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iPhone Basics: Intro to buttons and ports on the iPhone 8 Plus and earlier

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Want to know more about why your iPhone looks like it does? If you have an iPhone 8 Plus or earlier, here is a general overview of which external ports and buttons exist. Knowing which features the buttons perform and what the ports are for can help you navigate and use your device to full capacity. Below is an example of iPhones from Apple's support page to better explain your device.

Related: iPhone development: Every model from 2007-201


Here's a picture from Apple's support page that shows the various buttons and ports of iPhones ranging from iPhone 8 Plus to iPhone 6. From the top, I explain a little more detail of what they do.

Top Speaker and Microphone

  • At the top is an internal front facing built-in stereo speaker and microphone. Along with the microphones and stereo speakers at the bottom, these help the iPhone deliver quality sound and let you be heard or recorded. The speakers let you hear when you play videos, receive calls, or if you have sounds for notifications, for example. The microphones let others hear you when talking during a call or if you record a video or message on the iPhone.

Call / Silent Switch

  • To the left is the Ring / Silent switch. With the switch pressed up, your phone rings for calls and alerts. If you press the switch down, you will see an orange tab telling you that the switch is depressed. When the switch is down, your iPhone caller is turned off and the phone will not send out any noise for calls or alerts. Even with the switch pressed down to Silent, your phone can still vibrate if you have this setting enabled.

Volume buttons

  • Below the Ring / Silent switch are the volume buttons. The upper volume button makes the sound higher while the lower volume button reduces the sound. Your volume buttons may have other features, such as using images.

Side button

  • To the right is the side button. You can click the Page button to turn the device on or off, or retrieve the "Power off" feature by holding down the Page button and the Volume button simultaneously to turn off the device completely. You can also shut down iPhone without using buttons.

Home Button

  • At the bottom of the front page is the Home button. Begin with iPhone 5's, the Home button has a Touch ID sensor that you can configure and use as another security layer to keep your information private from someone who can use your iPhone.

Light Switch

  • Between the bottom Built-in microphones and stereo speaker are the Lightning connector. You use this port to connect your iPhone to something with a lightning plug such as charging cables, USB cords, and other compatible devices.

Headphone jack

  • If you have an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, or SE, the headphone jack is at the bottom left. You can look at the example of the iPhone 5S and earlier to see visually about the location of the headphone jack.

Here is another picture from Apple's support page showing ports and buttons on an iPhone 5S and earlier:

  • Speakers, microphones, volume buttons and ring / silent switch all work as described above.
  • The main difference for these previous iPhones is the On / Off or Sleep / Wake button (which performs most of the same functions as the later button for later iPhones) at the top right.
  • Unless you have an iPhone 5S, the Home button has no Touch ID sensor. Press the Home button to wake your device if it is locked or long press to activate Siri if you have an iPhone 4S or later (and do not have or cannot activate Hey Siri).

Now you know what (and generally why) all the different ports and buttons on the iPhone 8 Plus or earlier are for. If you are not sure which iPhone you have, check here.

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