iPhone 15 Dynamic Island — what you need to know

Apple iPhone 15 held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 15 is here and there are a number of key features that make for a tempting upgrade over the iPhone 14. But while USB-C and a sharper 48MP camera are nice to have, most users will surely be swayed by the introduction of the Dynamic Island. After all, this is the upgrade they’ll come face-to-face with every day when using either the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus. 

If you’ve somehow missed the Dynamic Island, it’s a delightful feature that admittedly sounds like the title of one of the best Netflix shows. The feature was introduced last year on the iPhone 14 Pro and replaced the infamous notch that Apple has used since the iPhone X to house the front-facing camera and necessary sensors for features such as Face ID unlock. 

In essence, the Dynamic Island is a cutout at the top of the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus that fluidly expands and adapts depending on what feature you’re currently using. For example, it can show you the next direction during Apple Maps navigation or show what’s currently playing if you’re playing music while interacting with another app. 

And because it integrates with third-party apps you can, for example, get real-time updates on food delivery, ride sharing or sports scores.

Know thyselfie

iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple | YouTube)

As long as people like to take selfies, hold video calls and enjoy the benefits of face-based biometric identification then front-facing cameras aren’t going anywhere. While many of the best Android phones have embraced the hole-punch camera a few manufacturers (Samsung and ZTE to name a couple) are experimenting with under-display cameras. Although they’re slowly getting better, they’re still a noticeable part of the screen and can be a bit distracting if you want a flawless display. 

Apple’s answer is to go the other way to make the front-facing components a practical part of the everyday usage of the phone. And it really, really works. 

Considering the years of flack the company has gotten from various corners of the internet (and the tech industry) for its adherence to the notch, the Dynamic Island combines both aesthetics and usability — something Apple hasn’t always been able to manage.

What can the Dynamic Island do?

iPhone 14 dynamic island phone call

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Here’s a list of all the functions inside iOS the Dynamic Island can notify you of or let you interact with. There are many more third-party features from the likes of Spotify or YouTube but here are the core functions you can use it for right out of the gate:

  • Apple FaceID confirmation
  • Apple Pay transaction confirmations
  • AirPods connection and battery life status
  • iPhone 15 charging status and battery life
  • Low battery warning
  • Apple Watch unlocking
  • Carkey unlocking
  • Silent Mode engaged
  • Personal hotspot engaged
  • AirPlay notifications
  • SharePlay notifications
  • NFC notifications
  • Airplane mode
  • Find my alerts
  • Turn–by-turn navigation
  • Incoming phone calls
  • Song playback details
  • Timer countdown
  • Live Activity sports scores
  • Screen recording duration
  • Voice memo recording duration

The Dynamic Island is just one of the improvements added for this year’s iPhones and you can read our initial thoughts on the iPhone 15 to learn more. If you want to know everything Apple announced at this year’s Wonderlust even then you can go through our event recap right here

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.