How’s this for irony: you reach for your phone to capture fun summer moments outside, but you can’t see the screen clearly enough to take the photo.
Or you get an important email from the boss while walking the dog, but you’re squinting horribly just to make out the words.
Worse, your phone overheats , so you can’t use it at all until it cools down.
Bottom line: Smartphones and tablets don’t generally work well in bright environments. But there are a couple of things you can do to make them easier to use while outdoors on a hot, sunny day.
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The brighter you can make your screen, the better you’ll be able to see it in sunlight.
Both iOS and Android have a “quick settings” feature to enable it – by swiping up from the bottom on iPhone or swiping down from the top on Android – and you can then slide the brightness bar all the way to the right.
Note: the brighter your backlight, the worse it is on the battery and the more it could cause eye strain, so don’t keep this on all the time. Those who wear polarized sunglasses may have added disadvantage, so play with brightness settings that work best for you.
Alternatively, you can enable “auto brightness” on your device, so that it recognizes the amount of light around you and automatically adjusts the screen brightness accordingly.
Some smartphone users – especially among those who work in the field – like to use an anti-glare cover. Around $10 or so, these small covers physically shield the phone’s screen from sunlight.
Just like when you buy a smartphone case, you’ll likely need to buy one that fits your exact model, though some are adjustable to fit models anywhere from 4.5 to 5.2 inches. Most fold down flat for easy storage, while others are meant to suction to a windshield.
These might be tougher to find at retail, but the products are available online at Amazon and marketplaces like eBay.
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Also, while you’re likely aware of screen protectors meant to reduce the odds of a scratch or crack, some products claim to reduce sunlight glare, too. Starting at about $5 for older models and $10 for newer ones, these “matte” screen protectors stick on top of your existing screen, so you’ll need to buy one that fits your exact phone.
When in direct sunlight, some phone users find it easier to read text – such as emails, text messages, or ebooks — when it’s white words on a black screen. It’s worth a shot, if you haven’t tried it. Enter your phone’s Accessibility settings to reverse the text color. It might be a tab you can touch called White on Black On/Off.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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