Apps Hardware iPhone Phones

Replacing the iPhone X home button: How can I survive without it?

iPhone X home screen
Never mind the lack of a home button - why look at a phone when you can admire the sea?

With its nearly edge-to-edge screen there was no longer a place for an iPhone X home button, so all the many functions that required it needed to be allocated elsewhere. Here’s what Apple did and, remarkably, why it works so well…

iPhone X: Waking up & unlocking

You tap the screen to wake up the iPhone X, or press the button on the right-hand side. Note I didn’t call this the ‘power button’: because it’s no longer used to power off the iPhone, that would be a misnomer.

To unlock, as everyone knows by now, the iPhone X uses Face ID instead of Touch ID. Rather than press your finger against a reader, infrared sensors identify your face, even if you’re wearing sunglasses or a scarf. It’s not quite as quick as Touch ID but it’s very effective. Swipe at the same time and you can be on your home page almost as quick as you were before.

iPhone X: Returning to the home screen

So with no home button, how do you return to the home screen? Simple. No matter which app you’re in, you now swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

iPhone X: Reachability

Did you use the Reachability feature on previous iPhones? Many didn’t but it was actually really useful, effectively shifting the screen down when you were trying to use the phone one-handed – this ensured everything on-screen remained within a finger’s reach.

It was achieved by lightly double-tapping the home button. Do it again to get the screen to return to normal. For the iPhone X, you have to first switch Reachability on. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility and activate Reachability from here.

For the next bit, you need to understand what the Gesture bar is. This is the horizontal bar you’ll see at the bottom of each screen – it can actually be used for other things but, in this case, we’re going to use it for Reachability. You can see the Gesture bar at the bottom of the following screenshot, in white. (Apologies to republicans in advance.)

iPhone X home button
It wasn’t so widely reported, but Kate was also thrilled by the removal of the home button from the iPhone X

Whenever you’re in an app, simply swipe your finger down over the Gesture bar – the screen should now move down. Swipe up over the Gesture bar to return it to normal.

iPhone X: App switching

Double-clicking the home button on previous iPhones displayed a history of your app usage, making it easy to switch between them. With the iPhone X, it’s more complicated but, once you get the hang of it, it feels quick and perfectly natural. Promise.

When you’re in an app, swipe up from the bottom, as if you were closing it. However, pause when you get part way up and you’ll find the slowly minimising screen joins the others as the app switcher appears.

You can also close apps from the switcher but this too has changed – instead of swiping them away, you now need to press and hold on the app icon. A red minus icon will appear in the corner of each minimised app window. Tap on these to close them. Tap elsewhere to return back to the switcher.

If you’re using the Handover feature (where you can transfer usage of an app across devices) then any such apps will appear at the bottom of the app switcher (see screenshot below for an example).

iPhone X home button
Fear not, you can still close apps quickly and easily on the iPhone X

But that’s not all, as they say in all the best infomercials, as there’s a second way to switch quickly between apps. You remember the Gesture bar at the bottom of the screen? Swipe left and right across that and you can easily glide between apps.

iPhone X: the Control Center

On previous iPhones the Control Center was accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, giving you access to Airplane mode, brightness controls and suchthelike. Now you just need to swipe down from the top-righthand corner of the screen (i.e. to the right of the ‘notch’).

iPhone X: Powering off

As I said earlier, pressing that button on the right-hand side won’t work. To power off you now hold the volume down and right-hand button at the same time. From the same screen, you can also send out an emergency SOS and display important medical information.

And, finally…

Notifications – Swipe down from the top-left of the screen (to the left of the ‘notch’).

Taking screenshots – Hold down the volume up and right-hand button simultaneously.

Siri – Hold down the right-hand button.

Apply Pay – Double-click the right-hand button.


Now read this: Can I swim with an Apple Watch?

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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