- On an iPhone, the acronym HDR stands for “High dynamic range,” and refers to the way an image is processed.
- With HDR on, every photo you take on your iPhone will be optimized with the best exposure settings.
- You can turn on HDR manually through the iPhone’s Settings menu, and make sure you only use it when you want to.
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But for those of us still living with our older iPhones, there are camera settings that can help us take great shots, too.
One of the most useful is “HDR,” or “High dynamic range.” Enabling this setting can elevate an average photo to an extraordinary shot.
Here’s what the setting means, and how to make sure you’re taking advantage of it.
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What HDR means on an iPhone
Here’s a common scenario: You want a shot of someone in front of a gorgeous outdoor backdrop, but doing so means they’ll be blasted with overly-bright backlighting.
Rather than having to choose between focusing on your subject and losing the background, or vice-versa, HDR makes it so you can experience both in one photograph.
How? By taking three photos consecutively at different exposures — one normal, and one each adjusted for the brightest and darkest details.
The end result: a final photo with the best of everything.
On older iPhones, you can set HDR manually by tapping its icon when you’re taking a picture (as depicted below in step five). Newer models of iPhone, however, are automatically set to use HDR when deemed necessary, with a setting called “Smart HDR.”
But you can still manually control the feature. Here’s how.
How to manually control HDR on iPhone X and 11 models
1. Open your iPhone’s Settings app.
2. Search or select “Camera.”
3. Disable the slider for Smart HDR so it turns white.
4. Close Settings and open your Camera.
5. HDR will now appear as a setting in the top-left corner.
This lets you turn HDR on and off whenever you like. Just tap it when using your camera.