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How to fix auto-brightness issues with iOS 6

Ambient light sensor readings got quite a bit of an overhaul in iOS 6, and now include Lock screen auto-brightness and better memory management. This has lead to many people experiencing issues with auto-brightness settings. iPhone 5 users in particular seem to be having trouble. If your auto-brightness isn't working under iOS 6, here's how to reset it and get it back in gear.

  1. Go into a dimly lit or dark room.
  2. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

  1. Tap on Brightness & Wallpaper.

  1. Turn the auto-brightness setting to Off.

  1. Adjust the brightness slider to the level you would like your screen brightness to be at in the given environment. For instance, if you're in a completely dark room, you'll probably want to put the slider all the way to low or pretty close to all the way down.

  1. Turn the auto-brightness setting to On again.

  1. Now flip on a light switch.
  2. Watch the brightness slider move upwards to adjust to the new light entering the sensor.

As long as the brightness slider is moving on its own, you have successfully re-calibrated the sensor and it should work properly from here on out.

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

30 Comments
  • Perfect timing. I had an issue last night where I just ended up turning the auto brightness switch off. Thanks for the tip!
  • I LOVE YOU, thank u, i actually though that it was the light sensor that was having trouble, i almost bring my iphone to the apple store, but i guess i was wrong, i really needed that light sensor, u save my eyes
  • Thanks for the tip.
  • This has been bugging me. This fix does not work for me and I have tried other fixes as well.
  • Doesn't work for me
  • Works great as long as you don't go back to a dark area. I think that's where the problem is: it doesn't dim back when your surroundings get darker, so it's effectively not working.
  • I saw this fix last week, and haven't had an issue since. Going from dark to bright to dark again. I do notice is increases brightness much faster than the dimming. So much so that when I watch it increase, it shoots up, while dimming tends to stutter/shimmy down.
  • Same was happening with mine; it wouldn't dim back down. What worked for me was following the steps in the video, then locking my phone while still on the brightness screen and still in the dark room. Then I unlocked my screen while still in the dark room. Sure enough, it quickly dimmed down. Hope this works for you too. This small stuff can be frustrating.
  • This was much needed for me on my mini. Thanks for the info. Worked like a charm. :)
  • Still doesn't handle the extremes well. I'd prefer to be able to set two brightness levels: one for near-total darkness and another for direct sunlight. Then I'd like iOS to interpolate automatically between those extremes as needed.
  • Thanks! A simple fix to an odd problem.
  • At first this didn't seem to work for me. I followed the steps as shown in the video. When I turned on the bright lights in the room, the brightness on my phone increased as well, as it should. However, the phone brightness did not dim at all when I turned off the room lights. It stayed bright. So I just gave up and locked my phone (while still on the brightness screen). As soon as I unlocked my phone again (while still in the dark room) I saw the brightness bar dim down quickly the way it was supposed to. So if at first it doesn't seem to work, try locking and then unlocking your screen.
  • This is part of auto brightness feature. What about auto dimness feature???? Turn it off then turn it back on??? This is too much annoying and too much attention for my kids to play with them. Apple needs to fix it. Or I will return all the i devices to where they came from. All my iPads mini, iPad 4, and iPhone 5 are the same problems. Bright on light, never get dim when enter dark area.
  • Anyone run into the problem where, with Auto-Brightness OFF, the phone (mine's a 4S) just goes dim during use? If you then hit the Sleep button to turn off the screen, then hit it again to switch it back on, the brightness goes back to what it was prior to the auto-dim.
  • It's too bad my iPod Touch 5th generation does not a light sensor.
    In other words, I don't have an auto brightness feature to mess up.
  • Thanks for the tip. Been having brightness issues for quite a while. Will try this tonight.
  • Doesn't work as described on Verizon iPhone 4. Brightness seems to adjust, but the slider doesn't move.
  • this does work on the 4S thanks
  • you're a GOD! Thank you so much! I was up all night restoring my iPad mini for like 10x already. LOL! I was already freaking out thinking I had to send my mini all the way back to Apple. THANK YOU!!
  • I've followed these directions multiple times and my auto-brightness is still not fixed??? Please help if you can. One note: when I turn autobright back on (step 6) the slider moves toward bright just a hair, when I flick the light on (step 7) the slider does not move at all. I've also tried multiple variations on the instructions, nothing works...
  • Got any other ideas?
  • Thank's! You solved my problem.
  • This is a repost in hope that someone will have an answer... I've followed these directions multiple times and my auto-brightness is still not fixed??? Please help if you can. One note: when I turn autobright back on (step 6) the slider moves toward bright just a hair, when I flick the light on (step 7) the slider does not move at all. I've also tried multiple variations on the instructions, nothing works...
  • Bad auto brightness sensor. Same thing on my iPad 1 that doesn't work on this feature at all.
  • thanks for the tip. was driving me crazy while I was driving!
  • Thank You so much, this fixed it for me !! Thanks a lot !
  • Worked like charm!!! Thank you :)
  • Wow... Complete Magic!!! Thanks...
  • Another trick is if you can't go into a dark room simply cover the forward looking camera and light sensor with your thumb (or whatever) while you adjust your base setting. Then turn on the auto correction and remove your thumb (or other obstruction) and pow, success!
  • please help need to know how to find and set the profile sound to my iphone 3G S