How to Get Full-Screen Pictures for iPhone Calls

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

Ever notice that when you get an incoming call on your iPhone some contacts have photos that are small circles in the top corner of the screen, while others are big, appealing full-screen photos? You can actually get full-screen photos for all of your incoming iPhone calls. It's not hard, but doing it requires a few non-intuitive tweaks to your Contacts. Here's what to do.

The instructions in this article apply to iPhones running iOS 8 and higher.

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 assigned to them in your Contacts app. 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 Full-Screen for Incoming Calls

If you're adding a new photo for a contact to your iPhone, making it full-screen for incoming calls is simple. Just add the photo to the contact the way you normally would by following these steps:

  1. Open the Contacts app, then tap the contact's name.

  2. On the contact's information screen, tap Edit.

  3. Tap Add Photo. Or, tap Edit to replace an existing photo. 

  4. Select either Take Photo or Choose Photo.

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

  6. Move and scale the photo to fit it in the circle.

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

  8. Tap Done.

    iOS screenshots of taking a new Contacts photo
  9. When the person whose contact you edited calls you, the photo you added to their contact info will show up as full screen on your iPhone.

How to Make Existing Photos Phone Full Screen for Calls

Photos that were 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 full-screen 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 tap the contact name.

  2. Tap Edit.

  3. Tap Edit underneath the current photo.

  4. Tap Edit Photo.

  5. Move the existing photo a little. You don't need to edit it. Just make a small change to its position––enough for the iPhone to register that the photo was changed in some small way.

  6. Tap Choose.

    Three iOS screens showing how to edit a Contact
  7. Tap Done.

    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 the photo in full-screen.

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