How to unlock screen rotation on iPhone

Most of us generally view smartphone screens in portrait format, unless we are watching a video, playing games, or viewing certain high-resolution images.

One of the cool things about the iPhone, however, unlike other devices, is that its screen can reorient itself based on how you hold the phone.

However, sometimes the screen doesn’t rotate to fit the side your iPhone turns on, which can be frustrating and make it harder to use the phone.

Before you conclude that your phone may be broken and book an appointment with an Apple Genius, read this guide to find out why it happens and how to unlock iPhone screen rotation.

What are the causes of locked screen rotation issue on iPhone?

Ideally, your iPhone screen should be able to rotate seamlessly. If not, the screen rotation function may be locked or your screen or app may not support this function.

One of the main culprits of screen rotation issues on an iPhone is the Home screen accelerometer calibration during startup.

A hand holding a mobile phone

Your iPhone’s accelerometer measures acceleration in smartphones, but its main job is to detect changes in orientation and tell your iPhone screen to alternate or rotate between up and down and vice versa.

If the accelerometer does not calibrate during startup, you can restart your iPhone in portrait mode and see if it will return to normal.

Together with the built-in gyro sensor, the accelerometer helps you control games by moving your iPhone or, if you’re using the Maps app, it helps you give you precise directions.

Holding the iPhone sideways in landscape view flips the screen to match orientation, the same way you hold the phone upright in portrait view.

Your iPhone is smart enough to know you’re holding it in portrait (portrait) or landscape (landscape) format and rotate the screen to match. However, when the accelerometer and gyro sensors aren’t working properly, the screen can rotate when you don’t want it, which can be quite annoying.

If you are struggling with the locked screen rotation issue, we will show you how to find the screen rotation on your iPhone and unlock it so that you can enjoy your content in your preferred format.

How do I unlock iPhone screen rotation?

Before we get into the steps you can take to unlock iPhone screen rotation, it’s important to know when screen rotation lock is enabled on your phone.

Hands showing how to rotate an iPhone

If your iPhone is running iOS 7 and later, screen rotation lock is enabled by opening Control Center, but you can do the same quickly by tapping the icon bar at the top of the phone screen next to the battery icon.

When the rotation lock icon is active, it will be displayed with a curved arrow next to the battery icon. If you don’t see it, the lock is off.

On iPhone X / XS / XR and 11, you won’t see the rotation lock icon on the home screen. You can only see it in the upper right part of the Control Center.

However, you can double tap the Home button and find the screen rotation lock / unlock button on the right next to the music player controls. A simple touch will unlock it and you can rotate the screen once more.

Here’s how to unlock screen rotation on your iPhone:

1. Disable Portrait Orientation Lock

2. Restart the app / test with another app

3. Restart your iPhone

4. Disable display zoom

5. Reset all settings

6. Repair the accelerometer

Turn off portrait orientation lock

If you’ve tried turning your iPhone sideways and the display is stuck vertically, Portrait Orientation Lock may be enabled.

You can quickly disable it by going to the Control Center. The method you use to get there depends on the iPhone you are using.

For iPhone X, swipe down from the top right corner of the screen to open Control Center. If you’re using an iPhone 8 or earlier with the physical Home button, show Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

From the Control Center, find the lock and arrow icon with a curved line around it. If the lock icon is displayed with a highlighted (white) background, it means it’s enabled, so tap it to disable Portrait Orientation Lock.

Portrait Orientation Lock in Control Center

A message will appear at the top of the Control Center informing you that Portrait Orientation Lock is turned off.

Portrait Orientation Lock disabled

Go back to the home screen by pressing the Home button or swiping down from the top right corner, then try turning your iPhone sideways to see if it rotates freely.

Note: In older versions of iOS, you can find the rotation lock feature in Fast App Switcher. To open it, double-click the Home button and swipe from left to right.

If the screen still doesn’t rotate, try the other solutions below.

Restart the app or try another app

If your iPhone screen still won’t rotate after disabling portrait orientation lock, most likely the app or screen you’re on doesn’t support screen reorientation. You can try some options to solve the problem as follows:

Restart the app if it’s frozen or crashed. To do this, access the App Switcher by swiping up from the Home bar and holding for a second to reveal the function. For iPhones with a Home button, double-click to access the App Switcher.

App switcher in the iPhone

Find the app you want to close and swipe up on the preview. Go to the Home screen, find the app and open it again. If the screen rotation issue was with the app, these steps should help you rotate your iPhone screen again.

Note: Not all apps support screen rotation. Likewise, the home screen on most iPhone models does not rotate, although it does for iPhone 6 / 6S / 7/8 Plus models.

Restart your iPhone

Still can’t unlock screen rotation? The problem could be a bug on your iPhone. To fix this, restart your iPhone as it usually fixes any software conflicts that might be causing such problems and check if it’s working normally again.

To restart your iPhone, press and hold the Volume Up or Volume Down button with the Side button until the Swipe to Power Off menu appears. If your iPhone has a Home button, you can press and hold the Sleep / Wake button to bring up the Power menu.

A hand holding an iPhone

Swipe the Slide to Power Off switch to turn off your iPhone, then press the Sleep / Wake or Side button to turn it back on.

You can also do a forced restart and see if that fixes the problem. Once your iPhone restarts, check if the screen orientation works again.

Disable display zoom

Display Zoom allows you to zoom in on what is displayed on your iPhone screen by enlarging the text and icons on the Home screen. It is only available on supported models, including iPhone 6/7/8 Plus, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

If you have one of these iPhone models with Display Zoom, it may interfere with the rotation of the screen. To fix this, disable Display Zoom by going to Settings> Display and brightness.

Display and brightness in the Settings window

In the Zoom display section, tap View and then tap Standard> Set.

Displays the Zoom menu in Display and Brightness

Your iPhone will restart with the new zoom setting and you can check if the screen can rotate normally again.

Reset all settings

If you are at this point and still can’t fix the screen rotation issue, you can reset the iOS settings. This will reset things like network settings and WiFi connections to handle some bugs and quirks like the screen rotation lock issue.

To reset all settings, open Settings> General.

General in the Settings window

Then, tap Reset.

Reset in the General window

Faucet Reset all settings and then enter your passcode to confirm the action.

Reset all settings in the Reset window

Your iPhone will restart, after which you can check if the screen rotation works normally again. If not, you should probably completely reset your iPhone by going to Reset and tapping Erase all content and settings. Before doing that, back up your iPhone and then use this option.

Repair the accelerometer

If you’re at this point and the screen rotation still doesn’t work, your iPhone’s accelerometer may be broken. The accelerometer controls the screen rotation function as it detects the movement of your iPhone. If it’s broken, it can’t work normally to track your movements, so it won’t even know when to rotate your phone screen.

Someone who fixes an iPhone

This solution requires a professional, so contact Apple Support and set up the service for your iPhone, or visit an authorized Apple repair shop to do so.

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