One of the really cool things about the iPhone and other iOS devices like iPad and iPod touch is that their screens can orient themselves based on how you hold the device. You probably saw it happen without even wanting to. If you turn the iPhone on its side, the screen adjusts to display wide instead of high.
But sometimes, when you turn your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the screen doesn’t rotate… it doesn’t fit. This can be frustrating or make your device difficult to use. It may even make you think your phone is broken. There are a couple of reasons why the screen may not rotate – and most are not real problems. Here’s what could happen and how to fix it.
The tips in this article apply to all iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad models running iOS 11 and iOS 12.
Try to unlock the iPhone screen rotation
iOS includes a setting called Screen rotation lock. As you probably understood from its name, it prevents your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from rotating the screen, regardless of how you turn the device.
To check if the screen rotation lock is on, look at an icon in the top right corner of the screen next to the battery indicator that looks like an arrow curving around a block. If you see that icon, the screen rotation lock is activated (this icon is not present on all versions of iOS and on some devices such as iPhone X and XS, it can only be displayed in the Control Center).
To disable screen rotation lock, follow these steps:
- In iOS 7 or later, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to view Control Center. The icon on the far left – the padlock and arrow icon – is highlighted to indicate that it is activated.
On iPhone X and newer models or on iPad with iOS 12 and later, scroll down from the top right corner instead.
- Touch the padlock and arrow icon to disable the rotation lock.
- When finished, press the Home button or scroll to close Control Center and you will return to the main screen.
After that, try to rotate your iPhone again. The screen should rotate this time. If not, there are other things you can try.
In previous versions of iOS, the Rotation Lock is located in the Quick Change app, which you can open by double-clicking the Home button and then swiping from left to right.
Some apps don’t support screen rotation
While many apps support screen rotation, not all of them do. The main screen on most iPhone and iPod touch models cannot rotate (although on iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus) and some apps are designed to work only in one orientation.
If you turn on the device and the screen does not orient, check if the orientation lock is enabled. If it is not enabled, the app is probably designed not to rotate.
Display Zoom Locks the rotation of the iPhone screen
If you have an iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7 Plus, or 8 Plus, you can rotate the layout of the main screen together with the apps. If the main screen does not rotate and the Screen rotation lock is not active, Zoom Display may interfere with it. This option allows you to zoom in on icons and text on the larger screens of these devices to make them easier to see. If you can’t rotate the home screen on these devices, disable Screen Zoom by following these steps:
- Tap Settings.
- Touch Display and brightness.
- Tap View in the View Zoom section.
- Tap Standard.
- Touch Set.
The phone will restart with the new zoom setting and the main screen will be able to rotate.
If the screen doesn’t rotate, your accelerometer may be broken
If the app you are using definitely supports screen rotation and orientation lock and Zoom display on the device are definitely disabled, but the screen still doesn’t rotate, there may be a problem with the device hardware.
The rotation of the screen is controlled by the accelerometer of the device, a sensor that tracks the movements of the device. If the accelerometer is broken, it will not be able to track the movement and will not know when to rotate the screen. If you suspect a hardware problem with your phone, make an appointment at the Apple Store to check.
Using a screen rotation lock on iPad
While the iPad works with the same operating system as the iPhone and iPod touch, the rotation of the screen works slightly differently on some models. For one, the main screen on all models can rotate. For another, the setting is controlled slightly differently on some models.
If you have an iPad before iPad Air or iPad mini 3, this tip is for you. In the Settings app, tap General and you will find a setting called Use side switch that allows you to choose the small switch on the side above the volume buttons controls the mute function or rotation lock.
On newer iPad models – iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and all iPad Pro models – use Control Center as described earlier in the article.