New Apple ‘Beautygate’ Controversy Claims iPhone XS Makes Selfies Look Too Good

Iphone Xs Beauty Gate Credit: Business Insider
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A new Apple controversy is quietly brewing across social media. This time, the Cupertino tech giant is accused of making user selfies look too good.

Reportedly, a slew of users has claimed that the new iPhone XS and XS Max applying “aggressive” skin smoothing, a slight pinkish tint, and an almost airbrush-like glow to the selfies taken with the front-facing camera.

Overall, the effect appears similar to the so-called “beauty modes” on some Android devices. They’re essentially like digital makeup, evening out complexions and smoothing skin details in selfies. And beauty modes are incredibly popular in some markets.

But the controversy doesn’t center on the fact that selfies look better. Instead, users are mostly upset that this new so-called “beauty mode” doesn’t have a toggle — and therefore, there’s no way to disable it currently.

Business Insider corroborated these reports with its own set of testing, showcasing a series of photos that seem to indicate something is pretty clearly going on with the new iPhone cameras. Skin is smoothed out, colors are evened, and face sheen is reduced.

Unbox Therapy host Lewis Hilsenteger said in a video posted this week that “it looks like I’m wearing foundation.”

To be clear, Apple made no mention of a beauty mode or any additional processing when it debuted the iPhone XS and XS Max earlier this month. A look at Apple’s camera specification web page doesn’t reveal any details, either.

That has led some users to theorize that the beauty effect could be tied to Apple’s newly debuted Smart HDR feature. But, as Unbox Therapy’s Lew pointed out, the effect is still present — albeit slightly more subtle — when Smart HDR is disabled.

The slight pinkish tint present on the skin in some of these selfies led one user to think that it’s linked to the way the new sensors can capture warmer colors. But that’s unlikely to be the only culprit.

Another theory is that the beauty effect is due to overly aggressive noise reduction. While noise reduction improves photo quality in low-light environments, they can leave a soft or smooth finish to a photo.

But noise reduction isn’t preferable in brightly lit environments, so the fact that the iPhone XS cameras seem to apply it even in well-lit situations could be a software bug.

Unbox Therapy even corroborated this, suggesting that the so-called “problem” was unlikely to be a result of any new hardware. If it were, the problem would be a lot harder to fix.

Apple, thus far, has declined to comment on the matter to media organizations.

But Abdul Dremali, a photographer who noticed the weird beauty effect going on, wrote in a tweet that Apple reached out to him and is “working on fixing it.”

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