Cameras: Face ID and More

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All newer iPhone models – that is, iPhone models X and up – come with three cameras: the front camera, the rear camera, and the FaceID camera. This section will detail the specific capabilities of each camera, as well as how to use them. Older models that have a home button come with two cameras: the front and the rear camera.

The front camera is embedded into the display of your iPhone, and allows you to take pictures and video. This camera has a far more simple design compared to the rear camera, which typically has multiple lenses while the front camera only has one. The front camera not only has photo and video capabilities, but can also take images in portrait mode, which produces a higher quality image with a deep focus on the subject, leaving the background slightly blurred. It is important to note that while the front camera can take photos and videos, it is unable to produce videos in the slow motion or time lapse modes, and cannot take a panoramic image – these can only be completed using the rear camera.

The rear camera, referred to as such because it is located on the back of your iPhone, is the component that allows you to use the additional features available: slow motion, time lapse, and panoramic. There are several other features available through the rear camera, such as QuickTake, Burst mode, and Photographic Style – as well as Night Mode and Live Photo. For more information on these various features, see our deep dive.

How to Access your Front and Rear Cameras:

From the lock screen on an iPhone X or newer: select the camera icon on the bottom right corner, you will need to select it using ForceTouch. To do so, simply press and hold your finger on the icon until the phone vibrates, then release your finger. The camera will automatically open to the rear camera. To switch to the front camera, select the circular arrow icon in the bottom right corner.

From the lock screen on an iPhone 8 or older: swipe to the left on your lock screen and the camera will open.

From the home screen: select the camera application, signified by a grey camera icon. If you are having trouble locating the camera application, swipe to the far left or far right of your home screen, from this screen you can type “camera” into the search bar, and the application should populate below. You can then toggle between the front and rear camera using the circular arrow icon in the bottom right corner.

You can also access your camera from the control center, for more information on this feature, see our upcoming lesson: “Getting to Know your Home Screen.”

How to Use the Camera:

Once you have opened the camera, you can now use it. To take a picture, simply press the white circle in the center of the screen. If you would like to take a video, press and hold the white circle in the center of the screen.

If you would like to adjust the settings of the video or photo that you are able to take, whether it be a slow motion or time lapse video, or a portrait or panoramic image, you may do so by swiping to the left or right over the camera image. You can determine which style you are using by seeing which style is highlighted yellow directly below the picture. 

FaceID Camera

The third and final camera on iPhones is the Face ID camera, which allows you to use the facial recognition software included on your device, meaning that you can unlock your device, access passcodes, and make in-app purchases using your face.

NOTE: if you have Face ID enabled, you must also have a passcode set up on your device, if you do not have a passcode, you will not be able to set up Face ID. See the previous topic, “Buttons: Power and Volume” for instructions on how to set up a passcode.

In your settings you can also adjust what features the Face ID can activate or unlock. For example, if you do not want to use Face ID to access your saved passwords on your device, you can adjust this setting under the “Face ID and Passcode” section of your settings. At the top of the page there are a series of green toggle switches, by turning these switches to the off position, you can ensure that your device will not use Face ID to unlock or activate these settings or applications.

How to Set Up Face ID:

  • Open Settings, and then select “Face ID and Passcode”
  • Enter your Passcode on the next screen
    • If you do not have a passcode enabled, you will need to turn your passcode on and set one up before proceeding. To do so, select “Turn on Passcode” in the Face ID and Passcode page, and enter either a four or six digit number.
  • Select “Set Up Face ID” if you have not already done so, or if you are looking to add a second user to the device, select “Set Up an Alternate Appearance.”
  • Follow the on screen instructions.

Takeaway: The cameras included on your device, which depending on your device can include the front and rear camera, and the Face ID camera, have a range of capabilities, with the rear camera encompassing all of the various features available, aside from Face ID.