Could Samsung’s reign as top smartphone camera maker be coming to an end?
Indeed, Samsung has enjoyed the top spot when it comes to smartphone cameras ever since the Galaxy S7 was released back 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 based my decision on which photos I’d prefer to show friends and family, and which device I’d rather use to capture my own memories, too.
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 the secondary 'telephoto' lens from both phones, 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 photo.
Zooming 100% into each of the photos reveals just how much better the Note 8's contrast is on a cloudy day. The Note 8's superior contrast makes it appear like it has more detail. 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 colour on the iPhone photo compared to the overly whitewashed out Note 8 photo.
Let's add some greenery to the photos. Again, the Note 8's photo is dark compared to the iPhone's. However, the Note 8 does a better job with the detail, colour, and contrast in the trees, whereas they look like a washed out block of the same shade of green in the iPhone 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 colours compared to the colder blue-ish tones on the Note 8, which can make colours appear relatively washed out.
The Note 8 completely overblows the sky and turns it white, whereas the iPhone captures cloud detail. The iPhone also reveals more detail, which you can especially see on the buildings across the street. Without a doubt, I'd pick the iPhone 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 colours also pop more in the iPhone photo compared to the Note 8. The iPhone deals better with a mix of sunlight and shade overall, and I'd easily pick the iPhone photo here.
The iPhone clearly wins this round, too. The iPhone 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 colours. With 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's blurry background looks overly digital. I'd still pick the iPhone photo here.
HDR mode was set to on auto on both phones, and the iPhone clearly 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 situation.
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 there's a bright light in the background, which should have made the Note 8 try to compensate by darkening the photo. Instead, the iPhone ended up taking an overly dark photo.
Samsung added its own version of portrait mode, and it clearly needs work. It looks like I was photoshopped into a blurry stock photo.
In an outdoor settings, the Note 8's portrait mode worked a lot better, and the blurry effect doesn't look as artificial as in the indoor photo. The sun came out a bit during the iPhone photo, which meant the lighting was a little different on both photos, but the Note 8 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 actually for.
The iPhone 8 wins hands-down, and Samsung's reign as top smartphone camera maker has come to an end.
On a cloudy day, the Note 8 produces better contrast, but the iPhone 8 Plus takes a better photo overall by livening up a dreary day compared to the surprisingly dark photos from Galaxy Note 8.
On a sunny day, the iPhone indisputably takes better photos. The iPhone's warmer tones make for more attractive colours and allows the iPhone to 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 when it comes to dark environments.
One last thing to note: No phone has been able to focus as quickly as Samsung phones since the Galaxy S7. Yet, while using the iPhone 8 Plus, there was no perceivable difference in focus speed.
Indeed, I'd rather show friends and family photos taken with the iPhone rather than the Note 8.