ll want to advance to the next level. Use the tricks below to get around the iPhone XS faster.
Faster App Switcher Access: Swipe up at a 45-degree angle to get it right every single time.
Quickly switch between recent apps: Just swipe horizontally on the Home bar to jump between your most recent apps. You can open the app you had opened previously without ever going to the App Switcher. This little gesture does not only make for a cool demo for the iPhone XS but is also a really useful feature in day-to-day life.
Recent App from Home Screen: You’re on the Home screen and want to go back to the app you just quit? Simply swipe left to right on the Home bar!
24. Don’t Take Your iPhone Swimming With You
The iPhone XS now even better water and dust resistance rating: IP68. It’s rated for 2 meters in water for 30 minutes. But it’s still only water-resistant. Not waterproof. And the rating is lower than the Apple Watch. It will survive an accidental drop in the pool but it’s best not to shoot videos with your iPhone underwater, in the sea, for a long period of time.
So here’s our pro tip for keeping your iPhone XS safe: don’t go swimming with it. If you do, get a waterproof case.
25. Get Apple Care+ Theft and Loss Protection
This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re the forgetful kind, Apple has a new Apple Care+ Theft and Loss Protection plan for you. If you choose to pay $299 to Apple, your iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max will be replaced in case it’s stolen or lost. You can pay for the plan in monthly installments as well.
Scroll to Top
One of the biggest hidden features in the iPhone is the gesture to scroll to the top of a page. And it works on every app. Tap on the top part of the screen (just below the notch or either side of it) to instantly go to the top of the page you were in. It’s best when you’re scrolling Twitter.
Access Flashlight from Lock Screen
If you’re coming from an iPhone 8 or below, the first new thing you’ll notice is a Flashlight icon in the Lock Screen. Just press hard on it to quickly enable the flashlight.
Reachability Still Works
If you’re used to the feature that brings the top half of the screen down for easier access, you’ll be happy to know that it exists on iPhone XR as well. It just works differently. You can enable it from Settings -> General -> Accessibility. Then just flick down on the Home bar to bring the screen down. Swipe up again to go back to the full-screen mode.
Turn off Attention Awareness Feature
Apple uses the Face ID system to determine if you’re looking at your phone or not. And based on that, it can do different things. For example, it can dim the screen when you’re not paying attention, or automatically silence the phone. But if you don’t want Apple to do these things for you, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Attention Aware Features and turn the feature off.
Disable Tap to Wake
As we talked about above, the Tap to Wake feature can be quite useful. But it’s also prone to accidental taps. If you want to disable it, go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Tap to Wake.
Turn on Automatic Updates
If you’re getting annoyed by the pop-ups asking you to update the OS every couple of weeks, you can go to Settings -> General -> Software Updates -> Automatic updates and turn on the feature that will automatically download and install new iOS updates when your iPhone is charging overnight.
Your Favorite Tips and Tricks
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for the new iPhone XS and XS Max? Share with us in the comments below.
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This post was last updated on April 28, 2020.