The Comprehensive Guide To Gestures And Buttons On The iPhone X

A quick guide for gesture and button controls on the iPhone X

The new iPhone X a.k.a iPhone 10 is finally available. Whether you buy it or wish to experience it, here is a guide to use gestures and the available buttons to operate this technological marvel. A brilliant elongated display dominates the front fascia of this phone. Hence, we see the demise of the beloved Touch ID enabled Home button.

If you are an iPhone user or someone who has handled the earlier iPhones, you would know the importance of the Home button. Questions thus arise about all the missing Home button to an average user. The Home button is replaced with a software controlled gesture bar placed at the bottom of the phone’s gorgeous display.

Do remember that technology brings changes. We can point out the ways to use this gesture bar, but the finesse of use will only come with sufficient time and practice. Let’s get started.

Waking and Unlocking the iPhone X:

Apple has provided several ways to wake and unlock your iPhone X. Either tap the display or press the power (side) button or enable the ‘raise to wake‘ option to wake the iPhone X. Unlocking the iPhone is a two-step process. Unlock the phone with Face ID and then swipe up to unlock. In cases when Face ID fails, your trusted password will come handy.

Please Note: Gesture bar will change its position based on the phone’s orientation.

Home button gesture:

If you’ve used an iPhone before, you might be familiar with the Home button being a major part of using this Apple product. On the iPhone X, the Home button is replaced with a software controlled gesture bar. Swipe up once to reach the home screen. This gesture is similar to the control centre swipe-up gesture on iPhones with Touch ID.

Control centre and notification centre gestures:

The iPhone X will feel a bit different as it changes the gestures to bring up control centre and the notification panel. Swipe down from the top right of the display to enable control centre and swipe down from the top left to enable the notification centre.

Multitasking gesture:

Switching between apps is what this gesture will be required for. Read carefully as this gesture requires some patience and practise.

via GIPHYSwipe up from the bottom of the display and do not release until you see your open apps on the left side. Swipe up and pause the swipe to use this gesture effectively. Another way is to swipe up and swiftly swipe right to see all open apps.

Quick app switching gestures:

There are two ways to quickly switch between open apps. The most effective way is to swipe and move your thumb in an arc. Arc your thumb left or right to quickly switch between your open app and the last used app.

 Another way is to swipe left or right on your gesture bar.

Using gestures when in an app:

Apple has laid out specific gesture guidelines for app developers when it comes to iPhone X. While devs make these changes, users might have to swipe twice to register a system wide gesture. This is especially required when the user plays a game or app that relies on gesture-based controls. The first swipe will be registered as an action in-app and the second one will be recognised as a system-wide gesture.

Hence, do not panic when a gesture does not work. All you have to do, is try again.

Reachability gesture:

Once enabled from the settings menu, users can enable the reachability option by swiping down on the gesture bar.

Spotlight gesture:

Swipe down anywhere on the home screen apart from the gesture bar to enable spotlight feature.

iPhone X buttons and how to use them:

iPhone X has three buttons – side button (power button), volume up and volume down. A combination of these buttons will allow the user to control their iPhone X in certain ways. Let’s explore.

Launch Siri:

Press and hold the side button to launch Siri.

Apple Pay:

Double tap the side button to launch Apple Pay. Do note that on launching Apple Pay, the phone will require Face ID to authenticate your purchase and pay at the payment terminal.

Take a screenshot:

Press the side + volume up buttons simultaneously to take a screenshot. Screenshots will show up as a minimised image for the user to take actions immediately.

Disable Face ID:

Press the side + volume up button simultaneously and hold this combo until you feel a taptic feedback (vibration). This will disable Face ID temporarily. This feature might come in handy in case of emergencies. Once disabled, the iPhone X can only be unlocked with your password.


Press the side + volume up button simultaneously and hold this combo long enough to bring up the Slide to Power Off screen. Interestingly, the same combo can do several things on the iPhone X. Getting the timing right is a learning curve we all have to go through. You can also shut down the phone from Settings -> General tab.

Lack of Home button forces users to adapt. This could be the way we control iPhones henceforth.

Hopefully, Apple provides simpler means to access such basic functions.

Force Shutdown:

In some rare cases, you might want to force shutdown the iPhone X. It’s quite a task to do this on the iPhone X. Press and quick release the volume up button. Then, press and quickly release the volume down button. Now, press and hold the side button. If you get the timing right, you will see the Apple logo flash. Eureka!

Gestures and button – A complicated mess

iPhone X is a first-generation product in the newer generation of iPhones. I agree that these gestures and button combos are a mess for now. If you’ve used a MacBook, you would know that gestures are Apple’s forte. Although a steep learning curve, this could be a step into the future of phone controls as we know it.

With larger displays dominating the front fascia of every new generation of mobile phone, software-based controls will dictate the future of smartphone use. We hope Apple and Google keep it innovative, simple and functional. We are on the verge of a major leap in smartphone design change. Take a good look at the iPhone X and learn it well, as it is one of the torchbearers defining a newer generation of upcoming smartphones.

Loves technology and follows it passionately. A curious soul trapped in a weird dimension.


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