Skip to content

Deep Fusion – iPhone 11’s “mad science” camera feature

Apple has just released the developer beta of iOS 13.1.2, meaning a feature highlighted in last month’s iPhone 11 launch will finally see the light of day.

Deep Fusion is a way for the Camera app to harness the powerful neural engine of the iPhone 11 to produce incredible, highly detailed photographs without any extra user input. In fact, this feature is so invisible, there’s no real way to know it’s even happening – aside from the fact that in a wide range of lighting environments, your photos should start to look a lot better.

Apple exec Phil Schiller described it as “computational photography mad science,” and we can see why. This is a feature not dissimilar to Smart HDR, which takes several snaps at various exposures before automatically merging them to get a full range of lighting. Deep Fusion actually starts work before you hit the shutter, taking a total of eight short photos in quick succession for detail, and combining the best of them with a ninth long photo that handles tone and color.

After up to a second of image processing, you’re left with a photo that seamlessly merges the best elements of those shots to better capture fine details – everything from hair to patterned wooly jumpers should look great using this system. Deep Fusion will work in tandem with Smart HDR and the new Night mode, with one or the other taking the rein depending on your exact shooting circumstances.

The downside? This is only available on Apple newest handsets, but it doesn’t look like its locked to just the Pro devices.

iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max all use the same A13 processing chip, and so will all have access to Deep Fusion. It’s designed to improve the detail and color in medium-light situations shot with the standard 1x camera, as well as most shots using the 2x camera. Meanwhile, for technical reasons the new ultra-wide 0.5x camera only ever shoots in Smart HDR.

Though the public will have to wait another few weeks to get their hands on it, anybody with access to a developer beta can already test this out. That includes us, and it also includes professional photographer Tyler Stalman, whose test pictures you can check out below for a comparison between last year’s iPhone XR with Smart HDR and this year’s iPhone 11 with Deep Fusion.