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Camera quality shootout: iPhone 11 Pro versus the Galaxy S10

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.