iPhone X Auto HDR Will Let You Down

iphone x auto hdr

There are a lot of good things about iPhone X, like the new OLED display, Face ID unlock and camera Portrait Lighting feature. But, if we’re honest here, it’s not a perfect mobile device. It has its flaws and traps, one of them being the new Auto HDR option added in Camera Settings. As helpful as it might seem at first, in the long run it will let you down, as it did to us #mobilemagic

A bit of context first. If you’re not the type to look in all the nooks and crannies of a new phone to see what it can do, you probably didn’t notice a significant change Apple made to iPhone X. With previous iPhones, you would open the native camera and see the HDR option at the top of it. By default, it would be on Auto, but you could easily switch it to off or on, depending on the situation.

Probably, in an effort to save you time and make the camera interface less crowded, Apple decided to add an Auto HDR option in the iPhone X Settings, too. So now, all these phones come with it enabled by default. Meanwhile, the HDR buttons from the native camera are gone (showing up again when you disable said option). Apple’s basically telling us that their software is so sure on the instances when it should apply HDR that it’s not even necessary to show the alternatives in the camera.

But that’s false.

As it turns out, if you let the Auto HDR enabled in Settings, you’re bound to screw up some of your pictures. We found a couple of situations when iPhone X’ Auto HDR failed to work, giving us blown out images.


iphone x auto hdr

See the photo on the left? This is the result we got when we took a picture in Portrait mode with Auto HDR enabled from Settings. Even with the bokeh effect, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room… or in this case, the blown out cheeks and chin of the girl. Basically, the tech didn’t work here at all. After disabling the option and manually selecting HDR from the native camera, Apple’s HDR worked and we got the image desired.

iphone x auto hdr

The same thing happened in a second take. Our colleague got a blown out, poor portrait with iPhone X, when we left the Auto HDR option enabled in Settings. Once we ditched it and forced it to apply HDR from the buttons in the native camera, the tech worked as it should.

iPhone X nature shots are blown out, too

iphone x auto hdr nature

Oh, and this didn’t occur only in Portrait mode. The same error took place when we shot a simple nature pic. It seems that the problem here is with the tech’s evaluation of the amount of blown out areas in a given picture. When it’s under the set limit, it ignores it.

So, what should you do? Well, accept the fact that the new option of Auto HDR does more bad than good. Disable it completely from Camera Settings and just turn HDR on or off from the camera interface like you’ve done with previous iPhones.

You’ll get less frustrated, that we can promise!

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  1. Aldemar Gamba

    November 11, 2017 at 2:33 am

    Thanks a lot for share a solution while you show us the problem.
    Thank you.

  2. Jesper Andersen

    December 18, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Great article, I have experienced exactly the same thing. Actually the Auto HDR fails all the time and it seems it never saves the HDR image and the normal image, not a single time. I am back to normal HDR mode and images looks much better. I was close to returning the X as my 5S did better overall exposure!

    • Mara P.

      December 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Right?!! Thanks for your comment, Jesper! Happy Holidays!

  3. review

    July 13, 2019 at 10:00 am

    It works quite well for me

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