Patently Apple covered the issue of Apple’s selfie camera being too aggressive in artificial smoothing and unnatural coloring in two reports (01 & 02). While the host of Unbox Therapy Lewis Hilsenteger is bombastic in how he brings an issue to light, I felt his basic argument was correct in that many selfies were just too over processed. We showed a few photos that clearly supported complaints from the Apple community.
Over the weekend I was checking out the reviews of the Pixel 3 from Unboxed Therapy, Marques Brownlee and iJustine. All thought that the Pixel 3’s camera was amazing for having just one camera that heavily uses AI.
I grabbed a couple of new screenshots from iJustine’s report comparing iPhone XS Max and Pixel 3 selfies as noted below that once again shows the Pixel 3 shots being more natural and those from the iPhone XS being over processed as if Justine was wearing a lot of makeup. Click on the photos below to see the images larger to help you review them.
In both cases noted above I personally find that the Pixel 3 selfies to be far more natural than those take with the iPhone XS that look too over processed.
Are the selfies from the iPhone a disaster? Of course not, just over processed. Some like that, some don’t. But those of us who don’t like it have no choice, no means of controlling the tones. That’s a problem.
The Pixel 3 offers their customers a “facial retouching” option as noted above. That’s just smart. Customers could turn it on or shut if off. This gives customers an option where the iPhone leaves you stuck with one (unnatural) outcome, like it or not.
In our second report I noted that “In the end, those experiencing this issue are simply hoping that a software update will be coming their way soon.”
Well, I guess Apple was listening to a point because The Verge reports today that “OS 12.1 update, currently in public beta, will address the issue of the front camera appearing to smooth out skin by picking a sharper base frame for Smart HDR.”
The Verge writer noted in their report: “But the Pixel 3 still produces winners more consistently, and I prefer the more ‘contrasty,’ natural look of its photos.” That’s the point of Apple fans who complained.
A lot of Apple fans were also upset with so-called “experts” explaining away and supporting Apple’s camera quality even if fans didn’t like the new selfie camera outcomes.
The Verge writer was being honest. Those outside of Apple’s large niche just saw the selfie shots as simply inferior and public perception does matter.
In Marques Brownlee review of the Pixel 3 he makes it clear in his view that the Pixel 3’s camera is the hands down champ, even over the iPhone XS Max, while specifically mentioning that the Pixel 3 photos aren’t “over processed.” He adds “not a lot of beauty-mode” and it’s tack sharp with what you see is what you get.
Brownlee also gave a shout out to a recent posted byline by The Verge: “Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL Review: The Best Camera gets a Better Phone.”
The camera is now the main focus of consumers regarding smartphones. It’s almost like it’s a smart camera that just happens to have telephony. So getting the camera right and making customers happy really matters. Even if technobabble has its merits, it’s what the customer thinks that matters many times and this is one of them.
Going out of your way to insult customers is the stupidest things a company and those representing them can do. Telling customers that it’s just their eyes seeing it all wrong is dumb when a competing smartphone just gets it right.
In iJustine’s Pixel 3 review starting at around the 12:15 mark she says that the main thing that most people use their smartphones for is the camera, phone calls she says, “not so much.”
That’s why Apple updating iOS 12 to address an issue of over processing photos is in its best interest so as to not lose the confidence of their fans over the camera.
At first glance the iOS 12 update appears to be for the iPhone XR camera, but Apple may be fixing the front camera issue in general and cover all of their 2019 iPhone models. Well, we can always hope.