What does portrait orientation lock mean on iPhone?

All iPhones have a portrait orientation lock option in the control centre by default. It’s easy to access, and easy to enable and disable.

However, there is no real explanation for what the option does in the iPhone settings. We’ll go over the basics of what the option means, as well as what it does when enabled or disabled.

Portrait orientation lock meaning on iPhone

The portrait orientation lock option has a very simple definition and function. Enabling the option means that the screen will be locked in portrait or vertical mode.

It will not and cannot change to landscape or horizontal mode when the phone is tilted sideways.

Unfortunately, there is no such option to keep the screen in landscape mode.

Android devices usually have a neutral orientation lock option, which locks the screen to whatever orientation it is currently in.

iPhones only have the option to lock the screen in portrait mode. If the screen is currently in landscape mode, enabling portrait orientation lock will force the screen to change to portrait mode.

However, this does not mean that the screen will never enter landscape mode when portrait orientation lock is enabled.

When certain options or apps are used, the screen will be forced to enter landscape mode.


For example, if you go on the YouTube app and press the ‘maximise video’ option, the screen will automatically enter landscape mode.


However, this only applies to videos that are originally in landscape orientation. The screen will stay in portrait mode if the video is a portrait-orientated video, such as shorts.

You can usually tell when a video is portrait-orientated, as the ‘maximise video’ option is bigger and stretched vertically.

Another example of when the screen will enter landscape mode, despite portrait orientation lock being enabled, is when opening a landscape-oriented app.

These apps only function in landscape orientation, and do not have a portrait mode.


Such apps include games, such as Genshin Impact. When opening these apps with portrait orientation lock on, the screen will open the app in landscape mode.

How to enable/disable portrait orientation lock

It’s very easy to enable or disable the portrait orientation lock option. You can do this from the Control Centre.

The portrait orientation lock option should be available in the Control Centre by default.

It’s relatively easy to control an iPhone from the Home Screen, and you can easily lock screen rotation – this can make it feel like your iPhone is running faster, as it doesn’t have to switch between the two orientations.

The portrait orientation lock option is symbolised by a lock icon. You can easily turn portrait orientation lock on by pressing the portrait orientation lock icon. Follow the below if you want to enable this mode.

First, swipe up on your screen to open the Control Center when you’re on the home screen of your iPhone. Your Control Center gives you quick access to the Portrait Lock button.


If there’s a lock icon encompassed by a circular arrow, press it to enable portrait orientation lock. The icon should turn red when enabled. If it’s not enabled, the button will still be white.


Press the lock icon again when you want to disable portrait orientation lock. Don’t forget to do this, otherwise your device’s orientation will stay locked.

Enabling this mode by pressing the portrait orientation lock button can lock your screen rotation, which might be useful depending on what you’re doing.

No portrait orientation lock button

If there is no lock icon in the Control Centre, there is an issue with your device. There is no way to add the portrait orientation lock option to the Control Centre using the settings.

There’s no option to do so. Portrait orientation lock is a default feature of the Control Centre. Consequently, this means that there is no way to remove the portrait orientation lock option from the Control Centre.

Fortunately, there are usually no bad consequences to be wary of when toggling portrait orientation lock on or off. The option is harmless, and simply locks the screen to a portrait orientation.

It’s easily reversible, and still allows the screen to adapt to certain landscape-oriented apps. This means that enabling portrait orientation lock won’t prevent you from using any apps or features.

However, it also means that there is no true way to fully lock the screen to portrait orientation.

The screen will change orientations in certain circumstances, so be aware of this when enabling portrait orientation lock. It doesn’t guarantee that the screen won’t enter landscape mode.

There is no way to fully prevent the screen from entering landscape mode. However, most apps and features do support the portrait orientation locking.

iPhone apps are usually portrait-oriented by default, such as iBooks, the App Store, the Clock app, and more.

There are also many apps that support both portrait and landscape orientation, and can switch between the two. Such apps include, the Photos app, Google Maps, Notes, and many more.

Thus, portrait orientation lock does succeed in locking the screen to portrait mode for the most part.


To conclude, portrait orientation lock has a self-explanatory meaning. It simply locks the phone screen to the portrait orientation or vertical mode – this can help your iPhone battery last longer.

However, the screen will still change to landscape orientation if you’re using an app or feature that only works in landscape orientation, such as Genshin Impact.

These apps are not that common, though. Thus, portrait orientation lock usually succeeds in keeping the screen locked to portrait mode.

Photo of author

Connect: Twitter



I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

Read more from Jenny


Apps UK
International House
12 Constance Street
London, E16 2DQ