Why the iPhone X Will Be Your Favorite Travel Camera

Thanks to new software, your #roadtrip photos are going to get a lot better


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The iPhone X ($1,000) is here. We just saw it as part of the keynote speech in the Steve Jobs Theater at the Apple headquarters, and it has all the specs you’ve been reading about in the leaks: a more vivid and encompassing screen, facial recognition, animated emojis, and wireless charging. Those features are cool, but to be honest, we’re most excited about Portrait Lighting, a piece of software that will work in conjunction with the phone’s 12mp lenses to create more inventive, DSLR-like portraits.

Portrait Lighting, which will ship in beta on the X, as well the new iPhone 8 Plus (also announced today), piggybacks on the low-depth-of-field portrait feature in the previous iPhone. It uses the cameras and machine learning to enhance portraits by offering several different and stunning effects. Apple showed off a feature that takes away the background and makes your subject look like they're sitting against a black backdrop with professional studio lighting. Portrait lighting can also analyze the natural light and enhance it in ways that make your subject pop. 

(Courtesy of Apple)

Friends and family will be the most common subjects, but we couldn’t help but see the upgrade as the ultimate travel feature. Think about it: most people on vacation like to take selfies and photograph landscapes, signs, buildings, food, and random moments, but often forget to photograph the people they come across. Sure, you might shoot a quick picture of a friend you make, but when was the last time you took a real, composed portrait? With Portrait Lighting, making these types of thoughtful images is going to be a lot easier, and it’s going to enhance your experience on the road.

We should know because Outside is filled with portraits of people we come across during our adventures. These portraits help tell our stories and introduce you, the reader, to characters you should know. Your portraits can do the same, but instead of hauling a DSLR and heavy lenses halfway around the world—like our photographers usually do—all you’ll have to do is pull your iPhone out of your pocket.

To be sure, it’s not likely Outside's covers will be regularly photographed with the X—DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are still better for high-resolution photos. But the phone and Portrait Lighting should motivate you to be more creative and engaged whether you’re just out for the weekend or going all in on #vanlife. We look forward to seeing the results.

Other features you should know about also include:

  • The X will come with portrait mode and Portrait Lighting on the front camera as well for more dramatic selfies. (The 8 Plus only has Portrait Lighting on the back cameras.)
  • Both rear lenses come with image stabilization for better low-light photos.
  • The X's portrait lens gets a faster f2.4 aperture for better low-light photos.
  • For video, the X shoots 4K up to 60 fps and and Slo-Mo in 1080p up to 240 fps.
  • The X's better battery life is good news for the traveler because it means less time tracking down an outlet and more power for taking photos.
  • The X also starts with more storage. The smallest phone will come with 64GB of space, which should be plenty to hold a vacation-worth’s of photos without running out of room.

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