Apple has released the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with its highly awaited 8-megapixel front-facing selfie camera. According to the company, the selfie camera system on the iPhone X uses faster sensors, improved chips, and “advanced algorithms” to make photos look better using a feature called “Smart HDR.”
However, some people that used iPhone XS say that the new selfie camera makes them look too good. In fact, so good that they think that Apple must have added a “beauty mode” filter to smooth out one’s skin.
A lot of phones and apps that are widely popular in Asia have this beauty mode feature, like Samsung devices or apps like Meitu or FaceTune. It smooths out and brightens your skin so that you look more polished on social media.
A lot of people on Reddit, MacRumors forums, including the popular gadget YouTuber, Lewis Hilsenteger, knowns as Unbox Therapy, claim that Apple must be automatically doing it on the new iPhone, taking into account how their selfies look.
One Redditor said:
I am so frustrated with this camera. I look stupid in snaps. It looks like I’m using an airbrush filter.
While another said:
I just got my phone and love it, but when I opened the camera app to the front-facing camera, my face looked like it had a Snapchat filter on it. My skin looks too smooth.
And Hisenteger said after observing the camera with the HDR feature turned on and off:
It looks like I’m wearing foundation.
Hisengeter called this phenomenon a “beautygate.”
This is his side-by-side test:
He speculated by saying:
So it looks like, whatever processing is going on here, with the facial recognition, and this smart HDR and whatever extras are there — because it’s even happening with Smart HDR turned off — is resulting in this almost covert beauty mode, this secret beauty mode.
A Redditor’s comparison shot. Reddit
But the beauty mode feature is not listed on Apple.com, unlike other camera features such as Portrait Mode, which Apple says can use machine learning to distinguish faces in the photo.
When reached by Business Insider, Apple did not comment on the matter, but some people on Reddit and MacRumors forums are saying that the effect people are seeing isn’t a beauty filter, but is instead part of the new iPhone noise reduction capabilities.
— bryan™⭐️ (@ilive_onX) September 26, 2018
— Lewis Hilsenteger (@UnboxTherapy) September 24, 2018
The aggressive noise reduction causing the phenomenon is also a theory that Apple blog Cult of Mac believes to be the case. When cameras take photos in low light, they introduce “noise”, or little bits of grain across the photo. Noise is one of the biggest problems with smartphone cameras due to the small lens and sensor that don’t allow for much light as professional rigs do.
However, Apple’s camera is not just a camera. It is an entire system, and the improvements done to it, have allowed Apple to reduce noise in photos, as the company briefly mentioned during the launch of the new iPhone XS.
One of the Apple VP’s of software, Sebastien Marineau-Mes, mentioned the improvement when speaking with Lance Ulanoff. He told Ulanoff that HDR features combine multiple photos to make one better photo, saying:
We set a reference frame and fuse in information from multiple frames.
As you stack the frames, if you have the same image, you have lower and lower noise and better and better detail.
With this suggested, taking a photo with more light means that the smoothing effect would appear less prominent. A test that was run on Thursday in natural daylight shows a less pronounced smoothing effect.
All in all, beauty filter features are popular in Asia, a region where Apple needs to excel in order to justify its $1 trillion valuations, even if the effects from apps like Meitu are far more pronounced than what online observers say is happening on new iPhones.
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