Yesterday, the world shook with collective anticipation for the newest iPhone releases. Apple fanatics the world over held their breaths as the tenth-anniversary iPhone was unveiled, aptly named the iPhone X. As all Apple keynotes go, a slew of devices and new features were announced.* Most notable to me (Animojis were only a close second) was the smartphone’s new Portrait Lighting mode. More specifically, the supposed tech behind this new iPhone feature.
Aside from firmly believing that good lighting, which Apple promises to fix here, is essential to great portraits, it’s the promise of the iPhone’s mathematical face mapping technology that got me excited.
Introducing Portrait Lighting
At the Apple event, Portrait Lighting mode was announced as a way to shoot smartphone portraits with lighting comparable to studio illumination. It was heavily stressed that this is not a filter. To explain: A filter will simply add another layer to a photograph to get desired results. Most beauty modes are achieved by adding a blur setting or a rosy hue on what the smartphone camera perceives to be the subject’s face.
The Portrait Lighting mode, as explained, is the result of dual-camera technology and a new phone chip. It’s real-time analysis of your face as the photograph is being taken, which is then transformed into a depth map that separates the subject from the background. Certain facial landmarks are then created and lighting is manipulated by machine learning.
Yeah, I hardly caught that at the Apple Event so I’m sure it’s harder to follow reading this, but simply put: It’s not an added layer to mask out photo imperfections. It’s actual adjustment on the portrait based on information the camera has taken in as it captured that photograph.
This mode sounds great in itself but aside from better-lit photographs and a slew of great studio lighting options, this technology should, in theory, improve on the smartphone’s selfie capabilities. Facial 3D-mapping technology used in the Portrait Lighting mode could vastly improve background blur — I’ve yet to find a smartphone which has perfected this function.
Taking it a step further, this tech should be able to significantly improve existing beauty modes and add skin smoothing and make-up more precisely, and more importantly, more naturally. That is, if Apple finally decides to integrate a beauty mode in its camera app — a selfie function sorely lacking in all their devices.
The iPhone X as Selfie King
With the rise of selfie smartphones and an obvious refocus on smartphone cameras in the tech world, it seems the Apple is also moving towards this direction, albeit in their own way.
Again, and as usual, Apple fills our heads with grandiose promises of tech innovation. Admittedly, tech that use 3D facial mapping is not new in the game. Whether Apple’s unique execution will revolutionize portrait and selfie taking forever is something we’ll have to discover. As with all great technological leaps, it starts with incremental improvements such as this.
Truth be told, the iPhone X is going to need more than great lighting to compete in the selfie arena.** This shouldn’t be hard, however, as Apple knows very well that tech is already there — it’s just a matter of proper application.
For now, at the very least, this face mapping technology is put to good use with Animojis.
*Apple non-believers would argue that these features aren’t, in fact, new since countless other Android phones have had similar tech
**A built-in beauty mode would be a good start!
Sony’s PlayStation is back, Xiaomi outs new Mi 8 variants: Weekend Rewind
Ending the week with nostalgic feels
Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.
1. The iconic PlayStation is back!
Let’s kick things off by taking a trip down memory lane. Almost 25 years after its debut, Sony is bringing back the iconic first-gen PlayStation and it will come as the PlayStation Classic.
It’s basically a miniaturized version complete with a pair of original controller replicas. What’s even more exciting is that fans of the original PlayStation will be able to relive 20 legendary titles including Final Fantasy VII and Tekken 3!
2. Razer Phone 2 gets a launch date
Razer officially confirms the arrival of its second gaming smartphone — the Razer Phone 2. It succeeds the Razer Phone that was launched last November and based on earlier leaks, it’ll be a familiar-looking product.
The phone should sport the same body as its predecessor including the display with buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Of course, the internals will have beefier specs as well. We’ll know the low down real soon during its special event at California this October 10.
3. Apple is on the lead!
While it may be true that Apple didn’t sell the most number of smartphones, they still earned more than their competitors. According to the latest data from Counterpoint Research, Apple had the biggest share of industry profits during the second quarter of 2018.
For comparison, Apple earned 62 percent of the second-quarter smartphone profits. Samsung, which is the top-selling smartphone vendor, is responsible for just 17 percent of smartphone profits in the quarter. Huawei takes the third spot with eight percent of the profits.
4. A complete but affordable smartwatch
Huami, Xiaomi’s sub-brand in China, has a smartwatch that offers tremendous bang for your buck. The company just unveiled the Amazfit Verge and it’s got everything you could ask for in a wearable without the high price tag.
The Amazfit Verge has a GPS, heart-rate sensor, and a full-circle AMOLED display. It’s also equipped with a microphone and loudspeaker that allow voice calls through the smartwatch.
5. Xiaomi outs Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 Lite
On a related note, Xiaomi also held a quick event to announce a few things including two new Mi 8 variants — the Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 Lite.
In a nutshell, these are additions to the flagship Mi 8 family. The Mi 8 Pro is similar to the Mi 8 with the same specs like its Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 8GB of memory, and 128GB of expandable storage. Although, this model comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor.
As the name suggests, the Mi 8 Lite is a toned-down Mi 8 and comes with a midrange Snapdragon 660 chipset, dual rear cameras, and a 24-megapixel front camera. Both phones are initially available in China, but international availability is yet to be announced.
Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.
Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out
He went for the 512GB storage!
Whenever new iPhones launch, a familiar scene is people lining up in front of Apple Stores long before launch date. The same is true in Singapore where the iPhone XS and XS Max officially became available on Friday, September 21.
We visited the Apple Store in Orchard Road and caught up with the first person to cop the new iPhones. His name is Daniel and he went all out getting two units of gold iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage. Watch our interview with him.
The same situation is true elsewhere in the world. In countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more, lines formed as those who pre-ordered got ready to claim the new iPhones.
This is the first time that the two sizes of iPhones feature the same specs. In years past, there was always a plus model that had more features other than just having a bigger form factor. In 2018, the only difference is the screen size — 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS and 6.5 inches for the iPhone XS Max. Both phones are equipped with the new A12 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s their smallest and most powerful chip to date. Both also sport dual cameras.
The Apple Watch Series 4 also launched today. It’s a significant update to Apple’s primary wearable featuring medical advantages other than the usual improvements. As always, it still is a lifestyle gadget and comes with an array of available looks.
Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!
We have them early!
It’s now mid-September and if you’ve been following technology news, you’d know that means one thing: new iPhones from Apple. And if you’ve been following GadgetMatch closely the last few years, you’d expect us to be brewing content by now.
This year, we got them early. What we are unboxing the 5.8-inch model, dubbed the iPhone XS and the bigger variant, the iPhone XS Max. There’s also a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone XR coming later in October.
The box has not changed much — it’s still the same minimalist white box with the image of the phone you’re getting. Inside are a packet with manuals and stickers, USB-A charging brick, Lightning cable, and a pair of Lightning EarPods (not AirPods, they just look alike).
It’s worth noting that the bundled charger is the regular adapter and cable from yesteryears, even if the new iPhones already support fast charging. To get fast charging on the iPhone XS and XS Max, you need to spend an additional US$ 75 for a Lightning to USB-C Cable and a 29W USB-C adapter.
Since omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack, these new iPhones are also the first ones to not include a headphone jack to Lightning dongle — an extra US$ 9 purchase if you ever need one.
Unlike previous years where you need to get the bigger model to have the best features iPhones have to offer, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are essentially the same phones — the latter just has a bigger display and battery capacity.
The iPhone XS and XS Max also come in a new beautiful gold color, something similar to our favorite iPhone 8 and 8 Plus color from last year — a subtle, non-tacky shade of gold. A slightly darker gold but shiny stainless steel band also highlights the edges of the phones. Button and port placements have not changed, and the notch housing Apple’s TrueDepth Camera technology lives on.
We have more iPhone content coming in the next few days so make sure to stay tuned for that. Our unboxing video is also coming where we unboxed a new case color as well. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet.
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