Tip: iPhone screen brightness and image editing

iPhone screen brightness, turn off Auto-Brightness to edit images
Left: Simulated screen dimming. Right: Screen at standard brightness


When using your iPhone everyday, many of us have the device’s Auto-Brightness turned on to help the screen compensate for optimal viewing under the varied lighting situations we find ourselves in all the time. This works great for most uses but the variances in iPhone screen brightness can really mess with image editing.

Here’s a tip I’ve been using for years to help get better results when trying to do more precise photo edits on my iPhone. >>>

Try editing your images with the Auto-Brightness turned off. It’s a great feature for most uses, but it constantly adjusts the brightness of your screen depending on the light around you. This actually creates an inconsistent viewing experience.

I have my Brightness level set at around 50%. You can adjust to your own personal taste. When I’m editing images, I try to find a normally-lit area, indoors and out of direct sunlight. I switch off Auto-Brightness while I edit images.

Without a good eyedropper tool and constant Info palette, the only way to edit on an iPhone (and the way most of us edit images) is by sight. Keeping the screen brightness consistent will help you get more consistent color, brightness, contrast and shadows across your images when editing them.

The brightness of the iPhone’s screen doesn’t effect the brightness of the image, only how we see it. If the screen is dark, we may be likely to overcompensate our adjustments and potentially blow out areas of an image. The same holds true if the screen is too bright — darker areas may be left muddied up. Check out the sample image above. The screenshots are identical. The only difference is that the image on the left simulates automatic screen dimming. Notice how shadow areas have plugged up.

Don’t go crazy with the screen brightness by cranking it up. We’re looking for color accuracy on a tiny monitor that’s almost impossible to calibrate. Also, the brighter you keep your screen, the faster your battery will drain.

After editing, I’ll switch back Auto-Brightness back on to surf, play games, and help preserve battery life a little bit. Screen brightness isn’t as critical.

This tip should work with any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Until there’s a way to more accurately color calibrate an iPhone screen, turning off Auto-Brightness is one way I use to help make more color accurate edits on my device.



About Marty Yawnick 1830 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, Pink Floyd, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Demetri

    Thanks for the insight! Very helpful. I've been wondering about this issue. I'll give it a try.

  • Rob

    This is also true when you're editing on an iPad. It's easy to be fooled by that big gorgeous screen. I turn the auto brightness off when editing. It's annoying to have to do that every time, but it's essential. I learned this the hard way.

  • melia

    thanks marty. never even considered that issue

  • Kelli

    Thanks for the tip! I'd been thinking my pictures seemed dimmer when I ordered them than I expected, and wondered if it was the printer. Duh. I didn't even consider this might be it, but I think that will help a TON!

  • I love the tip… so this feedback is totally unrelated, but that "Welcome googlers" app that appears at the top of every post is crazy annoying. This is the third post I've linked to today and everytime I have to close that ad to better see the article.

    Sorry to be off topic, just wanted to put my two cents in without having to open my mail app 🙂

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