iPhone 5’s purple lens haze problem more common than we think (Update)

iphone 5 apple purple lens flare

Apple is pointing the finger of blame squarely back at iPhone 5 users complaining about a purple lens flare effect the smartphone’s camera is creating. In a public support document, Apple says:

“Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the end of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor. Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize of eliminate the effect.”

As we explained at launch, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 have nearly identical cameras. The iPhone 5, however, does use a camera that’s 25 percent smaller, has a better low light mode, and a sapphire crystal lens. The smaller, thinner phone, obviously, translates to this need for a smaller camera, which is generally bad news. Still, reports thus far have been that the iPhone 5’s shooting quality stands up to that of the iPhone 4S. In fact, most reports say that most perceptible improvements between the two can be traced to the iPhone 5’s upgraded display, which is making its photos look that much better. In reality, however, the changes are barely noticeable.

With the exception, of course, being the purple lens flare. Here’s a quick lock at the same shot taken with the iPhone 5 (at left) and the iPhone 4S (at right).

iphone 5 purple flareAs you can see, the purple lens flare only shows up with the iPhone 5. While Apple says the issue can be blamed on the positioning, there’s speculation it might have something to do with the sapphire crystal lens – it certainly sounds like something that would create a hazy purple effect. Others suggest it’s the elimination of the infrared cut filter that’s causing what should look black or gray to turn out purple.

There’s been ample conversation about other phones responsible for the purple flare as well, though the iPhone 5 has managed to really rouse the masses – as it should: It’s the hottest phone on the market, and the latest iteration of what’s arguably been the best smartphone camera yet. Apple’s “you’re doing it wrong” response isn’t going to placate upset buyers who were hoping for the next greatest pocket cam-meets-smartphone combo.

Update by Jeffrey VC 10/10/2012: Consumer Reports has done some camera testing and concluded that Apple may be right, sort of. Its testing concluded that many digital cameras and other phones like the Droid Razr Maxx by Motorola and the Samsung Galaxy S3 display a similar purple lens flare (or haze). Though we produced no haze effect on the iPhone 4S (see the above pictures), CR found that the 4S also displays this problem most of the time.

Article originally published on 10/8/2012

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Samsung beefs up just about everything in its Galaxy S10 smartphone range

Samsung has unveiled its 2019 flagship smartphone lineup, and there aren't just two phones as usual -- there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for February 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Product Review

Nokia’s 3.1 Plus is an affordable phone that’s crippled by its camera

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is HMD Global’s first smartphone to be sold by a U.S. carrier in-store. It’s only available on Cricket Wireless right now, which underlines its focus on affordability. Should you buy a phone this affordable?
Mobile

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Mobile

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Mobile

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.
Mobile

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Deals

Apple brings back the iPhone SE with a $100 clearance discount included

Apple is offering the iPhone SE on their online clearance store once again. With discounts of $100, you can get a brand new unlocked iPhone SE for as little as $249. This offer is only available while supplies last.