Hands-On With the New 'Portrait' Mode Beta Feature in the iPhone 7 Plus

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 Plus, one major feature it focused on was a new "Portrait" mode that allows the device's camera to simulate a shallow depth of field effect, similar to what can be achieved with a high-end DSLR.

Portrait mode wasn't ready to go when the iPhone 7 Plus shipped, but Apple promised to introduce it at a later date and did so today, with the release of iOS 10.1. Available as a beta feature, Portrait mode is built into iOS 10.1, and we went hands-on with it to see how well it performs.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Portrait mode uses the 56mm lens to capture the image and uses the wider 28mm lens to generate a depth map of a scene. Using the small differentiations between the 28mm and 56mm lenses, the iPhone separates the different layers of an image and uses machine learning techniques to apply a blur that simulates a shallow depth of field.

When shooting, Portrait is similar to other modes in the camera app, with a timer to take an image and a Tap to Focus tool to set the focus. One helpful feature is the ability to see the depth effect live before snapping a photo.

In order for the Portrait effect to work properly, you need good lighting and a subject that's properly placed -- it can't be too close or too far away.

Portrait mode is in beta, and is currently only available for developers running iOS 10.1. This Friday, Apple will also make iOS 10.1 available for public beta testers, so Portrait mode will be more widely available. There are some issues and quirks that still need to be worked out during the beta testing process, but as a first effort, Portrait mode can produce some impressive images.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
50 months ago
I don't understand why I keep reading/hearing that DSLRs can't show depth of field live. Of course they can - it's not an effect that requires processing using a DSLR, it's just the natural characteristics of the lens optics and aperture. If this were true, you'd never be able to manually focus an image using live view mode on a DSLR.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
50 months ago

To me the most impressive aspect is the real time preview of the blur effect. Yes it's artificial blur but no DSLR on the market does that.

All Sony mirrorless DSLR cameras do this in real time.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
50 months ago
Looks great! Makes me almost want a plus...but that would require a man purse, and i'm just not that fabulous...
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
50 months ago
Matthew Panzarino's tests ('https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/21/hands-on-with-the-iphone-7-plus-crazy-new-portrait-mode/') tell me that this is not a gimmick. Not by a long shot.

A couple of iterations in the future, and I see entrant DSLR enthusiasts changing their minds, for good.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
50 months ago
This is really great that they were able to make the iPhone do this.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
50 months ago

I'm interested to hear what iPhone 7 Plus users think about this feature. Looks like a gimmick to me.

This is the absolute holy grail for some of us.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands On With iPhone 12 Models Showing New Sizes and Design

Monday July 6, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by
Ahead of the launch of new iPhones we often see dummy models created based on leaked schematics and specifications, with those models designed to let case makers create cases for the new devices ahead of their release. We got our hands on a set of dummy models that represent the iPhone 12 lineup, giving us our first close look at the iPhone 4-style design and the different size options. Subscri ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 2: New Calendar Icon, Files Widget and More

Tuesday July 7, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
Apple today released the second beta of iOS 14 to developers for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features that are coming in the update. Below, we've rounded up all of the changes that we found in the second beta. - Calendar icon - There's a new Calendar app icon in iOS 14 beta 2, with the day of the week abbreviated rather than spelled out. - Clock icon - The clock...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks Discusses 'Heartbreaking' Shift of WWII Film Greyhound From Theatrical Blockbuster to Apple TV+ Exclusive

Monday July 6, 2020 7:53 am PDT by
Tom Hanks' WWII drama "Greyhound" is set to premiere on Apple TV+ this Friday, July 10, and ahead of that debut the actor gave an interview with The Guardian discussing the film. "Greyhound" was originally planned to see a theatrical release this summer, and was repeatedly delayed in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Apple won the streaming rights to the film, and in the new...

Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs

Tuesday July 7, 2020 4:00 am PDT by
macOS 11 Big Sur is the next major release of Apple's operating system for Mac, and following its preview at WWDC, one of the biggest discussions has revolved around the all-new user interface redesign. Developers are still learning what the impact the new UI will have on their apps, and with that in mind, app designer Andrew Denty has compiled an extensive visual comparison of the user...

5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Model Size Compared to Original iPhone SE and iPhone 7

Saturday July 4, 2020 9:44 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 dummy models based on leaked schematics have been starting to circulate online and in online marketplaces. Not happy with the circulating size comparisons between the rumored 5.4" iPhone 12 and the original iPhone SE models, MacRumors forum user iZac took matters into his own hands and purchased his own 5.4" dummy model to provide more detailed size comparisons between the original...

Shipping Estimates for 27-Inch iMac Continue to Slip, Now Into September

Monday July 6, 2020 6:55 am PDT by
Amid rumors and hints of a forthcoming update for the iMac, supplies of Apple's current 27-inch iMac continue to dwindle with mid- and high-end stock configurations now seeing shipping estimates pushed back into September. The 27-inch iMac has seen tight supplies and extended shipping estimates for months now, but the situation has been gradually worsening to the point where new buyers can...

Apple Cuts iPhone Trade-In Values as iPhone 12 Launch Nears

Tuesday July 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
With just two months to go until the usual timeframe for Apple's iPhone launch events, Apple is cutting back on maximum trade-in values of previous-generation iPhones for those looking to upgrade to a new model. Maximum values on more recent models have dropped by $30–$50, while older models have generally dropped by $5–$20 with a few models seeing no change in value.iPhone XS Max: $500 to...

Analyst Believes iPhone 12 Pricing Will Start $50 Higher Even Without EarPods or Charger in Box

Wednesday July 8, 2020 9:35 am PDT by
Despite multiple reports indicating that Apple will not include EarPods or a wall charger with iPhone 12 models this year, one analyst believes that pricing will still increase slightly compared to the iPhone 11 lineup. In a research note provided to MacRumors, analyst Jeff Pu forecasted that iPhone 12 pricing will start at $749 for a new 5.4-inch model, an increase of $50 over the base...

14-Inch MacBook Pro With Mini-LED Display Expected to Enter Production in 2021

Wednesday July 8, 2020 7:51 am PDT by
Apple suppliers will begin competing to win manufacturing orders for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED displays in the first quarter of 2021, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. Rumors of a 14-inch MacBook Pro have surfaced since Apple replaced the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a new 16-inch model last year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said that...