How Smart HDR works in iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR

HDR is a common features in smartphones cameras nowadays. With 2018 iPhones, Apple has introduced a new Smart HDR feature, which takes advantage of its powerful new A12 Bionic chip. Thanks to this new feature, iPhone XS and iPhone XR capture photos which have better color accuracy, detailed shadows and highlights. Let’s take a look at how Smart HDR works and improves photos.

What is Smart HDR?

Before we go into detail, we must understand the underlying engine in the new iPhones: A12 Bionic. This chip is the smartest and most powerful mobile system-on-chip that Apple has produced. It is not only faster than A11 Bonic, which powers iPhone X, it also ships with a 50% faster GPU and a Neural Engine that can perform 5 trillion operations per second. An Enhanced ISP is also part of this package, which powers Smart HDR and improved depth effects on iPhone XS and XR.

The Power of Zero Shutter Lag Thanks to the A12 Bionic

HDR usually works by combining a few photos, bring out highlights and shadows in the capture. Low and high exposures are part of an HDR photo to help capture the dynamic range. Smart HDR is a way more advanced version of this simple process.

Smart HDR capture 1

When you capture a photo with the new iPhones, the same photo is captured using a 4 frame buffers, made possible due to zero shutter lag. The 4 frame buffers are further shrunk into secondary inter-frames, with a mix of saturation and various other lighting conditions. The finishing touch is how the camera also captures a long exposure to improve the shadow detail in the photo. Smart HDR analyzes each photo and combines the best part from them, to create the best possible photo. Meanwhile, auto-focus, exposure, face detection, color accuracy, red eye, white balance, tone mapping and other operations also take place. All of this is done within seconds thanks to the A12 Bionic chip, which truly does deliver wonders. Almost a trillion operations are done on each photo, to make Smart HDR possible.

Capturing the right image using the A12 Bionic

Thanks to this new feature, you can capture great photos even when there is a light source behind your subject.Backlit Smart HDR capture 1

Apple already had HDR available in previous iPhones. With iPhone X, Apple introduced auto-HDR, which would automatically apply it, based on scene detection. However, Smart HDR is perhaps one of the biggest features that differentiates the new XS and XR, when compared to all older iPhones. Thanks to brilliant use of A12 Bionic, camera lens, ISP and the Neural Engine, photos look way better than they might with other cameras of similar specifications.