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What is the color pop effect on my iPhone?


The color pop effect on iPhones allows you to make certain colors stand out in photos while keeping the rest of the image black and white. This creates a striking visual effect by drawing attention to the colored subjects.

The color pop effect is available on newer iPhone models and can be applied in the Photos app or Camera app when taking pictures. It works by isolating certain color tones in the image and preserving just those colors, while converting the rest of the photo to monochrome.

How does the color pop effect work?

The color pop effect takes advantage of the sophisticated image processing capabilities built into newer iPhone models. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:

1. Image segmentation When you take a photo, the iPhone analyzes the image and segments it into different regions based on color tones.
2. Color isolation You select which color tones you want to isolate via the Photos app editing interface. The iPhone then tags the regions in the image matching those color tones.
3. Desaturation The iPhone desaturates the rest of the image so that only the selected colors remain vivid while the background becomes black and white.
4. Selective color layering In the final image, the original color layer is layered on top of the black and white layer, with only the selected colors preserved from the original image.

This all happens instantly when you apply the effect. The iPhone’s powerful processor and AI capabilities make it possible to analyze and process images quickly for creative effects like color pop.

When was the color pop effect introduced?

The color pop effect was first introduced by Apple in iOS 13 for iPhones in September 2019. It is available on iPhone models XS, XS Max, XR and later.

Here is a quick history of when the color pop effect has been available on different iPhone models:

iPhone XS, XS Max iOS 13 (September 2019)
iPhone XR iOS 13 (September 2019)
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max iOS 13 (September 2019)
iPhone SE 2nd gen iOS 13.4 (March 2020)
iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max iOS 14 (September 2020)
iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max iOS 15 (September 2021)

As you can see, the color pop effect has been available on all new iPhone models released since September 2019 and is compatible with iOS 13 and up. It brings a fun new creative option for capturing and editing photos on the iPhone.

How do I use the color pop effect on my iPhone?

Using the color pop effect is easy and can be done right in the default iPhone Camera app or Photos app.

Here are the basic steps to use color pop when taking a photo:

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Swipe left or right to select Photo mode
  3. Tap the icon that looks like three overlapping circles to bring up effect options
  4. Tap “Color Pop” from the list of effects
  5. Frame your shot and tap the shutter button to take the photo

The Camera app will instantly apply the color pop effect. You’ll see a preview of the black and white photo with only certain colors preserved.

You can also apply it after capturing a photo by editing in the Photos app:

  1. Open the Photos app and select a photo to edit
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner
  3. Scroll down and select “Color Pop” under Effects
  4. Select the color you want to isolate by tapping anywhere in the image
  5. Adjust the intensity if needed
  6. Tap Done to apply the effect

That’s all there is to it! The color pop effect can totally transform your images by boldly highlighting selected colors against a monochrome background.

What colors can I choose to pop?

With the color pop effect, you can choose to isolate any color in the image. When editing a photo, simply tap on the color you want to remain in full color to select it.

The iPhone will automatically detect the colors in the image. It does its best to identify distinct color regions and subjects to pop. But you can override this and manually select any color you like.

Some tips for picking colors to pop:

  • Bright, vibrant colors like red, yellow and green tend to look best when isolated.
  • Skin tones can look nice when color popped on portraits.
  • Try picking complementary colors like orange and blue.
  • For black and white scenes, isolating one color draws more attention to it.

You can have fun selecting different colors to see which looks best. The intensity slider lets you control how vivid the color appears against the black and white background.

Can I select multiple colors to keep?

Unfortunately, the iPhone’s native color pop effect only allows you to select one color region to keep in the final image. There isn’t an option to pick multiple colors to preserve.

Some third-party camera and editing apps do provide more advanced selective color effects that let you choose two or more colors to remain in color. But in the standard Photos app and Camera app, you can only pick a single color to pop.

The good news is you can apply the effect multiple times to a photo to color pop different regions. It just takes some extra work to do manually.

Here’s one way to approach it if you want to pop two colors in the same photo:

  1. Take the original color photo
  2. Apply color pop, choosing the first color and saving a copy
  3. Re-edit the original photo again, choosing the second color to pop
  4. Import the two color popped versions into an editing app like Photoshop Express
  5. Layer the two versions and erase/mask areas to combine the two effects

While this involves a few extra steps, it can let you creatively color pop multiple subjects in a shot.

How can I adjust the intensity of the color pop effect?

When applying the color pop effect in the Photos app, you’ll see an intensity slider after selecting the color to pop. Dragging this slider to the left decreases the color intensity, while dragging it right increases it.

This lets you control how bold and saturated the popped color looks. Lower intensity settings look a bit more subtle and natural. Higher intensity makes that color really stand out from the black and white background.

Some tips for adjusting intensity:

  • Less intense can look more natural for skin tones
  • Higher intensity helps brighter colors stand out
  • Try different settings for the mood you want
  • Preview the live changes before confirming

Playing around with different intensity settings can really change the feel of the photo. Use a high intensity for an intense, striking color pop art effect. Or lower it for a more gentle selective color effect.

Can I undo the effect or revert to original?

The color pop effect is non-destructive when applied in the Photos app editor. This means you can go back and undo it or revert to the original image.

Here’s how to undo color pop:

  1. In Photos, edit the image you applied color pop to
  2. At the bottom, tap Revert to return to the original
  3. Tap Discard Changes to confirm undoing all edits

You can also tap on individual steps like “Color Pop” to disable just that effect while preserving other edits.

When taking photos in Camera with color pop enabled, the original is preserved as well. You can access the version without effects applied in Photos under the “Live Photos” version for each shot.

So feel free to play around and experiment knowing you can always get back to the original image if you want.

Are there any drawbacks to the color pop effect?

The color pop effect brings a neat way to make colors stand out in your iPhone photos. But there are a few limitations and drawbacks to be aware of:

  • Can only select one color region to pop
  • Works best with bright, vibrant colors
  • Subtle color differences may not pop well
  • Cannot control extent of black and white regions
  • Automatic selection not always accurate
  • Requires editing if you want multiple colors

The effect is biased towards bold colors and simple backgrounds. Things like subtle tones or textures may not translate well in black and white conversion. Skin often needs intensity reduced to avoid looking unnatural. And composition choices are limited since you can’t pick exactly where color is preserved.

But overall the color pop effect is an easy way to add eye-catching style to iPhone photos, ideal for casual everyday shots. More advanced selective color tools in editing apps provide finer control for complex images.


The color pop photo effect on iPhones provides an easy way to make colors stand out and subjects pop. It takes advantage of the phone’s powerful image processing to convert photos to black and white while keeping selected colors vivid and saturated.

While limited to a single color selection, it can add striking style to all sorts of photos with just a few taps. Use it to creatively highlight subjects, create vivid color accents, or add an artsy look to your mobile photography. Just don’t forget you can adjust the intensity level and undo it if needed.

So go give your photos a splash of color pop and see this fun iPhone camera effect in action!