Could Samsung’s reign as the top smartphone-camera maker be coming to an end?
Samsung has enjoyed the top spot ever since it released the Galaxy S7 in early 2016. But the iPhone 8 Plus has made an incredible impression, and I can safely say that Apple’s latest device takes better photos.
In judging the photos taken with each device, I looked at which photos I’d prefer to show friends and family, and which device I’d rather use to capture my memories.
Check out the photos taken with both smartphones:
Here, the iPhone 8 Plus takes a brighter and less dreary photo than the Galaxy Note 8. I’d rather show the iPhone 8 Plus’ photo to my friends or family.
This photo was taken with both phones’ secondary “telephoto” lens, which uses optical zoom. The contrast between darker and brighter parts in the Note 8’s photo is technically better, but it’s so dark that I’d pick the iPhone’s photo.
Zooming 100% into each of the photos reveals just how much better the Note 8’s contrast is on a cloudy day — it makes it appear more detailed. Still, I’d prefer the iPhone’s photo overall.
Here’s another photo taken with both phones’ 2x optical zoom — everything changes once you add some sunlight into the mix. Both phones contain a similar amount of detail, but the buildings have superior color on the iPhone’s photo compared with the overly whitewashed Note 8’s photo.
Let’s add some greenery. Again, the Note 8’s photo is dark compared with the iPhone’s. However, the Note 8 does a better job with the detail, color, and contrast in the trees, whereas they look like a washed-out block of the same shade of green in the iPhone’s photo. Then again, the iPhone does a better job with cloud detail and overall brightness. The iPhone wins here.
In sunlight, the iPhone 8 Plus tends to take warmer photos, which are more accurate and result in richer colors. The Note 8’s colder, blue-ish tones can make colors appear relatively washed out.
The Note 8 blows out the sky and turns it white, whereas the iPhone captures cloud detail. The iPhone also reveals more detail overall, which you can especially see in the buildings across the street. Without a doubt, I’d pick the iPhone’s photo.
The iPhone 8 Plus captured far more detail on the sunlit portion of the building, which looks whitewashed on the Note 8’s photo. The colors also pop more in the iPhone’s photo compared with the Note 8’s. The iPhone deals better with a mix of sunlight and shade overall, and I’d easily pick its photo here.
The iPhone clearly wins this round, too — it produces a brighter and clearer shot of the building in the shade with the sun behind it.
The iPhone took a better photo of this flower, with better colors. That said, the Note 8 added a better-looking blurry effect in the background, except for the flower on the left. Parts of the iPhone photo’s blurry background look overly digital, though I’d still pick the iPhone’s photo here.
HDR mode was set to auto on both phones, and the iPhone took the better shot. The Note 8 didn’t handle the brighter street area as well as the iPhone.
In a dark setting, Samsung is still king. It’s incredible how well the Note 8 does in dimly lit situations.
Now for skin tones in a particularly tough indoor lighting setup for any camera, with some outdoor light coming in from the windows. The Note 8 did better here, even though camera should have tried to compensate for the bright light in the background by darkening the photo. The iPhone ended up taking an overly dark photo.
Samsung added its version of “portrait mode,” and it clearly needs work. It looks as if I were edited into a blurry stock photo.
Outdoors, the Note 8’s portrait mode worked a lot better, and the blurry effect didn’t look as artificial as it did in the indoor photo. The sun came out a bit during the iPhone photo, which meant the lighting was a little different in both photos, but the Note 8’s photo looks more natural than the iPhone’s.
The iPhone 8 Plus has other portrait modes that the Note 8 doesn’t, but they’re all in beta as of the time of writing, and they look pretty terrible. Even if Apple manages to get these modes to look good, I wonder who these features are for.
The iPhone 8 wins hands down, and Samsung’s reign as the top smartphone-camera maker has come to an end.
On a cloudy day, the Galaxy Note 8 produces better contrast. But the iPhone 8 Plus takes a better photo overall by livening up a dreary day compared with the surprisingly dark photos from Note 8.
On a sunny day, the iPhone indisputably takes better photos. The iPhone’s warmer tones make for more attractive colors and keep detail that the Note 8 washes out with its overly cool, blue-ish tone.
Still, the Note 8 shows Samsung’s sheer dominance when it comes to photos taken in darker situations — no phone has come close to Samsung’s devices since the Galaxy S7.
One last thing to note: No phone has been able to focus as quickly as Samsung’s phones since the Galaxy S7. Yet with the iPhone 8 Plus there was no perceivable difference in focus speed.
I’d rather show friends and family the photos taken with the iPhone than those taken with the Note 8.