The new and improved 8-megapixel front-facing camera may be a big selling point for the new Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but it appears to be making skin look a little too good, according to some users.
Reddit users are claiming that the new technology is beautifying skin by aggressively smoothing out their self-portraits. “I’ve noticed that the front camera photos are heavily smoothed. It looks pretty bad,” observes Reddit user advillious. “I am so frustrated with this camera. I look stupid in snaps. It looks like I’m using an air brush filter. Please find solution to this,” adds gray_13.
Per Apple’s website, the new front-facing camera technology includes “advanced algorithms” to enhance photos with “Smart HDR.” Users speculate that the filtered look of selfies is the result of a “beauty mode,” which is a blurring effect employed by other smartphones as well as apps like Facetune and Meitu. In another Reddit thread, user chemicalsam shared a photo of the filtering effect of the $1,000-plus phone, fueling the beauty mode speculation: “iPhone XS is applying skin smoothing/beauty filter on the front facing camera without telling you and no way to disable it. This is not acceptable.”
— Lewis Hilsenteger (@UnboxTherapy) September 24, 2018
YouTube’s Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy has also brought up the issue in a video that has over 5 million views. “It looks like I’m wearing foundation,” he said, noting that some are calling the filter theory “beautygate.” He also notes, “It’s even happening with Smart HDR turned off … [it’s] resulting in this almost covert beauty mode, this secret beauty mode.”
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Apple, which declined to comment, but popular Apple blog Cult of Mac believes the enhanced selfies are a result of noise reduction technology, which occurs when camera sensors pick up “electrical signals” that end up as flecks that result in a grainy photo. By reducing the grainy pixels, or “noise,” the result is often a smoother finish.
Still, some users on the MacRumors forum are skeptical. “Like many skin smoothing beauty modes, it seems very similar to Samsung’s old modes, which were meant for Korean markets,” writes user silvertech. “This is definitely much more than just noise reduction.”
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