No HDR photography for iPhone 3G/iPhone 3GS?

While we won't know for absolutely certain until the final release version of iOS 4.1 for iPhone arrives sometime this week (maybe Wednesday), it's looking like HDR photography will be exclusive to iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4, and not available for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS users.

HDR photography requires separate 3 pictures be taken as simultaneously as possible -- regular, overexposed, underexposed -- and then combined together and tone mapped to produce the final image. iPhone 4 with its Apple A4 chipset and 512MB of RAM certainly takes photos much faster than iPhone 3GS. Traditionally Apple would rather not provide a feature at all than do it poorly on older hardware (e.g. no 15 fps video recording on iPhone 3G), so is this just another case of that?

There are HDR apps that work on older iPhones, though not in the same, speedy, integrated way as the built in iOS 4.1 version.

If it does indeed turn out there's no HDR photography for you, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS owners, does that seriously harshen your iOS 4.1 mellow? Or are bug fixes, TV rentals, AVRCP Bluetooth, Game Center, and the other features enough to keep your childlike sense of wonder intact?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Someone has already developed a JB hack to get this to work on 3GS.
  • I as a 3G owner am less excited about the features and more excited about the bug fixes. It is painful to wait for directions when your traveling, or embarrassing when trying to input somebody's number. Thank you apple, although I still think I'm gong to put a premium just for offering a free show to you is ridiculous. I guess they are testing the stupidity of the customers, I hope I pass.
  • @dt, do you think it will be available for the 3G as well?
  • I wouldn't even call this true HDR anyways. My guess is it's fake HDR, by adjusting the brightness on two of three photos. If it's not a true exposure then it won't look as nice
  • They did something on the iOS 4.1 for iPhone 3G that made it much faster, so I'm happy for now.
    I tried to jailbreak, since it seemed possible using redsn0w and the 4.0 firmware, but I got some very weird problems, the phone app vanished and Cydia was empty.
    Since the only thing I missed on the jailbreak was the ability to toggle lock orientation (iPhone 3G can't access it without multitasking enabled), I think can live without it until the iPhone 4 arrives here at Brazil.
  • As much as I would like to have it available on the 3GS, it won't be a deal breaker for iOS 4.1 for me. But, it would be nice to see on a future release. I have been using iOS 4.1 since the first beta release (developer license), and now up to the GM release. It seems to be stable and pretty snappy on my 3GS.
  • @Tweger01 that doesn't seem to be the case, I saw pictures where one of them had a wall totally white, just by reducing the brightness wouldn't bring it to its original color.
  • Even though it is a downer not to have it, I'm expecting Game Center more than this feature.
    Photography is something essential, but not the most important. Entertainment is (at least for me:D)
  • @ Rene Ritchie
    I don't think HDR works for iPod touch 4. I think it's an iPhone 4 only feature. from what I've heard, that seems to be the case.
  • Tech equipement get outdated. Why should Apples products be any different? I own a 3GS and as soon as AT&T let's me I'll get the latest model of iPhone. No crying here.
  • Why do you keep saying that HDR will be available on the iPod Touch 4? According to Cnet, its camera is too low of quality to support this feature. See
  • @TheTechFan:
  • @Tis, yep.
  • hey I said it before! great no credit for Mr. #9 before #11
  • What about the fact that GameCenter is missing on the 3G but is available on the 2G touch? I think that omission is worse.
  • @Tis Probably was disabled on 3G by Apple because the camera can't take pictures as fast as the 3GS or the i4, tho.
  • It's probably more that the iPhone 4 has the backside sensor which allows more light in - consequently allowing for faster shutter speeds. If the shutter speeds is much longer when hand-holding HDR photos, you will introduce a blurry or mis-aligned processed photo.
  • I've noticed a bunch of apps that require 4.0, yet most 3G friends won't download 4.0, or had to go back, because it slowed their iPhone down too much. Let's hope 4.1 really improves this.
  • ill be upset if i dont get this on my 3GS, but i already have apps which will do a nicer job (and allow me to edit the photo more) than the camera app will.
  • Well, the bug fixes are the most important, but it'll be a bummer if the 3GS doesn't get HDR. It was the only new feature I was looking forward to. Like Christopher, I have an app that does a better job, though it's more work.
  • 94% of the time I love this feature, makes my pictures look better
  • My 3gs is just over a year old, it better get this, its not time to leave it out of the NEW yet...
  • "Apple would rather not provide a feature at all than do it poorly on older hardware"...
    Being an iPhone 3G user facing sévère performance issues, i feel allowed not to believe such a sentence.
  • Where did you get this info. from? You don't link to any source.
  • ProHDR does a great job, so I don't care. I am one of those people who love Apple products but hate the company that makes them :)
  • Tweger01 says:
    September 7, 2010 at 11:18 am
    "I wouldn’t even call this true HDR anyways. My guess is it’s fake HDR, by adjusting the brightness on two of three photos. If it’s not a true exposure then it won’t look as nice"
    Who cares you idiot! It's a phone not a DSLR! Well my guess is halibalu flabidu, SHUT UP!
  • I just got the new software, I am disappointed. No hdr, the game center is stupid, and it made my apps dissapear in certain folders. I had to go to the next page and back to see them and it's continuing to do this. I have a 3GS