You’re Not Using iPhone Portrait Mode Correctly: Here’s How To Fix That
We walk you through all the tools Apple has to make your portrait photos look amazing.
One of the coolest camera features on the iPhone is portrait mode. It makes your subject pop and can give your pictures a dramatic look. Basically, when you take a photo, it keeps the subject in focus while making the background of the picture look artistically out of focus. This popular effect replicates photos taken on a mirrorless or DSLR camera with a long lens and a shallow depth of field. Depending on the model of iPhone you have, portrait mode can be used on people, pets and even certain objects.
Read more: Phone photography 101: CNET’s guide to taking better pictures
Portrait mode was first available in 2016 on the iPhone 7 Plus. Over the years, Apple improved the way it “cuts out” the person from the foreground and makes the background blurry. For example, on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, a new lidar sensor is used to measure the distance from the phone to your subject and makes this distinction look better.
Apple also added Portrait Lighting Mode looks that apply popular styles of photographic lighting to your pictures. Additionally, you can change the amount of background blur behind the subject.
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iPhone 12 Mini Vs Se: 5g Magsafe And Uwb
Thee iPhone 12 mini already has real major advantages with its display and battery life, and that edge continues when you start looking at the other features. Unlike the screen, however, the iPhone 12 minis other features are more about what you might need later. The most obvious difference is that the iPhone 12 mini supports 5G cellular networks, while the iPhone SE does not. Right now, thats not a big deal for most people. Even if your carrier has upgraded the towers near you to 5G, you probably wont see a game-changing speed improvement.
The iPhone SE is the last remaining iPhone to have a Touch ID sensor.
Over time, as networks are upgraded further, 5G support will matter more. Its not like your 4G LTE iPhone SE is going to stop working in the next few years, but all the carriers efforts are in making 5G faster and more reliable, with better coverage. In two years, youll probably be glad you have a 5G iPhone.
Our pick: While Face ID is really great, it was been a big pain in the butt during a year where were all wearing masks all the time . But in the winter, those who have Touch ID iPhones always complain about taking their gloves off to use them. Face ID is the better and more secure technology , but we wouldnt fault you for being just fine sticking with Touch ID.
iPhone 12 Mini Vs iPhone Se: Does Apple Really Need Two Small Phones
After years of bigger and bigger displays, Apple now sells two different phones wil small displays. The iPhone SE received a massive update in 2020, taking the iPhone 8 and boosting its specs considerably and followed that up with the launch of the iPhone 12 mini, which is about the same size as the SE. Now, small phone fans have two modern iPhones to choose from at opposite ends of the spectrum.
But one of them might be going away. Rumors have been swirling for months that the iPhone 12 mini hasnt been selling as well as the other models, with Apple suffering poor sales of the diminutive handset. Now, Trendforce reports that iPhone 12 mini has reached end-of-life status as Apple looks ahead to the iPhone 13. Rumors say Apple will be keeping its tiniest smartphone in the iPhone 13 lineup, however. Apple will also likely be updating the iPhone SE next year as well, so there will still likely be two phones to choose from in 2022.
But if the rumors are true, why is the iPhone 12 feeling so poorly? Perhaps its because the iPhone SE is so good. And does Apple really need a second small iPhone?
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Portrait Mode: iPhone Se Vs 11
Both phones have portrait mode and produce excellent results. The 11 can take portrait mode photos of people and pets while the iPhone SE can only do people, which is a drawback if you’re an animal lover. The portrait mode photos below look very similar. The 11’s portrait has more details. For example, look at the hair on John’s forehead. Also, the falloff over the shoulders from in-focus to out-of-focus looks more natural in the iPhone 11 photo because the phone uses both of its rear cameras to create the effect.
Portrait mode photos from the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 .
iPhone Se 2020 Review: Cameras
The iPhone SE 2020s camera is so good that youd be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and the iPhone 11 in many cases. The one exception is Night mode, which the iPhone SE simply does not have.
Like the iPhone 8 before it, the iPhone SE features a single 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7MP front camera. You dont get a ultra-wide angle lens like the iPhone 11 or a telephoto lens with optical zoom like the iPhone 12 Pro models. But the iPhone SE’s A13 Bionic chip boosts its camera performance in several ways.
For instance, you can take portraits using both the back and front camera on the iPhone SE, complete with Portrait Lighting effects and the ability to control the depth of field. The iPhone SE also benefits from Smart HDR for bringing out the highlights in faces.
I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail in this iPhone SE photo of a man-made pond. You can make out the drops of water in the waterfall in the distance, and the greenery pops around the rock formations. The iPhone SE also did a great job capturing the black-and-white and orange-and-white fish in that pond, as well as the blue-green water.
The iPhone SE held its own against the Pixel 3a in this photo of light pink cherry blossom flowers. The iPhone SEs shot is warmer and brighter, but the Pixel 3as image is a bit more detailed and has more contrast.
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There’s A Right Way To Frame Your Portrait Mode Subject
Portrait mode works best when your subject is between two and eight feet away from the phone, which is roughly between 0.5 and 2.5 meters. If your subject is too far away , the iPhone will politely prompt you to adjust your distance. If you try to take a portrait mode photo with an out-of-range subject, the camera will take a regular picture instead.
In portrait mode, some iPhones can shoot at 1x, others at 1x or 2x and yet others at 1x or 2.5x magnifications.
If your subject is stationary, try moving closer or farther away. Also, on certain iPhone models you have an option to take either a 1x or a 2x or 2.5x portrait mode photo, which is kind of like a close up. To switch between magnifications tap on the 2x or 2.5x button on the bottom left of the screen. If you want to go back to a wider view, tap the 1x button.
When you frame your shot, make sure that your subject has a little distance between themselves and their background. If they are in front of a wall, turn your subject 90 degrees to add some perspective and depth to the photo.
Water And Dust Resistance
The iPhone SE features an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, which means it is entirely dust proof and able to withstand one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
The iPhone SE holds up to splashes, rain, and brief accidental water exposure, but intentional water exposure should continue to be avoided. Apple warns that water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and could decrease as a result of normal wear, plus Apple’s warranty does not cover any kind of water damage.
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iPhone Se 2020 Review: Battery Life And Charging
The iPhone SE is rated for less battery life than the the iPhone 11, so you shouldn’t expect the longest endurance. For instance, Apple says that the iPhone SE delivers 13 hours of video playback, versus 17 hours for the iPhone 11.
On the Tom’s Guide Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over 4G LTE, the iPhone SE 2020 averaged 9 hours and 18 minutes. That’s well below the endurance of the iPhone 11 , iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max . The iPhone SE did, however, best the Pixel 4a, which scored a mere 8:55.
In my anecdotal testing, I found that the iPhone SE does have less staying power than my iPhone 11 Pro Max, as it has a smaller battery. For example, after unplugging the iPhone SE at 7 am and using it for web surfing, playing games, taking photos and more throughout the day, I had 20% juice left at 8 pm. That’s not bad, but my iPhone 11 Pro Max still had close to 40% power.
Unfortunately, the iPhone SE comes with Apples standard 5-watt Lightning charger. And with that you can expect to get to just 29% power in 30 minutes, based on our testing. If you want to be able to juice this phone to 50% in 30 minutes, youre going to have to pay extra for an 18W charger from Apple. Its $29 for the power brick and another $19 for the USB C to Lightning cable.
If you want to go wireless, the iPhone SE supports 7.5W wireless charging and supports the Qi standard. Check out all the best wireless chargers to pair with this phone.
What’s Next For The iPhone Se
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, there is no new iPhone SE coming in 2021, with an update instead planned for the first half of 2022. The design and specifications will be similar to the existing iPhone SE, which is a 4.7-inch device modeled after the iPhone 8, but it will include 5G and an upgraded processor, which DigiTimes believes will be the A14 chip first used in the iPhone 12 lineup. Kuo says it will be the most affordable 5G iPhone available.
Nikkei believes the next-generation iPhone SE will look similar to the current design that’s based on the iPhone 8, but with an upgraded A15 chip, which is expected first in the iPhone 13, along with Qualcomm’s X60 modem for 5G. DigiTimes and Nikkei disagree on the A-series chip that will be in the new device, but either the A14 or the A15 will be an upgrade.
Kuo in 2029 said there would be an “iPhone SE Plus” with a full-screen design, no Face ID, and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the side of the device, but his latest device predictions did not include a mention of this device and it may have been tabled.
Barclays analysts also do not believe that Apple has plans to refresh the iPhone SE in the foreseeable future, and that they have not heard mentions of a larger-screened iPhone SE with a 5.5 or 6.1-inch display.
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Only possible on the iPhone SE
To demonstrate the iPhone SEs unique ability, Sandofsky used Halide on his iPhone SE to take photos of existing pictures displayed on his computer monitor. Sure enough, the smartphone was able to create convincing depth maps from the flat images displayed on-screen.
The popular Halide app offers many enhancement to the iPhone’s camera.
A depth map can be thought of as an image where, instead of brightness and color, each pixels shade describes its distance from the camera. This depth information informs the cameras software as to which parts of the image should be blurred and which should remain sharp in a Portrait Mode image.
Unlike Apples premium single-camera model, the iPhone XR, the new iPhone SEs older sensor technology doesnt have enough focus pixels to be able to pull off Portrait Mode without a dual-camera. This meant Apple had to come up with another way to make this must-have feature work on the iPhone SE. The solution was to devise new machine learning-based techniques that can generate the depth map from a single image without any hardware-assisted depth perception.
What makes all this possible?
Its the power of the iPhone SEs flagship A13 chipset, handed down from the iPhone 11, that gives it the processing power needed to run the new algorithms. This is a big part of why Apple gets to call the iPhone SE camera the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone.
Edit Portrait Settings After Taking The Photo
One of the best aspects of Portrait mode on the iPhone is the fact you can edit all your Portrait settings after taking the photo. That way, youre free to focus on capturing the perfect photo in the moment knowing you can tweak the settings later.
Just make sure you select Portrait mode in the camera app before you take the photo.
To edit your Portrait settings, select the photo in the app and tap Edit. Select the cube icon at the bottom or at the side of the screen to view your Portrait settings.
Disable Portrait mode entirely by tapping Portrait at the top of the screenyou can always enable it again later. Use the hexagon icon and the f icon to change the lighting effect and the depth of field respectively.
Of course, you can also use all the standard iPhone editing tools, like adjustments, filters, and cropping.
When youre finished, make sure you back up your iPhone or sync with iCloud Photos to keep your edited photos well protected.
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How To Get Portrait Mode On iPhone 8 7 And Older iPhones
The unique selling point of iPhone 7 Plus is the dual-camera system. Ever since it was launched amid much fanfare, both fans and experts have adored its ability to capture stunning shots. During the iPhone event, Apple showcased iPhone 7 Plus exclusive feature-Portrait Mode, which excels in capturing photos with the DSLR-like depth of field and blur/bokeh effects. It instantly became the envy of other iPhone and iPad usersincluding iPhone 7!
Portrait Mode is available in iOS 10.1. I have tested this all new feature on iPhone 7 Plus and found it really impressive. What if you want to use Portrait Mode on your iPhone 7 or older iPhone including iPhone 5s, iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPhone 6s/6s Plus, iPhone SE? Dont be disappointed at all as there is a way to capture photos in Portrait Mode on your iPhone 7, iPhone 5s or later.
Videos From The iPhone Se And 11 Are Nearly Identical
Like photos in good light, it’s also difficult to discern videos from both phones. Both can shoot up to 4K 60 fps and have extended dynamic range . However, the 11 offers extended dynamic range support for up to 4K 60fps, whereas the iPhone SE supports it up to 4K 30fps.
Take a look at the video below which contains footage filmed from both the iPhone 11 and SE. 4K 60fps footage from both phones looks identical. If you look closer, the speaker on the shelf behind me has more contrast in the iPhone 11 video. The lamp over my shoulder in the iPhone 11 video doesn’t blow out, whereas in the iPhone SE video it is. That’s due to the iPhone 11’s extended dynamic range at 4K 60fps.
To see more videos filmed with the iPhone SE, watch the video below.
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iPhone 12 Mini Vs Se: Design And Display
The iPhone SE carries forth the design of the iPhone 8 while replacing the internal components with a more modern A13 Bionic processor. The iPhone 12 mini features the new design of the iPhone 12, with flat sides and an edge-to-edge display. It also comes in five colors: the black, white, and red of the iPhone SE plus green and blue. Theres no doubt the 12 mini is a better-looking phone. Its also just a little bit smaller and lighter, making it the smallest iPhone you can buy. But its not like the iPhone SE is a clunker, and for several hundred dollars, you can probably get by without the seafoam green color option.
The iPhone SE is basically an iPhone 6 with a glass back.
The display is much better on the iPhone 12 mini, though. The fact that it doesnt have big bezels above and below the display means that, despite being a technically smaller phone, the iPhone 12 mini actually has more screen area than the iPhone SE . Its not just the size, however. The iPhone mini also uses Apples best display tech, OLED, which brings tremendous contrast with deep blacks and higher resolution .
Our pick: When it comes to the display, you really get what you pay for. Since youre going to be looking at your phones screen hour hours each day, the extra money is definitely worth it. However, the iPhone SE has an excellent LCD and a classic design, so if you still have a soft spot for the home button, youll definitely be happy with it.