Portrait Mode, which first arrived on the iPhone 7 Plus, is a great way to capture DSLR-like photos featuring a subject in focus and a blurred background. This is properly known as bokeh.
If you don’t have a newer iPhone model, you can’t take advantage of Apple’s native technology. But we have great news: there are many apps available that can bring the same look to your images. While it may take a bit of work, the results are many times as striking as the native feature.
Here are some of the best iPhone Portrait Mode apps to check out.
If you’re looking for a great all-around choice, PortraitCam should be your first stop.
Easily the best feature of the app is machine learning that will automatically detect faces. While it’s not perfect, and may require a bit of work on your part, it makes editing the image quick and easy.
To try the depth effect on another part of the image, just paint the depth mask area where you want to focus. The rest of the image will be blurred out.
You can import an image from your Photo Library or use the app to capture an image. Anyone with a two-camera iPhone can view a live preview of the image with the depth-of-field lens blur.
In addition, the app offers a comprehensive suite of other image-editing tools. Along with being able to change the bokeh shape or brightness, you can add color fringe or lens distortion. There are also a number of different film grains to select from.
A lens flare option allows you to add a finishing touch to a photo. The app is also designed to work on an iPad.
Download: Portrait Cam ($5)
Another strong portrait camera app option is FabFocus, especially if you can’t get enough of bokeh. You can capture an image or just import a photo to get started.
The app will then automatically detect the face and rest of the subject, like the body. This process does take some time, especially when compared to other apps like PortraitCam. But the results are precise and don’t require much additional work to make the image perfect. The subject remains in focus while the background is blurred.
When fine-tuning a photo, the app lets you paint a part of the photo to remain in focus (and erase if necessary). You can adjust the size of the mask for better editing. As a nice touch, the part of the app that paints or erases an image is just above your finger. That helps provide a clear look at the work you’re doing.
You can also select from a number of different bokeh shapes for an image, including a triangle, heart, and star. For even more customization, FabFocus allows you to adjust the intensity of the blur. You’ll be pleased to know that the app works on iPad as well.
Download: FabFocus ($4)
For an inexpensive option, take a look at the iPhone-only AfterFocus. It’s a simple and easy way to create images with the Portrait Mode effect.
The basic interface makes it easy for anyone to navigate and use. To begin, you can snap a picture from the app or select one from a library.
There are different ways to select the focus area. The manual option requires you to paint the entire in-focus area. But with the smart option, just draw a white line inside the focus area and a black line in the background. The app will take care of the rest. While you shouldn’t expect perfect results, it does offer a great way to quickly edit a simple image.
Another great way to create an image is with Double Take. As you could probably tell by the name, it requires you to capture two different photos.
In the first, take the image you want. Just make sure to stay as close to the subject and as far from the background as possible. Also, avoid a subject with a mostly solid color. In the next photo, move just a hair to the right. Doing that will help the app determine the focus area without any additional assistance.
You can also take advantage of filters and stickers to better customize the final result.
Download: AfterFocus ($1)
4. Fore Photo
Maybe you’re hesitant to spend money upfront on an iPhone Portrait Mode app. In that case, Fore Photo is a free and simple choice designed for both iPhone and iPad. To get started, you’ll need to import a photo from your library. There’s no option to capture an image with the app.
After importing the image, the app will automatically use a neural network to blur out the background of a photo. Usually, the app requires a little bit of help to make the result correct. Like the other apps, you can paint the part of the image that needs to stay in focus. There’s also an eraser to help clean up any painting mistakes.
You can select one of five different options for blur strength, offering everything from subtle to an extreme depth effect. Each image has a small “Fore” watermark on the bottom right-hand side of the image. You can remove that with an $2 in-app purchase.
Download: Fore Photo (Free, in-app purchase available)
Capture a Perfect Moment With Portrait Mode Apps
With just a little work, any of these Portrait Mode apps can help turn an ordinary photo into something extraordinary. You don’t need expensive camera equipment, or even a newer iPhone, to create a special image.
If you’re looking for another fun way to create some unique photos, make sure to take a look at these fun vintage iPhone film camera apps that bring a retro vibe to any image. And anyone wanting to become a better photographer should definitely check out these great iPhone camera hacks .
Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.