When Apple first introduced Portrait Mode everybody was amazed — it made your mobile device that much closer to a DSLR and removed the need for many to own or carry a dedicated camera. Even if you don’t have a compatible device you can still achieve this effect!

Portrait Mode photo
Portrait Mode can create some truly stunning photography on a mobile device

Portrait mode effectively adds natural background blur (sometimes known as bokeh) to a subject by extracting the foreground subject and applying a blur filter to the background. It is currently possible on iPhone 7+, 8+ and X, as well as the Pixel 2 in the Android world.

Already have an iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus or X?

Portrait Mode Plus screenshot
If you are already the lucky owner of a Portrait Mode device there is a very special app for you. Known as Portrait Mode Plus this app allows you to modify your existing Portrait Mode photos.

• Adjust the focal point on existing photos (foreground, background or in-between)
–  Change the blur amount
– Select a focal area to color (similar to our guide on How to make photos black and white except one color)
– Blend in a different background for background swap, and a lot more

We highly recommend this app for anybody who is an avid Portrait Mode photographer!

Available for $1.99 on iPhone


Best apps for a fake Portrait Mode effect (iOS)

Magic Portrait Mode

Available for $1.99 on iPhone/iPad

Magic Portrait Mode is one of the better apps for creating fake portrait mode photos. It will automatically find faces in images and make sure they are kept in focus, and provides easy to use tools to fill in the rest. The blur effect itself looks very natural and similar to what you get on Portrait Mode photos. You can control the amount of blur, and it has a cool feature that lets you also make the blurred background black & white for extra “wow” factor.


Fab Focus screenshotFabFocus – portraits with depth and bokeh

Available for $3.99 on iPhone/iPad

FabFocus is one of the most impressive apps we tested, but also the most expensive. This one offers a one-click solution that uses facial recognition and human body recognition A.I to automatically determine what should be in the foreground. It really does work, in most of our tests a single click is all it took for a good result.
There are controls to manually tweak/clean-up where the A.I fails.



Blur Photo - Portrait Mode Pro screenshotBlur Photo – Portrait Mode Pro

Available for free on iPhone/iPad.

This is one of the better free options available, but don’t expect all the bells and whistles. This app expects you to manually draw the area to keep in focus, then specify how strong you want the blur effect to be.

In our testing this one did a reasonable job if you are patient enough to precisely draw the focal area. It’s straightforward and doesn’t have a ton of ads or watermarks.



Best apps for a fake Portrait Mode effect (Android)

LightX screenshotLightX Photo Editor & Photo Effects

Available for free on Android devices, paid upgrades available. Contains ads.

LightX is a picture editor with a ton of functionality. One of the features it has is the ability to blur the background on portrait photos, but there are a ton of other options here (including touching up skin, teeth whitening, changing hair color, really too many to list!)

It’s very positively reviewed and appears to work on a huge range of Android devices. You may need to splash out on some of the in-app purchases, and it does contain ads.



Point Blur screenshotPoint Blur (Partial blur) DSLR

Available for free on Android devices, contains ads.

A decent alternative to LightX which only focuses on the ability to blur a part of an image without the other image editing aspects. This one works the same way: draw a mask of the area you wish to keep in focus and control the blur effect.

It’s free, but contains ads. There are no paid upgrades available.



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