Apple Cops to Beautygate Bug in iPhone XS and XR “Beauty Filter”


We told you some time back about the “beautygate” bug plaguing Apple’s latest crop of iPhones. Apparently, the phones were automatically applying smoothing features to selfies whether the user wanted that to happen or not. And, after much back and forth, it seems like the “imagined” problem is actually a real thing.

Image via Apple.

This comes after tons of “experts” weighed in with their various opinions as to whether or not the “bug” actually existed. Some people surmised that what was actually taking place was misapplication of a “noise reducation filter” but, no, it was actually a software flaw related to the Smart HDR feature on XS and XR phones. Still, kudos to those with the eye sharp enough to spot these issues early. 

In a piece discussing Apple's disclosure, The Verge writes, “Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie…Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed.”

Basically, how it works boils down to image stabilization and its misapplication. Front facing cameras on the iPhone XS and XR do not have image stabilization like that normally found on the rear cameras in a phone. Choosing the frame with the longer shutter speed would result in blurred selfies because more detail is lost in that time frame. A shorter shutter speed preserves a huge amount of detail comparatively and selfies don’t look blurred out as a result.

This longer shutter speed, resulting in a blurred photo comparatively, made it look like smoothing effects were applied when they were not. Fixes coming up in the latest version of iOS will optimize the Smart HDR feature and adjust its preferences to insure it picks the image with the shortest shutter speed as the base image for selfies moving forward.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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