How to Use the iPhone Compass: A Step-By-Step Guide

To use the iPhone compass, simply open the Compass app, calibrate it if necessary, and read the bearing at the center of the screen. It’s a handy tool for navigation and orienteering.

After you complete this action, you will be able to navigate and find your direction easily using your iPhone.


Ever found yourself lost on a hike, or struggling to find your way in a new city? Your iPhone’s built-in compass can come to the rescue! Knowing how to use your iPhone compass can be a lifesaver in situations where you need to find your bearings and navigate your way through unknown territory. It’s a feature that’s often overlooked but can be incredibly useful for outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, and anyone who enjoys exploring.

The compass on your iPhone isn’t just a digital version of a traditional magnetic compass; it has additional features such as showing your current location’s latitude and longitude, elevation, and even the incline. Plus, with the integration of other apps, it can provide a seamless navigation experience. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just someone who wants to be prepared, understanding how to use the iPhone compass is a valuable skill. So, let’s dive in and learn how to navigate with our iPhones!

Step by Step Tutorial: Using the iPhone Compass

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s briefly discuss what we’ll accomplish in this tutorial. We’ll go through the steps to access and use your iPhone’s compass feature effectively. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to read and utilize the compass like a pro.

Step 1: Open the Compass app

Open the Compass app on your iPhone by locating the app on your home screen or searching for it in the App Library.

Once you’ve found the Compass app, tap on it to open. You’ll see the compass face with a needle pointing towards magnetic north. The app may also prompt you to calibrate the compass, which is an essential step for accuracy.

Step 2: Calibrate the Compass

If prompted, calibrate the compass by tilting your iPhone to roll the red ball around the circle.

Calibrating the compass ensures that the readings are accurate. This process may involve moving your iPhone in a figure-eight motion or tilting it as instructed on the screen. It’s a quick but crucial step that helps the compass determine your orientation.

Step 3: Read the Bearing

Once calibrated, hold your iPhone flat and read the bearing, which is the number in the center of the compass.

The bearing is the direction you’re facing, measured in degrees from 0 to 359, with 0 being true north. Make sure you hold your iPhone level to the ground to get an accurate reading. The compass also displays your current location’s longitude and latitude at the bottom of the screen.

Step 4: Use Additional Features

Explore additional features such as the inclinometer by swiping left on the compass face.

The inclinometer measures the degree of slope or incline, which can be useful for outdoor activities like hiking. The Compass app may also integrate with other apps, like Maps, to provide directions based on your current heading.


Easy NavigationThe iPhone compass is a convenient tool for finding your way around. It’s always available in your pocket, making it ideal for spontaneous adventures or when you need to orient yourself quickly.
Additional FeaturesBeyond just showing magnetic north, the compass app provides extra information like your coordinates, elevation, and incline, which can be beneficial for more precise navigation needs.
Integration with MapsThe compass can seamlessly integrate with the Maps app, allowing you to follow directions based on your current heading, making it a comprehensive navigation solution.


Dependence on CalibrationThe accuracy of the compass is dependent on proper calibration. If not done correctly, it can lead to incorrect readings, which may be misleading in critical situations.
Interference from MagnetsThe compass can be affected by magnetic fields, such as those from speakers or magnets in phone cases, which can distort the readings.
Limited Use IndoorsThe compass is less reliable indoors due to interference from metal structures and other electronic devices, limiting its use in indoor navigation.

Additional Information

While the iPhone compass is a handy feature, it’s important to remember that it’s not infallible. Several factors can affect its accuracy, such as being close to magnetic fields or electronic interference. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry a traditional compass as a backup when you’re on serious outdoor adventures.

Additionally, remember that the compass app uses your iPhone’s sensors, which consume battery power. So, if you’re out and about and relying on the compass for navigation, make sure to keep an eye on your battery level or carry a power bank. Lastly, keep your iPhone’s software updated to ensure that the compass and other features function correctly.


  1. Open the Compass app on your iPhone.
  2. Calibrate the compass if prompted by tilting your iPhone.
  3. Hold your iPhone flat and read the bearing in the center of the compass.
  4. Explore additional features by swiping left on the compass face.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an internet connection to use the iPhone compass?

No, you don’t need an internet connection. The compass uses the iPhone’s built-in sensors to function.

Can the iPhone compass show true north?

Yes, you can set the compass to show true north instead of magnetic north from the app’s settings.

Is the iPhone compass accurate?

The iPhone compass is generally accurate but can be affected by magnetic interference or improper calibration.

Can I use the iPhone compass for professional navigation?

While the iPhone compass is helpful, it should not replace professional navigation tools for critical use.

Does the iPhone compass work globally?

Yes, the iPhone compass works globally, but make sure to calibrate it whenever you move to a significantly different location.


Understanding how to use the iPhone compass can enhance your sense of direction and confidence in navigating new places. It’s a valuable tool that’s easy to access and use, provided you keep in mind its limitations and the importance of proper calibration.

Whether you’re an urban explorer or a wilderness wanderer, the iPhone compass is a feature worth getting familiar with. So the next time you’re embarking on an adventure, don’t forget to utilize this handy tool—just make sure you’re also prepared with traditional navigation methods as a backup. Happy exploring!