How to Activate Dark Mode on Your iPhone

People use their iPhones day and night in a well-lit place or a dark space. But the bright iPhone screen is not actually eye-friendly in a dark environment. The grayscale mode in iOS 8, Night Shift in iOS 9, and the red screen filter in iOS 10 are the gradual improvements toward the ultimate goal of it being comfortable to stare at you phone at night.

While iOS 11 hasn’t come with the long-awaited dark mode yet, it has something really close to it. How do you activate the feature so that you can feel less guilty secretly browsing Facebook under the blanket before heading to slumberland?

No Dark Mode? Seriously?

We all know how uncomfortable it is to stare at a bright white screen in the dark. The best solution to this problem is the dark mode which is friendlier to our eyes, so it’s kind of surprising that there’s virtually no real default dark mode available on iPhones. The latest version of Android does have something called night mode, but for some reason Google keeps it as a secret unannounced feature.

What about iPhones? While there’s officially no dark mode available yet, there’s a feature that is really close to it. This feature is buried a little deep in the Settings and is unknown to most users. Fortunately, enabling the mode is a walk in the park, and making it quickly accessible is just as easy.

The Closest Thing to the Dark Mode

As mentioned before, the latest iteration of iOS 11 doesn’t come with the dark mode yet. But it has one feature that is really close to the dark mode called “Smart Invert” The feature is similar to the invert color from the previous iOS where it turned everything on the screen into the “negative” color.

The invert color feature will reverse the bright white screen with black text to a black screen with white text so it would be more easier to read in the dark. Unfortunately, it will also turn images of other colors into their opposite counterparts, and thus makes them unpleasant to see and also difficult to understand.

The Smart Invert feature fixes the flaw by only reversing the text color while keeping the images, media, and some apps that use dark color styles as they are. This process will make your screen easier to look at in the dark while keeping the content readable.


How to Enable Smart Invert

Enabling the Smart Invert feature is simple enough. Open “Settings” and go to “General -> Accessibility -> Display Accommodations -> Invert Colors,” and turn on “Smart Invert.”


But having to keep digging inside the settings just to enable Smart Invert can be tiring after the second and third time. It would be nice to be able to enable or disable this feature with a click – or three.

To put the feature at your fingertips, we could use the “Accessibility Shortcut” feature from the Settings. This feature can be enabled by opening the Settings and going to “General -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut” and choosing “Smart Invert” from the list of available features.


This action will allow you to instantly enabling Smart Invert by triple-clicking the home button.

A Work in Progress

Please note that the Smart Invert feature is still in development and hasn’t reached perfection yet. When I tried it under iOS 11.2, the feature is still hit or miss in identifying elements that it shouldn’t reverse. I’ve been trying the feature out for some time now, and sadly it was better in the previous updates (pre 11.2).

Let’s just hope that Apple will improve on the feature in the next few updates. Meanwhile, Smart Invert is working fine for text. There are also several apps that have already incorporated some kind of dark mode features such as Apple’s own iBooks, Spotify, Instapaper, Google Maps, and Pocket.


Are you the type of person who often uses gadgets in the dark? What do you think of the iOS Smart Invert feature? Do you think the feature is useful or a mere gimmick? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jeffry Thurana Jeffry Thurana

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.