One of the main reasons that I upgraded from an iPhone X to an iPhone 13 Pro in 2021 was for the camera. It had reached a point where the improvements were hard to ignore, especially when it came to night mode. But it was Cinematic Mode that sealed the purchase for me.
For those unaware, Cinematic Mode can record a video as normal but blurs out objects and people, letting the main subject thrive in all its glory. It’s almost like Portrait Mode, a feature present since the iPhone 7 Plus, but for video.
Granted, while it’s still a relatively new feature, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen Apple showcase it more. However, when I was on vacation, I made it a mission to record a few videos with the feature, and the results surprised me.
Which iPhones can use Cinematic Mode?
The feature launched with the iPhone 13 line in 2021 and you can use it on any model released since, such as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. Using the Camera app, you only have to swipe right twice to switch from Photo to Cinematic Mode and you can record as much as you want, as long as you’ve got enough free storage.
Once you’ve recorded a video, you can also edit it and change the depth of focus by pressing Edit on the video in question if your iPhone blurred out the wrong subjects.
A motion of liberty
It may be a shock to some, but you’ll need to walk and use various modes of transport to get around New York, especially when it comes to the Statue of Liberty.
To get there, my wife and I needed to get on a ferry, so we could pass by it, followed by another to get back to Manhattan.
This is where Cinematic Mode came in. We were at a section of the ferry where you could get a great view of the Statue of Liberty, but we were behind a crowd as everyone realized before us where the best place to view the iconic statue was.
While I was taking photos, I switched to Cinematic Mode and just left it to record and focus.
You get the familiar yellow squares that tell you what subjects the Camera app is focusing on, but as I panned from right to left of the ferry, Cinematic Mode became confused and focused on the people in front of me rather than the statue.
However, pressing and holding onto the distant statue at Ellis Island made sure that everyone else was blurred. Once we got back to the hotel, I played it back, and the result was fantastic. Everything was super clear, and blurring out the people in front of me worked perfectly. It definitely lived up to its name of being ‘Cinematic,’ but it feels as though the feature could go one step further for the next iPhone.
Let’s see iPhone 15 Ultra take it a step further
Rumors abound that the bigger iPhone Pro model, currently the iPhone 14 Pro Max, is not only getting a rename to iPhone 15 Ultra later this year but that it’s getting an exclusive Periscope Lens, which will enable you to take photos and record video at faraway subjects while maintaining good quality in the image.
If you factor in Cinematic Mode with this rumored lens, the resulting videos could be fantastic - especially if it constantly focuses on certain objects as you zoom in to something and the objects around it as you get closer.
This could mean that recording movies with wide shots while certain objects are blurred out could be a reality with the iPhone. Granted, others have already made films with them, such as High Flying Bird, entirely recorded on an iPhone 8 by director Steven Soderbergh.
However, something as simple as recording the Statue of Liberty from a ferry was beautiful to start with. So being able to use an improved Cinematic Mode with an even better camera than what’s on my iPhone 13 Pro is a very exciting thought. After my trip to New York, I’m even more curious now as to what an Ultra version of the iPhone 15 could do to make it even better.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.