Apple adds Photonic Engine to the iPhone 14 for better low-light camera performance

Apple adds Photonic Engine to the iPhone 14 for better low-light camera performance

Computational photography is all the rage, apparently. Apple’s version of such machine learning-powered imaging is known as Deep Fusion, which helps you take better pictures with your iPhone. Now with the iPhone 14 lineup, the Cupertino giant is pushing its Deep Fusion feature to a whole new level. The improved photo processing stack is called “Photonic Engine,” and it further boosts the low light performance of the latest iPhone models.

Deep Fusion is essentially an image processing system powered by the Neural Engine of the Apple Bionic SoC. The phone camera takes nine shots (two groups of four, prior to pressing the shutter) and one longer exposure (at the point of press, at various shutter settings). The image processing system then automatically looks through these shots and selects the best combinations and composites them for the sake of sharpness. Now, slapping a couple of versions of the same photo together sounds simple with machine learning, but Photonic Engine is a bit more complex than making a mere collage.

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According to Apple, whenever you go to take a photo in a low-light condition with the new iPhones, the Deep Fusion image processing algorithm will jump into action earlier than before. As a result, you can capture those shots in better colors and richer details. The company claims that the new iPhone 14 series offers 2x better low light performance with the ultra-wide and selfie cameras and 2.5x better with the main camera, thanks to the enhanced image processing pipeline.

    The iPhone 14 Pro replaces the notch with the Dynamic Island and features a 48MP primary camera.

Another notable improvement in the camera segment is the inclusion of the 48MP main sensor on the Pro variants. This means the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max can utilize pixel binning to merge data from multiple smaller pixels on the camera’s image sensor into one “super-pixel” for improved low-light sensitivity. As always, Apple’s nonintrusive mantra is the guiding principle of Photonic Engine. There’s no toggle to flip this on; it will enable itself in during various lighting situations that vary with the lens you’re shooting with.


What do you think of the new iPhone 14? Are you planning to upgrade to the latest models, or will you hold onto your older iPhone for another year? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Skanda Hazarika
Skanda Hazarika

DIY enthusiast (i.e. salvager of old PC parts). An avid user of Android since the Eclair days, Skanda also likes to follow the recent development trends in the world of single-board computing.

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