tech boot camp

What, Precisely, Are ‘Slofies’ For?

Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP via Getty Images

If you are someone determining high-level strategy at Apple, you are probably desperate for the slofie to be a thing. You are so desperate for the slofie to be a thing and so worried about owning the concept that you have even attempted to trademark the term. “Slofie.” It just rolls off the tongue. The term “slofie” is a portmanteau of “slow-motion selfie” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Me and most other people, on the other hand, aren’t really hopping onboard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to slow-motion selfies. While most of them are just people tossing their hair around, plenty of them are hilarious and I’ve even seen a few that were positively artistic. It’s the term. I just don’t think we need one more term added to our already flooded pop lexicon. But whether a passing fad or soon as ingrained as the selfie that came before it, for now I’ll drink the Kool-Aid and use the lingo. So … the slofie.

These, ugh, slofies, are now possible thanks to the addition of a slow-mo video feature to the forward-facing camera on the iPhone 11. Sure, you could have videoed yourself in slow motion using any iPhone going back more than five generations, but now you can perfectly frame up the slow-moving scene thanks to the improved forward-facing camera. Video on an iPhone 11 is captured at 30 frames per second. Slo-mo video is captured at 240 frames per second, and then played back at 30 frames per second, effectively progressing at one-eighth the speed.

At the time of this writing the #slofie hashtag has roughly 2,000 instances on Instagram, along with about a thousand more if you account for pluralization and terms like “slofielife” and “slofieoftheday.” Honestly, that seems kind of low for a product that’s as prevalent as the iPhone.

Apple clearly wants the slofie to catch on, but in practice it’s difficult to figure when, exactly, is a moment for a selfie. You know that trick where someone poses for a photo but it’s actually a video? And they’re confused? It’s kind of like that. The selfie camera is intimate, and meant for portraits. It’s not often used for flashy, visually compelling spectacle. That would explain why a lot of slofies are of people throwing their hair around. The iPhone doesn’t have an ultrawide front camera (yet).

And yes, most of the slofies are people with long hair tossing their hair back and forth. But we tracked down a few worth your few slow seconds, if you need some inspiration, including several where the slofie-maker in the foreground wasn’t actually the draw, but rather where the backgrounds were stunning and just perfect in slow motion.

Some slofies bring comedy by over dramatizing the mundane:

And sometimes they’re just super cute:

In the right hands, the slofie could be near to a new art form. But so far, mostly it’s just people tossing their hair around.

What, Precisely, Are ‘Slofies’ For?