YouTuber Fools iPhone XS and Pixel 2 Fans With Portrait Mode Photos

BY Evan Selleck

Published 8 Oct 2018

YouTuber Jonathan Morris discusses IPhone XS "Beautygate"

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have some of the best cameras on the market right now, but some people have taken exception to the front-facing camera system on the handsets.

The reason? “Beautygate”, which is definitely the worst name for a “gate” issue to date. But it’s a thing that has caused quite the stir in some circles on the internet, especially with the folks who love to bash Apple products. The issue, for those who were lucky enough to miss it in its first go-round, is a perception that Apple is applying an automatic “beauty filter” to pictures captured with the front-facing camera in the newest smartphones. Basically automatically artificially altering photos to make people captured by the cameras “look better”.

Apple, for its part, has already said it is investigating the “issue”, and there will probably be some tweaks at a later date to reduce the smoothing feature that’s in place. But there actually isn’t a “beauty filter” being applied to photos taken with the front-facing camera in the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max. Instead, as the developers of the popular camera app, Halide, have stated, it comes down to how Apple’s new camera systems merge exposures.

The developers recently published a blog post touching on the matter, in which they say, in part:

“The iPhone XS merges exposures and reduces the brightness of the bright areas and reduces the darkness of the shadows. The detail remains, but we can perceive it as less sharp because it lost local contrast. In the photo above, the skin looks smoother simply because the light isn’t as harsh.

Observant people noticed it isn’t just skin that’s affected. Coarse textures and particularly anything in the dark— from cats to wood grain— get a smoother look. This is noise reduction at work. iPhone XS has more aggressive noise reduction than previous iPhones.”/blockquote>

As was mentioned last week, the “beautygate” issue really took flight because it was pointed out that the iPhone X, even running iOS 12, didn’t apply this “beauty filter” so this had to be an iPhone XS issue. It was also postulated that while Apple was doing this, it might have been a feature implemented to appeal to iPhone XS owners in Asia.

Recently, YouTuber Jonathan Morris published a few different selfies on Twitter and Instagram. He said the photos were taken with the front-facing camera in the Pixel 2, and then asked those looking at the images to tell him what they thought of them, and how they might compare to the iPhone XS in light of its “beautygate” issues.

As one might expect, quite a few people were ready to praise the Pixel 2 from Google and bash the iPhone XS from Apple, saying that the Pixel 2 is still one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, that it obviously doesn’t apply a beauty filter to its images, and some believed the images rivaled shots taken with a DSLR.

Well, turns out that Morrison actually captured those selfies with the front-facing camera in the iPhone XS Max, and believes that preconceived notions helped those commenters praise the Pixel 2 and bash the iPhone XS. He notes that because viewers that the photos were taken with the Pixel 2 it was automatically better.

Here’s the video:

Morrison does note that the front-facing camera in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max does have something working behind the scenes to offer up slightly altered images in the end result, but, as mentioned above, that’s due to Apple’s “aggressive” noise reduction. That’s something that Apple will probably address directly at some point in the near future.

Our Take

This is a fun video because it obviously shows that preconceived notions, along with liking or disliking one company or a company’s products, can evoke passionate responses one way or another. One has to wonder what some of those responses would have been had Morrison just published the selfies and asked, “Which camera took these?” and waited to see where people fell, either on the Pixel 2 or iPhone XS side.

[via Jonathan Morrison]