How to Disable Auto Brightness on Apple Watch (Dark Screen Problems)

Ever since I got my Apple Watch, there has always been an issue with the screen brightness. I should clarify this is a bad user experience with good intention. The brightness on my watch’s screen works fine when it’s outside with a lot of sunlight. But when I return indoor, the screen readjust itself, and the brightness would dim down.

After my visit with the Genius Bar, I’ve found out the cause and a partial solution.

Does the Apple Watch Have Auto Brightness?

Of course. You might not be able to find the setting for it, but the Apple Watch does have an ambient light sensor inside it. This allows the watch screen to adjust its brightness automatically based on the lighting it’s surrounded in.

Adjusting your screen brightness

Before we do anything, let’s make sure that you’ve maxed the brightness of your Apple Watch. To do so:

  1. From your iPhone, open the Watch app
  2. Go to My Watch > Brightness & Text Size
  3. Use the slider to adjust it according to your needs

You can also config this from the Settings app on the watch.

Still not working?

If you have already done so and the Apple Watch screen still doesn’t seem dazzling especially in the dark environment, there is a little trick to fix this issue.

As soon as your Apple Watch screen starts to dim down:

  1. Take out your iPhone
  2. Open Control Center and enable Flashlight
  3. Point the light directly at your watch screen

This will get the watch to its full brightness setting in a dark room or places with lack of light.

The point of having auto brightness or should I say ambient light sensor on your Apple Watch is to preserve battery. We all know there is still room for improvement when it comes to longer usage. If you want some tips on how to save the battery life of your watch, check this guide.

What others are saying about the brightness feature on their Apple Watch…

Jess Watai

So is there a way to set the brightness on my watch? Lately it’s been coming up very dim, almost like it’s glitchy, and then when I shift a bit (maybe where more light hits the watch face sensor?) it’ll brighten up. But I’m not liking how it’s dim. It’s an Apple Watch SE. edited to add that I found where to make it brighter- but it’s almost like the display is delayed- it takes a minute to get bright. That’s a relatively new thing. And the watch is not even 2 months old.

David Shimabukuro

Anybody else notice that after updating to WatchOS 7, the watch display is dimmer than it was before? I tried turning the brightness all the way on the watch and watch app settings on the iPhone but it’s still dim and not much difference between bright and low. I also restarted the watch, it’s still dim. I’m using a series 4 watch.

Melody Bilderback

The brightness on my I watch seemed to have damned. Could somebody help me figure out what I could do to fix it? I have already gone to the settings on the Watch and turn the brightness all the way up.

Caecilia Saori

Very happy Apple Watch S4 user here, considering whether to upgrade to S5? Or, wait for S6 this autumn? What are the pros/cons of upgrading from S4 to S5? I have not noticed much difference except for the compass and the flexible screen brightness.

Michelle Ohh-Gee

Does your Apple Watch 3 dim when outdoors and you can’t see the screen? Is there a fix beyond adjusting the brightness slider? That didn’t fix the issue.

Peter Gilchrist

The watch should max the brightness outside. You cannot disable ambient light sensor on Watch. Turning the brightness all the way up is the only setting. Each watch version has gotten a better screen for outdoor viewing. Maybe just shading the direct sun with your hand is the only solution.

Bill Kubiac

I’m throwing out this question concerning AW4 and possibly previous models. My watch is too bright at night. There are 3 brightness levels, and even the lowest is too bright. I have noticed that after the display turns off, that if you turn the stem, you can gradually turn the display from dark to light, but goes back to the original setting the next time the display comes on. Does anyone know if there is a way to make the brightness permanent?

Janice Sternfeld

At night I put my watch in theater mode. The face does not light up unless I show it either by pressing the stem or tapping the face (very bright) or turning the stem just enough to see the time. That works well for me and doesn’t flash light every time I move my arm.

Duc Thanh

Does anyone have same problem like me (watchos7.1) when you go to dark place, eg: your room is light off or night time the brightness of the screen is low but once you are out it’s back to normal…So confusing, anyone know how to switch this function off ? Or this is automatically

Gene Stalnecker

The watch automatically adjusts for ambient light, but there is no way to set the percentage it adjusts by. You can adjust the “normal” brightness, but it will still “change” by the same percentage as the ambient light changes.

Grg Prajwal

I need more brightness in Apple Watch series 4 for outside 😭😭Why the brightness level is low in Apple Watch.

Leave a Comment

  1. This is a piss poor solution to the problem. The flashlight only works temporarily, so this is absolutely worthless; there needs to be a solution to set the auto brightness to off PERMANENTLY!

      • I confess I really hate this feature. It takes control out of the users hands. I literally cannot use my watch in the night time. It just goes to Dark. I have to keep reaching for my glasses but I don’t have to do that in the daytime which is bizarre that it’s bright enough for me to read in the day and not bright enough for me to read at night Apple needs to fix this ASAP. I will quite literally stop wearing the watch in fact thinking about returning it I’ve only had it for two days and it’s already bugging me I love everything else about it but makes no sense if you can’t even read it when The sun goes down.

    • Did you you try restarting your watch. I had this problem after updating, read all this stuff and turned it off. After I turned it on it works fine

  2. Hey Joe,
    This is such an oversight for Apple. I am getting older and need the watch to be bright so I can see it in dark conditions without blurring. As it is now, the watch is bordering on useless to me in dim conditions. In this day and age you would thing Apple would just have an option to turn this damn irritating feature off. Amazes me sometimes how organiizations that are so smart could be so ignorant to their customers’ needs.

  3. My screen darkening is intermittent and always happens indoors.
    To fix itI have to hole down the crown and on/off button and reboot the watch.
    It will be fine for about a day, then it happens again.

  4. I have an early apple watch, its a series one. The screen has gotten harder to read recently especially when I’m outdoors, in fact, I can’t really read it at all. Is the watch just getting old and worn out? I’ve adjusted the brightness and it doesn’t help. Maybe time to get a new watch?

  5. I have to agree. I am sure their intentions were good, but my 61 year old eyes require a brighter display, all the time. Talk to your optometrist, they will tell you the same thing. More light/bright is required as we age. They absolutely need to change this and add this as an option


  6. I’m with Joe. I’m taking back my SE for a refund. Worthless if you can’t see the watch face. I’ll download fall detection app to my Series 3 and I’m good. Unforgivable, Apple.

  7. Apple really needs to fix this by giving us an auto brightness on off setting. Apple becomes big brother enforces things that we don’t really want all too often. This is a great example.

    • Thank you so much. This problem was driving me crazy, and I found no solutions anywhere online — until I landed here. This FIXED it!

  8. Easy workaround for this issue:

    Open phone app on watch
    press keyboard
    press green
    press keyboard again
    double press crown
    screen brightness fixed

  9. If you can afford the battery power and have a compatible watch, always on. Whenever you raise your wrist the watch will go full bright.

  10. Possible Workaround on SE

    I can’t see my screen in a dark room. Accidentally figured out that if I swipe up from the bottom of the watch, turn on the flashlight (choose white and touch screen to turn it on), then double click the crown button, the brightness stays up as long as i am fumbling around with the watch. If I turn my wrist away and the display turns off it will be dim again, but this workaround takes about 4 seconds to do and maybe it will help someone else while we wait for the powers that be at apple allow us to turn off the automatic dimming feature.

  11. I have had my SE for about 6 months. All of a sudden it was too dim! I tried all of the temporary fixes listed here and none were permanent until…
    Hold the crown AND the OFF button down at the same time for 2 seconds and reboot the watch. Problem fixed!


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