How to Enable Night Shift On Your iPhone for Easy Nighttime Reading

Bright blue-white light blasting in your face at night isn’t so great for your sleep or general health, but don’t worry: iOS now supports color shifting so you can warm up the light of your iPhone for easy nighttime reading.

There is a growing body of research that exposure to artificial light late into the evening, especially blue light like the crisp blue-white glow of our beloved gadgets, is a serious issue that effects our sleep cycles and general health.

We dug extensively into this topic in our recent article on how artificial light is wrecking your sleep but the short of it is this: bright blue-white light is very similar to noonday sun, and it over stimulates our brains. When we’re exposed to blue light in the evening it messes with our sleep and causes a host of other problems. You can, however, minimize the effect of late-night light exposure by shifting the color to warmer tones. One of the tricks we highlighted in the aforementioned article is using software to shift the color temperature of the display on your computer and gadgets.

Fortunately, a recent iOS update makes it dead simple to adjust the display of your iPhone and other iOS devices–no jailbreaking or extra software required. The new “Night Shift” mode adjusts the color temperature of your iPhone’s screen so that instead of the crisp blue-white light we’re all familiar with, the screen has a more candle-lit tint that’s less stimulating to our brains. It’s almost exactly like f.lux, a popular app available for PC and iOS, but it doesn’t require jailbreaking.

The lead image of this article shows two iPhone 6 units side-by-side with no Night Shift mode filter applied (at left) and the warmest Night Shift mode filter applied (at right). When viewed side-by-side, the difference is stark but we assure you when using a device with Night Shift mode on it feels very natural and comfortable on your eyes.

It’s dead simple to toggle on and off, you can set it to a time-based schedule, and you can even configure it to turn on automatically at sunset and off again at sunrise. Let’s take a look at what you need and how to set it up.

How to Enable Night Shift Mode

To take advantage of the new “Night Shift” feature all you need is an iOS device capable of updating to iOS 9.3 and it must have one of the newer 64-bit processors introduced in Apple’s 2013 product line. This means older devices that are eligible for the update (like the iPhone 4s) can’t take advantage of the feature.

Night Shift won’t work on the following older 9.3 eligible hardware:

  • iPad 2, iPad 3rd/4th Gen, as well as the iPad Mini.
  • iPhone 4s, 5, and 5c.
  • iPod Touch 5G.

Night Shift will work on the following newer 9.3 eligible hardware:

  • iPad Air and above, iPad Mini 2 and above, and iPad Pro.
  • iPhone 5s and above.
  • iPod Touch 6G.

When it doubt look up the hardware specs for your device; any iOS device with an A7 processor and above is capable of running Night Shift.

If your device is not already on iOS 9.3 navigate on your device to Settings > General > Software Update to update to the most current version.

In iOS 9.3, there are two ways to use Night Shift mode. You can toggle it on demand via the iOS control center, or you can set schedules so the screen gradually fades to Night Shift mode as the sun sets.

To toggle Night Shift mode, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the control center and tap on the new Night Shift icon in the center of shortcut row, as seen in the screenshot below.

A box will pop up with a quick summary of Night Shift mode and two buttons: “Turn On Until 7 AM” and “Schedule Settings…”; you can tap on the “Turn On” entry to immediately see what Night Shift looks like, or you can select “Schedule Settings” to jump into the Night Shift settings.

You can also access the Night Shift settings by opening the Settings app and navigating to Display & Brightness > Night Shift, but given how easy it is to open the control center and tap right into it, we’ll just hop there now. Select “Schedule Settings” to continue.

Here you can select “Scheduled” to pick your schedule or “Manually Enabled” to turn it on manually whenever you want. Like the “Turn On Until…” button we just saw, toggling the “Manually Enabled” option will turn it on for the rest of the day and then turn it off the next morning.  Since that’s self explanatory, let’s look at the scheduling feature. Tap on “Scheduled”.

A pre-populated schedule will pop out. Tap on it to make changes.

Here you can set Night Shift to automatically turn on when the sun sets, and turn off when the sun rises. If that doesn’t work for you, you can set your own schedule based on the time of day.

When you’re done, tap the blue “Night Shift” link in the upper left corner to return the main settings menu.

One final trick to highlight before we’re done. You can adjust the warmth of the screen by using the slider at the bottom of the Night Shift menu. “Less Warm” means you’ll get less of a red tint when Night Shift is on, while “More Warm” means the screen will look redder. If you tap on the Night Shift slider, it will show you what that level of warmth will look like when Night Shift turns on.


While we really should just be putting our gadgets down and getting a good night’s sleep, when we don’t (and we never do) features like Apple’s Night Shift are just the ticket for minimizing the impact of late night gadget benders.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/22/16
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