How to Get Full-Screen Pictures for iPhone Calls

Smiling millennial mestizo woman talking on the phone at home

fizkes/Getty Images

You may have noticed that you see different size photos for some contacts versus others when you get incoming calls on your iPhone. Some are small circles in the top corner of the screen, while others a big, appealing full-screen photos.

This article will explain to you why some photos are small, why some are full-screen, and how to get full-screen photos for all of your incoming calls.

What Happened to Full-Screen Photos for Incoming iPhone Calls?

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 who was calling.

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 Apple made that change, but Apple pretty quickly brought the full-screen photos back. There's no setting to control it, and it's a pretty well-kept secret, but 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 for Calls

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 in the way you'd like to see it.

  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 Existing Photos 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 requires some different steps. 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. You don't truly need to "edit" it. Just making any tiny change to its position, just enough for the iPhone to register 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. You're done. The next time this person calls you, you'll see them in all their full-screen glory.

Pretty easy, right? It is. But there is one downside to this technique: there's no setting to control this for all of your contacts. You'll need to repeat this process for every photo you want to be full-screen for incoming calls.