Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
There are a lot of little things on the iPhone that are handy like the mute switch. Here are some of my favorites:
refers to it as the "Ring/Silent switch." It's a hardware reminder of a time when our
were mostly for making calls. But as our iPhone habits evolved, it's still useful as a last line of defense for all audio alerts, except alarms.
Back to the top of a page
If you're on a web page in Safari or using an app that scrolls -- think Instagram -- you can tap on the time at the top of the web page or app as a shortcut to return to the top. In Safari, you tap once to reveal the web address field and then again on the time.
If you have an iPhone 8, 8 Plus or an iPhone X, you have one of the most welcomed camera features ever made for a phone: Slow Sync Flash. Basically, Apple made the camera flash actually usable. Bye, bye red-eye, and no more looking like you were caught in a pair of headlights when your photo was taken.
The iPhone takes the photo at a slower shutter speed while firing the flash quickly. With the shutter open longer, the background is exposed more, making it brighter. The results are impressive:
If you need to share photos, videos or files with other Apple devices, AirDrop is the way to go. It's incredibly easy. You just tap the share button and a row of possible devices to AirDrop to shows up. Then you tap a friend's icon and once they accept, the file or photo gets sent.
When AirDrop first rolled out, it seemed to work intermittently at best. But five years later, AirDrop is the main way I transfer things between devices. Check out this article for a refresher on AirDrop.
The smallest and cheapest Apple phone you can buy is the iPhone SE. It has the body of the iPhone 5/5S, but the internals and camera from the iPhone 6S. It's nearly impossible to find a new phone that's actually small and good. Oh, and it still has a headphone jack.
There are rumors that Apple will update the petite phone with an iPhone SE 2. But nothing has been formally announced.
Watch this: iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X: Which should you get?
Share your Wi-Fi password
One of the many delights of iOS 11 is when you join a new Wi-Fi network and a "Share Your WiFi" prompt appears on a friend's iOS device or Mac asking their permission for the password. Once they OK it, the devices do the rest. (I should note that the other person needs to be a contact in your address book.) This feature made the impossible a reality: It's actually fun to share a Wi-Fi password and protect your privacy -- the actual password is never displayed.
Double-tap the home button and the content on the screen lowers by a third, making it reachable with a thumb. This gesture is second nature to me. On the iPhone X, there's a setting in the Accessibility menu to turn the feature on.
Perfectly level photos
With the release of
, a pair of crosshairs -- one white, one yellow -- appear when you shoot top-down photos. You slightly maneuver the iPhone until the crosshairs merge and turn yellow, indicating that your phone is level with your subject -- think food photography.
I feel like Wes Anderson knowing that my avocado toast photo is perfectly framed and level.
When Live Photos came out, I wasn't too keen on it and turned it off. A Live Photo consists of a photo and a 3-second video made up recording 1.5 seconds before and after the picture is taken. Over the past year, I've re-enabled Live Photos and I'm so glad I did. It captures truly amazing moments that sometimes a single photo can miss.
One time I was playing Super Mario Odyssey on my Nintendo Switch and my cat Stella decided to sit in front of the TV. I paused the game and took a picture with my iPhone 7. The game's pause screen incidentally became a wonderful juxtaposition to Stella -- an ideal moment for Live Photos. Check it out:
The default iOS keyboard on any 3D Touch iPhone has a hidden trackpad. To activate it, press firmly on any key until you see the keys turn blank and feel a haptic tap. The keyboard essentially becomes a trackpad and as you slide your finger around the keyboard, the onscreen cursor follows.
Watch this: Check out the hidden mouse in your iPhone's keyboard