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How to disable Smart HDR on iPhone 12

Smart HDR is a camera feature that first appeared on iPhone in 2018 with the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, but to this day it can be a nuisance for photographers that actually prefer images that aren’t so high in dynamic range. Here’s everything you need to know about the feature and how to disable it.

What is the iPhone Smart HDR feature?

Before deciding to disable Smart HDR on an iPhone, you should understand exactly what the feature is and what its technology does to a given photo. Smart HDR uses AI and other computational photography techniques to splice together the best photo. Essentially, the feature takes a series of exposures before and after you hit the photo shutter to capture all the bright highlights, mid-tones, and dark shadows. Smart HDR then takes the best elements of each frame and combines them into one perfect exposed image.

Typically, this is a useful and welcomed feature amongst those snapping photos on their iPhones. However, with annual advancements in Apple’s iPhone cameras (most recently the Smart HDR 3 in the iPhone 12), some people may not want their photos so perfectly captured — especially for certain close up portrait mode shots. If that’s the case, here’s everything you need to know to disable Smart HDR on your iPhone.

How to disable Smart HDR

  1. Open Settings > Camera.
  2. Toggle Smart HDR off.

Unfortunately, there’s no longer anyway to enable standard HDR on the newer iPhones.

For all other iPhones, you can disable Auto HDR:

  1. Settings > Camera.
  2. Toggle Auto HDR off.
iPhone 12 Camera Settings

If you’re using an iPhone with HDR capabilities, it’s best to try it out for yourself before deciding to disable Smart HDR. Here’s a list of current iPhones that currently offer the feature:

List of iPhone models with Smart HDR

  • iPhone XS – Smart HDR
  • iPhone XS Max – Smart HDR
  • iPhone XR – Smart HDR
  • iPhone SE (second generation) – Next Generation Smart HDR
  • iPhone 11 – Next Generation Smart HDR
  • iPhone 11 Pro – Next Generation Smart HDR
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max – Next Generation Smart HDR
  • iPhone 12 – Smart HDR 3
  • iPhone 12 Pro – Smart HDR 3
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max – Smart HDR 3

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide.

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Avatar for Scooter Doll Scooter Doll

Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how to’s or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.