The aggressive noise reduction that Apple uses in the camera software of the iPhone XS is required because of Smart HDR. That claims the maker of a camera app for iOS. Because of the noise reduction it seems as if the front camera uses a ‘beauty filter’ to eliminate unevennesses in the skin.
Because Smart HDR repeatedly picks up several frames with different lighting, the software has a preference for taking pictures with the lowest shutter speed , says the developer of camera app Halide. This allows the software to make the frames as short as possible after each other. As a result, the iso value has to be increased, which explains the increased noise in raw photos of the iPhone XS camera.
To prevent photos from appearing noisy Apple has applied a more aggressive noise reduction. In addition, it illuminates some parts of the photo a bit, to compensate for the loss in contrast by Smart HDR; because of that function shadows are less dark and highlights less light.
That also appears to happen at the front camera, something that can explain the phenomenon that photos of the front camera look like Apple uses a ‘beauty filter’. Such a filter is optional on many smartphones, such as smartphones from Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo, among others. Apple has never used such a filter in its camera software.
Due to these changes, according to Halide’s developer, the iPhone XS as a camera is completely different from previous iPhones and therefore third-party camera apps need to adjust their operation to ensure that they are get good photos from the camera. He does this himself with a new feature that he calls Smart RAW and according to him retains more details in photos than the standard software. Apple released the iPhone XS one and a half week ago.
Zoomed detail of a picture of the iPhone XS ( right) and iPhone X (left) with more noise in the XS photo