My compass is often wrong, which leads to all directional modes of maps being wrong (very annoying for back country trail following). In old versions of iOS I remember the 'figure 8' popping up sometimes, but you don't see that anymore, nor have I found a way to determine if my compass is calibrated or not, other than checking the width of the blue cone in the Apple Maps app when you are in compass mode (it seems to get narrower as the compass is more accurate).

Is there any way to force recalibration in iOS 10, and/or see further information about current accuracy?

  • The only way to force a recalibration is turn location services off and on. I don't think there's a stock way to check the accuracy, you'd have to find a 3rd-party app that does that.
    – fsb
    Oct 13, 2016 at 2:10

7 Answers 7


In troubleshooting this, I learned a few important things:

  • While there is no way to manually force a recalibration of the compass aside from toggling location services on and off, generally the compass attempts to recalibrate itself when an app requests it if it has not been in use.

  • The 'blue cone' in maps seems to be the best way to easily tell how accurate the calibration things it is.

  • Arguably most importantly (and most embarrassingly), my issues were entirely caused by a case that I was using that had a small magnetic clasp in it. Everything worked just great after getting rid of it.

  • I've had the same experience but... drum roll ... There's no magnetic clasp on the case! Just a rubber case which seems to break the compass for some reason :s
    – AJFaraday
    Oct 4, 2018 at 11:30
  • Is it possible the case has a built in magnet or large piece of metal for a car mount? I know some of them do now
    – Peter
    Oct 4, 2018 at 18:12

Toggling the location services on/off a couple of times worked for me.


I found an answer from another site that worked instantly with my iPhone SE:

  • Hold phone flat, face up in front of you (on the palm of your hand)
  • Move the phone in a figure of eight motion (by tilting your wrist)
  • While making this repetitive movement, the compass will reorient itself.

I gave up and decided to delete it. I pushed and held it down to get it into delete mode, but it would not go. BUT, that ended up reorienting it!


The figure eight movement described by Trevor worked for me. I had two iphones side by side for comparison and mine was off by 90° until I recalibrated.


No one should ever use a smartphone to navigate back country, ever. Carry a real compass and the appropriate map(s). An actual compass and a map are not battery dependent, and they are accurate. The compass feature and trail navigation apps are gimmicks and are a recipe for disaster. I have worked Land Surveying since 1976 and have done extensive back country treks in the Rockies, Cascades, Chugach (Alaska) Mountains and some in the Bavarian Alps. My adult daughter, a few years ago, went on a hike with me in the Catskills, where we compared the compass and land nav app in her iphone to old school map and compass - the iphone was so far off, it boggles my mind that anyone would actually use this.

I then decided to test the accuracy of the smartphone compass by aligning it to a random direction and taking note of the reading and marking a line on a piece of paper on which the phone was sitting, without moving the paper, but turning the iphone and compass 90 degrees, I struck another line, turned another 90 degrees, struck a line, and repeated once more. This gave me the original line and then three others which were supposed to be all right angles. Using a protractor to measure the actual angles turned, I found that not ONE of these angles were perpendicular, moreover, the first and second were not 180 degrees out, nor were the 2nd and 4th lines stuck at 180 degrees to each other. The variations were anywhere from around 15 degrees to 30 degrees in error!

So, should anyone want to go hiking, use a real compass and a real map to navigate. Use the smart phone as phone.

  • 3
    Seriously, you're missing the point here . . .
    – Peter
    May 10, 2017 at 21:36
  • 1
    If you re-read the original question, you'll see that they were asking how to recalibrate the compass on a phone, and to see compass accuracy. You just came in and told them to not use a phone and to buy a compass. This is tantamount to someone asking how to drive somewhere with a car and you coming in and telling them to fly there with a helicopter.
    – esaruoho
    Nov 19, 2018 at 17:24

Go to true north settings. Go to settings and change it will resolve

  • 2
    While the difference between geographic and magnetic north affect the compass, it is not related to calibration in any way.
    – Fuzzy76
    Jul 12, 2018 at 9:36

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