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Apple’s iPhone Xs selfie camera faces criticism over forced skin smoothing effect

Apple’s iPhone Xs flagship range of smartphones are being hit with criticism over mandatory new camera features are smoothing out skin. This has since been dubbed “beautygate,” drawing comparisons to unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by the media.

Although the camera sensors on the iPhone Xs and Xs Max are almost identical to the iPhone X, users of the new range have noticed an unnatural bump in lighting, eliminating shadows and smoothing of the skin. The affect looks rather similar to “beauty mode” seen on Android rivals, except this new standard doesn’t seem to be optional on Apple’s new line-up.


Screenshot: Unbox Therapy

YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger explores the controversy on his channel, Unbox Therapy, attempting to discern whether it is software or hardware based. The only feature Apple openly talked about regarding the lenses on the iPhone Xs and Xs Max was Smart HDR, however the smoothing effect was only somewhat dampened when this was deactivated, still making Hilsenteger look like he is “wearing foundation.”

This could mean that the effect is a result of hardware processing rather than software. That being said, Hilsenteger found that lighting dramatically changes between a warm when a human face is identified, to a cold tone when removed or blocked from the frame. Hilsenteger hopes that this could mean there’s a chance it is software-based and can potentially be removed in a future update.

Discussion erupted on social media accounts, with Redditors in particular dubbing the controversy “beautygate” due to its influence over unrealistic beauty standards.  Worse yet, Smart HDR is enabled by default with no clear indication that it’s active unless the user delves deeper into the settings. This could result in many people taking the “air brushed” photo as realistic when it is debatably the furthest thing from.

Even moving away from how much influence Apple has over people’s perception of one another, it’s not the first time that Apple has potentially taken choice out of users’ hands. Last year, Apple was caught intentionally slowing down the performance of aging iPhones when updates landed upon the release of a new device. Its reasoning was to preserve batteries following expected degradation, however it wasn’t until fans angrily voiced their opinion that Apple placed it within the settings as an optional feature instead.

Apple has yet to comment on beautygate, making it difficult to determine whether a solution will be provided at a later date. If it is a software issue, there’s a chance we could see an update give people the choice, however if it turns out to be a hardware situation then users might be stuck with the effect.

KitGuru Says: Personally, I think the iPhone X has a much better camera displaying a much greater depth to the image. As clean as photos from the iPhone Xs series look, its flatter feel makes it feel much less engaging to me. What do you prefer? Are you happy with the camera on the iPhone Xs range?

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