My iPhone 4's compass is off to a significant enough degree that it's annoying... is there any way to manually re-calibrate the compass?

I have, of course, done the "figure 8" (whatever action that was supposed to elicit) when I first set up the phone, and again whenever the phone prompts me to (which is very rare). What I'm looking for is a setting/menu/option by which I can call up that re-calibration interface, instead of waiting for it to prompt me.

  • My Facebook Messenger showed me in Afghanistan/Pakistan this past weekend. I am actually located in Michigan. Most messages were sent from my Android phone, but some from my iPad 4th generation. Not sure what might cause it to be off this far. Someone suggested I re-calibrate my compass. Not sure how that works with iPad. – user129540 May 27 '15 at 14:29

Update: You don't need to wait to be prompted to do the "figure eight thing". You can do it any time to recalibrate the compass.

The compass is really sensitive to outside influences. For example it is useless in my girlfriends BMW. It is consistently off by 135 degrees and doing the figure 8 doesn't make any difference. It's more of a toy than something you would want to depend on.

  • Thanks for the update... while it didn't make it any more accurate, it seems doing the figure 8 with a compass-relevant app open does affect the calibration-- no need to wait for a prompt. – jasonmklug Oct 3 '10 at 0:48

There is no setting in the standard iOS that allows this. The easiest way to bring that recalibration screen back up is to briefly put a magnet near your phone.

  • This sounds like a clever solution (so long as it's not too powerful a magnet, or so close to the phone as to mess with data). I couldn't get the recalibration screen to come up, though. I even tried moving two magnets around the phone independently. No dice. – jasonmklug Sep 26 '10 at 3:27
  • 2
    The iPhone uses flash storage, not a magnetic medium. Its data can't be messed with by magnetic fields. Evidently a strong magnetic field can attenuate cell signal strength, but flash media are impervious to magnets. – Dan Ray Sep 28 '10 at 12:53

It may be better to get the real compass and not depend on smart phones. This is because all smart phones (iPhone, Samsungs, and others) all have same issue.

  • I'm not using my compass app for wayfinding or something which requires extreme precision — I just wanted the maps app to show my orientation with an acceptable degree of accuracy. – jasonmklug Mar 13 '13 at 3:47

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