How to Get a Full-Screen Picture in iPhone Calls

Smiling millennial mestizo woman talking on the phone at home

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Getting a call on the iPhone used to mean that the entire screen would fill up with a picture of the person calling you (assuming you had a picture of them assigned to the in your Contacts app, that is). It was an appealing, highly visual way of knowing not only who was calling, but also allowing you to interact with the call by answering or ignoring it, or responding to it with a text message.

All of that changed in iOS 7. With that version of the iOS, the full-screen picture was replaced by a small circular version of the picture in the top corner of the incoming call screen. Even worse, there was no way to change it back to full screen. Users complained. Why had Apple made a feature that offered big, good-looking pictures so small and boring?

We never found out why the change was made, but it didn't last long. While there's no setting to control it, and it's a pretty well-kept secret, if you're running iOS 8 or higher on your iPhone, you can get full-screen pictures for incoming calls again. 

How to Make New Photos Fullscreen

If you're adding a brand new photo for a contact to your iPhone, things are very easy. Whether you're replacing a contact's existing photo or adding one for the first time, just add the photo the way you normally would:

  1. Launch the Contacts app.

  2. Find the person you want to add a photo to and tap their name.

  3. Tap Edit on their contact information screen.

  4. Tap Add Photo (or edit if you're replacing a photo they already have) in the top left. 

  5. Select Take Photo or Choose Photo from the pop-up menu.

    Three iOS screens showing Edit, add photo, and Take or Choose Photo buttons
  6. Use the iPhone's camera to take a photo or choose one already in your Photos app.

  7. Move and Scale the photo to fit it into the circle.

  8. Tap Choose or Use Photo, depending whether it's new or a photo you already have.

  9. Tap Done.

    iOS screenshots of taking a new Contacts photo
  10. Now, whenever the person whose contact you edited calls you, the photo you just added to their contact info will take up the full screen on your phone.

How to Make Photos That Were Already on Your Phone Full Screen

Photos that were already on your phone and assigned to contacts when you upgraded to your version of the iOS to iOS 7 are slightly trickier. Those photos have been made into the small, circular images, so getting them to be full-screen again is a little trickier. It's not harder – actually, it's probably easier – but how to do it is less obvious. You don't need to take a new picture; just edit the old one and – voila! – you'll be back to full-screen photos.

  1. Open the Phone or Contacts apps.

  2. Find the person you want to add a photo to and tap their name.

  3. Tap Edit in the top right of their contact information screen.

  4. Tap Edit underneath their current photo.

  5. Tap Edit Photo in the pop-up menu.

  6. Move the existing photo a little (it doesn't really matter how much; just the fact that the iPhone registers that you've changed the photo in some small way is enough).

  7. Tap Choose.

    Three iOS screens showing how to edit a Contact
  8. Tap Done at the top right corner of the contact screen.

    Two iOS screens showing Done button in Contact and full-screen photo during a phone call
  9. Believe it or not, this is all it takes.

The next time this person calls you, you'll see them in all their full-screen glory. The only real downside is that there's no setting to control this; you'll need to repeat this process for every photo you want to be full-screen.