How to Use Reachability and Display Zoom on iPhone

These three screen features will change how you use your iPhone

Person using iPhone 6
Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In a lot of ways, the features of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are identical to those of their predecessors: iPhone 5S and 5C. However, three little-known features take advantage of the larger screens that Apple introduced on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. These features are available on the iPhone 7 series, iPhone 8 series, and iPhone X, too. Getting to know them increases your enjoyment of your iPhone even more.

Display Zoom (iPhone 6 and up)

Every model since the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have bigger screens than any iPhone before them. The screen on the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 is 4.7 inches, while the 6 Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus screen is 5.5 inches. The earlier phones had only 4-inch screens. Thanks to a feature called Display Zoom, you can take advantage of those larger screens in two ways: to show more content or to make the content bigger. Because the screen on the iPhone 6 Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus is 1.5 inches bigger than the screen on the iPhone 5S, it can use that extra space to show more words in an email or more of a website, for example. Display Zoom lets you choose between a Standard and Zoomed view of your Home screen.

Display Zoom is also helpful for users with poor eyesight or who prefer larger onscreen elements. In this case, the bigger screen is used to enlarge the text, icons, images, and other items to make them easier to read.

Choosing the Standard or Zoomed option in Display Zoom is part of the set-up process for both phones, but if you want to change your selection, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app.

  2. Tap Display & Brightness.

  3. Tap View in the Display Zoom section.

  4. On this screen, you can tap Standard or Zoomed to see a preview of each option. Swipe side to side to see the option in different scenarios so you can get a good idea of how it looks.

    Turning on Display Zoom on an iPhone
  5. Make your selection and tap Set and confirm the choice.

Reachability (iPhone 6 and up, plus iPhone X)

The large screens on modern iPhone models are great for a lot of things, but having more screen real estate means giving up some things—one of which is the ease with which you can use the phone with only one hand. On iPhones with small screens, holding the phone with one hand and reaching to even the farthest icon with your thumb is possible for most people. It isn't that easy on the iPhone 6 and up and it's just about impossible on the 6 Plus and up.

Apple has added a feature to help out: Reachability. It moves what's being shown at the top of the screen toward the middle to make it easier to reach. Here's how to use it on the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 series:

  1. When you want to tap something high on the screen that's out of reach, gently double-tap the Home button.

    Pressing the Home button twice brings up the multitasking screen, where you quickly switch between apps. Tap the Home button in the same way that you'd tap an app icon.

  2. The contents of the screen move down toward the center.

    Reachability on an iPhone
  3. Tap the item you want.

  4. The screen contents move back to normal. To use Reachability again, repeat the double-tap.

Reachability is available on the iPhone X, too, but since that model doesn't have a Home button, you access it differently. On the iPhone X, swipe down near the indicator line at the bottom of the screen. This gesture can be tricky to get right, so you can also quickly swipe up and down at the indicator line to activate Reachability.

Landscape Homescreen (iPhone 6, 7, and 8 Plus Only)

The iPhone has supported landscape layout — turning the phone on its side and having the content reorient to be wider than tall — since its debut. Apps have used landscape for all kinds of things, including being the default layout for some apps and providing access to hidden content in others. 

The Home screen never supported landscape mode, but it does on the iPhone 6 Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus. 

When you're at the Home screen, turn your 6, 7, or 8 Plus so that it's wider than tall and the screen reorients to move the dock to the edge of the phone and shift the icons to match the screen's orientation. 

That's neat, but it gets even cooler in some of the built-in iOS apps like Mail and Calendar. Open those apps and turn the phone to landscape mode, and you'll reveal new interfaces for the apps that show information in different ways.

Despite its 5.8-inch screen — which is larger than the ones on the 6 Plus, 7 Plus, or 8 Plus — the iPhone X does not support the landscape home screen layout.