I was completely bowled over by the results of Portrait Mode on the iPhone 8 Plus in the beginning, and then the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max came and blew things way out of the water.

The problem is, I don't want a phone that big and Portrait Mode isn't available on iPhone 7, iPhone SE, or any of the iPhones 6 or older — and while the iPhone XR can shoot portrait mode with faces, it actually can't with any other objects (cue the super sad trombone).

So what to do? I've spent some time with photo editing apps that promise a similar depth effect. Here are my favorite "Fauxtrait" Mode apps (Thanks to Serenity Caldwell for that great name)!

Note: I checked a wide variety of photo editing apps with depth effect tools, but did not find any that included metadata exporting (for our readers that were looking for that feature).

Fore Photo

Fore Photo is great for automagically creating the background blur, no matter what the object is (it doesn't have to be a face). It pretty much never gets it exactly right, but you can mask out the parts that you do or don't want blurred after it automatically applies the effect.

You can adjust the size of the brush, and can pinch-to-zoom and get really close, which is a huge bonus for masking those tiny little areas.

There are five different levels of blur, so you can go wild, making a single image really pop, or you can tone it down for that perfect depth effect look.

There aren't very many options, other than adjusting the level of blur intensity – you can't even take a photo from within the app - but it is the best at automatically blurring the background of all of the apps I've used. Not perfect, but better at it than the rest.

If you don't want to do much work to get the Fauxtrait mode look, Fore Photo makes it the easiest, while still looking pretty good.

Free - Download now



FabFocus is a dedicated background blur effects app that has a lot of options. You can adjust the bokeh shape and blur amount, and even add mask feathering to create a more realistic depth effect, instead of that weirdly isolated object look that some apps have.

FabFocus uses facial recognition technology to create an automatic blur effect around the spot it identified as a face. If it doesn't find a face, it recommends you manually mask the object. It isn't perfect, but you can also manually adjust the masking after the initial effect, which makes it a lot easier to quickly add the finishing touches.

The masking brush sits about a half-inch above where your finger rests, which I'm not a fan of, but I understand why it's useful. You can't pinch-to-zoom, but you can double-tap the screen to zoom into a specific area and double-tap again to zoom out.

I didn't think I liked FabFocus at first, but once I started playing around with the advanced blur editing features, I realized it's actually the best one of the bunch.

If you want a lot of manual adjustments to fine-tune the style of depth effect your pictures achieve, get FabFocus.

$2.99 - Download now


AfterFocus has a unique masking mechanism. Instead of "painting" a mask inside of an object, you draw a line around the subject of your photo. Then, you draw a second line, creating the background. You can fine-tune any mistakes by adding more lines to a specific area.

You can then use either a lens blur or motion blur to create a different effect, depending on what look you want to achieve. You can also adjust the type of blur used by selecting a different aperture. Finalize the photo by adding a filter or vignette. You can even add stickers and markups, if that's your bag.

I'm not a fan of the masking mechanism. I found it difficult to use when I was trying to work with details. You can't cross the foreground and background lines, so I struggled to fit between two objects that I wanted to mask.

I love the variety of blur and aperture options. Even though I couldn't mask the objects quite the way I wanted, I was able to achieve a really good looking depth effect by adjusting the aperture and adding a filter.

If you prefer a loose background blur, but also want a lot of features and options, AfterFocus gets it right.

$0.99 - Download now


Depth Effects

PortraitCams is a dedicated background blur effect app with a handful of tools and features that make it stand out. The most interesting feature is that you can manually apply stronger blur effects to different areas of a picture. When masking, increase or decrease the brush opacity to change the strength of the effect. I love this feature because it makes it so you can gradually blur the subject of your picture, instead of having it pop out like a cookie-cutter. Feathering effects help with blur lines, but PortraitCam gives you control over what areas should have more or less blur.

It also includes a handful of glare and flare effects, which frankly are the best I've ever seen, and some filters so you can change the look of your picture.

With Depth Effects, you can alter the amount and style of the overall blur, adjust the aperture, and even play around with the RGB shift for even more effects.

If you want manual control over when, where, and how much blur effect is used to mask out your subject when creating depth effect, you'll love PortraitCams' tools.

$3.99 - Download now

Honorable mentions

I've listed the photo editing apps that I think best produce the depth effect of Portrait Mode on iPhone XS. These are a few others that didn't make my best list, but are great photo editing apps, just the same.

Fabby - Free - This funny little selfie app has a weird bokeh effect. I'm not too keen on it, but some might appreciate the fact that you can smooth the face and blur the background in one blow.

Big Lens - $0.99 - The tools are a little clunky and it doesn't do a whole lot. It's good, but just not good enough to be at the top.

Bokeh Lens - $0.99 - BokehLens is very simple to use, but it is not updated for iOS 10, so it does not belong with the big dogs.

Tadaa SLR - $3.99 - I used to use Tadaa SLR a lot, it has a fantastic automatic masking feature that works really well, but it hasn't been updated for iOS 10, so doesn't get full props.

How do you get Fauxtrait Mode without an iPhone 8 Plus or an iPhone XS Max?

Do you use a photo editing app with depth effect? What's your favorite and why is it so great? Let us know in the comments down below!

Updated January 2019

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