Neat new iPhone trick: Optimize your Apple TV picture settings with your phone. Here’s how


Soon you’ll be able to use your iPhone’s front-facing camera to tune your Apple TV’s color for a better picture.

Patrick Holland/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple unloaded a whole bevy of new hardware on Tuesday, including new iPad Pro, new iMac, AirTags a purple iPhone 12 and a new Apple TV and Apple Siri remote. Among all the upgrades and flashy new features is one that really lit up the imagination: Being able to tune the color of your TV using just your phone. Of course, for Apple, it works just with your Apple TV and your iPhone.

TV optimization settings are an enormous part of any viewing experience on any TV, and it usually involves diving into specific settings to fine-tune the picture. The right balance of settings can change depending on what kind of movie or show you’re watching — or a slideshow of your photos, even. Apple’s idea is to remove a lot of these steps by using your iPhone’s front-facing camera to do much of the work.

The new feature will save you time from trying to tune the colors on your own, and give you more consistent picture quality when using your Apple TV. While Apple didn’t shed a ton of light on everything the Apple TV will be able to do, we’ll share what we know so far. Here’s how tuning your Apple TV with your iPhone will work.


The new Apple TV has all kinds of new features. 

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Here’s what you’ll need to use the new Color Balance feature

  • iPhone X or newer with Face ID running iOS 14.5 or later.
  • An Apple TV 4K running TVOS 14.5 (first generation and later)
  • An Apple TV HD running TVOS 14.5

With iOS 14.5 not set for release until next week, you won’t be able to go through this process until the official launch. We’ll update this guide once it’s available. Once you have the proper software update, here’s how the feature will work. 

How to color balance your Apple TV using your iPhone

To color balance your Apple TV to match your TV’s picture and color quality, you’ll need to activate the feature in the settings app, then hold the front of your iPhone up to your television’s screen. There will be a rectangular box on your TV screen where you’ll need to place your phone. 

The TV will flash several different colors while your iPhone measures and records those colors, giving your Apple TV the information it needs to tune the colors to look the best on your TV.  

From the video Apple has posted, it looks like the process takes less than 10 seconds. Here’s an animated image that shows what you’ll have to do:

It looks like an easy enough process, right? 

Video from Apple/Animated image by Jason Cipriani/CNET

We tried using the feature on our Apple TV running the release candidate of TVOS 14.5, but because the television supports Dolby Vision, the Color Balance feature is unavailable. However, you’ll be able to find it by going to Settings > Video and Audio > Color Balance under the Calibration section on your Apple TV.

Want to know more about iOS 14.5? We have plenty to share. Your iPhone is gaining a new Face ID feature that’s somewhat magical, and you can even change Siri’s voice