Bokeh – this is what they call the artistic blur seen in the background in certain images. The effect is often used to add emphasis on the subject in the photograph, which makes it ideal for portraits and close-ups. It is best produced by a high-quality camera equipped with a wide-aperture lens, but a number of phones in the past have tried to emulate it using various tricks, most often a secondary camera for depth sensing. Alas, none of these phones could truly impress us with the results. In many cases, bokeh done in software looks forced and artificial.
Interestingly, the iPhone 7 Plus could be the first phone to actually produce eye-pleasing bokeh. That’s how we see things, looking at the several photo samples Apple showed during the iPhone 7 Plus announcement. In fact, we’d say they all look stunning for something captured on a phone. What’s more impressive is that the bokeh effect is mostly applied in software, not using some clever new lens design. As Apple puts it, the two cameras and digital signal processor create a depth map of the image, and then blur is applied to the background. Of course, results are going to vary from one scene to another, but again, the samples we have here sure look promising.
We should point out that the iPhone 7 Plus won’t come with bokeh capabilities out of the box. It is going to get a new Portrait mode in the camera app with a software update, which should be released in the near future.