As it does every year, Apple has upgraded the camera on its newest iPhone, the iPhone X, in a pretty serious way. So the question becomes: is the iPhone X really good enough to replace your DSLR on your next trip? No one can say for sure, since the first iPhone Xs won’t be shipped until November 3rd, but here are five reasons why I believe it will be.
This one is for the selfie-obsessed iPhone users out there. Traditional DSLRs equipped with a portrait lens have long been able to capture shallow depths of field to bring their photo subject into extreme focus while keeping the background blurred. The effect has been extremely tough to mimic in smartphones, and it’s no surprise as to why: DSLRs can switch between multiple lenses, whereas smartphones cannot.
That said, Apple has figured out a way to simulate a shallow depth-of-field on the iPhone X, and it does a surprisingly good job of it. Would you ever know the photo above was taken not with a DSLR, but with an iPhone?
Wide-Angle & Telephoto Cameras
The iPhone X leverages an ƒ/1.8 six-element lens to capture wide-angle shots, and a ƒ/2.4 seven-magnet solution for telephoto captures. Both cameras are 12 megapixels and have Optical Image Stabilization (OSI) built-in to make your photos, whether they’re taken from near or far, as crisp and clean as possible. This innovation alone cuts down much of the gear a DSLR photographer would need to bring along with them, namely multiple lenses, drastically simplifying the photo-taking process.
Apple has been steadily investing in their video technology over the past several years, and it’s paying off in a big way. The iPhone X can shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps, 1080p slo-mo video at up to 240 fps, and it does it all at half the file size it used to, thanks to a new method of file compression. With the iPhone X’s larger sensors, Apple is also introducing new stabilization technology, which will give low-light conditions a significant quality boost. The result: steadier videos, whether you’re sitting on a couch or atop a camel.
Portrait photographers rejoice: the iPhone X offers portrait lighting on both the front and rear cameras. With portrait lighting, you can adjust the lighting on your photos, even after you take them, to give them a more professional, polished look. Want to add some lifelike shadows that follow the contours of your subject’s face? No problem. Portrait lighting is excellent for creating the striking light and shade on people's faces and folds in clothes that generally look quite flat and dull with most smartphone cameras.
Since portrait lighting is available on the front-facing camera as well, all of your photos will have a luxe look to them. As always, there are plenty of post-processing effects to choose from, including replacing the background with a studio-lit backdrop, as shown above, though you probably won’t use this one very much on the road.
The X Factor: Face ID
Face ID is the newest technology Apple has incorporated into the iPhone X, replacing the fingerprint technology it debuted a few years ago. Yet I also expect Face ID will become an integral piece of the iPhone’s photography stack. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could, at the touch of a button, take a group photo and share it with everyone in that photo? Face ID will make that a breeze. Apple hasn’t said much about its stance on issues like this, but I think it’s just a matter of time before Apple, or some third-party apps, start using Face ID creatively like this.
Even though Face ID does a good job protecting your data if your iPhone X is lost or stolen, it’s still a good idea to have a financial backup plan in case anything goes awry. I recommend buying your phone with a credit card like the American Express Platinum or the N26 Black card, both of which offer comprehensive insurance protection on your purchases to ensure you’re covered in any situation.
The iPhone X is certainly exciting for anyone who enjoys capturing high quality memories while on the road, at home or anywhere else. Many experts believe we may only be a couple of years out from the iPhone replacing DSLR cameras outright, and I’m on board with that as well. If your DSLR is like a tuxedo—great for special occasions—the iPhone X is like your favorite t-shirt: infinitely more useful, and something you don’t mind having on you every day. Why would we ever choose anything else?