Several months ago, I read a series of articles about flashlights by Ben Brooks, a blogger whose posts I enjoy. His article convinced me that my iPhone flashlight may not be as useful as I once imagined. I decided to buy a dedicated flashlight and see.

I purchased this ThruNite TN12 flashlight after doing a bunch of research. It was recommended by several sites and highly rated on Amazon. I’ve been carrying it every day for several months. It’s a great light. Water proof. Rechargeable batteries. Incredibly bright. Multiple brightness settings.

After using it, I’ve identified some key advantages of the light:

  • Lighting distance
  • Variable brightness
  • Durability
  • Preserving iPhone battery

Lighting Distance

The iPhone flashlight illuminates a very small area up to about 5 feet away. This makes it useful for only basic of lighting needs.

My ThruNite can shine an incredibly bright light at much further distances. The image above is what my flashlight can do, through the rain, across a street.

Distance is important for safety. If something goes bump in the night, for example, you want a light to help you identify the sound before it gets to the iPhones helpful light range of 5 feet. I can shine this light through a window, or down a hall, and easily see everything I point the light at.

Variable Brightness

The iPhone now allows you to set the brightness of the flashlight. It has settings between Dim and Very Dim. Super useful for all your dim lighting needs. Internet forums estimate it emits ~30 lumens.

My light has settings that range from an almost imperceptible .4 lumens firefly mode, all the way to blinding light at 1,100 lumens.

The firefly mode is great for situations where you need just a touch of light but you want to keep your eyes adjusted to the dark. Many people call it the pee light as it’s great for using for middle of the night pee breaks when camping. I can confirm it works well for this application.

The max light mode is unbelievably bright. It also throws light a long distance. I’m sure light aficionados will say others are better, but coming from an iPhone you’ll be amazed how far you can see.

Recently, an important item fell under the seat of our Jeep. My wife searched for it using her iPhone, and was unable to locate it. I offered my light and she found the item immediately. The difference between the lights is (here comes the dad joke) night and day.

The brighter light modes can also useful in self defense situations. The light can temporarily blind someone, giving you a chance for an escape. It can also be used as a tactical light.


Flashlights are built to take a beating. Often, you’re using a light to do something. You may need to set the light somewhere, or hold it in one hand as you attempt to do something with the other hand.

Many an iPhone has met its demise while being a flashlight. They don’t stand well on their own, they aren’t waterproof (even the new ones—trust me), and they don’t handle being dropped very well. The only time I’ve ever damaged an iPhone was when I dropped it while using it as a light.

Even if you managed to damage a flashlight like the one I’ve bought, it’s a far less expensive device to replace than an iPhone.

Phone Battery

There are days where I push my phone battery to the limit. Using the iPhone as a flashlight drains the battery. I’d rather keep my phone available for navigation, phone calls, or texting…or Instagram and Twitter if I’m being honest.


The primary disadvantage is of a dedicated flashlight is having an additional item to carry with me at all times. The light is meant to be portable, but it is still one of the most significant items to be carried on my person.

Despite that, I still carry the light with me daily. Maybe you’ll want to as well.