Apple might not have been the first to add a night camera mode to its suite of smartphones, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless. The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max allow you to shoot photos with incredible detail in some horrendously dark lighting conditions. But when you open up your new iPhone to try it out, you might be wondering how you turn it on.
Unlike other certain missing features, the answer doesn't lie in upgrading your new iPhone to iOS 13.1. Instead, Apple did something very "Apple" with its take on night mode. Rather than allow you to enable the feature as other Android OEMs do, Apple calls the shots when it comes to shooting in the dark with the default Camera app.
You see, when using the wide lens or telephoto lens, your iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max analyzes the lighting conditions in your environment. If the iPhone doesn't believe the situation calls for Night mode, it won't activate the feature. If the device decides it is dark enough for Night mode, the option appears in the top left of the display when in portrait orientation and the bottom left in landscape.
Tapping on the Night mode icon, hitting the chevron up top pointing upwards, or swiping up on the viewfinder itself will open the expanded settings which take over the shooting mode menu by the shutter button. You can hide the options by hitting the Night mode icon, the downward-facing chevron, or swiping down on the image.
If Night mode is available during dimly lit conditions, it's easy to use. If it's super dark, it'll kick it right away with an exposure time set based on how dim it is, with that time stated where the icon is in the corner.
When it's dark but not super dark, the option won't be enabled right away, but you can manually turn it on and adjust the exposure. Just tap the Night mode icon in the corner or from the expanded settings menu. Night mode will automatically choose a default exposure time, which you can see reflected in the Night mode icon in the corner. Use the slider in the settings menu to increase or decrease the time in seconds.
When ready, just snap the photo as you normally would. Just make sure to stay still until the photo is completely exposed, especially if it's a higher number you have it set to. The slider will turn into a countdown to let you know when it's safe to move again.
In most use cases, iOS will be right on the money when it comes to activating Night mode. But it can be frustrating not having the option whenever you want it. We expect third-party camera apps to eventually add a more customized Night mode to their suite of pro-photography features, unless Apple blocks that feature from developers as well.