If you’re a keen photographer (which this columnist is) one of the things you prize most is a strange property called bokeh.
No, I don’t think so. A subset of photographers think that background blur is the best thing since sliced bread, but most serious photographers know that it is just one limited effect in their toolkit, one to definitely not overdo.
In the era when all photography was analogue, the only way to get good bokeh was to use lenses that produced narrow depth of field at wide apertures.
In the era when all photography was analogue, no one used the “B” word, which seems to have been adopted around 1997. People did speak of “shallow depth of field,” and this was an effect that was used in portraits and in macro photography, for the most part, but not just to show off the value of a lens, as is often the case now.
The thing about background blur on the iPhone is that it is blur; it looks very different from what you get with a lens and shallow depth of field. It’s nicely done, but it is visibly different from what you get with the optical characteristics of a good lens.
Episode 20 of the PhotoActive podcast discusses background blur in detail.