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With magazine covers shot with iPhones, is smartphone photography coming of age?

Why it matters to you

The iPhone is a popular camera because of convenience -- but factors like its small, less obtrusive body have led the iPhone 7 Plus camera to be used to shoot magazine covers.

The iPhone may not have the big sensor or swappable lenses of pro cameras — but that’s not stopping it from being the camera behind not one but two upcoming magazine covers. Both the Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit May issues feature photos shot with an iPhone 7 Plus.

The Condé Nast travel magazine asked their team of photographers to use the iPhone 7 Plus and the new portrait mode for the cover shoot at St. Barts, promoting an article about the best new hotels. The portrait mode uses data from both lenses to determine what the subject is and what’s in the background to apply an artificial depth of field or background blur, mimicking the look of a photo from a camera with a much larger sensor, like a DSLR or mirrorless.

So why ask specifically for a shot from the iPhone? The editorial team requested shots from the iPhone because of the way the smartphone is changing how travelers take photos. “iPhone photography has reimagined the way we gather memories while we travel, making it easier than ever before to capture, with exceptional precision, snapshots of our trips,” the publication said in a press release. “This comes at a great time for travel photographers — amateur and professional — as well as the millions of people who travel vicariously through images and videos on mainstream social media platforms.”

Condé Nast says the image is the first time a travel magazine cover was shot with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Next month’s cover of Bon Appétit is the first time in the publication’s history the cover was shot with the iPhone 7 Plus as well. The travel-themed issue was shot by Bon Appétit’s creative director, Alex Grossman, in a Tiacolula market in Oaxaca, Mexico. Grossman chose to shoot with an iPhone both because of the way the smartphone is changing travel photography and to create something relatable for the food magazine’s readers.

“The iPhone lens is how we look at photography now,” Grossman said. “It changes the whole process and feel of a photo shoot, making it more intimate, less invasive, more nimble. We wanted to create something our reader would relate to.”

Both magazines are owned by the same company.

While the smartphone cover shoots are firsts for those particular magazines, smartphones have been behind cover shoots before. In December, Sports Illustrated featured a photo of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shot with the modular Moto Z smartphone with the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod.