The Truth About Those “Shot on iPhone” Claims

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What's This?

There's a new video on Youtube that is getting a lot of attention by honing in on those claims by Apple and other smartphone manufacturers about the glorious marketing images they show being “shot on iPhone” (or their competitors).

Here's a reminder:

The short of it is that well, technically the claims are correct.

The problem of course is that a lot of other gear is also used when such glorious marketing images are used.

Of course, if you keep up with iPhone photography news, you probably know what the iPhone or other smartphones are capable of. The FStoppers iPhone fashion photography shoot proved that an iPhone in the right hands and with great lighting equipment can take very good images (and that was years ago in 2010), but the point being that the use of such images in the marketing of the phones is slightly misleading (arguably intentionally).

Of course you can improve your images with better lighting and the gear used to get it. Expensive gear is most often not available to the casual phone user who buys a phone with the intention of taking images thinking they will turn out similar to the images in the marketing material.

Sure, it's possible, and maybe it's possible under certain natural lighting conditions that an average phone user will stumble across, but it's certainly not the norm.

Anyway, the video is worth a watch. Check it out.



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15 thoughts on “The Truth About Those “Shot on iPhone” Claims

  1. Vi Yo

    Samsung flagship phones are far better takes picture than any latest iphone gadget.. without any photoshop. It has a built in sofware that enhances your shot automatically..

    1. Will

      Leave it to the Android fanboi to come boasting that his or her phone can do better.

      That’s not what this post was about, lad.

  2. d1k

    I don’t think the iPhone camera is anything special, but I thought this was pretty obvious to be honest. I don’t think anybody really expected that these photos were taken without any preparation or other equipment. Its no different to the advertising for other cameras

    1. Thomas Preston

      But, if one does not know anything about editing in post (photoshop express and Snapseed) or a gimbal and extra lenses, that person just might believe that a smartphone has such capabilities.

  3. AG

    Cite your sources because, from experience, I can safely say this is not true and, my iPhone and I, will go toe to toe to prove it.

    1. Rob

      I will gladly accept your challenge. I shoot with a Nikon DSLR and I have an iPhone 6S. Hands down, my Nikon wins every time.

  4. Victor Reynolds

    As an experienced photographer, I find that many of your ads are shot under controlled professional conditions. I would not be surprised if Apple had these “shot on an iPhone” shots done by pros and had post-production software work done on them.

    Most of Apple’s iPhone customer base are casual shooters doing selfies and snapshots. I doubt that the iPhone will make one the next Gordon Parks or Vivian Maier.

  5. Doran Clark

    Not about to trade my Canon or Phase One system for my iPhone, no matter what Apple claims.
    If nothing else, it doesn’t shoot raw files and that’s where the magic starts.
    Have you ever seen smartphone images that have gone to print – aweful.

  6. Ghazali

    Actually one of my daughter friend picture is one of the Iphone ads photos! And the photo was shot using Iphone by her sister, without any additional equipment or lighting extra !!!

  7. Margit Zsedely

    I have an iPhone 6 and I love it. I use Snapseed and Camera + to edit my shots. I do my artwork with my iPhone, I do not paint. I post on Instagram@Myobservations and FB under different groups.
    I also have a Canon camera with different lenses and use it when I am working on projects that needs to be printed.
    The problem here is that you compare the two; iPhone and Camera photos. They serve different purposes

  8. Kenn Alexander

    This has always been true regarding cameras. The best SLR camera and gear is no guarantee of great shots.
    I’ve known photographers that got great photos using a pin hole camera.
    It’s the combination. To use tech to get special shots.
    All of the post production done on photos and video to enhance and modify is also an issue. How much is the camera and how much the software and computer?
    SO, I don’t begrudge the phone mfgs. touting that it’s possible to get great photos using their phones. It’s a true claim. It would be even better if they had “behind the scenes” videos to show how it was achieved.

  9. Paul

    I would expect virtually every smart phone manufacturer would utilize professional photographers and whatever high-end gear (lens add-ons, stabilization platform of some sort), optimized professional lighting and also significant post-processing software to produce commercial grade photos and videos for their commercials. Of course they would also try to omit that fact from the public, with the exception of the fine print disclaimer at the end of their commercials. The vast majority of people believing this claim from the smart phone makers can’t really spot the quality difference between a photo shot by their friend with a hand-held smart phone and professional shooting the same photo with better gear and skillset.

    Walk around most of European capitals in the summer these days and the vast majority of young people have selfie sticks and a smart phone. They aren’t photographing the locations or scenery around them. They are photographing themselves standing or sitting in front of the scenery. At best, where they are is simply background. In many cases, you can’t even tell where they are from the photo. So for that purpose, a smart phone meets their needs. They aren’t trying to take professional grade photos or videos.

  10. Tim Clinch

    As a professional photographer for over 40 years, I cannot believe how everybody is missing the point here…OF COURSE a DSLR will be better quality than any phone…a DSLR is a camera, that’s what they do…the reason I love using my phone is simply ease of having it on me and the sheer enjoyment of taking pictures and putting them on Instagram. (@clinchpics should anyone be interested)…I have recently shot an entire cookbook in Mexico on an iPhone 7plus…and had the cover of an International magazine (‘Black & White Photography’ magazine…published in the UK)
    I can honestly state that ALL my iPhone photography has been done using an iPhone AND NO OTHER ADAPTORS/LENSES/TRIPODS etc. I have simply taken it out of my pocket and shot a picture with it. Why? Bercause if I need to mess about doing anything else to it (changing lenses, using a tripod) I’ll use a camera! I have lots and they are very good!
    No, the point of using my phone is simply the enjoyment…as for ‘post production’? I have 2 apps on my phone and that’s all. Snapseed and Hipstamatic’s ‘Tin Type’ (which I use less than 5% of the time, and then only when everything is dialled back to almost zero!) and as for quality? Well…if an image of mine was to be used as a billboard, I’D USE A CAMERA (Doh!!!!!) but…up to a double page in a magazine, they’re fine. An image of mine came second in one of the categories in the prestigious ‘Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year’ competition. It was shot, hand held, in poor lighting on my iPhone. Nobody ever asked me what it was shot on, and I didn’t tell anyone either…which, for me, kind of proves my point.
    A good photographer with a cheap camera will always be better that a bad photographer with an expensive one…

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