The iPhone’s Cameras: Specifications and Features

The camera in the iPhone can detect up to ten faces in a scene, with a rectangle placed on top of each cup. Behind the scenes, the iPhone’s camera balances exposure across each face.
If you want to lock focus and exposure settings while taking a photo, tap and hold your finger on the screen until the rectangle pulses. AE/AF lock will appear on the screen. Tap the screen again to make the AE/AF lock go away.
All current iPhone models include a pixel focus sensor. Think of it as a great tool under the hood to help cameras focus faster and focus better.
For each model, Apple upgraded the processors in the iPhone. The 7 and 7 Plus are based on Apple’s A10 Fusion chip. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus has Apple’s A11 Bionic chip, with a built-in image signal processor that Apple says can detect different elements in a scene — like people, motion, and lighting conditions.
The iPhone X gets a big boost from dual optical image stabilization, which uses sophisticated algorithms to help you compensate for shakes. It also contains an A11 Bionic chip.
The XR, XS, and XS Max advance the A12 Bionic chip with a neural engine that uses real-time machine learning. You don’t need to know what that means, but it does affect the way you experience images, augmented reality, and more.
The sensor on the XR, XS, and XS Max models also has more focus pixels, which promise to enhance image resolution and improve low-light shooting. When the sun icon is visible, you can drag your finger up or down the screen to increase or decrease the brightness in the scene. You can change the exposure settings in a particular shot and brighten or darken scenes for both still photos and video.
Apple up its game again with the A13 Bionic on the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. It also relies on Neural Engine and real-time machine learning to help your photos sing.
The rear cameras on all models since the 6s are 12 megapixels. And the 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, XS, and XS Max models get a second 12MP rear camera.
The iPhone 11 has both wide and ultra-wide rear cameras, each with a resolution of 12 megapixels. Both the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max have triple camera systems that add a telephoto rear lens.
FaceTime cameras on all 7 and 8 models jump to 7 megapixels. This is the same megapixel count as the TrueDepth front camera on the X, XS, XS Max, and XR models.
The TrueDepth camera on the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max bumps the count up to 12 megapixels.
You can also take advantage of a feature known as HDR, or high dynamic range photography. Press the HDR button to turn on HDR if it is visible.
You won’t see the button if you enable Auto HDR in Settings on some models, or select the Next-generation Smart HDR option found on newer models.
HDR takes three separate exposures (long, normal, short) and blends the best parts of the three shots into one photo. In the settings (under Camera), you can choose to keep the “normal” photo along with the HDR result or just stick with the latter. You can also tap the Auto HDR switch if you want your iPhone to take these HDR photos.
The cameras on all iPhone 7 models and later let you take advantage of HDR on the front camera as well, which works on both still photos and videos.
These models bring other good things. With an f/1.8 aperture and a six-element lens, it performs especially well in low light. Its image signal processor – think the brain of a camera – can run more than 100 billion operations.
The X, XS, and XS Max feature an f/1.8 aperture on their wide-angle lens and an f/2.4 aperture on their telephoto lens. The rear camera on these models has a six-element lens system. The XR, which doesn’t have a second rear telephoto lens, has an f/1.8 aperture lens as well.
The lens 11 also has a six-element wide-angle lens with f/1.8 aperture, along with a five-element f/2.4 ultra-wide-angle lens, which has a 120-degree field of view. This means that you can capture up to four times the scene.
The aforementioned telephoto camera on the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max is a six-element lens with f/2.0 apertures, which Apple says captures 40 percent of the light.
Apple will also tell you that Smart HDR takes advantage of faster sensors, an improved image signal processor, and smart algorithms to give your Pix more detail. The next generation version of Smart HDR on the 11s model blends the best parts of separate exposures into a single image. Otherwise why is it called clever?
Apple has been preparing a new software feature called Deep Fusion, which should be ready by the time you read this clip. A senior Apple executive referred to Deep Fusion as “the crazy science of computational imaging.”

Essentially, by exploiting machine learning and the neural engine inside the A13 Bionic, the iPhone automatically takes eight long and short exposure photos, even before the shutter button is pressed. When you press the shutter, a long exposure is also taken. All this information is supposed to be squashed together in an instant to produce the best possible picture.
While you’re in the camera settings, note that you can also turn on gridlines, which help you frame a shot using the shooting principle known as the rule of thirds.

iPhone cameras from front to back – and from the back
Most of the time, you’ll be using the main rear camera while taking photos (or video). But you may want to take a selfie, or a shot of your pretty face, to post, for example, to a social networking site like Facebook or Instagram. Not a problem. Simply tap the front/back camera switch in the bottom right corner of the screen to switch between the front and back camera.
On the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, you can take a slow motion video selfie called a slofie.
Apple used to call the front camera a FaceTime camera because you can use it for the FaceTime video calling feature. The rear camera used to be known as the iSight camera.
On iPhone X and later, the front camera is called TrueDepth because it bypasses FaceTime. For one thing, it can also exploit facial recognition by creating a depth map of your cup.
It can also analyze the muscle movements in your face to create funny gifs that reflect your facial expressions. The infrared camera, dot projector, and flood lighting that are part of the TrueDepth system are hidden by a visible notch on the screen.

iPhone camera flash
The iPhone has an LED (light-emitting diode) flash that controls photos taken with the rear camera. You see the flash icon when using the front camera on Model 6s and later.
When the button is available, click it to change the setting to On, Off, or Automatic. Try using the automatic setting, which allows the iPhone to determine the appropriate time for the flash to turn on.
The iPhone doesn’t have one background flash, but two back flashes as part of a flashy feature, which Apple refers to as the True Tone flash. The two flashes – one white and one amber – work in tandem to match the flash with the ambient light in your shooting environment.
The system determines the intensity of the light and which combination of flashes to fire automatically, with more than 1,000 possible combinations, Apple says.
The Quad-LED True Tone flash on 7 and 7 Plus models and later is much brighter.
You don’t have to worry about any of this when you’re out taking pictures. Simply turn the flash setting to “On” or leave it in “Auto” mode and trust the True Tone flash to choose the right combination.
The FaceTime camera also takes advantage of what Apple refers to as Retina Flash. For just a moment, the phone’s Retina display lights up three times with True Tone lighting to enhance the selfies you take on dim settings, made possible by the dedicated display chip.

Night mode on iPhone camera
On the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, Apple added a Night Mode feature that lets you shoot in low light without turning on the flash. The results are often more satisfactory than flash photography. The great thing about this machine learning-based feature is that it starts automatically; You don’t have to scratch your head and wonder if you want to turn it on.
When night mode is on, the moon icon turns yellow and you see 1s, 2s or 3s inside. This is the iPhone that tells you to remain still for 1, 2, or 3 seconds, respectively, while the photo is being taken.
And since these iPhone smartphones can detect when they’re placed on a tripod, night mode can take nearly half a minute.
So how does this little photo magic happen? Night mode takes advantage of the wide sensor on the 11 models to capture multiple photos that are then combined into one killer photo.

Using the digital zoom on the iPhone camera
When you spread or bring your fingers together on the screen, the zoom slider appears. Holding down or decompressing has the same effect as dragging the slider to the right or left. The zoom feature works when shooting video as well.
You may not always like the results you get when you zoom in. 7 Plus models and later include optical zoom; Older models have digital zooms. The quality excellence is tremendous
At 7 and 8, you can get closer to your subject by zooming up to 5x. On 7 Plus models and later, you can digitally zoom in up to 10x. But what digital zoom really does is crop and blow up a portion of the image, which can reveal blur or blur.
It does not look harsh, but the flaws of the subject – and any shortcomings on the part of the photographer – may appear. Despite the disclaimer, the camera does show some pretty powerful images.
Cameras before the iPhone 7 Plus also had 3x video zoom that uses a high-quality crop zoom to allow the phone to get up to three times closer to your subject while helping maintain original image quality. On 7 Plus models and later, digital video zoom is extended to 6x.
If you’re traveling to San Francisco, you’ll want a picture of the impressive extent that the Golden Gate Bridge is. In the Himalayas, you might want to get a souvenir from Mount Everest.
At a family reunion, you want that epic portrait of your entire extended clan. For just such moments, try the panorama feature, which allows you to put together a high-resolution image of up to 63 megapixels on models 6s and later.
To get started, drag the screen so that the panorama (Panorama) becomes the shooting mode of your choice. The word Pano will be in yellow, just above the shutter button. Position the phone so it’s at the starting point and tap the shutter button when you’re ready. Move slowly and steadily in the direction of the arrow. (Press the arrow if you prefer to pan in the opposite direction.) Try to keep the arrow above the yellow horizontal line. When the task is completed, click Done and enjoy your handiwork.
iPhone back cameras
On the 7 Plus and later (with the exception of the iPhone XR), two rear cameras work as a team. With this dual camera system, you can tap the 1x or 2x button on the iPhone screen to switch from 1x wide angle (28mm equivalent focal length) to 2x telephoto (56mm lens) or back.
You take advantage of the phone’s optical zoom feature, which is a huge advantage compared to digital zoom.
Of course, you can put the digital zoom to work here as well, up to a 10x max. You can use the pinch gesture to zoom in (which you excel at now). Or, after tapping to reach 2x with the optical zoom, move your finger in any direction to zoom left or right.
On 11, you can click on the controls labeled 1x or 0.5x; On the 11 Pro and Pro Max (with the third camera), the controls are 0.5x, 1x or 2x.
When you select Photo as the shooting format of your choice on all 11 models, you can swipe up on the screen to bring up icons for flash, night mode, live photo, aspect ratio, self-timer, and filters. And if you click on the aspect ratio, you will be able to take a “square” photo or photos with aspect ratios of 4:3 or 16:9.
Another feature of the 7 Plus and later models – and one of our favorites – is the depth-of-field portrait mode, which allows you to keep your main subject sharp and in focus while the background remains blurry but only in an artistic way.
Photographers refer to this concept as bokeh. On models with this feature, another shooting option, called Portrait, appears on the camera screen (next to Video, Photo, Square, etc.).
Although it only has a single rear camera, the XR can also take advantage of portrait mode.
Meanwhile, the 8 Plus, X, and later models feature a feature called Portrait Lighting. When you choose portrait mode on these phones, you can apply exciting effects, either before or after you take a photo. It works like this: After you select Portrait, a wheel appears so that you can choose effects called Natural Light, Studio Light, Ambient Light, Stage Light Mono, and Stage Light.
With iOS 13, Apple added a vertical lighting effect (for 11S models) called High-Key Light Mono. With this cool effect, your main theme appears in black and white on a white background.
By the way, you’ll be able to take advantage of Portrait Lighting on the front or rear cameras on models X and later.
On the 8 Plus, the feature only works with the rear cameras.
The XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max add an advanced portrait mode and a new Depth Control feature that lets you adjust background blur after shooting. You can also adjust the aperture without affecting the exposure after the fact. When you tap “Edit” next to a photo taken in portrait mode, you’ll be able to drag the slider to change the bokeh effect. And that’s very cool.
iPhone Camera Filters
The beauty of photo software is that you can edit and tweak photos to make them look smarter, funnier, prettier – or even go from color to black and white. You can achieve these improvements using the editing tools built into the Photos app or in any number of third-party apps.
Apple allows you to apply color effects before taking shots. Even better, these handy tools are live filters, so you can see the effect of changing from one filter to another before deciding which works best for a particular scene.
To apply a filter, tap the three-dot filters icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, and then tap any of the thumbnails representing the nine available filters. These range from a black and white Noir filter to a slightly washed out Dramatic Cool filter. Or tap the 10th thumbnail, the original, all the way to the left, to go back to the image you started with.
By the way, in the camera settings, you can keep a recently used filter, light, or depth setting automatically, rather than having to choose those settings every time you shoot. Choose Settings → Camera → Keep Settings and then flip the Creative Controls switch to the On position. You can also keep the last shooting mode by flipping the camera’s mode switch to the on position. The same goes for the Live Photo feature.
You can also apply filters after taking a photo as part of your editing suite. This way, you have a normal image and a filtered image. If you apply a filter before shooting, the camera will only take a photo in that filter mode.
iPhone camera burst
Even the most discerning photographers sometimes need help getting the perfect action shot or shot sequence. Burst mode provides that help. Shoot with confidence, knowing you won’t miss a junior kick in the soccer game winner.
Taking pictures at shooting speed couldn’t be easier than ever. On all models except the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, when you’re ready to shoot, hold your finger on the shutter button and hold it until you’re satisfied that you’ve got what you want.
The image signal processor on the 6 models and later works with the camera and camera software to automatically focus successive images.
On the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, holding your finger on the shutter instead activates the QuickTake feature that lets you shoot video instead. Rest assured, you can still catch quick bursts on these models too; You just have a different routine to follow.
Place your finger on the shutter button and immediately drag it towards the left or bottom of the screen, depending on whether you are shooting vertically or horizontally, respectively. Lift your finger to stop shooting.
You have to be quick, lest you catch a QuickTake video instead; It may take practice.
With all iPhone 6 models and later, Apple allows you to take advantage of the continuous shooting capability on the front camera. For the slightest of selfies or group shots, the iPhone captures every one. Apple says each burst sequence is analyzed in real time for sharpness and clarity.
Burst mode is a great feature. But Apple realized that in most cases, you probably won’t want to save every photo you take during the shoot, especially when you end up with hundreds.
Fortunately, the software in the phone processes the photos in real time and suggests the photos it thinks you’ll like based on factors like clarity, sharpness, and even whether the person’s eyes are closed.
So how does Apple display the best photos? So glad you asked. You can tell if a photo is part of a shooting party in three ways.
In the first way, tap on the thumbnail preview in the camera app for the last shot you took. The image now takes up most of the screen and Burst appears above the image in the upper left, with the number of consecutive images in parentheses.
The second method is to visit the pre-created Bursts album that Apple provides easily within the app for expressive bursts. The final method is to tap on Photos → All Photos in the Photos app. A thumbnail representing this sequence of shots will appear as if it were placed on a stack of photos.
With Apple’s help, your next potential task is to determine which explosion is the best photo or photos (in other words, the ones you’re most likely to keep). You see a select button at the bottom of the image of an impulse sequence. Click Select. The selected image from your burst appears front and center, bordered by the edges of the other images from the sequence.
At the bottom of the screen there is a bar of thumbnails, each representing an image from this group. Below one or more of these photos, you’ll see a gray dot, indicating that the photo Apple selected is the best or among the best photos.
Scroll left or right to check out the other photos in the collection. A gray triangle above the thumbnails directs you to your site in the thumbnail bar.
As you scroll, if you agree with Apple’s suggestions and want to keep the selected image, tap the circle in the lower right corner of the image so that a check mark appears on the thumbnail, which prepares the image to be copied as a single-image holder.
You can select other photos in the sequential sequence; As you do, each image’s representative thumbnail gets a check mark as well. After making all of your choices, click Done.
You are given the option at this point to keep all the photos your iPhone takes as part of a burst sequence (by tapping the Keep Everything button) or just one or more photos you’ve manually selected (by tapping the Keep Only x Favorites button).
In fact, absolutely nothing prevents you from checking photos that Apple hasn’t uploaded to the selected state so that they too are self-contained in all photos.
If you are not satisfied with any of the images, you can deepen six of them all. Open All Photos from the Photos app, tap the thumbnail for that particular batch, and tap the delete icon in the lower right corner. Apple will double check that you want to remove all photos in this sequence by clicking the Delete x Photos button before completing the act.
You can set a favorite by clicking on the heart icon below a consecutive photo or any other photo.
Using the self-timer on the iPhone camera
Many physical cameras have a self-timer that allows you to be part of a photo, perhaps in a group session with friends. The self-timer built into the Camera app adds this functionality to your iPhone, whether you’re using the front or back camera. If anything, adding a self-timer feature might improve the quality of your selfies.
Click on the timer icon. (If you have one of the 11s models, you have to swipe up first to reveal the code). Choose 3 seconds or 10 seconds as the time interval between when the shutter is pressed and when the photo was taken. In the selfie created by the self-timer, you will see the seconds count down. To turn off the self-timer, press the off button. It couldn’t be easier.