The iPhone 13 flagship series arrived last year with multiple improvements. Apple boasts that the lineup’s camera setup is one of the best in the industry.

However, not all iPhone 13 series users are happy with the photographic performance of their devices. For instance, we covered the camera focus and image processing issues on the iPhone 13 Pro some months ago.

However, the camera HDR behavior is another problem that iPhone 13 series users have been facing since its launch.

According to multiple reports, the iPhone 13 series Camera HDR has low or poor performance when taking photos. This causes effects such as burnt bright areas or shadow crushing on the images.

iPhone 13 series low or poor Camera HDR performance

The behavior of the iPhone 13 series Camera HDR has disappointed many users. After all, photographic set-up is one of the main selling points of the lineup.

According to reports, the defective HDR causes the images to present shadow crushing (very dark shadows), chromatic aberrations or burned areas in the images (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).


HDR can get weird very quickly especially in low light. Sometimes faces just look too washed out when taking portraits or the whole photo just looks too watercolor-y. I just want less AI in my photos.

HDR needs a manual control

I click photos indoor of dresses and HDR really messes up with the colour of the dress. Even iphone 12 has manual HDR control but not the latest iPhone 13.

The effect is especially noticeable when the scene has very bright lights or when you are directly backlit.


You can see the effect (1, 2) of iPhone 13 series Camera HDR below:

iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) vs Galaxy S21 Ultra (right)
iPhone 13 Pro Max (up) vs Galaxy S21 Ultra (down)
iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) vs Galaxy S22 Ultra (right)

Front camera also affected by the issue

Not only the iPhone 13 series rear cameras are affected by the poor HDR processing.


The photos taken with the front cameras also present the same issue (1, 2), as you can see in the following screenshots:


HDR behaves well in video recording

However, it’s worth pointing out that only photos seem to be affected by the erratic HDR. Users report being happy with the quality of HDR video recording, a section in which iPhones tend to excel.


I can’t figure out why my HDR photos don’t have the native visual contrast and pop of HDR video?

I’ve checked that: • No filters are applied including “Vivid” which simply overdrives everything and look unnatural. • HDR is not off. • Made manual exposure and focus adjustments in the camera real time while framing the shot … … and still can rarely hit the same lighting and detail / contrast levels as HDR video .

iPhone 13 series users demand an HDR toggle

That said, many iPhone 13 series users demand the option to turn off Apple’s ‘Smart HDR’, which is always active without them being able to do anything to avoid its effects.


I seriously don’t know why Apple removed the “Smart HDR” toggle on the iPhone 13 series, improperly exposing skies might be fixed with that toggle. Oh and Samsung’s shot was not perfect either, you can see the top right area in the first photo looks quite weird.

Apple could easily fix the HDR issue on the iPhone 13 Pro series by bringing back the manual HDR option. Smart HDR isn’t too smart but Apple is very confident about it so they decided to remove the manual HDR option, which is false.

It is currently unknown if Apple plans to fix the iPhone 13 series camera HDR issue. After all, it has been around for months now, and the situation remains the same.

We will update this story if new details regarding the matter emerge.

NOTE: You can also check the iPhone 13 series bugs and issues tracker.

PiunikaWeb started as purely an investigative tech journalism website with main focus on ‘breaking’ or ‘exclusive’ news. In no time, our stories got picked up by the likes of Forbes, Foxnews, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget, The Verge, Macrumors, and many others. Want to know more about us? Head here.

Jean Leon
1613 Posts

A tech enthusiast since ever. I like to always be up to date on the latest news in the industry and write about it. Twitter: @jean_ERdC

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