Austin Mann reviews iPhone Xs camera: ‘I’ve never worked with a camera that can balance light like this – not even close’

“Far and away the most significant camera update in the iPhone XS is its new Smart HDR capabilities. Powered by the A12 Bionic chip, in the picture above the iPhone XS is able to capture the dark shadows of the rock while maintaining strong detail in the sunlit clouds,” Austin Mann blog eponymously. “I’ve never worked with a camera that can balance light like this — not even close.”

“The power of the new ISP (image signal processor) in the iPhone XS doesn’t just impact still photos, it impacts everything captured by the camera, including panoramas, time-lapses and video,” Mann writes. “As an artist, I often express my perspective through silhouettes. They have a way of forcing the viewer to appreciate the shape and contour of the subject instead of the color or texture. The iPhone XS is so good at balancing light, it’s actually quite difficult to create a silhouette!”

“This past year with the iPhone X I’ve had a lot of difficulty with vertical panoramas. I’ve shot so many over and over trying to get everything sharp, but the focus seems to degrade as I continue upward,” Mann writes. “The iPhone XS fixes this problem. Combined with the new Smart HDR, I’ve shot a bunch of vertical panos that are exposed beautifully and tack sharp from top to bottom… It’s definitely the biggest upgrade I’ve seen in a long time. I think back to my 2013 iPhone 5S Review when I was comparing dynamic exposure in panoramas. While there were some improvements, they were nowhere near this significant.”

“If you’ve decided to upgrade and you’re debating between the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, get a black iPhone XS with 512GB of storage,” Mann writes. “Among the iPhone camera’s greatest strengths is its light and nimble form factor. Working with the smaller device plays to that strength. By maxing out the storage you’ll have plenty of space to store your content (or store it for review), and getting black means you’ll minimize reflections and remain discreet.”

Read more, and see the impressive side-by-side comparisons and iPhone Xs images, in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Holy f-stop, this leap forward in camera quality is stunning!

Inside Apple’s iPhone Xs camera technology that rivals DSLR quality – September 20, 2018
‘Shot on iPhone Xs’ video showcases Apple’s amazing new camera – September 13, 2018


  1. Imagine Apple camera tech coupled with a professional, large format detector and optics. While it is amazing what Apple has accomplished with tiny little camera components, there is no doubt that the tiny cameras limit the capabilities.

    There are optical considerations that cannot be completely overcome by fancy processing alone. The ability to independently control exposure time, aperture, etc., is invaluable. And the ability to change lenses for zoom, macro, etc. — again, a game changer. And lighting? No little LED on a cell phone can come close to the illumination provided by a DSLR flash. Just can’t.

    It is entirely possible to be proud of what Apple has accomplished without mindlessly disparaging everything else. Try it sometime.

    1. I think of the same. If anyone ever sees value in letting the iPhone be the brains consuming the output of a LARGE sensor directly, that will be an amazing moment for photography.

      1. There was that dXo attachment that used the Sony 1″ sensor. That was getting close to using a large sensor with an iPhone, though I’m thinking it did not use the iPhone as its brain since it could be detached and used on its own.

  2. I mean to emphasize the detector array size. Larger pixels capture more photons and, thus, require less gain in low light conditions. All things being equal, the larger pixels will produce output with lower noise. The large format detectors used in professional cameras can provide both more pixels *and* much larger pixels than the tiny detector in a cell phone.

    I would love to see Apple processing tech integrated with a high-quality professional camera. Please?

  3. Imaginex above – correct. I have also hated every iPhone I’ve owned – which is a lot – for night shots and concerts, etc. They’re awful. In daylight, they’re amazing. Color me skeptical until I can try one in darker realms.
    This leads me to wonder why my son’s crappy Droids always take better night pics? I don’t get it.

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