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What is a TrueDepth camera? All about the iPhone camera feature

If you’re looking at buying a new iPhone, you’ve probably come across the phrase “TrueDepth”. But, what is the TrueDepth camera? 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the TrueDepth camera in the iPhone, including what it is, what it does, how it works and where you can find it. 

What is a TrueDepth camera? 

TrueDepth is what Apple calls the technology in the iPhone’s front camera that powers the phone’s Face ID and Memoji features.

The camera system can also automatically adjust settings like brightness and volume based on whether or not you’re paying attention to your phone, and is used to create depth with Portrait mode.

How does it work? 

The TrueDepth camera works by projecting thousands of invisible dots onto your face and analysing them to create a depth map of your face. The camera will also capture an infrared image of your face to help in providing accurate face data. 

The neural engine in the Bionic chip then works to transform the depth map and infrared image into a mathematical representation of your face and – in the case of Face ID – will compare that data with your enrolled facial data to confirm they match and unlock your phone.

Because the TrueDepth camera captures depth information that isn’t found in 2D images, it makes it significantly harder for others to break into your phone using a photo or mask of your face. The camera can even detect if your eyes are closed or directed away from the device to prevent anyone from unlocking your phone when you’re asleep or paying less attention.

The technology is smart enough to adapt to changes in your appearance, like make-up, glasses, facial hair and hats, but, if you’ve ever owned an iPhone, you’ll know Face ID can stumble when it comes to bigger adjustments, like face masks (though Apple has updated the software to deal with this in response to the pandemic). 

Aside from Face ID, the TrueDepth camera has other applications that allow the phone to dim its display when you look away to save battery or reduce the volume of notifications when you are looking at your device. 

The Memoji and Animoji features also leverage the TrueDepth camera system to mimic your movements and facial expressions in real-time, as does the camera’s Portrait mode when you use the front camera. 

Which devices feature TrueDepth? 

The TrueDepth camera system first debuted alongside the iPhone X in 2017 and can be found in every iPhone that has launched since then, as well as in the 3rd gen iPad Pro (2018) and later.

This includes the latest iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, as well as the iPad Pro (2021).

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