Smartphones may be getting larger, yet reading the tiny type on your screen can still be a challenge, especially if your eyesight is less than perfect. But there’s no need to don glasses or squint: both iOS and Android have handy accessibility settings that help make your smartphone easier to read.
Make text larger
Both iOS and Android have settings that let you change the size of your onscreen fonts – from slightly larger than normal to downright whopping. Changes won’t apply across the board however. On an iPhone for example, the text in Apple’s apps including Mail, Messages and Contacts will reflect the change but webpage text will still be small and some apps may not change. To make text extra large:
iOS: Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text. Turn on the Larger Accessibility Sizes switch and then drag the slider to adjust text size.
Android: Tap Settings > Display > Font Size, then choose one of the four setting: Small, Normal, Large or Huge.
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Make text bold
Give your iPhone text a bold effect to make it stand out. Tap Settings > Display & Brightness, then toggle on Bold Text. Restart your iPhone for this change to take effect.
The iPhone’s transparent layers and blurs can make reading content difficult. Fortunately, there are several settings that can help. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Increase Contrast. Turn on Reduce Transparency to make items such as menus appear solid, and so easier to read. Try turning on the other two options to see if they help too.
Android offers a high contrast setting that adds an outline to text to make it more readable. To turn it on, tap Settings > Accessibility and toggle the switch next to High contrast text.
Invert screen colours
Most people prefer to read dark text on a white background but overbright screens can cause eyestrain, particularly when using your smartphone at night or if you suffer poor vision. A simple trick is to invert your phone’s screen colours, so text appears white on a black background. However, as all screen colours invert and photos appear as negatives, use this feature only as needed, then switch back to the phone’s default colour scheme. Alternatively, use apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in Dark Mode.
Predominantly using a dark background will also help extend your phone's battery power.
iOS: Tap Settings > General > Accessibility, then toggle the Invert Colors switch on.
Android: Tap Settings > Accessibility then toggle on Colour inversion.
Zoom the screen
Rather than changing text sizes and fonts, use your smartphone’s magnification features to zoom the screen so you can read it more easily, whatever app you’re using.
iOS: Tap Settings > Accessibility > Zoom, then toggle the Zoom switch on. To use, double-tap your iPhone’s display with three fingertips, keeping them on the screen after the second tap. The zoom controller appears, magnifying part of your screen. Drag your fingertips up to zoom in, down to zoom out. You can also drag with three fingertips to pan around the zoomed-in screen, then double-tap with three fingertips to return to a normal view.
Android: Tap Settings > Accessibility > Magnification, then toggle the switch on. To use, triple-tap your phone’s display and the screen will zoom in. Pinch the screen to zoom more, or pan around it by swiping with two fingertips. Triple tap the screen to return to normal view.
Use a mobile phone magnifier peripheral
Screen magnifiers are available for use on phones and tablets and they're particularly good for watching videos. Most mobile phone magnifiers have a backrest to prop your device on, with a folding magnifying lens (usually 12") that is positioned in front of the screen, making it easy to sit back and stream Netflix or Amazon Prime videos. They usually cost less than £20 and come in a range of styles and make a pretty good gift for anyone who watches a lot of films or TV on their phone even if their eyesight is not too bad.
Use your phone as a magnifying glass
Did you know that if you struggle to read small printed text while you're out and about, or even if you're reading at home, you can use your phone's camera and screen as a magnifying glass? You might find your phone already has it built in. It's default with Apple iPhones, but on Android devices it can vary.
Using the iPhone magnifying glass
To activate the magnifying glass on your iPhone simply:
- Open Settings
- Select General
- Select Accessibility
- Select Magnifier
- Toggle Magnifier to On
Once activated you can use your magnifying glass whenever you like by triple tapping the button on the side or the home button, depending on iPhone model (your phone will let you know which button to use when you turn on the magnifier).
Using the Android magnifying glass
To activate the magnifying glass on an Android phone:
- Open Settings
- Select Accessibility
- Select Vision
- Select Magnification
- Toggle Magnifying Glass to On
If your Android phone doesn't have the option built-in you can find a range of apps such as Magnifier Free, Magnifier Plus and Magnifying Glass all available to download from the Play Store.
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