Can I emulate the iPhone 7 Plus' Portrait mode with an app? Let's check it out: iPhone 7 Plus vs FabFocus

For months prior to the iPhone 7 event, we've been hearing rumors and spotting leaks of the iPhone 7 Plus toting a dual-sensor camera. But what was it meant to do? Everything on the subject was pure speculation. Then, when Apple finally unveiled the phablet, it spilled the beans — the secondary camera sports a telephoto lens, which has a narrower F2.8 aperture and can be used for a 2x optical zoom. Additionally, Apple teased a Portrait mode, which would let us take beautiful mugshots with a nicely blurred background for a very artistic effect.

Portrait mode was announced to become available exclusively for the iPhone 7 Plus with the iOS 10.1 update. At this point, some might wonder “Can't I just use a regular bokeh-emulating app to blur the background in a photo and achieve similar results”?

Can an app easily emulate what Portrait mode does?

Developer Secondverse rode the hype wave around the upcoming feature and released an app called FabFocus — it's supposed to automatically detect faces within a shot and then blur the background for a very similar effect to the 7 Plus' Portrait mode. We are also pretty sure that there's going to be an influx of other such apps in the near future, just like how Prisma was quickly followed by other art-style filter apps, and how Face Swap Live has its own share of clones.

But can an app on your regular iPhone 7 or older iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, or SE achieve the same effects? We took a regular iPhone 7 with FabFocus and our new iPhone 7 Plus out for a spin to find out.

Drum roll, please

Well, we'd have to say “No, it can't”. The iPhone 7 Plus' telephoto lens lends itself to portrait photos much better than the regular one because it captures a mugshot much more honestly. It zooms in pretty close and has "tunnel vision", so you don't really capture a wide area of the background, which is good for bringing attention to your subject. As you can see on the picture above, the “regular” camera of the iPhone 7 distorts the face in an unflattering way with a slight fisheye effect going on. This is common to smartphones, with their wide-angle lenses, and we explore the issue (and a neat way to correct it) in-depth in this article.

Secondly, getting the FabFocus photo to look the way it does now required some manual labor on our part. While the app does do a pretty good job at recognizing faces and backgrounds, it still mixes them up at some spots and offers an editor for the user to manually tweak the final result. It's a finicky, time-consuming, and annoying task. Here's what the FabFocus image looked like before and after we fixed it up manually.


In the end, is it a big deal? Well, if you care about portrait shots or bokeh shots (Portrait mode can be used for other objects, not just people), we'd say you should definitely consider going for an iPhone 7 Plus. But, if you only find yourself interested in taking such a photo once in a blue moon, you might want to invest in a clip-on lens for portrait mode (like OlloClip's products) and just using an app to manually add bokeh.

Related phones

iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



1. mariosraptor

Posts: 180; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

Hiawatha P9 does it greatly. Haven't tried it yet on my iPhone 7 plus.

13. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Wow, didn't know the Iroquois had such high tech stuff.

2. mariosraptor

Posts: 180; Member since: Mar 15, 2012


3. maherk

Posts: 6955; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Been on Samsung phones since the S3, and it does a good job in mimicking the bokeh affect you get from DSRL cameras.

4. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

IkR. It's so amazing how they make such a big deal about features that come to the iPhon. Why can they have the same enthusiasm when it's on Android. What's so funny is, because many people only use iPhones, because those features are new to iPhone's, they actually think that feature is new. Example, the next iPhone will have some form of wireless charhing. Even though Samsung devices have supported wireless charging since the S4 and Note 2, they will think their phone is the only one with it, even though Samsung has ran commercials showing the feature since integrated into the S6 and Note 5.

7. kiko007

Posts: 7505; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

For the love of God........learn how to summarize!!!!!!!!

6. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Actually, it is the S5, but you're right.

9. AlikMalix unregistered

Maher, my old iPhones do that too - it's actually a real lens effect but with these small lenses it only works on very close up shots. The effect on the iPhone 7 is doing it pretty well from much further than a few inchies away from an object. What you had on older Samsung phones is the same thing we had on older iPhones.

10. maherk

Posts: 6955; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You can ask DJ about the photos is sent him a week ago, the subject in the picture was almost 1.5m far from the lense, and it worked flawlessly. And I don't believe it has anything to do with the dual lense setup, because I ve seen many images where the effect is even filling the main subject. Plus, you might have had it as an app in the App Store, but Samsung implemented it as a mode in the main camera app.

11. AlikMalix unregistered

I appreciate your reply, actually. I know what you mean about overlapping onto the main subject - I chucked that under the "beta" issue. I have used apps before that mimics this. I'm very disappointed that this is a postprocessing on iPhone 7 as well. But the dual camera seem to also do its part taking the the tunnel vision of the image (don't know if I'm explain got right), to insure you have enough background to blur so that the main object does not bleed into the background (hope that makes sense). I do believe you now - I just wish I gotto see those images.

12. maherk

Posts: 6955; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You can always add me on Facebook lol

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31308; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I can vouch for you bro. Selective focus.

5. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Fabfocus looks trash, but other phones do it a lot better for years now. Just as good as the iPhone 7 plus.

8. AlikMalix unregistered

You're talking about macro shots, where it blurs the background - yah my old iPhones do that too, but it doesn't do it for objects further than a few inches. I have plenty of photos of flowers and small objects from even my 5s. This works well with objects much further away than you can do with your samsumsungs or my old iPhones.

15. Chadhag

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 30, 2018

Hi. Super blog and website.. I am a photogprhsy enthusiast.. Was gonna buy the xiaomi mi a1 just for its portrait mode.. What requirement does a phone need to do it.. A tel photo lens? What if I buy a great cam phone like LG g6 and buy a telephoto lens extra for it.. My budget is low but iam getting some superb phones second hand at great price.. I don't want any apple phone.. Which other should I go for.. Currently I can own mi a1, s6, one plus 3t, HTC M9 plus and g4/g6 LG..

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