What happened: Chinese media outlets are reporting on some user backlash against a perceived skin-smoothing feature on the new iPhones. Coming mainly from English-speaking Apple customers, the complaints say that new models XS and XS Max automatically brush up selfies without users’ consent. Apple has yet to confirm or deny such a feature, but users have shared photos apparently comparing selfies taken by older models with ones shot on the newest iPhones. The pictures show users’ skin looking both brighter and smoother, with blemishes blurred out. In China, of course, beauty filters are common features for domestic smartphone brands and often turned on in new phones’ default settings.
Why it’s important: The author of the Sohu News article writes that Apple has ignored “cultural differences” by apparently adding an automatic beauty filter to its new models. Features that whiten skin, slim faces, enlarge eyes, and more may be popular in China, but the Western market is different. The commentary further drives home the fact that selfie-enhancement is a booming business in the PRC and even the basis for many online celebrities’ popularity. For Chinese users, a new, automatic beauty filter in the new iPhones might seem commonplace – it’s others’ backlash that’s surprising.