Unlike the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR only has a single camera on the back. But it still supports Portrait Mode. Just like Pixel 3, it uses software to create a fake bokeh effect. On paper, that’s all and good. But iPhone XR’s software Portrait Mode has one major flaw – it only works on people.
When you switch to the Portrait mode on the iPhone XR and you try to take a depth effect shot of an object or your pet, your iPhone will not play along. Instead, on the top, you’ll see a disclaimer: No person detected. The background will remain unblurred.
If you’ve just bought an iPhone XR hoping to take some sweet depth effect shots of your cute dogs, this can be infuriating. Halide (our pick for the best pro camera app for the iPhone) might just have a solution.
In a post on Reddit, the developers have teased the fact that they have Portrait mode running on both pets and objects for the iPhone XR, inside the Halide app. While it’s not perfected yet, the next version of Halide will include the Portrait mode support for iPhone XR.
Depth on iPhone XR vs iPhone XS. The XR has 1/4 the depth data. (Ignore color differences.) pic.twitter.com/WMkDtznY5o
— Ben Sandofsky (@sandofsky) October 27, 2018
Halide’s developers say that iPhone XR’s portrait mode is “more temperamental” than the iPhone XS and the depth map has a lower resolution. But the important data is all there.
And would you know it, we have Portrait Mode working on pets! We think with some more tooling, we’ll be able to ship a version of our app that enables portrait mode for all sorts of things. It seems it’ll be a bit more ‘temperamental’; in some settings it won’t work if there’s not enough variance in relative distance of objects, but a can of soda water on my desk worked just fine.
This means third party apps should be able to enable a form of Portrait mode for more than people, which is exciting! Note that the depth map is way lower resolution than the dual camera setup, but it seems usable.
Overall, the iPhone XR is a great phone. In fact, for most people, it’s difficult to justify the extra cost of the iPhone XS. But this is definitely one of the biggest limitations of the iPhone XR. Thanks to Halide, you can potentially solve this by spending $5.99, instead of $250.