iPhone Camera Gestures: Everything You Need to Know

iPhone Camera Gestures: Everything You Need to Know

Do you know any iPhone camera gestures can let you snap a selfie from a distance or access night mode easily? If you haven’t yet explored such iOS features on your Apple device, then this article is just right for you.

caucasian girl taking a selfie on her iPhone - iPhone camera gestures

What are the iPhone camera gestures?

Since the introduction of the iPhone X in 2017, the use of the Home button and pressure-sensitive touch features have been discontinued. This confused some iOS users and thought that navigating their new Apple devices had become frustrating. Some also found it hard to look for basic camera features such as enabling night mode or setting up a timed shot. That is why iPhone camera gestures have become handy. 

You can use iPhone camera gestures to enhance your phone’s functionality with the help of your device’s camera. You can take photos from a distance, access camera settings easily, and even use Face ID to access other basic phone features. Apple only wants a better user experience and a “close personal connection” with their devices for their patrons.

Sony a7 III (ILCEM3K/B) Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 28-70mm Lens with...
  • Advanced 24.2MP BSI Full-frame Image Sensor w/ 1.8X readout speed Advanced 24.2MP Back-Illuminated...

The iPhone camera gestures

If you have had one of the iPhone 11 series, you may have noticed that they feature an ultra-wide lens for a more panoramic shot. On the other hand, they have a night mode setting for taking selfies in low-light environments, as well as a 16:9 frame capacity. These new functions clearly show that the Camera app interface has been redesigned for newer iPhone devices, including the second-generation of iPhone SE models.

However, you may also notice that the updated version of the Camera app may lack some shooting settings that previous iPhone models have. For example, it doesn’t have the HDR options, filters, timer, as well as the square mode featured in iOS 7. While settings for Live Photos and flash remain in the same place as with older iOS 13 devices, changes in the camera interface are rather obvious. 

Tap or swipe away to access the hidden camera toolbar

To access hidden camera options, iPhone camera gestures will do the trick. Tap the chevron icon found in the toolbar or swipe away from the capture button on the camera viewfinder to display additional camera features. 

In doing any of these two gestures, you will find a second toolbar in place of the mode selector bar right next to the shutter button. In the second toolbar, you will find filters, the timer feature, and the 4:3 frame button that enables the 16:9 frame or Square shooting mode. 

You will also gain access to flash settings, HDR options, and Live Photos toggle capacity. To see HDR options, you have to disable the “Smart HDR” feature in the phone settings first. In closing the second toolbar, just either tap on or swipe down the inverted chevron icon. 

However, for users with an iPhone XR model or older and running in iOS 13 or below, swiping away from the shutter button will only let you quickly access filters. 

You might like these articles:

Gain access to Night Mode functionality automatically

Do you want to take selfies in a low-light environment but cannot find the night mode setting on your new iPhone device? This is one of the many iPhone camera gestures you should try.

If your iPhone is from the 11 series or newer and running iOS 13 or higher, you will no longer have to manually set up Night Mode on your Camera app. The Night Mode setting automatically appears on the camera toolbar once the phone detects low-light situations.

On a different note, when looking for iPhones with the new Camera app interface made readily available, you may opt for iPhones running iOS 14, particularly models such as the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. All iPhone models with an updated Camera app will have access to exposure compensation value (ECV) hidden in the toolbar, but this feature is yet to appear in all supported models. 

Unlock iPhone device using Face ID

girl using iPhone face ID

Apply Inc. has also introduced a facial recognition technology they aptly dubbed Face ID. This built-in capacity is available in new iPhone models such as iPhone X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max. A great follow-up to the Touch ID functionality, the phone allows a biometric authentication system to perform basic features such as unlocking the device, making purchases and payments, and accessing encrypted data.

Once you have set up the Face ID for unlocking your phone, do the following iPhone camera gestures:

  1. Raise or tap to wake your iPhone device.
  2. On the lock screen, swipe from the bottom up.
  3. Glance at the screen while holding the device in portrait orientation. Remember to remove anything that covers your nose and mouth. 

For authenticating purchases and payments with Apple Pay, you can do the following:

  1. Make sure that you have Apple Pay set up and turned on first. 
  2. To make payments in either a physical store, an app, or a website in Safari, select a card in your Apple Pay. You can choose either your default card or another card. Just tap on the side button for options. 
  3. Wait for the prompt to make a payment, then double-tap the side button. 
  4. Take a glance at your iPhone to begin authentication with Face ID. Remember to remove any face covering to ensure a full view of your face. Otherwise, tap on your iPhone and pay with a Passcode instead.
  5. For store transactions, hold your iPhone device near a contactless reader and wait for the transaction to be done. In all transactions, a checkmark will appear to indicate that the transaction has been successful. 

Face ID also features facial expression tracking capacity for Animoji—a fun interactive way of creating and sharing custom emojis in multiple messaging platforms. 

Related posts: 

Sign in on iPhone apps and autofill passwords in Safari

Face ID also allows additional iPhone camera gestures such as signing-in on mobile phone applications, as well as auto-filling usernames and passwords in websites accessed through the Safari browser.

To sign in on Apple apps, you have to do the following gestures:

  1. Open the desired app and tap sign in.
  2. When asked, allow the use of your username and password on the app.
  3. Take a glance at your iPhone device to sign in.
  4. To select which apps can use Face ID, go to phone settings and Face ID & Passcode, then tap Other Apps.

To autofill username and password in Safari, you have to do these iPhone camera gestures:

  1. Proceed to Face ID & Passcode option under phone settings first, then turn on Password Autofill feature. 
  2. On the Safari browser, log on to the desired website and tap the sign in field. 
  3. Once your username and password appear, tap the sign in the field.
  4. Glance at your iPhone device to autofill your credentials. 

With just a glance at your phone, you can skip the hassle of typing in your lengthy credentials and save a lot of time. 

Snap selfies without touching the shutter button

Throw out your selfie sticks and start taking high-quality photos by doing contactless iPhone camera gestures or air gestures. 

While this is not a built-in feature on iPhones, you can download apps from the App Store to harness this touchless technology. Install camera apps like Cut Paste Photos Pro, GoCam, and CamMe on your iPhone and start taking photos from a good distance. Select from an air gesture library and shoot photos even in low light surroundings and with complex backgrounds.

Furthermore, some apps can be triggered into taking photos from a distance of three meters with simple air gestures like waving the hands or making a fist. 

Besides the interaction capacity with iPhone camera gestures, you can access fun features, including high-quality filters and tools for editing and sharing photos and videos on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

You will no longer have to run to and fro when taking a timed shot! Simply prop up the phone, secure it in place, and then do the air gesture to activate the timer. This will give you enough time to pose for the camera. 

When looking up recently taken photos, you can just swipe left and right without having to access your iPhone’s media gallery.

Related posts:

Other iPhone tricks to know 

girl tapping a smartphone on a wooden table - iPhone camera gestures

Apart from iPhone camera gestures, perform the following tricks and shortcuts to improve accessibility and device functionality. 

  • Change and move calendar events easily. Select an event you desire to modify by tapping and holding it until two dots appear around the event box. Drag the edges up and down to adjust event duration or tap and drag to move the entire event. 
  • Access Spotlight Search in an instant. Touch anywhere on the screen except the top edge and swipe down. By doing this, you will drop the home screen down, revealing the Spotlight Search feature on-screen.
  • Speak to Siri with only your voice. Even if the Home button is a thing of the past, you can still access Siri by activating the feature in general settings. Choose between ‘Raise to Speak’ or ‘Hands-free Activation’ to invoke the virtual assistant. You can also use your ear to activate Siri. 
  • Scroll up using the menu bar. Avoid the agony of thumbing through web pages, especially the long ones, and free your hands from the stress. This feature also works with most apps and browsers. 
  • View email drafts from the main menu of your email service app. Just hold ‘Compose’ to get to your drafts folder in a jiffy. 
  • Navigate through browser history fast. All you need to do is to swipe from the screen’s left edge to the right edge. To move back to the previous page, simply do the opposite. 
  • Save images easily. Hold an image and wait for a menu to pop up from the bottom of the screen. Select the Save Image option or copy to clipboard.
  • Learn new words and access the dictionary fast. When you do not know the meaning of certain words, whether in text or an e-book you are reading, hold down on the word and choose the ‘Define’ option. 
  • Wake your iPhone device quickly. Raise your phone or simply tap on the side button. 
  • Switch from app to app without hassle. You can either swipe or flick left or right at the screen’s bottom edge to switch apps. 
  • View all the active background applications. Swipe starting from the bottom edge and pause momentarily with your finger on the display. This will automatically activate app cards of all running apps. 
  • Access features similar to 3D Touch. Even if new iPhone models do not have 3D Touch features, you still can make use of similar features with a long press. Preview a web page by tapping and holding a web link and see other options. Similarly, you can view events, reminders, and addresses on Calendar and Maps for quick use. 


iPhone camera gestures do more than just snapping photos at a distance. These also help you perform tasks easily, like logging into your social media accounts and paying through Apple Pay. Fast and convenient, the technology will be an upgrade for iOS users.

Related questions

Below are two issues most iPhone users are commonly experiencing since the Home button disappeared from the design. Read more to know what to do in case you experience the same.

Why is my iPhone swipe up menu not working?

When you can’t swipe up on a locked iPhone, just go to the Control Center under Settings and turn the Access on Lock Screen toggle to the ON position. This will enable the Swipe Up feature on your device, so you can perform iPhone camera gestures even when your iPhone is locked. 

Why is the side button on my iPhone 11 not working?

When a side button is not working on your iPhone device, perform the following troubleshooting steps to fix the issue:

  1. Check for protective films and cases that may have blocked the side button or switch, then remove these.
  2. Wipe off dust and debris around the switch or button with a clean, soft cloth.
  3. If none of the aforementioned steps work, you have to set up an appointment for repair with an authorized service provider.