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Green and orange dots on your iPhone? Here’s what they really mean

The information at the top of an iPhone screen is generally pretty self-explanatory. The symbols that live there show information regarding things like your battery level, your service provider, and the strength of your Wi-Fi connectivity. But there are two small icons that are a bit of a mystery: the green and orange dots that occasionally appear as you use your phone. Because there’s nothing that explicitly says what they’re for, and tapping on them doesn’t do anything either, many iPhone users are left scratching their heads about what these green and orange dots mean.

The dots have been around since the introduction of iOS 14, which launched in 2020, and are actually pretty straightforward and simple to understand once they’ve been explained. Here’s what you need to know about the green and orange dots that appear on the top of your iPhone’s screen.

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What the green dot on your iPhone means

Green dot on an iPhone 14 Pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The green dot appears on your iPhone whenever an app is using your iPhone’s cameras. It can also signify when an app is using your camera and microphone together. The green dot doesn’t distinguish between an app using your camera for pictures or video, but if an app is using it for video recording, assume that the microphone is activated too.

Common apps that will display the green dot on your iPhone include FaceTime, Instagram, Snapchat, or the camera app itself. The green dot is helpful for keeping track of when your camera is in use, so that you can monitor when you might be filmed or have your picture taken.

What the orange dot on your iPhone means

Orange dot on an iPhone.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The orange dot will appear at the top of your iPhone screen any time your microphone is being used to pick up audio. You’ll see it commonly when using something like the Voice Memos app, when making calls, or when using the dictate text feature to jot something down using your voice.

While all apps should ask for your permission for them to access your microphone when opening them for the first time, the orange dot can help you monitor which apps are actively using your mic.

If you have an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max, you’ll see these green and orange dots inside the Dynamic Island. If you have an iPhone model with a notch, the green and orange dots will appear in the upper-right corner of the display.

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