2018 MacBook Air's FaceTime HD Camera Quality Issue

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    After the 2018 MacBook Air launched, complaints began surfacing about the machine's 720p FaceTime HD camera, with users suggesting it was noticeably worse than the FaceTime cameras on other MacBook machines, including the 2018 MacBook Pro and the previous-generation MacBook Air.

    All 720p cameras are rather poor in quality compared to the FaceTime cameras that we get in iPhones and iPads, so we initially believed these complaints were coming from people who just expected more from a 2018 machine.


    Given the sheer volume of complaints, though, MacRumors decided to do some investigating and found that the 720p FaceTime HD camera in the 2018 MacBook Air does indeed appear to be worse than the FaceTime HD camera in some other models, specifically the 2015 MacBook Air.

    2018 MacBook Air vs. older MacBook Air

    Compared to the 2015 MacBook Air, the FaceTime HD camera in the 2018 MacBook Air is noticeably worse. It's darker, grainier, and lower in quality. To be clear, neither camera is good because we're talking about 720p video here, but there is a visible difference in side by side photos.

    2018 MacBook Air on left, 2015 MacBook Air on right​

    2018 MacBook Air vs. 2018 MacBook Pro

    The 2018 MacBook Air's FaceTime HD camera is actually pretty similar to the FaceTime HD camera in the 2018 MacBook Pro. There's little difference that we saw in comparison images, suggesting that the two machines are using similar cameras, neither of which is particularly good.


    720p camera quality

    The FaceTime HD camera that Apple is using in the 2018 MacBook Air is far worse than the cameras on modern iPhones and iPads, and quality hasn't been bumped up for years, which is the real problem.

    FaceTime streaming is limited to 720p, but we do use our front-facing cameras for other purposes, and the poor quality of the cameras Apple uses in its notebooks is a stark contrast to the sharp 7-megapixel front-facing camera in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, and XS Max.

    Even bumping that camera up to 1080p would make a world of difference when it comes to quality, as evidenced in photos captured using the 1080p FaceTime HD camera in the iMac Pro.


    The 720p camera in the 2018 MacBook Air does suck, but so do the FaceTime HD cameras Apple uses across the Mac notebook lineup.

    Which models are affected?

    All MacBook Air models appear to have the same FaceTime HD camera and thus all models are impacted. The quality of the camera is less bothersome to some users than others, but there have been a large volume of complaints.

    What does Apple have to say about the issue?

    Nothing. Apple hasn't yet commented on the complaints over the 2018 MacBook Air's camera.

    What can I do if I'm unsatisfied with my camera?

    If you're unhappy with the FaceTime HD camera in the 2018 MacBook Air, the only recourse seems to be to return it. There's nothing that can be done to improve the camera at this point in time, though buying an external webcam is also a possible solution.

    There is a possibility that there's a software issue that could be fixed via an over-the-air update, based on the testing of some users who have claimed to see better quality video in some apps compared to others, but the results have been inconsistent and it's unclear if hardware or software is to blame.

    Is it still worth buying a 2018 MacBook Air?

    If you're buying a notebook for its front-facing camera, the 2018 MacBook Air isn't a great choice, nor is any other Mac. The same is true if the front-facing camera is an important feature to you.

    If you just use FaceTime occasionally, have other devices to fall back on, and don't need to rely on the front-facing camera, the MacBook Air is a capable machine with a Retina display, T2 chip, Touch ID, support for up to 16GB RAM, a third-generation butterfly keyboard, a Force Touch trackpad, and Thunderbolt 3 support.

    Article Link: 2018 MacBook Air's FaceTime HD Camera Quality Issue
  2. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
  3. Howard2k macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2016
    You have. But it’s nice to see the issue being highlighted.
  4. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    If I was going to buy the new Air, it wouldn't be due in any part to the FaceTime camera. If I need to FT, I use my phone or 2017 iMac as a last resort. I don't see this as a big issue, especially when people are informed ahead of time it is only 720p, and bad 720p at that.
  5. eeboarder macrumors member


    Jul 29, 2005
  6. fcs132 macrumors regular


    Mar 24, 2015
    New York City
    Relax it’s a feature. Enhanced Privacy. No need to cover your webcam if it’s quality is comparable to a 2010 android ;)
  7. LogicalApex macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2015
    Honestly, the camera on my 2018 MBP is so laughably bad I'm not even sure why Apple included it.
  8. BenLake macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2018
    I heard 2 senior podcasters with access to Apple mention it was due to the lids being too thin for a better camera sensor to fit. There is no backlight for the Apple logo for the same reason. I believe this applies to 2018 MB Pros as well.
  9. vicviper789 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2013
  10. Pepe4life macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2018
    Back in the Jobs era, I was happy to pay premium prices to get high quality MacBooks.

    Now, MacBooks are less reliable than windows laptops while prices increased by 20% for no reason
  11. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    There’s no excuse for the camera to be worst than an older generation
  12. BWhaler macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2003
    I hope Tim likes missing earnings.

    Keep cutting corners while charging premiums for products and that’s what will happen.

    The bean counters are wrecking the place.
  13. PickUrPoison macrumors 68030

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    It seems fine to me, there really doesn’t seem to be all that much difference between your side by side comparison pics. My guess is that it would be possible to adjust it via software, but I’m just guessing.

    In any case, I think you’re making a bigger deal of this than is warranted. Seems mostly like a non-issue to me.
  14. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    Maybe, but one doesn't expect worse cameras in newer Macs.
  15. johannnn macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2009
    Too thin for a functioning keyboard, too thin for an adequate webcam. This makes me wonder what they will break next time they make their laptop 0.1mm thinner.
  16. hagar, Feb 4, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019

    hagar macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2008
    I like the tone and structure of this article. There should be a an article like this for every Apple quality issue. With clear advice not to buy the product or workarounds. Hopefully Apple will notice we’re not buying at those prices, especially if the quality is not there to match it.
  17. rikscha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2010
    Not to forget the MacBook which is equipped with a 2001 480p webcam
  18. mdorais macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2008
  19. Classie macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2018
    I agree that it’s not necessary to have a great camera in an MacBook Air. That being said I find it strange that a new products so obviously is downgraded -especially an Apple product.
    Maybe it’s due to the thickness of the screen... but still, I find it a bit strange
  20. Fzang macrumors 65816


    Jun 15, 2013
    I’m pretty sure they could preprocess the signal with some fancy machine learning techniques like Google does.

    But they’re not going to. Because they don’t care.
  21. Mydel macrumors 6502a


    Apr 8, 2006
    Sometimes here mostly there
    Yeah I agree with the article. The quality of cam in the laptops is really horrible. That single issue stopped me from getting new MBP. I mean my 2006 isight was 15x better and cams on multiple window laptops are way better. Why not to put front cam from iPhone? Blows my mind...
  22. Manzanito macrumors regular


    Apr 9, 2010
    For the sake of thinness they’ve sacrified keyboard quality. Also presumably magsafe and useful ports. Front facing camera is not so strange in comparison.
  23. Kabeyun macrumors 68000


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Is anyone actually doing this?
  24. Tymmz macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2005
  25. MauiPa, Feb 5, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2019

    MauiPa macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2018
    1) it is a face time camera, not a selfie camera, 2) face time is limited to 720. period. As far as I know, only Skype can utilize 1080 cameras (ooh, ooh, that is not 7 MP front facing selfie cameras either). so all the usual haters line up in a row and say the same stupid stuff they always say and try to create yet another fake scandal. Old

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