Considering Apple’s iPhone XR successor – plus, Apple had 800 people working on iPhone cameras, but Google still outclassed them

“This year’s colorful, cheaper-but-still-more-expensive-than-any-other-entry-level-model iPhone XR is a fascinating phone,” Stephen Hackett writes for 512 Pixels. “It delivers iPhone XS performance in a nice enclosure, with just enough corners rounded cut to be more in line with previous iPhone prices.”

“I spent a couple of weeks with a blue model in January, and fell in love with it. The LCD is great, battery life is incredible and the colors are a lot of fun,” Hackett writes. “At the end of the day, I found myself missing the second camera on the back of the XS, however.”

“Ever since that XR left my hands, I’ve been thinking about it, and wondering how Apple could improve the XR for 2019,” Hackett writes. “With rumors of a three-camera setup coming to the iPhone XS’ successor, there are also reports of the next XR picking up a second camera. I think this will make the new XR a lot more enticing, especially for customers currently using a 7 Plus or 8 Plus. Heck, as an iPhone XS user, this would be tempting.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: An iPhone XR successor at a $699 starting price (64GB) would sell like hotcakes!

As for cameras, back in 2015 it was reported that Apple had 800 people working on iPhone cameras, yet Google still kicked their 800 asses, especially in low-light photography four years later (Night Sight). Granted, it’s not representative of reality, but when snapping a shot at night, we do prefer to see what’s there more than we prefer the “accuracy” of underexposed black soup.

So the question is: Why? 800+ people and four long years weren’t enough to figure out something like Night Sight, Apple? We don’t like to see Apple outclassed in anything, especially after throwing 800+ people at the iPhone camera hardware and software over a period of several years. (And, yes, of course iPhone beats Google in terms of Portrait mode, color accuracy and much more. iPhone just falls laughably, embarrassingly short in terms of low-light imaging. And, further, yes you could shoot it in RAW and try to fix it in post, but we’re talking regular users here taking snapshots at night, not pro or even semi-pro photogs.)

Google is, rightfully, crowing about this whenever and wherever they can:

What other smartphone cameras try to do with expensive hardware, we can deliver with software and AI — including high-end computational photography. — Sabrina Ellis, Google VP of Product Management, May 7, 2019

When the report of 800 people working on iPhone’s camera appeared, we wrote:

It’s either impressive or massively bloated mismanagement, depending on your point of view.

To date, the simple fact is that those responsible for iPhone’s low-light imaging have tarnished Apple’s reputation and they should hate each other for having let each other down.

Faketastic: Your smartphone photos are totally fake — and you love it – November 14, 2018
Apple has 800 people working on improving the iPhone’s camera – December 21, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “TJ” for the heads up.]


  1. Yeh, the iPhone photo is basically useless. But maybe without the person, it would be a better photo of the very dark nighttime scene.

    The Pixar photo has everything visible. But it looks like a scene out of a Pixar movie… not something I’d ever put in my photo collection either.

    1. The same could be said about a daytime shot, except in reverse… maybe without the person, it would be a better photo of the very bright daytime scene. Instead the background is all washed out and overexposed in order to capture the darker shades of the person much closer to the camera.

      The solution to such a daytime shot, as we’ve known for years now, is HDR. And HDR photos look a lot more like what we see with our own eyes.

      Google’s Night Sight is doing for the same for nighttime shots, and they’re kicking Apple’s ass. I don’t care if it looks like a still from a Pixar movie, that’s still closer to what my eyes would actually see than what the iPhone took.

  2. The reason Google kicked Apple’s ass in this context is very simple => Google’s ability in AI & ML far outclasses Apple’s ability in hardware & software. People seriously underestimate Google’s software talent & capabilities.

    1. Totally agree.
      AI and data analytics at ever level is the achilles heel of Apple.. from fundamental Spell check.. to predictive typing to contextual word recognition and understanding, search algorithms.. Siri …to image recognition…etc etc.
      Ii pray Apple figures out a way to at the least catch up, let alone surpass. …. . But with their Privacy MO.. i dont know how they can pull it off. It is absolutely critical!

      1. Then you should buy Android spyware with a smile, 3 camera’s on a phone? we are getting to the end of many camera’s a phone without thickness (would Samsung put 6) on a phone? yes they would….

        1. The comment is about AI not android phones.
          I can take advantage of Google AI on my iPhone( don’t need android) and i very often do.. but i hate resorting to Google since im on Apple’s camp and not Googles and would like to see Apple excel at all critical technologies.

          I find a response like yours to be a brush off rather than addressing an issue..
          Google has far superior AI… i guess in your world that is not an Alarming issue for Apple ….. 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

          1. A.I. is a buzz word of nothing, Microsoft or Apple or some other new company in the future with a OS may do something, but now isn’t the time. It’s like self driving cars a buzz over nothing.

    2. I’ll agree once Google’s video quality approaches that of Apple’s. The microphone is of such poor quality, you should actually bring a video camera, or better yet, a second hand iphone when your Android when taking video.

      Other than that, Apple’s focus appears to be in point-n-shoot (not point and hold for a few seconds) and capturing what’s really there. For better or worse, I doubt they try to replicate Night Shot. They’ll continue to improve low light performance, but I don’t think they’ll ever try to “make up” an image from the kind of light performance that film would also have difficulty capturing.

  3. I love this arms race between all of the top phone makers, their cameras have improved so much in such a short period of time. I can see a point in the not too distant future where this sort of argument is pointless as they will all be so good that most consumers really won’t be able to tell the difference or care (some of us are already there).
    I don’t think Apple has really focused on low light performance yet. Hopefully Apple will implement something similar to Night Sight this year but not as a post process like Google but live, like Portrait mode is in the camera app.
    There is no doubt Google has better AI when it comes to the cloud but I wouldn’t just write off Apple’s AI efforts just yet. In the last few years Apple has done an amazing job of upping the local AI processing power of their phones and are way ahead of others in this area. When you combine this with great hardware I believe Apple can produce just as good photos as Google’s server farm. There’s really no right or wrong way to do this, each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. That’s what makes this all so fascinating, two very different approaches to achieve the same thing.
    MDN makes it sound like the iPhone’s camera is way behind and it’s being outclassed, it’s simply not.

    1. Someone showed me a picture their friend with an Android phone took and wanted to know how their phone could take images that good! I showed her the edit function, went into the “colors” selection and bumped the saturation all the way up… now they looked like they were taken by the same phone 🙂 I told her that the iPhone is trying to accurately capture what your eye sees, and it does that well, BUT you have the flexibility to bump it up PAST real if that’s what you want.

  4. 800 people. Sorry but Quality > Quantity.
    Or maybe Google had 801 people. Who cares this is stupid point. Its ignorant and arrogant to think that Apple’s employees are better/smarter than Googles…because Apple? Please. Google has blown me away at times with how amazing their software can be (I am not talking about anything Android related). And Apple has surprised me many times (not any more) with how 1/2 assed they do certain software.

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