iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9+: Which Smartphone Has a Better Camera?

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Over the course of this week, we've been taking a look at Samsung's new flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+, as these two devices are the iPhone X's biggest competition.

    In our latest video, available on the MacRumors YouTube channel, we compared the Samsung Galaxy S9+'s dual-lens camera with variable aperture to the vertical dual-lens camera in the iPhone X.

    Samsung decided to focus heavily on image quality in its latest devices, and the S9+ has a 12-megapixel f/1.5 to f/2.4 variable aperture lens as its main camera, which is paired with a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens, similar to what's available in the iPhone X.

    A variable aperture is unique to Samsung's new devices, and it offers some benefits that are going to improve image quality. With a variable aperture, it's easier to find a balance between light and image quality.

    Click to enlarge​

    At the wider f/1.5 aperture, the Galaxy S9+ camera can let in more light in low light situations, but a wider aperture tends to compromise image sharpness at the edges of the photo. In conditions where the lighting is better, the narrower f/2.4 aperture will provide a crisper higher-quality image. The Galaxy S9+ can automatically select the proper aperture for the best image.

    The iPhone X has two lenses like the Galaxy S9+, but no adjustable aperture, and that gives the S9+ a bit of an edge. As you'll see in the images below, though, both the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9+ have fantastic cameras that are capable of taking some amazing images.

    In these photos, we used an automatic mode to capture the images, and no editing was done. This image of a sunset demonstrates some key differences between the two cameras. The S9+ offers a crisper image with more definition, but the colors in the iPhone X image are warmer and more true to life.

    Click to enlarge​

    The Galaxy S9+ has a "Live Focus" mode that's similar to Portrait Mode on the iPhone X, and the photo below compares Live Focus with Portrait Mode. Both of these modes have some issues, but making adjustments to blur is easier on the Galaxy S9+, which gives it the win over the iPhone X. In general, the Galaxy S9 also has more built-in image editing tools with its Pro Mode for taking manual photos.

    Click to enlarge​

    In addition to images, we also took a look at video modes. Samsung's Galaxy S9 can record in slow motion at 960 FPS, a unique feature because the iPhone X's slo-mo maxes out at 240 FPS. Both devices can also record in 4K video with optical image stabilization, but the Galaxy S9+'s video was less jittery. The iPhone X did win out when it came to suppressing outdoor wind sound, though.

    Both of these cameras, as mentioned before, are great and can capture images that are on par with DSLRs in some situations, but there are definitely some features that make the Galaxy S9+ ever so slightly better than iPhone X when it comes to image and video quality.

    Click to enlarge​

    Of course, Apple is going to be introducing the successor to the iPhone X in about six months, and with the camera improvements that come with every new upgrade, it's likely iPhones coming in 2018 will outshine the Galaxy S9+.

    Which images do you prefer? iPhone X or Galaxy S9+? Let us know in the comments.

    Make sure to check out our other videos, which have compared the Galaxy S9 to the iPhone X and pitted Animoji against Samsung's new AR Emoji.

    Article Link: iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9+: Which Smartphone Has a Better Camera?
  2. n3sh macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2016
  3. iLondoner macrumors 6502


    My preference is for the iPhone X photos in all cases. The Samsung pics look a bit murky at times and—who knows—maybe the Samsung more accurately portrayed the reality, but the photos I would want to keep are the iPhone X.
  4. BugeyeSTI macrumors 68030


    Aug 19, 2017
    IMO, I prefer the iPhone X photos in these examples...
  5. mozumder macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    If we could increase the electron well capacity of phone image sensors, we'd have images that would be indistinguishable from dSLRs so we don't get these blown highlights anymore. Apple/Samsung/Sony etc.. really needs to figure out a process that improves electron well capacity.

    Also, improve the bitrate for videos so that videos don't look like a blurry mess. And give us full raw editing.
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Both are great.

    I remember the days (between the 3G and 4S), when almost ever day people kept saying a camera in a phone didn’t matter, or the cameras were already “too good” and taking photos was such a low priority for a phone.

    Now most of the comments I seem to read on these articles are from self-proclaimed pro photographers who scoff that when you enlarge these excellent phone photos, there’s some rough artifact and they can never compare to their 5K DLSR.

    It’s just funny how times change.
  7. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    Don't know about everyone else, but I buy my phone ONLY for its ability to take photos. Making calls, browsing internet, and apps all take a back seat. iPhone X seems to be the better choice here.
  8. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Smart phone cameras are so close in comparison today producing excellent photo’s, the average consumer likely doesn’t see major differences. The biggest contributor is what smart phone manufacturer (Apple or Samsung) the consumer chooses to use, which Thats the only camera that matters really.
  9. zulkiflim macrumors 6502


    Jan 6, 2008

    Can you do a drop test from different height and then test if the aperture still works ??
    Mechanical parts are always prone to failure when dropped......

    Did any Tech youtube address this???
  10. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Personally? Sony α7R III, heh.
  11. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    Yeah, the differences in image quality are small and you're not going to notice them in the average picture, honestly. They're very, very close. I think the Galaxy S9+ is eking out more detail and it's not blowing out the highlights quite as much in some of these photos in particular, but the iPhone X is still amazing. Both really have their strengths and weaknesses. I always look forward to the improvements we get with each new iPhone, so I can't wait to see what we'll get in 2018.
  12. sdwaltz macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2015
    I prefer the iPhone in these comparisons but seriously, does it even matter at this point? They're all great.
  13. heov macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2002
    Seems most agree they're all great, and it comes down to preference and trade-offs.

    Here's to looking when these 2 phones are similar in almost every respect! Good for Apple? agood for Samsung? We'll see. Or maybe Google will steal the show!
  14. charlesdayton macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2011
    I would have been nice to have a third set of pictures taken with a professional DSLR to compare. Both pics look good, but we can't tell which one is closer to reality.
  15. Superhappytree macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2015
    Neither. Pixel 2 still has the best overall camera with a single lens. It’s not so much about the hardware anymore it’s about improving the software.

    Hint hint Apple: fix your buggy mess while you’re at it.
  16. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
  17. now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    Why don't we ever see any reviews about call quality comparisons? Why is it that phone manufacturers never say a peep about call quality- when it arguably is the most aggravating aspect of these phones? It's always camera this & camera that. Hello- its an i PHONE.
  18. Mefisto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2015
    The North
    Looks like both are fantastic cameras. At this point the tech is getting to a point where I'm personally having difficulties distinguishing between photos taken on a flagship phone, and really don't care which model scores 2, or better yet 1 point out of a 100 more than the other on tests. That just seems trivial.

    If you're not a professional, either of these cameras will most probably serve you very well.
  19. AlexH macrumors 68020


    Mar 7, 2006
    Both are good, but my subjective preference is the iPhone X. Apple's image processing engine is really good.
  20. GabrielMoro macrumors member


    Jun 3, 2014
    Dynamic Range looks better on the S9. Portrait Mode should be tested on a live subject so we can see how it handles hair and backgrounds with lots of information...
  21. Wowereit macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2016
    It's on a level where I can't pick a clear winner.

    What I've noticed in other comparisons:
    S9 has way better low light quality IF there is no light source visible in the picture.
    Once you have a light in a dark environment, it seems to totally screw up and blur anything around the light.
  22. mi7chy, Mar 16, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018

    mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    #1 Samsung S9
    #2 Google Pixel 2
    #3 Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    #4 iPhone X

    With that said Google has the best processing.
  23. bsolar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2011
    It would be nice to have a third reference image taken with a high quality professional camera for comparison.
  24. GoodWheaties macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2015
    Do people really prefer shooting 720p 960fps for 0.2 seconds over 1080p 240fps for as long as you want? It really seems not very useful to me.
  25. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013

    The last photo really shows my biggest complaint with iPhone photos that's been ongoing since iOS 7: the super aggressive noise-reduction that makes everything look like a painting.

    Even in outdoors during the day, noise cancellation makes it all terribly blurry.

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