4 quick tips for mobile cameras that help you take the picture

Have you ever missed capturing the perfect photo or video because you hung up to access your smartphone’s camera app on time? Your phon...

Have you ever missed capturing the perfect photo or video because you hung up to access your smartphone’s camera app on time? Your phone probably has a number of shortcuts built into its software and settings, although some may be less obvious than others. Here’s a quick guide to getting the speed you need so you don’t miss your moment.

Need the camera now? With the most recent iPhones running iOS 14, just swipe left from the lock screen to go directly to the camera application. Tapping the camera icon in the lower right corner of the lock screen also opens the app.


On many Google pixel and Samsung galaxy phones running Android 11, you can open your default camera app by quickly double-pressing the phone’s power button or side key. (If not, open the Android system settings and check the Gestures options, or confirm that Samsung Side key settings have the quick launch feature enabled for the camera.)


You can also tell your phone assistant to open the camera for you. Android Google Assistant will even snap the shutter or start recording on command, just like the Bixby assistant on Samsung Galaxy phones.

And the volume buttons on many phones also serve as an additional trigger.

Smartphones usually have a front camera for selfies and at least one camera on the back. To switch between them, tap the circular arrows icon in the Camera app or tell the voice assistant to “take a selfie”.

On recent Google Pixel models, hold the phone and turn your wrist twice to switch between the front and rear cameras. On new Samsung Galaxy phones, to glide up or down in the Camera app to switch cameras.

On phones with multiple rear cameras (wide angle, standard and telephoto), tap the screen to choose one. Move the zoom slider on the screen to adjust the angle. Touch the screen to access the exposure and focus controls.

Want to get straight into video recording? With iPhone XR or later, press and hold the shutter button on the camera to record a QuickTake video, or swipe right to lock video recording so you can still take photos. On a Google Pixel and some Samsung Galaxy phones, press and hold the shutter button to record without having to switch to Video mode.


At Samsung Single take on newer galaxy phones, press the shutter button once and move the camera. The phone will capture up to 10 seconds of photos and videos of the scene from different angles.

Your phone may also have settings that allow you to automatically improve your selfies. On iPhone 11 and iPhone 12, widen the angle of your selfie by pressing the arrows on the screen.

The Google Camera app on recent Pixel phones offers a zoom feature as well as selfie-specific settings to brighten your face and smooth out appearances; tap the arrow at the top of the camera screen to open these settings. Many Samsung Galaxy phones also include options in camera settings for the color tone and angle of the self-portraits.

Some topics change quickly, like athletes, animals or toddlers. When you don’t feel like shooting a video, you can quickly capture a stream of still photos continuously in “burst” mode, then go back and select the perfect photo from the batch.

On newer iPhone models, slide the Camera app shutter button to the left to start taking pictures; on iPhone X and earlier versions, long press the shutter button. After releasing the button, open the thumbnail image in the Camera Roll, press the Select button and cycle through the burst images, selecting those to keep. Many Samsung Galaxy phones take burst photos in the same way by slide the trigger, but consult your manual for details.

Google doesn’t have a dedicated burst mode for its Pixel phones running Android 11, but you can extract favorite images from video or animated photo. Open the Google Camera app, tap the arrow at the top of the screen, and turn on Motion Photos (which like Apple Live Photos or that of Samsung Animated photo, capture multiple action shots when you press the shutter button). Then tap on the Settings icon, choose Advanced and turn off “Social media depth features”.

After taking your image or clip, open it and swipe up on the screen. Select “Photos in this photo” or “Photos in this video. “Swipe through the footage until you find your favorite, then tap the save option.

Features vary depending on your own phone’s hardware and software, but taking a few minutes to explore your camera shortcuts can save you time later when you really need it.

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4 quick tips for mobile cameras that help you take the picture
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