Camera quality shootout: iPhone 11 Pro versus the Galaxy S10

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 9
In this image shootout, we pit Apple's iPhone 11 Pro against the Samsung Galaxy S10 to see which has a better camera system.

The Galaxy S10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max
The Galaxy S10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max


We will be testing with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, though the comparison also holds for the Galaxy S10 and the iPhone 11 Pro which have the same camera setups.

Both phones are equipped with tri-camera setups, consisting of an ultra-wide lens, a wide lens, and a tele lens. All of the wide and tele lenses clock in at 12 megapixels, though the S10 has the edge for the ultra-wide. Samsung used a 16MP ultra-wide in the Galaxy S10, whereas the iPhone 11 Pro has a 12MP shooter.

We will see how that comes to play in a moment.




Portrait mode

Both the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10 can capture portrait-style images of objects, pets, and people. In our testing, they did an equally good job identifying edges and they each now work at 1X and 2X zoom levels.

Most of the differences we saw were relating to white balance and color rather than the portrait effect, which Samsung calls Live focus.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Live focus (left) versus iPhone 11 Pro Portrait Mode (right)


In the above image, you can see the Galaxy S10+ nailed the white balance on the blanket and pillow but it did cause Oliver the cat to look almost red. The iPhone better colored Oliver but made the blanket and pillow too yellow.

Samsung does get bonus points however for its additional focus effects such as whirl or zoom.

Testing the lenses

Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)
Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)


First, we test out the standard wide lens. From what we saw, there wasn't too much of a difference between the two, with both taking excellent images. At times the Samsung could still oversaturate the image, but much less than it used to.

In the above shot, each was solid, although iPhone 11 Pro did a better job dealing with the direct light of the sun. Samsung underexposed the rest of the image in an attempt to compensate.

Cropped in to 200-percent with the iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Samsung Galaxy S10 (left)
Cropped in to 200-percent with the iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Samsung Galaxy S10 (left)


Blown up to 200-percent, the iPhone has more contrast, is better exposed, and has less noise.

10X digital zoom with iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Samsung Galaxy S10 (left)
10X digital zoom with iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Samsung Galaxy S10 (left)


When we zoom in 10X on each phone, we have mixed results. The Samsung Galaxy S10 has more noise in the windows but the iPhone has more noise on the wood. As a tie-breaker, the iPhone came out on top with superior exposure.

Ultra-wide image captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)
Ultra-wide image captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)


Moving to the ultra-wide lens, Samsung did a better job bringing out the color of the grass, but the windows are a bit washed out again. As we said, the S10 has a superior 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle shooter.

Ultra-wide image captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)
Ultra-wide image captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)


In reality, though, that 16MP doesn't have a huge impact. See the above image, both look great with neither having the edge.

Ultra-wide image at 300-percent captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)
Ultra-wide image at 300-percent captured on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (left) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (right)


You only notice the increased resolution when you zoom in. At 300-percent, you see how much sharper the S10 image is. But why would you zoom in that much on an ultra-wide shot? If you planned to crop it in that much, you might as well shoot on the wide or tele lens instead and get even higher resolution.

Night mode

What we've seen so far has been comparable, with minor differences between the pair. The aspect that truly set the cameras apart was night mode.

Night mode on iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Galaxy S10 (left)
Night mode on iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Galaxy S10 (left)


The Galaxy S10 simply was no match for the iPhone 11 Pro. The images produced were undersaturated, dark, and more-often-than-not -- blurry.

Night mode on iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Galaxy S10 (left)
Night mode on iPhone 11 Pro (right) and Galaxy S10 (left)


You can see more images in the gallery below, but they remain more of the same.

Both solid performers

The cameras on both phones are amazing and have come so far in the past few years. Any of the smaller discrepancies between the shots can usually be cleared up in only a few moments of quick editing. That leaves the low-light night shots as the true differentiator in crowning a champion.

For well-lit shots, it's a tossup, but if you want to shoot in low light, the iPhone 11 Pro is the clear winner.

Where to buy

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is available at Amazon and from B&H Photo and Samsung directly. Each retailer is offering free gift(s) and/or instant savings with the S10+.

Meanwhile, wireless carriers are offering a variety of incentives on the new iPhone 11 Pro, from BOGO offers to trade-in deals on devices in any condition. Highlights are below.

iPhone 11 Pro deals

  • Verizon Wireless: Get up to $450 off the iPhone 11 Pro Max via bill credits with select trade-in and Unlimited plan.
  • AT&T Wireless: Buy an eligible iPhone and get the iPhone 11 for free when you buy both on a qualifying installment plan with an eligible AT&T unlimited plan.
  • Sprint: Starting at $12.50 per month with Sprint Flex lease and select trade-ins in any condition
  • Walmart: Save up to $100 on the iPhone 11 Pro. Offer valid only on purchase with installment plan through AT&T or Verizon.
  • Sam's Club: Get a $150 Sam's Club gift card when you buy and activate.

    Gallery

    Here are more high-resolution comparison shots.


Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 400member
    Wow. Some very vast differences, with the iPhone clearly being the winner! Can't wait to see the side by side with the new Pixel!
    cornchiplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,454member
    Why do this, AppleInsider? It’s all subjective personal opinion. Those with a bias against Apple will of course deem the Samsung superior. Those with a bias against Samsung will deem the iPhone superior. There is no such thing as objectivity here, none whatsoever, especially with low resolution uploaded photos on a website. To me this sort of comparison is nothing more than stirring the pot. There will be NO agreement... EVER.
    gilly33muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 14
    thrangthrang Posts: 783member
    Andrew need elocution lessons. Barely understandable.
    Nothing personal, but he always sounds like he has a slight eustachian tube infection...
    Seboszwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,726member
    ”The cameras on both phones are amazing and have come so far in the past few years. Any of the smaller discrepancies between the shots can usually be cleared up in only a few moments of quick editing. That leaves the low-light night shots as the true differentiator in crowning a champion.

    For well-lit shots, it's a tossup, but if you want to shoot in low light, the iPhone 11 Pro is the clear winner.”

    This sums up the entire article perfectly. Even when compared side by side the differences are often quite subtle. On their own, people would be hard pressed to find the differences. On the other hand, low light shots are actually fairly common, and for the average consumer, the significantly better low light performance of the iphone gives it a distinct and clear advantage.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Did Samsung S10+ you tested have the latest firmware installed?  According to Anandtech's review, S10+ night mode is on par with Google Pixel's night mode.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,143member
    Did Samsung S10+ you tested have the latest firmware installed?  According to Anandtech's review, S10+ night mode is on par with Google Pixel's night mode.
    which is still inferior compare to deep fusion (even in beta).
    lollivergilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Pleasant surprise  to see some familiar local pics in Dubtown. Andrew, where did you take the picture of the rooftop bar Vaso from?  
  • Reply 8 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 267member, editor
    lkrupp said:
    Why do this, AppleInsider? It’s all subjective personal opinion. Those with a bias against Apple will of course deem the Samsung superior. Those with a bias against Samsung will deem the iPhone superior. There is no such thing as objectivity here, none whatsoever, especially with low resolution uploaded photos on a website. To me this sort of comparison is nothing more than stirring the pot. There will be NO agreement... EVER.
    Then judge for yourself -- but with the inclusion of night mode, seems to be a clear winner. There can but no bias with those.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 267member, editor
    Pleasant surprise  to see some familiar local pics in Dubtown. Andrew, where did you take the picture of the rooftop bar Vaso from?  

    That was on the East Street Bridge, about halfway down. Initially went to get a shot of the new pedestrian bridge but didn't get anything I was looking for.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 267member, editor
    Did Samsung S10+ you tested have the latest firmware installed?  According to Anandtech's review, S10+ night mode is on par with Google Pixel's night mode.
    I updated it to the latest available right before I did the test.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    They both kick ass.  I grew up with flip phones when picture taking was in its infancy.  To see where phone picture taking is today is mind-blowing.  The low light stuff iPhone is doing well but it's just a matter of time before Samsung figures that out.  But, for now iPhone takes the better night photos.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,267member
    kevin kee said:
    Did Samsung S10+ you tested have the latest firmware installed?  According to Anandtech's review, S10+ night mode is on par with Google Pixel's night mode.
    which is still inferior compare to deep fusion (even in beta).
    This years Pixel hasn't been released yet so of course you couldn't know anymore than the rest of us. Give it another 10-14 days or so and the first actual photos should be posted in another smartphone camera review, this time between the latest iPhone and the latest Pixel.  That's assuming Pixels will be shipping immediately after the Oct. 15th event.  I don't think that's been determined yet for certain. 

    FWIW the photos from the new new iPhones look great to me and Google would be hard-pressed to improve on them. 
    edited October 10
  • Reply 13 of 14
    I have found www.imaging-resource.com sets the bar for me with the technical detail in reviews including full size comparison shots, especially since there is now the suggestion of a 'pro' moniker, with prices to match...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 14
    lkrupp said:
    Why do this, AppleInsider? It’s all subjective personal opinion. Those with a bias against Apple will of course deem the Samsung superior. Those with a bias against Samsung will deem the iPhone superior. There is no such thing as objectivity here, none whatsoever, especially with low resolution uploaded photos on a website. To me this sort of comparison is nothing more than stirring the pot. There will be NO agreement... EVER.
    Look again at the last photograph, the fence post, or the Jeep and tell me again "it’s all subjective personal opinion". Both of them have so much more detail that there is no comparison. The iPhone is superior.
    edited October 10 watto_cobra
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