Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7 camera showdown

19 April 2017

For many, smartphones are now our primary cameras, so it's no surprise that camera quality is a major factor contributing to our purchasing decisions. We've now had a Samsung Galaxy S8 for about a week, so we decided to test out its photography chops against Apple's iPhone 7.

In comparing the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 7 cameras, we set a couple of rules: We'd take the photos using auto shooting mode, we'd keep flash off, and HDR on. Before we get into a shot by shot breakdown, here are our the key findings.

  • Both the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 7 have top tier cameras.
  • In terms of colour, the Galaxy S8's image are slightly more saturated by default (giving them a bit of extra pop) while the iPhone 7's images are a little more true to life.
  • Both cameras are 12MP, and as such, produce similarly detailed images.
  • Bokeh is ever slightly more pronounced on the Galaxy S8 .
  • In terms of exposure in tricky lighting situations, the Galaxy S8 tends to over-expose images, while the iPhone 7 will under-expose them. This results in a brighter overall image on the Galaxy S8 with potential blowout, and a darker higher contrast image on the iPhone 7 that can leave some some elements obscured in darkness.
  • The Galaxy S8 will take brighter, more vivid photos in low light, but is more prone to motion blur when shooting at night. The iPhone 7 is less prone to motion blur, but images are darker and or noisier.
  • It's also worth noting that the iPhone 7 Plus has a second rear-camera that ostensibly functions as a zoom lens.

Camera Samples

The above images highlights the Galaxy S8's more saturated colour and the iPhone 7's more natural hues. Background elements are also sllighly softer on the image taken by the Galaxy S8.

In the above, the Galaxy S8 produced a brighter overall image. This results in some blowout in the clouds, but more detail in the house. The overall image from the iPhone 7 is darker, but clouds are more detailed.

The above is a 100% crop of the previous image, and really highlights the difference in how the two phones captured the clouds behind the crane.

The above photos showcase the difference in how the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 capture colour.

The above is a 100% crop that shows the similar level of detail that the two camera can capture.

The above photos were taken with the window as the only prominent light source. The image taken by the Galaxy S8 is brighter but slightly blurred. The image taken by the iPhone 7 is sharper, but also nosier.

The above photos showcase the difference in how the two phones handle tricky lighting situations, such as a strong backlight. The Galaxy S8 completely blew out the backlight in order to capture Kenny, whereas the iPhone 7 cast Kenny in darkness to preserve the detail behind him.

These two photos compare how the two phone's respective colour profiles affect skin tone. The Galaxy S8's more saturated look gives Kenny a bit more definition in his face, whereas the iPhone 7 leaves his facial features looking a little flatter. I found that dialing in a bit more saturation on the iPhone 7's image left the two looking quite similar.

While both the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 are prone to motion blur when dealing with fast moving objects at night, the Galaxy S8 is more affected. Given the more prominent flare around the street lights, I'd attribute this to the Galaxy S8 shooting at a lower shutterspeed than the iPhone 7.

The above 100% crop further highlights the difference between sharpness when shooting in low light conditions. The Galaxy S8's camera blurred the street signs, whereas the iPhone 7 kept them mostly legible.

These images compare the two phones in less extreme low light conditions. Both have managed to keep detail in the cafe window, the Galaxy S8 captured a far more vivid image, while the iPhone 7 captured a sharper one.

And finally, one more look at the difference in colour tone. The post office box is noticeably redder in the Galaxy S8 version of the photo.

Want more Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 comparisons? Well we've also taken a look into how the pair stack on a 24-month plan!

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