Video: iPhone XS Max versus Galaxy S10+ photo quality comparison

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 14
We pit Samsung's brand new Galaxy S10 Plus against Apple's iPhone XS Max in this ultimate photo comparison to see which cameras are best.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max cameras
Samsung Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max cameras


Before digging into the images, let's talk about the shooters that each phone is equipped with.

In our testing, we used an iPhone XS Max. The results still apply to you if you have an iPhone XS, as the cameras are the same.

On the Samsung side, it is a bit more confusing. We shot our sample images with the S10+, which has the same rear cameras as the S10. However, the front "selfie" cameras are different with the S10+ gaining a second 8MP RGB depth camera.

This year, Samsung has jumped on the three-camera bandwagon, including a standard 12MP 26mm wide angle lens, a 12MP 52mm tele lens, and a 16MP 12mm ultrawide angle lens. Both the wide and tele lenses offer optical image stabilization (OIS). The wide angle has a Dual Aperture /1.5-2.4, the tele has an /2.4, and the Ultra Wide has an /2.2 opening.

Comparatively, the iPhone XS Max only has two lenses on the rear of the phone. There is the standard 12MP /1.8 wide angle lens paired with another 12MP /2.4 tele lens. Both of these too come equipped with OIS for better shots. The wide angle is the equivalent of a 26mm lens and the tele comes in as a 52mm -- the same as on the S10.






Looking at raw specs, Samsung should have the edge with lower light situations as more light is able to hit the sensor. It should have a touch more background bokeh naturally, without having to resort to Portrait Mode-type effects.

Samsung also clearly beats out Apple in the ultrawide department as that lens is completely omitted from Apple's handset -- though the rumor mill says we may see a tri-lens setup on the 2019 iPhone. The Ultra Wide lens can capture a 123-degree field of view which gives an impressive field of view and makes for even larger panoramas.

In all of our test shots, we used the stock camera apps with no retouching. Minor deficiencies can easily be corrected in post, but we wanted to see how each did on their own straight off the sensor.

Depth of field photography

Let's now compare photos that were shot with the respective depth of field effects. On the iPhone, this is known as Portrait Mode. Taking a shot in this mode allows you to blur the background of an image to a varying degree, as well as apply different lighting effects.

Similarly, Samsung offers Live focus on the S10. It captures the image and allows you to apply one of four effects to the background. It can blur it -- ala Portrait Mode -- with different amounts of blur, spin the bokeh, zoom the bokeh, or desaturate the background completely.

Both are achieved through computational photography and have different degrees of success.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


The iPhone performed better overall, outperforming the S10+ when separating the subject from the background, especially with non-humans. As you can see in the sample shots, the S10+ had a tough time around the dog's ear.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


When moving from animals to objects, Galaxy S10+ did a bit better, keeping a clearer border around the ice cream. One thing we liked was that we could get closer to the image with the S10+ than the iPhone. Apple's phone did have a better amount of background blur, as well as more natural looking bokehs.


iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


Both did excellent with humans, though the iPhone seems to have a bit more saturation and better skin tones. Our subjects continuously looked a bit pale in all our Live focus shots.

Shotting in the world

While we meandered about taking sample shots, we fell in love quickly with the Ultra Wide lens. It allows us to fit much more into our shots.

Galaxy S10+ wide angle sample images
Galaxy S10+ wide angle sample images


Above, you can see a wide angle shot we took with the S10+. It captures quite a bit of space and has the same crop factor as the iPhone. When we move to the Ultra Wide angle lens, it is another story.

Galaxy S10+ Ultra Wide angle sample images
Galaxy S10+ Ultra Wide angle sample images


Now you get a much more expansive image that is absolutely indispensable for tight spots or awe-inspiring landscapes. The downside is that there is quite a bit of distortion around the edges with the photo curving and contorting.

Ultra Wide has other benefits though. For example, panoramas. There is much more vertical space available for panoramas and the images can be much larger than that from the iPhone.

iPhone XS Max panorama over S10+ panorama
iPhone XS Max panorama over S10+ panorama


Here, we've overlaid the iPhone XS Max panorama on top of the S10+ and the amount of additional image is quickly apparent.

While the S10+ excelled with the Ultra Wide lens, we were a bit disappointed when it came to maxing out the digital zoom with the tele lens.

10x digital zoom
10X digital zoom sample (left half iPhone, right half Galaxy)


When we zoomed into our image with 10X digital zoom, the S10+ image fell apart. It was too aggressively smoothed and desaturated. The iPhone imagery was a bit more colorful, even at this focal length. They also made the image sharper, though that did cause a bit more noise in the image overall.

We took both phones to shoot some food and they each did great, though Samsung tended to over-saturate the image.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


This stereotype has been purported before, but it seems more prevalent now. Behind the scenes, Samsung will automatically try to detect what is in the image and adjust the levels for that specific shot. You can't turn this on or off and sometimes it helps, other times it does not. When shooting food, it likely detects that it is food and automatically boosts saturation and contrast to make a more appealing looking meal.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


Additionally, the S10+ has a specific food-mode that will add a bit more brightness in the center and blurs out the surrounding area to bring attention to the food. In our attempts, it looked a bit over-produced and we preferred the iPhone or the standard S10+ image.

Front-facing cameras

Quickly looking at the front-facing cameras, both performed really well. To start, we took a depth of field selfie outside. Here, iPhone was a clear winner. Skin tone was more spot on, the subject was better separated from the background, and there was more detail.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


The Samsung photo seemed to oddly distort the photo a bit and washed out the subject. Additionally, there was some serious skin-smoothing going on. Users blew up at Apple over "beautygate" and we are seeing a worth representation here in our testing.

iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images
iPhone XS Max (left) and Galaxy S10+ (right) sample images


In low light, the S10+ did much better. It had an overall better balanced image with less noise and grain than the iPhone that struggled to lighten up the subject.

Who's the champ?

Both the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy S10+ did fantastic overall, with each taking top marks in different categories.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max galleries
Samsung Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max galleries


Taking some time to edit photos can really clear up any of the color balance issues we saw, which brings it down to the cameras themselves. Samsung tossed that Ultra Wide lens on the S10+ which allows for amazing shots and stunning panoramas. The iPhone has no such lens.

Based on that, we'd just barely give the Samsung Galaxy S10/S10+ the crown over the iPhone XS and XS Max, although your particular mileage may vary, depending on what you in particular want from your photography.

Where to buy

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ can be pre-ordered from Samsung directly, as well as at Samsung authorized dealers, such as B&H Photo and Amazon.com, with prices starting at $999.

Samsung is also offering a rebate for free Galaxy Buds with S10 and S10+ preorders.

Meanwhile, the following carriers are also offering incentives on both Apple and Samsung devices:

Carrier deals: Stay tuned to AppleInsider for further tests and comparisons between Apple and Samsung's flagship devices.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,534member
    S10+ excelled in these shots. There's no doubt. It has a much better camera system. Good work, Samsung.

    (I hoped this day would not come, but it has)
    Iphonessuck
  • Reply 2 of 24
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,538unconfirmed, member
    Funny how Samsung over saturates colors then washes them out while zooming in.

    S10+ excelled in these shots. There's no doubt. It has a much better camera system. Good work, Samsung.

    (I hoped this day would not come, but it has)

    Disagree completely.

    (Not saying you're dumb but)
    A common theme with Samsung seems to be that they know their users are dumb. They usually use tricks that are later regurgitated by their fanbase. The common camera trick is over saturating colors. This gives a quick illusion that their photos look better.

    I can go on forever about the tricks they use that are later parroted by their angry fanbase.
    redgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Both cameras shoot pretty good shots.  Boils down to whether you want to use an iPhone or a Samsung.

    Question about the selfie shots.  Why does the subject seem to be shot from opposite directions?  iPhone shot, hair flows to the left (looking at monitor).  S10 shot, hair flows to the right.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    zompzomp Posts: 53member
    Personally, I preferred all the iPhone photos and it might be age related, I'm 55 and eyesight goes down with age. As for the ice cream shots, we don't have the same advantage as the photographer in knowing what the ice cream looked like and how it compares to the photo. personal, again, I prefer the apple over the samsung, the Samsung seemed to vivid and the napkin appeared very dark.

    Being that I only ever look at my pictures once and they are never compared against photos from other phones, I'm not qualified to really know the difference and I feel like I speak for the millions of others who aren't pro photographers and the camera would never be enough for me to switch to samsung. To be fair, photographers are always looking for the good on the spot camera, but many used to carry two, one for day shots and one for night. 

    Here's what else I think, if it wasn't for apple, I don't think we would have seen the advances in portable cameras as we are seeing today. Sony and the rest of them have been slow to bring big improvements to the public. 
    Cheers to Apple and Samsung for making Amazing advances year after year
    guscatmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 265member
    S10+ excelled in these shots. There's no doubt. It has a much better camera system. Good work, Samsung.
    ‘Much better’? The most accurate language would be ‘very slightly better, and partially based on opinion’. It’s like when there’s a benchmark and a phone is 5% faster and the reviewers say the faster phone ‘destroyed’ the slower one, and then failed to mention that the increased speed in this particular benchmark may not benefit all users.
    guscatmuthuk_vanalingamfotoformatjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 594member
    Both cameras shoot pretty good shots.  Boils down to whether you want to use an iPhone or a Samsung.

    Question about the selfie shots.  Why does the subject seem to be shot from opposite directions?  iPhone shot, hair flows to the left (looking at monitor).  S10 shot, hair flows to the right.
    I wish that when they do comparative shots, the shots  are identical using a tripod from the same distance and angle. Much easier to compare two identical photos, rather than one that is shot from 10 feet further away than the other, at a different angle. Just my two cents.   
    1STnTENDERBITSwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    guscatneo-techjbdragonphotoeditorredgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,673member
    I’d also call it a draw on the images, though I slightly preferred the XS photos in colour balance.

    That said, Andrew appears to be unaware that the iPhone has had “ultra wide” for years — it’s called the Pano setting. Hint: you don’t have to take an entire full pano — you can stop shooting at any point in the process. I’ve used this a number of times to get “wider” shots without them being full panoramas.

    That said, having it as a separate option on the S10 is a plus, but that’s like saying the iPhone’s “square” (Instagram-friendly) setting is a plus for the iPhone.
    guscatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    guscatguscat Posts: 50member
    I would say on balance I like the way the XS photos look better than the Samsung photos, they just look sharper and more realistic to me. I know lots of people are excited about the wide lens, but while it might be nice to have I can't really say it's something that I really want (and bear in mind, I live on a lake so I take LOTS of landscape photos. What I would really like is a better telephoto lens. Those are the photos I really can't take that I would like to take. I wonder if this is a problem with physics or making the right lenses or if people just don't want those kinds of lenses on their phones.

    Having said that, I really do think the differences among the top phones is really overrated. When I look at photos I took with my iphone 6 and compare them with photos I took with my X on my 4k iMac screen, my X photos don't blow away my 6 photos (meanwhile, my 6 photos do blow away my iPhone 5 photos). My X photos are obviously better, but not that much better, and if the only difference between my X and my iPhone 6 was the camera I'd have never upgraded. I will also add that I've never had anyone send me a photo from their phone that made me think wow I wish I had that phone's camera nor has anyone sent me a photo from a flagship phone in which I was like I am really glad I don't have that camera. There are ways phone cameras could be better (see my comment about a better telephoto lens for one example) but I think overall phone cameras have kind of plateaued for now, and we are only seeing incremental improvements until the next big breakthrough 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Speed1050Speed1050 Posts: 17unconfirmed, member
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    Absolutely this. Apple don’t make the very best of everything, all of the time. What they do offer is support so far above (and accessible) any other tech firm is mostly why I buy their stuff over others. 

    Why some people feel the need to denigrate Samsung users to defend an Apple product is really odd. Strange characters, really. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    From my humble perspective the point is: Apple does not have a significant lead (anymore) when it comes to photography. They can claim that they have the best and most innovativ camera system, but from a practical perspective this is no longer a purchasing argument. It's too close a call. In the end, they're all confined within the laws of small sensors and lenses (and thinness of the device). I'm generally amazed what they can get out of these tiny shooters.
    edited March 8 croprwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Speed1050 said:
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    Absolutely this. Apple don’t make the very best of everything, all of the time. What they do offer is support so far above (and accessible) any other tech firm is mostly why I buy their stuff over others. 

    Why some people feel the need to denigrate Samsung users to defend an Apple product is really odd. Strange characters, really. 
    I wasn’t denigrating Samsung users or anyone for that matter. All I said was, “Where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed?” They don’t receive the same customer service as Apple users is all my point was if you even bothered to read what I wrote.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Seems to me the default angle of view on the iPhone is much more useful than on the Samsung. It's like in 35mm film terms or full-frame DSLR terms the iPhone is shooting with a 35mm lens, which is a very general-purpose focal length, about a 60 degree angle of view from corner to opposite corner, while the Samsung is shooting with the equivalent of a 24mm lens, about 85 degree angle of view, a relatively specialized wide-angle.

    I'd seen this before in previous matchups of Samsung and Apple "flagship" phones, where the Samsung had a slightly wider angle than the Apple, but never to this degree of difference. Or did they just inadvertently leave the Samsung on its ultra-wide for the whole test? If that's the case they really should have another go at testing.

    On another angle, why is Apple "flattening" the contrast in their JPEGs? The Samsung ones seem more natural to me, a little cooler in color and with less of an attempt to smother natural contrast.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    Seems to me the default angle of view on the iPhone is much more useful than on the Samsung. It's like in 35mm film terms or full-frame DSLR terms the iPhone is shooting with a 35mm lens, which is a very general-purpose focal length, about a 60 degree angle of view from corner to opposite corner, while the Samsung is shooting with the equivalent of a 24mm lens, about 85 degree angle of view, a relatively specialized wide-angle.

    I'd seen this before in previous matchups of Samsung and Apple "flagship" phones, where the Samsung had a slightly wider angle than the Apple, but never to this degree of difference. Or did they just inadvertently leave the Samsung on its ultra-wide for the whole test? If that's the case they really should have another go at testing.

    On another angle, why is Apple "flattening" the contrast in their JPEGs? The Samsung ones seem more natural to me, a little cooler in color and with less of an attempt to smother natural contrast.


    It's strange isn't it? It says at the beginning that both cameras have a 52mm tele but the perspectives on those portraits are very different. I don't even know what 52mm means on a phone though - if it's full frame equivalent or based on a cropped sensor and if it's cropped, maybe they have different sizes.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    Speed1050Speed1050 Posts: 17unconfirmed, member
    Speed1050 said:
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    Absolutely this. Apple don’t make the very best of everything, all of the time. What they do offer is support so far above (and accessible) any other tech firm is mostly why I buy their stuff over others. 

    Why some people feel the need to denigrate Samsung users to defend an Apple product is really odd. Strange characters, really. 
    I wasn’t denigrating Samsung users or anyone for that matter. All I said was, “Where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed?” They don’t receive the same customer service as Apple users is all my point was if you even bothered to read what I wrote.

    I wasn’t talking about you buddy, I was talking about AppleExposed above. ^^^
  • Reply 16 of 24
    dddavedddave Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    @
    Funny how Samsung over saturates colors then washes them out while zooming in.

    S10+ excelled in these shots. There's no doubt. It has a much better camera system. Good work, Samsung.

    (I hoped this day would not come, but it has)

    Disagree completely.

    (Not saying you're dumb but)
    A common theme with Samsung seems to be that they know their users are dumb. They usually use tricks that are later regurgitated by their fanbase. The common camera trick is over saturating colors. This gives a quick illusion that their photos look better.

    I can go on forever about the tricks they use that are later parroted by their angry fanbase.
    Samsung users are so dumb! Buying phones that are competitively priced, great quality, dependable, long battery life, durable, very fast charging, useful camera modes for different situations, expandable memory, ability to charge share battery power wireless to other phones (including iPhone X), customizable user interface, headphone jack, USB-C, user experience does not degrade when the newest version is released... This is definitely something dumb people would be interested in. And adding saturation to photos! How stupid! I can't believe anyone would saturate a photo to make colors more vivid and appealing! I think both cameras look great, and both have pros and cons. I don't understand why people like you are soo angry that there are other great phones on the market?! But what do I know im just a dumb Samsung user.
    avon b7
  • Reply 17 of 24
    dddavedddave Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    Samsung phones don't "shit the bed". Apple products are commonly known to "shit the bed" since apple creates the software and devices. Apple is know to degrade phone performance intentionally, leaving you with a brick for a phone. There are class action lawsuits against Apple regarding this topic. I also see a lot of iPhone users who keep using their device with completely cracked screens, maybe the screen is just very easily cracked and multiple repairs starts draining your savings. Samsung and other android devices all compete together, so degrading your user experience is just bad for business. And for when a Samsung phone gets damaged accidentally, I call my phone insurance and make a claim, pay my deductible and get a replacement phone next day, without going anywhere. All of my apps, contacts, and photos are either on my removable SD card, or backed up to my google account. If there is a manufacturer defect, I can ship it to Samsung and have it repaired for free, also the right way. Pretty much all of this can be completely avoided by just putting a protective case on your device, and taking good care of it. The best customer service is the one you don't have to bother calling because you don't have any issues with your device.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    Speed1050 said:
    Speed1050 said:
    Both phones have excellent cameras. However, where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed? Where do they go when there’s an issue with the software, hardware, cracked screens etc..... They go to their carriers but then they pay an arm and a leg. 

    With us iPhone users, we go to the Apple Store and any issues that we have, they’re fixed. Not just fixed but fixed the right way and with the impeccable customer service that we have come to know and love with Apple. 
    Absolutely this. Apple don’t make the very best of everything, all of the time. What they do offer is support so far above (and accessible) any other tech firm is mostly why I buy their stuff over others. 

    Why some people feel the need to denigrate Samsung users to defend an Apple product is really odd. Strange characters, really. 
    I wasn’t denigrating Samsung users or anyone for that matter. All I said was, “Where do Samsung users go when their phones shit the bed?” They don’t receive the same customer service as Apple users is all my point was if you even bothered to read what I wrote.

    I wasn’t talking about you buddy, I was talking about AppleExposed above. ^^^
    In response to what I said, you said and I quote, “Why some people feel the need to denigrate Samsung users to defend an Apple product is really odd. Strange characters really.” So yes you were talking about me because you feel that I was denigrating Samsung users. Nothing could be further from the the truth, BUDDY. 
  • Reply 19 of 24
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 665member
    Review: each have their own pros and cons, but I still have to pick one of them and it’s not the iPhone.

    Comments: Samsung/Apple far superior than the competition/I make better buying decision.

    🤦‍♂️ Come on.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,098member
    Not being bias, but I personally prefer iPhone camera. The colour is warmer and more natural, less 'fake'. iPhone was accused to have Beauty effect in earlier release, which has been subsequently fixed. Compare to that, Samsung Beauty effect is ten times worse but no one even notice that.
    edited March 10
Sign In or Register to comment.