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Review: Apple’s Night Mode Strikes the Right Balance of Technology & Art


Make no mistake, the new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max smartphones from Apple are all about the camera system. From the new ultra-wide angel camera, to better Smart HDR, to Night Mode and beyond, Apple has gone to great lengths to catch up with the Google Pixel, and photographer Austin Mann thinks they’ve done it… and then some.

Mann is an incredibly talented and successful photographer whose clients include Apple, Condé Nast, Nat Geo Traveler, Nike, and many more. So when he got his hands on a brand new iPhone 11 Pro, he put it through its paces while traveling on assignment, and published a detailed review of the new phone’s pros and cons.

The most interesting part of Mann’s review was about Apple’s approach to Night Mode, which seems to have leap-frogged Google in a single bound. How? According to Austin, it’s all about balancing technological advancement with artistry.

“One thing I love about Apple’s approach to Night mode is the strategic balance of solving a technical problem while also caring deeply about artistic expression,” explains Mann. “When you look at the image above, it’s clear their team didn’t take the let’s-make-night-look-like-day approach, as some of their competitors have. Instead, it feels more like an embrace of what it actually is (night) while asking, “How do we capture the feel of this scene in a beautiful way?”

We’ve seen the same assessment in other reviews. In his review, The Verge Editor in Chief Nilay Patel showed how the iPhone took greater care to preserve the “feeling” of a night scene, whereas the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight just brightened everything as much as possible.

Mann’s sample images tell the same story, and he expresses this same point again in his conclusion.

“Instead of just trying to maximize available light and make it as bright as possible, the Apple team asked, ‘How do we maintain the feel of a night scene while keeping it sharp and color accurate?'” writes Mann. “It’s clear their camera team has been exceedingly thoughtful in their balance of technology and art — it really shows in the final images.”

To read Mann’s full camera review of the iPhone 11 Pro and see many more impressive sample shots, head over to his website. Night mode is just one of the ways Austin tested the phone’s new triple camera and Smart HDR technology, and all of the results were very promising.

Image credits: All images by Austin Mann and used with permission.