‘Beautygate’: Users Complain iPhone XS Front Camera Applies ‘Unrealistic’ Skin Smoothing

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Aside from the current issue plaguing several iPhone XS and XS Max users, preventing them from properly charging their phones, users of Apple’s new flagship devices are reportedly dealing with an issue that has been dubbed “Beautygate.” While the iPhone XS’s cameras have been described as an improvement over those on last year’s iPhone X, many users have complained about the newer phones’ front-facing camera working too well when it comes to taking selfies, or in other words, applying “unrealistic” skin smoothing on users’ faces.

According to 9to5Mac, a number of iPhone XS users took to Reddit to complain about the skin smoothing seemingly applied when they use the front-facing camera. After one device owner claimed that the filter is always-on by default and cannot be turned off, several others replied in agreement, with one accusing Apple of knowingly selling a faulty product to consumers by “compromising the integrity of the camera” without their permission and without allowing them to deactivate the skin smoothing “filter.”

Additionally, 9to5Mac noted that there were many Reddit users who compared the iPhone XS’s apparent skin smoothing effect to a Snapchat filter. Others likewise complained that the front camera made Caucasian skin look bright orange.

The purported issue was also observed by YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger of the Unbox Therapy channel, who posted a video documenting the skin smoothing effect and informally dubbed the issue as “Beautygate.”

“It looks like I’m wearing foundation,” said Hilsenteger, as quoted by Business Insider.

“So it looks like, whatever processing is going on here, with the facial recognition, and this smart HDR and whatever extras are there — because it’s even happening with Smart HDR turned off — is resulting in this almost covert beauty mode, this secret beauty mode.”

As explained by Business Insider, “beauty mode” is a popular feature on other smartphones and camera apps, especially those that are manufactured in Asia and marketed toward Asian customers. Switching to this mode lets users take photos that brighten and smoothen their skin, thus allowing them to post images that would ideally look better on social media. While Apple had yet to comment on the issue at the time of the publication’s report, Business Insider noted that several Redditors believe “Beautygate” is an aftereffect of Apple’s use of “aggressive” noise reduction technology on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Whether intentional or not, the skin smoothing effect observed by iPhone XS and XS Max front camera users has received widespread flak, though Apple might be working on a fix for the “Beautygate” problem. In an update to its original report, 9to5Mac cited iPhone owner Abdul Dremali, who told the publication that he had spoken to a representative from Apple who confirmed that the company is “working on this issue actively.”