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iPhone’s New Always-On Display: How It Works on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

Apple’s iPhone is finally catching up to rival Samsung and its own Apple Watch. The new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will feature an always-on display feature that shows the clock and selected widgets on the iPhone screen even when it’s locked and not in active use. 

An always-on screen that stays illuminated after the initial timeout period is a technology that’s been available on Android phones (especially Samsung Galaxy devices) for years. Apple adding it to its iPhone 14 Pro models signals a possible adoption by all iPhones down the line. Many Apple Watch models already have the always-on feature integrated.

Alongside the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max (which you can buy in deep purple), Apple unveiled the new iPhone 14, 14 Plus, a supercharged Apple Watch UltraApple Watch 8 and AirPods Pro 2. The company also said that iOS 16 will launch Sept. 12. (Check out the best new iOS 16 features here.)

We’ll explain what iPhone 14’s version of the always-on display feature is and how it will work. For more iPhone news, don’t miss how the new Dynamic Island notch redesign works in iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.

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How does the always-on display work?

Normally, when you lock your iPhone, the lock screen shuts off and you either have to press a button, raise your phone or tap your screen to make it active again. With an always-on display, your lock screen doesn’t turn off — it stays dim — so you can easily glance at the time, widgets and live activities without touching your phone.

For instance, when you get a text message, you generally have only a few seconds to look it over before your iPhone screen turns off. With an always-on display, you have unlimited time to view the message.

When you turn the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max face down on a surface or put it in your pocket, the screen will darken as a way to save on battery life, since you won’t need to “glance” at the screen when it’s in a pocket or upside down on a table.

Will it drain my iPhone battery faster?

Apple said the always-on display can operate at a refresh rate as low as 1Hz (i.e. once per second) with a new low-power mode. It also uses multiple co-processors in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max chips to refresh the display using minimal power. 

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Can I turn off the always-on setting?

Apple didn’t say whether this feature would be optional, but it’s likely you’ll be able to turn it off in your settings. Apple Watch users are able to turn off the always-on display in the Display & Brightness setting, so that’s likely where you’d turn it off on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. You can customize a similar setting on Samsung phones as well.

For more information about the new iPhones, check out all the iPhone 14 colors, the camera updates and one favorite comeback feature.

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