If you watched Apple’s two-hour presentation yesterday, you saw a lot. Personally, we’re trying to forget the talking poop emoji. But in classic Apple tradition, CEO Tim Cook played to an enthusiastic crowd as he unveiled new versions of the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and eventually, three new iPhones: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X.
And while we weren’t entirely surprised when he made the iPhone X official – the edge-to-edge display was the subject of plenty-a rumor article – there’s still a lot there to unpack. If you didn’t make it all the way through the presentation, here are the iPhone X’s new and notable photography features.
First things first: that screen, though. It’s a 5.8″ OLED and Apple’s first edge-to-edge display in an iPhone. The home button is gone, as is the Touch ID sensor it houses in the previous generation of iPhone. Instead, to unlock the device the iPhone X relies on a bevy of cameras and sensors at the top of the front plate.
This array is also responsible for a photo feature no other iPhone supports: Portrait Mode via the front-facing camera. That’s right, when this feature finds its way into more iPhones, the internet will be awash with fake bokeh selfies. Get ready for it.
Dual-stabilized dual camera
The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X all use new 12MP sensors and an “Apple-designed” ISP, which claims to boost autofocus in low light and improve noise reduction. In keeping with the relationship between the 7 and 7 Plus, the 8 Plus offers dual camera modules while the 8 does not.
The iPhone X does the 8 Plus slightly better with a marginally faster telephoto lens; the wide-angle lens is F1.8 and the telephoto F2.4. Even better, both rear cameras have optical image stabilization, where the 7 Plus only had stabilization in the wide-angle lens.
Lighting effect simulation
Apple’s Portrait Mode is now joined by Portrait Lighting, a feature in beta that allows users to apply different lighting styles on top of simulated-bokeh-portraits. In the X it’s available for both front and rear cameras; the 8 Plus offers it for the rear dual cam. The feature is powered by AI and includes effects such as Studio Light, Contour Light and Stage Light (the latter two are pictured above). The effect is applied in real-time, but can be adjusted after capture.
Slow sync flash
The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X all use a Quad-LED True Tone flash with an interesting new option: Slow Sync mode. It should at least open up some new options for low light portraits.
The iPhone 7/7 Plus offered 4K 30p video, but the 8/8 Plus and X turn it up a notch with 4K 60p video capture. They’ll also capture 1080p/240fps slow-motion footage in addition to the 1080p/120p that the 7/7 Plus are capable of.
Apple’s presentation also made claims of improved video quality and compression. Each scene is divided into 2 million tiles, that are analyzed in real time to identify subjects and movement, and optimize compression based on what it sees.
Not a photography feature per se, but one that leans heavily on the devices cameras, better support for augmented reality came up a few times during Apple’s iPhone presentation. The iPhone X and 8 use a new A11 Bionic chip with a neural engine and helps drive faster real-time processing in AR applications.
One of the app demos given during the presentation shows a phone camera pointed at the night sky and a map of constellations appearing over the image thanks to the SkyGuide app. With better hardware support, AR may start gaining more traction in the mainstream.