iOS 16 is finally available to the public. The newest iteration boasts a lot of visual changes for the lock screen, for the first time ever. With customization features like multiple lock screen wallpapers, changeable font and colors, widgets, and focus linking, iOS 16 is filled up to the brim to experiment with personalization.

But one of the features people were most looking forward to has to be the new multi-layered effect that Apple preeminently showcased at the WWDC this year. Dubbed the Depth Effect, the aesthetic effect puts the subjects in the photos artfully in front of the clock on your iPhone Lock Screen. It uses on-device AI image processing to distinguish the subject from the background and create a layered effect. If you’re trying to figure out how to use this effect on iOS 16, look no further.

Supported Models

You can use the Depth Effect on any of these iPhone models running iOS 16.

  • iPhone SE (2nd generation and later)
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max

Set a Depth Effect Wallpaper for the Lock Screen

You can customize current wallpapers or add new wallpapers in iOS 16 from the lock screen itself. Unlock your iPhone using Face or Touch ID but don’t go to the home screen yet. Then, tap and hold the lock screen. If you need to enter the passcode to unlock your iPhone, touch and hold the lock screen until the option to enter the passcode appears.

The lock screen customization screen will open. Tap the ‘+’ button to add a new lock screen.

The Lock Screen wallpaper gallery will open in an overlay screen.

To set a depth effect wallpaper, you’ll need a photo that supports layering and not all photos support it. Only photos that have people, pets, or the sky in them support the multi-layered effect. And even then, there’s always a possibility that it might not. If the subject in the photo is too high, too low, or is obscuring too much of the clock, the depth effect won’t work.

Moreover, contrary to what many people would have you believe, you don’t need a portrait photo for the depth effect to work. In fact, many times, a photo taken with the portrait effect on iPhone won’t support the depth effect as the subject ends up obscuring too much of the clock.

You can either choose photos from your gallery to set as a depth effect wallpaper or select one from the wallpaper gallery that supports the depth effect, like a couple of astronomy, pride, and collections wallpapers.

To select a photo from your gallery, tap the option for ‘Photos’ from the wallpaper gallery.

Then, you can either select a photo from the ‘Featured’ category that iOS intelligently suggests to complement your lock screen settings. Or you can switch to other categories like ‘All’, ‘People’, or ‘Nature’ to choose the wallpaper accordingly.

Tap the photo to select it.

In most cases, if the photo supports the depth effect, it’ll automatically appear in front of the clock. But sometimes, some photos will start showing the depth effect when repositioned. For example, if the subject is too high, repositioning it by zooming it out makes sure it isn’t obscuring too much of the clock. Similarly, when the subject is too low, zooming in to reposition it on the clock makes sure it can be layered.

To reposition a photo, pinch open to zoom it in and pinch closed to zoom out. Try adjusting the subject in front of the photo after zooming it in. The Depth Effect might kick in.

Left: The Depth effect didn’t automatically apply since the subject was too low from the clock.
Right: Repositioning the photo by zooming in activated the depth effect.

To use an astronomy wallpaper, go to the ‘Weather & Astronomy’ section and select either of the wallpapers of the Earth and the Moon where they are in front of the clock. Similarly, to use any other wallpapers from the gallery that support this effect, go to their respective categories.

Note: Depth Effect doesn’t work with lock screen widgets placed below the clock.

If the astronomy lock screen has widgets on it, tap the rectangle to edit them. Then, tap the ‘–’ on each widget to remove them.

Once there are no widgets on the lock screen, the depth effect will automatically turn on.

After that, tap ‘Add’ in the upper-right corner to save the lock screen.

Then, either tap ‘Set as Wallpaper Pair’ to set it for both lock and home screens or tap ‘Customise Home screen’ to make changes to the home screen.

The depth effect is not supported on the home screen, i.e., the subject won’t appear in front of your apps.

You can also disable the depth effect on any wallpaper that is supporting it. Tap the three-dot menu in the bottom-right corner. Then, tap ‘Depth Effect’ to disable it so there’s no checkmark next to it.

Depth Effect is one of the most beautiful additions to iOS in a while. With this guide, you know how to exactly have the lock screen of your dreams.