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How to use StandBy Mode on iOS 17 (and which iPhone models support it)

The most handy iOS 17 feature turns your iPhone into an ambient smart display. Here's what you'll need to get started.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor and  Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Using StandBy Mode on the iPhone.
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

When Apple first unveiled iOS 17 and all the new features coming with the latest iPhone software, all eyes were reasonably drawn to StandBy mode, which transforms the smartphone, when docked, into a smart display.

Also: Apple's mysterious iOS 17.4.1 and iPad OS 17.4.1 updates are actually very important

With the latest version of iOS officially released, setting your iPhone horizontally (or in landscape orientation) on a MagSafe, Qi-based wireless, or wired charger activates StandBy mode, turning what would typically be a blank lock screen into an interactive, glanceable window of widgets.

Here's how you can start using the feature.

How to use StandBy mode on iOS 17

What you'll need: StandBy mode is available now on the most recent iPhone models. You'll also need to have iOS 17 downloaded. Any software after iOS 17.0 will work. 

1. Turning on StandBy mode

By default, StandBy mode is turned on in iOS 17.

If it's not, or should you want to turn off the feature, open up Settings > scroll down to StandBy > and switch the activation toggle.

Also: Let the iPhone sideloading begin! iOS 17.5 lets EU users download apps from the web

There are two other settings within this page for turning on Night Mode, which shifts the color tint from vibrant to red when the environment is darker, and notifications. 

With the latter setting, you can have critical notifications displayed in StandBy mode, and you can also tap on them to expand to the preview, similar to the iPhone's lock screen behavior.

2. Charging your iPhone

StandBy mode works with any compatible iPhone that's charging and rotated to a horizontal orientation. You can power the iPhone with a MagSafe charging dock, a standard Qi-enabled wireless charging pad, or even a standard lightning cable.

Also: This $20 wireless charger is so useful I bought two of them for my iPhone

StandBy mode will automatically turn on when both requirements are met, and your iPhone lock screen will change into a widescreen status hub with the time, date, and temperature.

One notable advantage when using a MagSafe-certified charging dock is location awareness. If you plan on docking your iPhone on multiple MagSafe accessories -- say you have one for your work desk, one by your bedside, and another for the kitchen -- the iPhone will automatically display the StandBy mode configuration you set for each.

Standby Mode iPhone iOS 17

StandBy Mode has different display options, including a quick view of HomeKit devices in use. 

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

3. Customizing StandBy mode

Swiping sideways on a docked iPhone cycles between three StandBy mode panels:

  • The first panel displays two columns of interactive widgets, similar to those on the iPhone home screen. A tap and hold on this panel allows you to add or remove widgets, move them around, and turn on Smart Rotate and Widget Suggestions for a more personalized experience.
  • The second panel is a photo clock, displaying the time and your choice of existing photo albums or photo categories (i.e., pets, nature, people). A tap and hold on this panel allows you to select the pictures you want to display.
  • The third panel shows a larger clock with different styles to choose from.

4. Notifications and alerts

If Show Notifications is turned on in the iPhone's StandBy settings, incoming messages and alerts will appear when the device is docked. 

Also: Siri's finally reading my messages in the right language thanks to iOS 17.4

For more privacy, you can toggle on Show Preview on Tap Only, so that you have to unlock the device via Touch ID or Face ID to view the notification in full.


What iPhone models support StandBy mode?

All iPhones that are upgradeable to iOS 17 will support StandBy mode. That level of support spans from the most recent models to the iPhone XR. Here's the full list of compatible devices.

Will StandBy mode always stay on?

StandBy mode will only stay on for iPhone models that support always-on display, meaning at the time of writing, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro series. For older models, StandBy mode will automatically turn off after 30 seconds of inactivity.

What charging dock is compatible with StandBy mode?

StandBy mode works with MagSafe-certified chargers, traditional Qi-enabled wireless chargers, and wired chargers -- the iPhone just needs to be horizontal and propped up on a stand or against something to trigger StandBy mode. If you want to take advantage of MagSafe location awareness, you'll need MagSafe chargers.

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