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The iPhone 7 Plus' 'portrait' mode does background blur better

The public beta of iOS 10.1 brings the iPhone 7 Plus depth-of-field effect -- and a perfect excuse for us to post pretty pictures of passersby.

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James Martin

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With two rear cameras that can blend images into one, the iPhone 7 Plus can take shots that other phones can't. iOS 10.1 will unlock the so-called depth-of-field feature that allows the phone to blur the background while keeping the foreground subject in focus. It's not unlike the "bokeh" effect found on higher-end mirrorless cameras. (We used the 10.1 public beta for these photos; quality on the final version may differ.)

The depth effect takes photos from looking like a simple snapshot, to a portrait. This one would look good on the wall or the desk at work.

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Makeda, from Atlanta, on a bright San Francisco street. Note that you can neither read the sign on the left, nor see the face of the man on the right.

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Another good one for the family album.

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In capturing fellow CNET photographer Josh Miller here, we see that the blurred background depth effect works best in optimal lighting conditions.

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In dimly lit environments, depth effect doesn't work, but this portrait shot on an Oakland, California, street at night lit by only a marquee, came out just fine.

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The background here is far brighter than the subject in the foreground, but you still get a usable shot.

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'Portrait' looks great shooting at the beach in Alameda, where the busyness of the beach fades away and we can focus on the person.

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Back outside -- but out of direct sunlight -- but the blur effect dovetails nicely with the "vanishing point" perspective of the street.

We'll continue to test this effect on the iPhone 7 Plus as it moves from the beta to the final version available to all iOS users later this year.

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Again in dim evening light, this portrait of musician Keith Kanoff is really set off with the blur of the background lights.

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Busy backgrounds can be distracting, but with the blurred background depth effect, distracting background elements fade away and we can focus on the person.

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