Why do photos look better on a smartphone screen?

Why do photos look better on a smartphone screen?

By announcing the iPhone 15, Apple has formalized the arrival of Smart HDR 5, a technology that is supposed to improve photos taken with all of the phones’ sensors. But it’s not just an algorithm: it’s a new file format that includes specific data. Obviously, not all of your devices are able to support it. Explanations.

The iPhone 15 and all its versions have been on sale since the end of September. We followed the launch of its smartphones during Apple’s keynote. And you can already find in our columns testing the iPhone 15 Pro Max whose innovations relate to the design, with the arrival of the action button and the titanium shell, performance, thanks to the A17 Pro, and of course the image. We noticed real improvements on this occasion, especially in portraits and night shots.

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The results are still natural, but the smartphone is able to brighten certain areas of certain scenes and the colors are more vibrant. It’s thanks Smart HDR5, one of the big news of 2023 at Apple. You’ll benefit from these improvements when looking at your photos on the iPhone 15’s screen. On the other hand, you won’t notice them as much when sharing these photos on social networks or on a smartphone from a different brand. Why ? Because Smart HDR 5 is not just an algorithm. This is the new image format.

What’s the difference between HEIF, HEIC and Smart HDR5 in iPhone 15?

Concretely, the iPhone 15 and its variants produce images in the format HEICStandard difference Heff. This format allows, among other things, to display images in HDR without loss of information thanks to additional metadata. Apple integrated the HEIC format into its ecosystem in 2017. At the same time, Apple deployed HDR-compatible displays across all of its product lines, starting with its high-end models (iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, and iPhone Pro). The goal: to be able to display HDR images.

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iOS 17 includes two default settings: HEIC photos and full screen HDR

Obviously, HDR interest is complete if the entire ecosystem is compatible: Hardware, software and operating system. Today, many equipment support the HEIF format. Except Apple has never done things like others. In practice, Apple’s Smart HDR 5 is similar to “classic” HDR: images are captured, analyzed, stored and enriched with the metadata needed to make non-destructive adjustments. And if you export your photo in JPG format on social networks, you will lose some profits. It’s a classic.

Smart HDR 5 for iPhone 15 is optimized for Apple devices

In fact, Smart HDR 5 goes even further. Because this evolution in format includes new metadata that improves the display of images. This data will tell all stakeholders (hardware, software, operating system) how to apply certain filters to specific parts of the image.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 15 Pro Max…

Colors are more natural. The contradictions run deeper. To take advantage of this better experience, you need a smartphone, tablet, or computer with an HDR-compatible display. So far, so good. You need an operating system that includes Smart HDR 5: iOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and iPadOS 17. You need compatible image management software: Apple pictures or Adobe Photoshopsignificantly.

iPhone 15 photos look worse on an Android smartphone

So be careful which app you use to view your image. If the native iOS reader (Apple Photos) is compatible, this is not the case Google images, for example. Hence, you will lose the display quality if you use this app on your iPhone 15 Pro Max to watch it. Also, if you share the image on your social networks or via messaging, the contrast and color scale will be less extreme, both for your followers, friends and for you. At least until they support Smart HDR 5.

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Thus, all the advantages of Smart HDR 5 are not visible on displays from other manufacturers. Even if you use Photoshop. Even if your smartphone screen is compatible with HDR technology. Why ? because’Android system is not compatible with Smart HDR 5. The same is true for Windows 11. And maybe it will be one day. But, so far, this is not the case.

…and it displays differently on the iPhone 15 Pro Max (top) and P60 Pro (bottom)

Promising improved image processing across the entire production chain, Smart HDR 5 (now built into HEIC format) is a new argument from the American company for Attract the attention of discerning photographers And keep them in their ecosystem. It is very likely that the improvements brought by Smart HDR 5 will be integrated into the HEIF standard in the short or medium term. But until then, Apple will have plenty of time to praise the merits of its products. And retain or even acquire users.

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