As far as tech controversies go, this one could probably be a lot worse.
iPhone owners who purchased the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are noticing something odd about their selfies lately, in that they’re looking a little too good. According to iPhone users on social media, the new camera is automatically softening and smoothing skin — but experts seem to think it’s due to the camera’s new computational photography features.
The controversy — dubbed #beautygate by some — was sparked after multiple Reddit threads were created to address the issue.
“iPhone XS is applying skin smoothing/beauty filter on the front facing camera without telling you and no way to disable it. This is not acceptable,” one Redditor named “chemicalsam” claimed in his thread.
“I’ve noticed that the front camera photos are heavily smoothed. It looks pretty bad,” another user wrote in a separate thread.
YouTube tech vlogger Lewis Hilsenteger also addressed the issue in a recent video, saying, “It looks like makeup. It looks like a beauty mode, to be honest.”
Others simply compared the effect to that of similar softening filters found on photography apps or Snapchat.
Experts, however, attribute the “smoothing” effect of the front-facing camera to computational photography, whereby the camera makes a composite of multiple images rather than a single “snap” of a shutter.
Sebastiaan de With, the developer of the photo app Halide, told AppleInsider that in order to create its photos, the iPhone XS camera relies on faster shutter speeds, which means each individual photo capture takes in less light. So to compensate, the camera’s sensitivity is increased. But, in doing so, “noise starts to appear in the photo,” and Apple’s noise-removal process is simply trying to compensate.
That, de With says, is likely the cause of the #beautygate controversy.
Explanations aside, users aren’t all pleased with the smoother, makeup-like photos, and some called for an update from Apple.
“I am so frustrated with this camera. I look stupid in snaps. It looks like I’m using an air brush filter. Please find solution to this,” one Reddit user wrote.
"I'm guessing this is something they can make an option in a future update. Hopefully soon," another said.
Others, meanwhile, appeared to embrace their new iPhone camera and its photos, or at least use the opportunity to make jokes.
“It was the first time I accidentally opened up the front camera and wasn’t scared by what I saw. That’s when I knew something was different,” wrote a pleasantly surprised Redditor.
“Huh, no wonder why I liked that selfie I took the other day,” added another.
Apple was not immediately available to comment.