How to Calibrate Apple TV with Your iPhone

Get the most out of Apple TV with more accurate colors, all using your iPhone.

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Michael Archambault
Feb 28, 2022
Icon Time To Read3 min read

Apple's Spring 2021 event introduced a new feature for Apple TV users, the ability to calibrate the accuracy of the colors displayed on your television by using your iPhone.

By calibrating your Apple TV, you can ensure that the image displayed is what the video creator intended you to see--otherwise, the whites could be too warm or too cool, or the colors might be too dull or too vibrant.

All you'll need to get started is an Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K, and an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or later with Face ID--essentially, an iPhone X or newer. We'll show you how to get it done without any fuss.

How does the calibration process work?

To ensure that your video content is displayed correctly, the Apple TV color calibration process uses the iPhone's front-facing sensors to detect the color produced by your television's current settings.

Once detected, your Apple TV will adjust its video output to portray colors correctly and provide you with a more accurate and enjoyable viewing experience.

It is essential to know that calibrating your Apple TV's color will only affect the Apple TV itself; if you switch to another input, such as to play your PlayStation 5, the colors will not carry over.

How to calibrate Apple TV with your iPhone

Apple TV Calibration

Image Source: Apple

To get started, ensure that you have both a compatible Apple TV and iPhone.

Currently, only the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K are supported; these Apple TV models are black and include a remote with voice control. If your Apple TV is silver or does not include a voice control remote, it is likely not supported.

Any iPhone with Face ID is compatible, including the iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 Pro.

Step 1: Ensure your iPhone is nearby and unlocked.

Step 2: Begin by opening the Settings app on your Apple TV.

Step 3: Navigate to the Video and Audio menu.

Step 4: Scroll down and select Color Balance.

Step 5: A prompt will appear on your iPhone - tap Continue.

Step 6: Turn your iPhone so that the screen is pointed towards your TV.

Step 7: Hold your iPhone within the onscreen outline, keeping the device within half an inch from the screen.

Step 8: Wait a few moments for the process to complete, then your TV screen will begin displaying different colors and shades of white.

Step 9: Once completed, use your Apple TV remote to view the results, then select Use Balanced to save the calibration.

Step 10: Grab some popcorn and enjoy your fully calibrated Apple TV -this step is important, as a lack of sufficiently buttered popcorn will not allow you to enjoy your TV fully.

If you're not sure what to watch, check out our guide on the Top 10 Free Apple TV Channels - you're bound to find something great in there to demo your TV's new color calibration.

How to alter your Apple TV calibration

Apple TV 4K

Image Source: Apple

If you are unhappy with the Apple TV's color calibration or wish to review the difference in the adjustments made to your device, you can easily do so within the Settings app.

To review your calibration, open the Settings app, then navigate to Video and Audio, Color Balance, and, finally, View Results.

To remove the calibration, open the Settings app, then navigate to Video and Audio, Color Balance, and then click Reset.


Problem: Apple TV does not show the setting to calibrate color with your iPhone.

If your Apple TV doesn't display the Color Balance setting, your Apple TV is either incompatible, or your device isn't updated to the latest version of tvOS. At this time, only Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD are supported.

To update your device to the latest software version, head to Settings, System, then Software Updates, and select Update Software.

Problem: iPhone does not display a message when it's time to calibrate your TV.

If the calibration prompt does not appear on your iPhone after selecting Color Balance on your Apple TV, lock your iPhone, unlock it and try again.

Additionally, ensure that you have a compatible iPhone with Face ID, as noted previously.

Problem: The calibration process starts but then resets suddenly.

If you find the process restarting during calibration, ensure that you are holding your iPhone close enough to your TV's screen.

Apple recommends keeping the device within an inch from your screen, but we recommend keeping it within one-half of an inch.

Problem: Apple TV says 'Unable to Adjust Color Balance'

If your Apple TV says that it is 'Unable to Adjust Color Balance,' the likely reason is that your TV is set to a picture mode such as Vivid, and the Apple TV is unable to make the adjustments needed. Set your TV to a more neutral color mode such as Standard or Cinema, then repeat the process.

Go forth and enjoy your Apple TV

Apple TV App

Image Source: Apple

Calibrating your Apple TV using your iPhone allows you to ensure that any TV shows and movies you're enjoying onscreen are displayed correctly. A calibration process that once required expensive equipment can now be done with the iPhone in your pocket.

If you're looking for something to watch, and you're enjoying your Apple TV, consider putting your color calibration to the test with content from Apple TV+ or one of our other favorite streaming media services.

Michael Archambault
Written by
Michael was born a geek, always interested in technology and how it affects the world around us. He has spent the last eight years writing about consumer and business tech for some of the world’s top brands and publications, including Samsung, Skyword, Digital Trends, Lifewire, and DPReview. Michael graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, earning a BFA in Communications and Media Production. When he’s not writing on, you’ll find Michael spinning a vinyl record, reading a good mystery novel, or hanging out with one of his cats (which has yet to turn him completely into an eccentric cat-man).

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