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Action Mode takes your iPhone camera to a new level, here's how it works

Calling all home filmmakers.
By
November 23, 2022

We can debate the best Android camera phone all day long, but it’s tough to get around the iPhone when it comes to video. Apple’s features are up there with the best that Android has to offer, including powerful options like Cinematic mode and slow motion at up to 240 fps. However, it can be tricky to wrap your head around one of the newest features — Action Mode. If you’ve been waiting to unleash your inner action star, here’s how to use Action Mode on the iPhone 14 series.

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QUICK ANSWER

Action Mode on the iPhone 14 is essentially high-powered video stabilization. It's meant for use in, well, action-packed scenarios like chasing a dog at a park or going for a run in a new city. Action Mode is straightforward to activate, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the iPhone camera app.
  2. Switch to video mode.
  3. Tap the small running figure in the top right corner.

That's all it takes, you're in Action Mode. Just call lights and camera and get to shooting.


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What is Action Mode, and how does it work?

apple iphone 14 plus camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As mentioned above, Action Mode is a high-powered video stabilization option on the latest iPhones. It’s designed to rival dedicated action cameras like the GoPro and hardware solutions like a gimbal. Apple is generally pretty tight-lipped about its technology, though we know that Action Mode uses the entire camera sensor. It then factors advanced roll correction to help you get buttery smooth video, even when moving. Action Mode also supports Dolby Vision and HDR for aspiring home cinematographers out there.

Action Mode relies on a combination of the entire iPhone 14 sensor and advanced roll correction for buttery smooth video.

You might also notice that Action Mode defaults to the ultrawide lens when you fire it up. This is done for a few reasons, but the most important is the extra light. Apple’s extensive post-processing and cropping can result in slightly darker footage, so it’s best to start in a bright environment. The other benefit is that the ultrawide camera gives the iPhone more room to crop. If the edges of your shot are very shaky, the iPhone can trim them for a better final result.

Unfortunately, iPhone users with filmmaking dreams will have to be rocking the latest hardware. So far, Action Mode is only available on the iPhone 14 series, and Apple doesn’t seem to have plans for backward compatibility.

How to use Action Mode on the iPhone 14 series

Explaining Action Mode takes much longer than getting the feature up and running. It’s easy to get started with your action star dreams, follow these steps:

  1. Open the default Camera app.
  2. Switch to the Video setting.
  3. Tap the small running figure in the top left corner to activate Action Mode.

You can also follow the screenshots above. If done correctly, you should see the little yellow icon in the corner and an Action Mode indicator on your screen.

How to customize Action Mode

Action Mode, when left to its default settings, is great for bright daytime videos. However, sometimes you might want smaller, more manageable files or just can’t find enough light. If you run into either of those scenarios, you have to know where Apple’s camera settings lie. It’s easy to tweak your camera to your heart’s content. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to the Camera section.
  3. Tap on the Record Video option.

From there, you can choose your video resolution and frame rate and toggle Action Mode Lower Light on and off. It’s a pretty self-explanatory feature, which reduces the overall stabilization so that you can still use action mode when you don’t have as much light at your disposal.

Action Mode in… Action

We can talk about Action Mode all day long, but pictures (or, in this case, videos) are worth a thousand words. We set up a few samples to show the difference when Action Mode is on compared to when it’s turned off. You’ll also notice that Apple’s video stabilization is already pretty good, but Action Mode takes it one step further.

Ducks in the park

Street run

Tips for getting the most out of Action Mode on the iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14 back dark
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Action Mode is pretty easy to set up. It’s not that difficult to use, either. However, there are always a few things to remember if you want to push your skills further. We’ve learned a few things in our time with the iPhone 14 series and have some tips to share.

  • Mind your lighting: We’ve already mentioned that Action Mode likes a lot of light. Keep a close eye on your phone, as the camera app will warn you if there’s not enough light available. If that’s the case, either pop over and turn on Action Mode Lower Light or find a brighter scene to capture.
  • Experiment with different zoom lengths: Action Mode defaults to the ultrawide camera, but it doesn’t lock you there. If you want to test out tighter frames, you can pinch in up to 3x zoom. Keep in mind that the final result will be a little bit closer as the iPhone needs some room to crop around the edges.
  • Practice, practice, practice: The best way to get better at Action Mode on the iPhone 14 is to practice. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t and the limits of what Action Mode can do.

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FAQs

Image stabilization has become a popular feature on modern smartphones, and you can find it on everything from the Pixel 7 Pro to the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Well, it depends. You should be alright if you just want smooth video while walking, but you may still want a gimbal for running shots or videos over rougher ground.

No, so far it appears that Action Mode will remain an iPhone 14 exclusive.

Open the Camera app and head to the Video tab, then toggle to Action Mode.

Yes. All four iPhone 14 models support Action Mode.