Maybe you don't need the latest iPhone

Look at what "iPhone Photography Award" winners did with old models

If you’ve lusted after new iPhones with envy, thinking you needed the latest, improved camera to take awesome photos, look no further than the latest winners of the “iPhone Photography Awards” for 2021.

Wow! Such incredible work from the many photographers from 140 countries who submitted. Of the over 40 photo winners, the bulk were produced not on the latest and greatest, the iPhone 12 Pro Max from 2020, but actually on the four-year-old iPhone X, first introduced in 2017, with 13 entries. This compares to 9 each from the iPhone 7 (2015) and iPhone 11 (2018) and 5 each from the iPhone 8 (2017) and iPhone 12.

I still contend that the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is the best one Apple has ever produced, and you’ll see dramatic differences between previous models. However, this group did indeed capture stellar work on older handsets, as you can see below.

The “iPhone Photography Awards,” is a little independent contest that showcases how far we have come in smartphone photography. The contest is not funded by Apple, but celebrated by the company.

The theme of the winners, which is hard to miss, is that these photos are heavily stylized, using natural light, shadows and emotion to tell their stories. And that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive camera gear to produce great work. A combination of proper timing, great composition, artistic vision and a little luck can result in, yup, award winning photos with the camera you have in your pocket. (Cue: My top 20 smartphone photography tips.)

And most importantly: all these images look to have been put through apps and filters to “develop” the images from snapshot to great shot. (If you’re not using Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom Mobile, VSCO or any of the other great photo apps to fine-tune your photos, listen up and go straight to the App Store to start downloading!)

My favorite of the bunch isn’t the photo of the year, nor no. 1 or no. 2. Third place to me tells the story of the year, and pushes the smartphone into professional level quality, with shadows, light and stopped action. Agree? Disagree? I’d love to get your take.

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Losing a job because the phone tracked him:

We opened the newsletter with the best of smartphone technology, the camera, and end with the worst. Did you read about the Catholic church official who was forced to resign after he was outed for his use of a gay meetup app, Grindr?

How he was tracked is especially seedy. A newsletter called the Pillar obtained device location data from a vendor and hired a consulting firm to analyze the records, per the Guardian. Pillar then exposed him.

Grindr claims it was technically impossible for the man’s data to leak this way, a similar comment to what we generally hear from Facebook and Google, which do everything possible to track us, even when we have the apps closed on our phones.

So what do we do? I have some common sense advice.

If you’re in the closet, don’t want to announce that you’re gay and read about it in the headlines, please leave your phone at home. If you’re cheating on your wife/husband and having an illicit affair, bringing your phone to your rendezvous probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. Unless you want to go public.

If you’re going to do something you don’t want others to know about, wise up and unplug! Because you’re walking around with a tracking device in your pocket. Even if you go into Settings and take off Location Tracking, assume you will be tracked. Because that’s what smartphones do.


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