IPhone Features You Can’t Live Without

The big iPhone features like dual rear cameras get all the attention, but it’s the little things that matter most.

Josh Miller / CNET

I’m sitting in the audience at the Castro Theater for the San Francisco International Film Festival. The film Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot has just ended and Gus Van Sant and Danny Elfman, director and composer respectively of the film, take the stage for an interview. I panic.

“Is my iPhone on? Or is it off? I’m pretty sure I turned it off before the movie. Or did I put it in airplane mode? What if I don’t? “

Unsure, I put my hand in my pocket and with my thumb I turn on the mute switch. Instantly I’m sure my phone won’t interfere with the talkback.

Now playing:
Check this out:

The 9 most underrated iPhone features


Every iPhone has a mute switch since Steve Jobs launched the original in 2007. It’s not a flashy feature. There is no line for this on CNET’s specification table. I do not remember the last time it was mentioned in a review. But this mute switch has helped me so many times.

There are a lot of little things on the iPhone that are handy like the mute switch. Here are some of my favorites:

Silencer switch

Apple calls it the “ring / mute switch.” It’s a material reminder of a time when our phones were primarily intended for making calls. But as our iPhone habits have evolved, it’s still useful as a last line of defense for all audio alerts except alarms.

Back to the top of a page

If you’re on a webpage in Safari or using a scrolling app – think Instagram – you can tap the time at the top of the webpage or app as a shortcut to get back to the top. In Safari, you tap once to show the web address field, and then tap the time again.


If you have a iPhone 8, 8 More or one iPhone X, you have one of the most beloved camera features ever for a phone: Slow sync flash. Basically, Apple made the camera flash actually usable. Goodbye, goodbye red eyes, and more like being caught in a pair of headlights when your photo was taken.

IPhone takes the photo at a slower shutter speed while firing the flash quickly. With the shutter open longer, the background is more exposed, making it brighter. The results are impressive:


These pictures were taken in a bar. The one on the left is the 7 Plus using the flash and the right one is the 8 Plus using the slow sync flash.

Patrick Holland / CNET


If you need to share photos, videos, or files with other Apple devices, AirDrop is the way to go. It’s incredibly easy. Just press the share button and a row of possible devices to AirDrop will appear. Then you tap on a friend’s icon and once they accept, the file or photo is sent.

When AirDrop was first deployed, it seemed to work intermittently at best. But five years later, AirDrop is the primary way to transfer things between devices. To verify this article for a reminder on AirDrop.

iPhone SE

The smallest and cheapest Apple phone you can buy is the iPhone SE. He has the body of iPhone 5/5S, but the internal components and the camera of the iPhone 6S. It’s almost impossible to find a new phone that’s actually small and good. Oh, and he still has a headphone jack.

There are rumors that Apple will update the small phone with a iPhone SE2. But nothing has been officially announced.

Now playing:
Check this out:

iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X: which one to choose?


Share your Wi-Fi password

One of the many pleasures of iOS 11 is joining a new Wi-Fi network and a “Share your WiFi” prompt appears on a friend’s iOS or Mac device ask their permission for the password. Once they accept it, the devices do the rest. (I have to note that the other person has to be a contact in your address book.) This feature made the impossible a reality: it’s actually fun to share a Wi-Fi password and protect your privacy – the actual password is never displayed.


When Apple released the juggernaut iPhone 6 Plus, he added Accessibility – a software feature that makes it usable with one hand. It has worked fairly easily on all iPhones since, apart from the iPhone SE.

Double tap the home button and the on-screen content lowers a third, making it accessible with your thumb. This gesture is second nature to me. On the iPhone X, there is a setting in the Accessibility menu to enable the feature.


iOS 11 has brought the iPhone’s camera to a practical level for all of your top-down shots.

Patrick Holland / CNET

Perfectly level photos

With the release of iOS 11, a pair of crosshairs – one white, one yellow – appear when taking photos from top to bottom. You maneuver the iPhone lightly until the crosshair merges and turns yellow, indicating that your phone is level with your subject – think food photography.

I feel like Wes anderson knowing that my photo of avocado toast is perfectly framed and level.

Live Photos

When Live Photos came out, I didn’t really like it and I turned it off. A live photo consists of a 3 second photo and video made up of a 1.5 second recording before and after the photo was taken. Over the past year I have Live photos reactivated and I’m so glad I did. It captures some truly amazing moments that a single photo can sometimes miss.

Once i was playing Super Mario Odyssey on my Nintendo Switch and my pussy Stella decided to sit in front of the TV. I paused the game and took a picture with my iPhone 7. The game’s pause screen has also become a wonderful juxtaposition to Stella – a great time for live photos. Check it out:

I took a photo and also got this great live photo.

Patrick Holland / CNET

iphone touchpad

The failure ios keyboard on any 3D Touch iPhone has a hidden trackpad. To activate, firmly press any key until you see the keys go blank and feel a haptic touch. The keyboard essentially becomes a trackpad, and when you slide your finger across the keyboard, the on-screen cursor follows.

iOS 12

During WWDC 2018, Apple announced iOS 12, which will be released this fall. It adds features like Memoji, FaceTime group and Siri improvements among others. Discover our story on iOS 12 for a closer look at iOS 12.

Your favorite little things

What are your favorite little things about iPhone? Let me know in the comments.

And Android users, don’t worry. I am working on a similar part for Android phones.

Previous iOS 12: Everything You Need to Know About New iPhone Features | ios
Next Apple references for 2018 MacBook and iPad models appear in Eurasia