How to Use the iPhone as a Flashlight

use iphone as flashlight

iPhone image: Apple 

These days, when virtually everyone has a smartphone on them at all times, there's never a reason to be stuck fumbling around a dark room searching for a light switch. Activating your smartphone will turn on its screen — but that's a pretty weak source of light. Luckily, all modern iPhones have a flashlight feature built into them that can help you navigate dark locations.

How the iPhone Flashlight Works

Every iPhone since the iPhone 4 has a light source built into it: the camera flash on the back of the device. While this is normally used for short bursts of light to illuminate scenes to take better-looking photos, the same light source can be used in a sustained way. That's what's being done when you use the iPhone as a flashlight: either the iOS or a third-party app is turning on the camera flash and not letting it turn off until you tell it to. 

In order to use Control Center and the built-in Flashlight app, you need an iPhone that supports iOS 7 and higher.

Turn on Flashlight Using Control Center

To activate the iPhone's built-in Flashlight, follow these steps:

  1. With your iPhone active (that is, the screen is lit up; the device can be at the lock screen, home screen, or in an app), swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center (or down from the top right corner on the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR). There is no way to access the flashlight outside of Control Center.

  2. In the Control Center window, tap the Flashlight icon.

  3. The camera flash on the back of the iPhone turns on and stays on.

  4. To turn off the flashlight, open Control Center again and tap the Flashlight icon so that it is no longer active.

If you have an iPhone that offers a 3D Touch screen, a long press on the Flashlight icon in Control Center brings up a vertical slider that lets you control the intensity of the flashlight.

Using Flashlight Apps

While the flashlight app built into the iOS is perfectly capable for basic uses, you may prefer a tool with a few more features. In that case, check out these flashlight apps available at the App Store (all links open iTunes):

  • Flashlight Ⓞ: Free—This app offers control over the brightness of the flashlight, strobe effects, and even a compass and Maps integration so you can not only see where you're going but know where it is on a map. Download at iTunes
  • Flashlight for iPhone, iPod and iPad: Free, with in-app purchases—Offers bright flashlight, compass and map, and strobe mode similar to those in Flashlight Ⓞ and adds features including elevation tracking, music modes with a simulated lighter and a pulse that can match beats, and in-app purchases for visual themes. Download at iTunes
  • Best Flash Light!: Free, with in-app purchases—You'll find the standard flashlight, strobe, and maps/compass features in this app, along with a magnifying glass (using the camera), the ability to turn the light on and off by clapping, and much more. In-app purchases unlock features and remove (the very annoying, very present) ads. Download at iTunes
  • Flashlight ®: US$1.99—Basic, but effective and powerful. Turn the flashlight on or off, and slide to control the intensity of the light. That's it. No ads, no extra features. Download at iTunes

    Privacy Concerns with Flashlight Apps? Not on iPhone

    You may remember news reports from recent years about flashlight apps secretly collecting user information and supplying that information to unknown parties in other countries. While that was, in fact, a real concern in some instances, you don't have to worry about that on iPhone.

    Those privacy-invading flashlight apps existed only on Android and were available through the Google Play Store. They were not iPhone apps. Because Apple reviews all apps before making them available on the App Store (Google doesn't review apps and lets anyone publish virtually anything), and because the iPhone's app-permission system is much better and clearer than Android's, this sort of malware-disguised-as-legitimate-app rarely makes it to the App Store. ​

    Keep an Eye on Your Battery Life

    One thing to remember when using your iPhone as a flashlight: doing so can drain your battery pretty quickly. So, if your charge is low and you won't have a chance to recharge soon, be careful. If you find yourself in that situation, check out these tips for conserving battery life.