iPhone 7 Plus Camera Update Comes Early

The latest iOS beta offers an early look at the new depth of field portrait mode

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iPhone 7 Camera

The iPhone 7 camera's new portrait mode adds a blurred depth of field effectXavier Harding

The iPhone 7 serves as Apple's flagship smartphone for the end of 2016 and first half of 2017. And camera fans interested in upgrading can look forward to the arrival of two lenses on the back of the larger "Plus"-sized iPhone 7. In addition to the usual wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens can be found on the rear of the device. In addition to optical zoom finally making its way to an iPhone (limited to 2x, but better than nothing), Cupertino has devised a way to use both lenses at the same time to fake depth of field when taking portrait photos. Apple has announced that the software update would come later this year. Unless you happen to be part of the company's beta program.

In a surprise iOS 10.1 beta update released to developers, Apple has unleashed an early version of their depth of field trick into the wild. After installing, simply head to the camera app and slide over to the Portrait mode to activate it.

Once selected, the camera mode will likely tell you to move back. Without needing to be very close to your subject, users of the new portrait mode will be able to stand at a normal distance while still getting a blurred background. Mostly.

When taking a photo in Apple's Portrait mode, the camera snaps two photos: one regular and one with blur applied to the background. Here's an example of a shot taken using the Portrait mode.

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Portrait mode, engagedXavier Harding
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iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode, with blurXavier Harding

And now the same photo, taken at the same time, without the blur.

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iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode photo, without blurXavier Harding

And here is, when switched to regular camera mode, how far back I was.

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Here's how far back I was, shown by switching to the regular camera and not changing distanceXavier Harding

Here are some other examples of the iPhone 7 Plus's new portrait mode:

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Death Star, Popular ScienceXavier Harding
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Death Star, blurredXavier Harding
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Stick figurines, unblurredXavier Harding
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Stick figurines, blurredXavier Harding

And finally, the plant photo with depth of field. Not using Apple's software, but when physically moved closer to the plant in regular camera mode.

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Plant photo, depth of field the old-fashioned wayXavier Harding

It's worth noting that the photos in Portrait mode that have the applied depth of field blur result in smaller images than the pictures without it. When physically moved closer to your subject, some light depth of field is present, but with the larger picture size. Currently, Portrait mode photos also appear slightly noiser than regular photos. But the smaller size and slight noise may be worth it to some if they're in a well-lit area, and desperately need some DOF. Apple's update is scheduled to hit iPhone 7 Plus users' phones "later this year."

(Update, 10.24.16: iOS 10.1 has been released for all. After backing up your device to iTunes or iCloud, head to Settings > General > Software Update to grab the latest version of your iPhone's software. As mentioned before, the new Portrait mode will only work with the iPhone 7 Plus.)