How to Get Full-Screen Pictures for iPhone Calls

A simple photo tweak will restore a contact image to full-screen glory

Smiling millennial mestizo woman talking on the phone at home

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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 are big, appealing full-screen photos. Using full-screen photos requires a few non-intuitive tweaks to your Contacts records.

The procedure we outline was tested in iOS 12.

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 feature changed in iOS 7. With that version, the full-screen picture was replaced by a small circular version of the picture in the top corner of the incoming call screen. In iOS 8 or higher on your iPhone, however, you can get full-screen pictures for incoming calls again. 

How to Make New Photos Fullscreen for Calls

If you're adding a new photo for a contact to your iPhone, attach the photo the way you normally would:

  1. Launch the Contacts app. Find the relevant contact record then tap it to open.

  2. Tap Edit on the contact-information screen.

  3. Tap Add Photo (or edit if you're replacing a photo). 

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

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

  6. Move and Scale the photo to fit it into the circle in the way you'd like to see it.

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

  8. Tap Done.

    iOS screenshots of taking a new Contacts photo
  9. 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. You don't need to take a new picture; just edit the old one and you'll be back to full-screen photos.

  1. Open the Phone or Contacts app then open the relevant person's record.

  2. Tap Edit to modify the contact record.

  3. Tap Edit underneath the current photo.

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

  5. Move the existing photo a little. You don't truly need to "edit" it. Just making any tiny change to its position — enough for the iPhone to register that you've changed the photo in some small way — is enough.

  6. Tap Choose.

    Three iOS screens showing how to edit a Contact
  7. 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
  8. The next time this person calls you, you'll see him or her in full-screen glory.

There is one downside to this technique: there's no setting to control this feature for all of your contacts. You'll need to repeat this process for every photo you want to be full-screen for incoming calls.