Which smartphone has the best camera – the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or the iPhone 12 Pro Max?
Spoiler: Both are fantastic.
If camera quality is your primary motivation when buying a new smartphone, how do you make an informed choice? With so many reviewers taking their sample images at different times or locations, it’s hard to tell which is best.
Popular UK YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss had a great idea to pit the new iPhone 12 Pro Max against the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, while taking all of the comparison footage at the same time. He did this using a clever dual-clamp rig that let both smartphones take their images from virtually the same point in space.
Then he put both cameras through the same 12 sets of tests, looking at 8K and 4K video, slo-mo, zoom, night mode, and more. You can watch the full testing below, but we’ll summarize for you.
Over the 12 categories, Samsung won five, Apple won three, and four were undecided. The upshot of the 12 tests is that Samsung wins in his opinion, but it was a really close-run race. If you could combine the two you’d have a smartphone camera with almost no drawbacks, as “each failing of one of these phones is something that the other is particularly good at.” If so, I can’t wait until Apple starts putting sensors bigger than 12 megapixels into the iPhone.
The other thing when considering smartphone cameras is how the stock camera app behaves. Apple takes great pains every year to keep the user experience simple while adding new features that mostly run in the background. Samsung literally loads their camera app with features upon features to choose from, adding extra functionality over their competition. Which is better? Well, that really depends on how you use your smartphone camera, and if you want a simplified experience or more control.
Samsung might have won this round, but there’s always next year…
- Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phones will not come with a charger or headphones
- If you have a medical implant, keep the iPhone 12 and MagSafe devices away from it
- The iPhone 12 Pro LiDAR camera finally has a use case – TikTok filters
- The Samsung S20 FE is the low-cost Galaxy that probably cost a fortune in marketing