Stealth-Phone: how to put your iPhone into “Theatre Mode”…


How to put your iPhone into “Theatre Mode”…

(or even Wedding Mode, should you wish to use it as a silent camera)

Firstly, hum “Fly Me To The Moon” – we’ll explain why later.

Siri answer theatre phone

There are many possibilities indeed!

If you merely “switch it off”, it can easily come back on – especially if it’s not in a (fairly sturdy) case and/or is rocking around in a handbag, squeezed into your trouser pocket or lolling in your jacket on the floor under your seat, being footsied by you or the person behind.

(one of the proposals in our Manifesto is for seat-backs to come equipped with a pocket – to protect against such common handbag/trouser/jacket-related accidents – and so you’ll also always know where it is if you need to grab it should it by some mistake go off anyway – no more endless rummaging)

“Silent” often means “vibrate” – and even whilst supposedly “silent” there are plenty of other ways your phone can still go beeb-beep-swoosh-ping – or even play loud Music. (And, again, that little “silent” switch is very easy to flick back on by accident). Also, Silent will usually only affect the Ringer volume – Alarms and Music have their own.

“Airplane mode” alone won’t do it – your phone doesn’t need contact with the outside world to still insist on having (noisy) intrusive contact with you, such as sending Calendar Reminders.

“Do Not Disturb” is a vital tool, but only if the settings are right (i.e. no access for repeated calls, no access from favourites, activate for not just in lock screen, etc). It pretty much does what most of us assume Airplane mode does.

And don’t forget every pocket-dialler’s nightmare: “Voice Control” – you’ll need to switch on Siri instead, and then disable that as well (by activating Airplane mode). And no, having a Passcode is pretty useless for these purposes.

Oh, and check for any Alarms too – those pesky little devils will break through any privacy barriers you attempt to erect!

And we have a brief look at Brightness, Volume (there’s more than one Volume lurking on your phone) and Sounds (click click click) just for good measure too, though if your phone’s properly set into Theatre Mode, these shouldn’t be an issue, but useful to be aware of nonetheless.

Then you shouldn’t actually need to turn it off. But it’s probably safest that you do (and sets a good example to others around you) – and then even if it turns itself back on it will remain in Stealth Mode.


Below, we show you how to make your iPhone (*) into a little black-clad Ninja on a Stealth mission not to embarrass you at the Theatre by going off in your pocket or handbag. Which, to quote our own great Barbican Dane, is indeed truly “mortifying”.

(*) Android phones have similar settings, but are in the process of revising and rolling out their new “Interruptions/Do Not Disturb” functions – so we’ll hopefully explore them further at a later date)

(Yes, we know Windows phones and Blackberries and others are in the mix too, and we’ll hopefully get to those in due course, but it’s Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Androids that are the big players)

What we really need is for the phone companies to provide a true one-swipe-one-touch function (like Airplane mode) that does all of this for us. (see our Manifesto)

We’d no doubt suggest the name “Theatre Mode”, with the symbol being the Comedy/Tragedy masks, but the tech companies would probably and understandably wish instead to opt for something cool like “Stealth Mode”, with the symbol a Ninja mask or a Submarine or a simple big fat “X”.

Hey – Facebook finally introduced a Dis-Like button after repeated public requests, so you never know – the collective star power of the Theatre might help nudge them into it one day soon?

First one to come up with it gets a free ad jingle from Andrew Lloyd Webber and a poster-splashing endorsement from Dame Judi perhaps, and a Bond tie-in from Daniel Craig in his final film franchise farewell? 😉

In the meantime, it’s up to us. So for all you diligent souls out there who want to do the right thing, but who’ve had their phones go beep even when you thought they were silenced, or who’ve had them turn back on when you could have sworn you’d turned them off, this is for you.

You can follow these (relatively) simple steps to put your iPhone into “Theatre Mode”…

This also works well for Weddings and Funerals, when you might wish to keep your phone on to use it as a camera (or clock, or calculator, etc), but don’t want it to make a peep!

It may seem an overly-detailed set of instructions, but it’s really quite straightforward, and we’d rather err on the side of being comprehensive and comprehensible to all!




Ask Sirir Stealth phone


Settings Main

Settings > General

Settings General

General > Siri

Siri enabled

Siri > toggle ON

Enable Siri

Select Enable Siri

Setting Airline off

Return to main Settings > Airplane mode > toggle right to turn it ON

Siri Not Available needs internet

Return to your Home screen by tapping the Home button.

Now hold down Home button to check…

Siri is now disabled. Try the same in your Lock-screen. No more pocket-dialling worries.


[note – Airplane mode deactivates WiFi if you’re connected to it, but you can then re-active WiFi whilst already in Airplane mode. (Yep, that’s right, you can use WiFi on airplanes now – no more respite for weary business-travellers or downtime for holiday-makers). So if the Theatre has WiFi and you’ve been using it during the interval whilst still in Airplane mode, then you’ll need to make sure your WiFi is turned back off, otherwise Siri will work again.]

You can now de-activate Airline mode. We’ll re-activate it again later.


Having a Passocde for your phone also disables Siri whilst in Lock-screen (but only if you have “Require Passcode: Immediately” selected as well as Siri toggled off in the “Allow Access” sub-menus in the Passocde section of Settings.  But Passcode won’t disable Voice Control. Neither will Airplane mode. And one of Voice Control’s favourite things to do, even more frequently than dialling someone (you can actually disable Voice Calls via a Passcode sub-menu) is to play Music from your iPhone. And besides, for many people, having a passcode is a bit of an inconvenience. So trust us, forget Passcode as a possible solution. And switch from Voice Control to Siri.


Once you activate Do Not Disturb (with the correct settings) you will still be able to receive texts and notifications etc – but you just won’t be bothered by them. No sounds, no buzzing, they won’t even pop up on your home screen. (They will however, still be stored in your Notifications list – depending on which apps and functions you have selected to be included. You can access your Notifications like you do the Control Centre, except it’s via the top of your screen instead of the bottom – see below for info about Control Centre)

Setting Airline off

Settings > Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb Manual off

The “Manual” toggle at the top is a way to turn it on right now. But you needn’t just yet – you can return here to turn it on, or easier still you can activate it it via your Control Centre – accessible by swiping up from your Home screen (more on this further down).

Do Not Distube Scheduled period on

You can have a scheduled Do Not Disturb period if you wish (e.g. whilst you’re asleep) – this won’t be affected by manually activating/deactivating Do Not Disturb.

Or you can have no scheduled Do Not Disturb session, it doesn’t matter.

Do Not Distirn No One Always

The important THREE things to ensure are:

  1. Allow Calls From > No One (it’s probably set to Everyone or Favourites – see pic below)
  2. Repeated Calls > toggle to OFF
  3. Silence > select Always – otherwise if you happen to be quickly checking your phone for, say, a text or notification (and therefore not on your lock-screen), it’ll start buzzing and pinging you, assuming you’re now ok to be disturbed.

Allow calls ffrom No-one

Allow Calls From > select No One


Control centre swiped nothing on

Access your Control Centre via your Home screen or on your Lock screen (but try it from your Lock screen first, it’s easier – there’s a little white dash/tab bottom centre, and you don’t have to worry about clicking other apps like Mail or Safari by accident).

Swipe Up from bottom centre – your Control Centre will appear (if it doesn’t, see bottom of this section).

(you can get rid of it by swiping down from that little black dash/chevron).

Control Centre swiped Do Not Disturb on

Touch the Moon icon to activate Do Not Disturb mode.

Once you’ve activated Do Not Disturb, test it out – send yourself an email, set a reminder. Nothing pinging/buzzing, right?

(note – if you (or someone else) send yourself a tester iMessage or SMS text, for some reason it will still ping/buzz/notify when you’re either within Messages or elsewhere on your phone – don’t worry, you’ve still activated Do Not Disturb correctly – it won’t come through to you as a buzzing, pinging notification when you’re at your Lock-screen – send a text and immediately lock your phone using the top right on/off button – no buzz/ping, right?)

Control centre swiped Do Not Disturb and Airline on

Touch the Airplane icon to activate Airplane mode.

Control Centre swiped brightness up

You can now swipe your Control Centre down and then navigate around your phone, take photos, look at your calendar, look at your photo library, write a note, whatever – swipe up to your Control Centre to check… both Airline mode and Do Not Disturb are still activated: the Airplane and Moon icon are still lit up.

Setting Airline off

If you can’t find your Control Centre by swiping up, go to Settings > Control Centre

Control Centre settings

Make sure Access on Lock Screen is toggled to ON

(and Access Within Apps too if you fancy)


Even with “Do Not Disturb” activated, Alarms will still get through and make sounds!

Control centre check alarms

You can access your Alarms via the Clock icon on your Control Centre.

Alarms 20.45 turned off

Your morning alarm? You can leave that, it’s ok (unless perhaps you’re at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and seeing a breakfast show!)

Alarms 07.45 and 20.45

But do make sure you scroll down all the way to make sure some random alarm you set last night isn’t still toggled to on.

Alarms no alarms

You can also have a quick check on Stopwatch and Timer via the menu icons at the bottom to double-check those too if you’re feeling particularly paranoid.


OK – you’re now ready to go.

You’ve taken your seat. You’ve been reading the digital programme. You’ve been tweeting about the show you’re about to see, including the theatre’s and actors’ twitter handles and the show’s hashtag. You’ve used the theatre’s app to pre-order your interval drinks. You’ve texted the babysitter to remind them of the likely interval and finish time. You’ve taken a selfie of your group-outing in the from row, and some more snaps of the beautiful ornamental ceiling and gold-leafed Royal boxes. Quick Facebook status update: “Still can’t believe I managed to get a ticket for this, it’s going to be amazing!”

And now…

It’s time for the show.

Just hum “Fly Me To The Moon” as a reminder…

Theatre Mode final home screen

Swipe up. Touch Airplane. Touch Moon. Swipe Down.

“…into a Silent Sunset”

(Brightness and Music Volume down for good measure too)

Airline mode red phone dot do not disturn icons main screen

Home screen – Airplane icon top left? Moon icon top right? You’ve checked Alarms, right?

(Don’t worry about that little location arrow in the top right. Even in Airplane mode (and even when you’ve not got any apps open that use it, like Maps) it still likes to come on every now and again to ping a satellite and check it’s got the right time and date. And that red dot on your phone icon means it’s going straight to voicemail.)

Lock screen Ringer Silent Airline and Do Not Disturb

Flick the switch on the left hand side of your phone to Silent for good measure.

Lock your phone (one click of on/off button on top right of phone).

Your phone is now in “Theatre Mode” – a.k.a. “Stealth Mode”.

You can now turn it off with confidence. If it turns back on in your pocket or handbag, it will do so with these settings retained – go ahead, give it a try. Airplane and Do Not Disturb and Silent are still activated, right?

If you don’t need or want to turn it off (e.g. if you want to use it as a Camera at a wedding), then ok – snap away with confidence, safe in the knowledge that you won’t make a sound…

PS – Your camera flash might still make a nuisance of itself though  – see the Lightening icon, top left, within Camera: click it to select between Auto [light-dependent], On [permanent], or OFF.

And relax. 😉

What we really need is for the phone companies to provide a true one-swipe-one-touch “Stealth Mode” function (like Airplane mode) that does all of this for us. (see our Manifesto)

After all, one of the greatest challenges Theatres face is that a great many of us simply don’t want to turn our phones off. Ever. We’re not used to it. We’re not at all comfortable with the concept. We have them on in our sleep. We’ll diligently switch it to Airplane or Silent (both not nearly enough, as it turns out), but turning them off is like amputating a limb. And these challenges are only going to increase with the further proliferation and integration of tech into our very personhood.

Besides, smart phones can take an age to turn off (many mistakes can happen with assuming that you’ve turned your phone off, when it’s still buffering its way through a laborious power-down, ready to abort at the slightest provocation), and even longer to turn back on – with a short interval and the immediacy of craving instant reconnection the moment the curtain goes down (or maybe even the possibility of missing a permitted/encouraged curtain-call photo-op at the end of the show), it should come as no surprise that simply requesting audiences to “turn it off” moments before curtain-up isn’t really working as well as it should.

PPS – other than toggling “Vibrate on Silent” back to ON and easily re-adjusting your screen brightness for your daily life of phone use (and, actually, with Do Not Disturb configured correctly, you shouldn’t even need to toggle off Silent/Vibrate or turn down Brightness anyway – they’re only added extras, detailed here more for the purposes of functions that should be included in any one-touch Stealth-Phone setting), regular theatre-goers can retain these settings (although remembering to check for Alarms) and simply think “Fly Me To The Moon” before every show to re-activate Theatre Mode. Not quite as catchy as “Clunk-Click” for seat-belts, but it’s a start 😉

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