Apple iOS 12 (Almost) Fixes the Worst Thing About the iPhone X

By Andrew Couts on at

The public beta version of Apple’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 12, is now out in the wild, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to find out whether Apple had really fixed the most annoying thing about using the iPhone X — screenshots—as we expected it would when the developer beta became available last month.

It did, sort of. For some people, in some scenarios. But for this iPhone X user at least, the problem is still very much alive.

As I wrote just days before Apple showed off iOS 12 to the world, taking a screenshot on the iPhone X is simply too easy. In the absence of a home button, you just press the right-side sleep button and the volume-up button, and voila, you have a screenshot. The issue is, for me and countless others, these buttons are placed exactly where your thumb and pointer finger go when you hold the phone naturally, making it frustratingly easy to accidentally engage the screenshot feature. You then either have to begrudgingly click through the few steps to delete the errant screenshot or just live with your storage filling up with useless images. (My screenshots folder currently has more than 120 accidental screenshots that I simply lack the patience to clear out.)

While plenty of readers told me (both seriously and facetiously) that I simply “hold the phone wrong,” the problem was apparently enough of an issue for Apple to address it with a tweak to the screenshot functionality in iOS 12. Now, rather allowing you to take a screenshot anytime, the feature is turned off when the screen is asleep. That means, if you’re fumbling for your phone in your bag or purse, there’s less of a chance that you’ll accidentally snap a screenshot. That’s good! Progress! But it’s almost meaningless to me.

In my experience over the past nearly eight months of having an iPhone X, accidental screenshots always happen when the screen is already on. Either I’m just holding it and squeeze the phone a bit too hard, mindlessly pressing the buttons. Or when I pick up my phone in the morning to turn off my alarm (which turns on the screen). Or when I’m turning the volume up. Or, most often, when I’m trying to put the screen to sleep, pressing the right button with one while pressing on the other side for leverage, hitting the volume-up button in the process. In exactly zero of these scenarios will the tweak to the screenshot feature in iOS 12 stop me from taking more accidental screenshots.

What I was really looking for from Apple was a way to turn the screenshot feature off entirely—just a little toggle that lets me switch it on and off as I please. Hell, they could add an on/off button to Control Center, right next to the flashlight. If that wouldn’t work for some design or engineering reason I’m unaware of, perhaps they could make it a gesture rather than button-activated. But no, Apple just barely limited the scenarios in which you might mistakenly hit the pesky button combo.

Of course, this is still the beta version of iOS 12 we’re talking about, and Apple could roll out a more robust fix at any point. And I am happy that the Cupertino crew is at least listening to those of us beset by this annoyance. But for now, we’ll just have to continue to live with the one thing that makes the best phone I’ve ever used a pain in the arse.