Camera shootout: iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Both the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is equipped with fantastic cameras. But how do they fare in a direct comparison? You can read that in this article.

Camera shootout: iPhone 15 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

We always compare the performance of the flagships from Apple and Samsung. But this time it’s a little more exciting, because both companies have made similar changes to the camera. Both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra have received a new 5x zoom lens and the software has also been improved. XDA Developers has put the cameras of both devices through their paces and these are their findings.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max and S24 Ultra have three and four cameras respectively. Samsung has an additional telephoto lens and a main camera with many more megapixels, but the iPhone’s zoom lens has a much faster aperture. The sensor sizes of all cameras are very close to each other. Both devices have a 12MP camera on the front, but the iPhone is equipped with a TrueDepth camera system that comes in handy for selfies.

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Main camera iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung S24 Ultra

One of the first things you notice about the S24 Ultra is that Samsung has opted for a more natural look. The iPhone has made the colors a little spicier from the 14 series onwards. In the shot below, the ‘dull’ tone of the S24 Ultra is more in line with what it actually looked like.

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Main camera: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

Since the iPhone 15 Pro (Max), Apple has used a new image processing that takes 24MP photos from the 48MP camera. Apple combines a 12MP image with an unedited 48MP image for that 24MP photo. The S24 Ultra has a 200MP sensor that uses standard 16-in-1 pixel binning for a 12MP shot. This means that if you zoom in to full size, the iPhone photo will be larger than that of the S24 Ultra. It is also a bit more detailed.

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Main camera: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

One of the benefits of pixel binning is that it allows the camera to capture more light. Even now that Samsung has toned it down a bit from the S23 Ultra, the S24 Ultra’s photos are generally brighter than the iPhone’s. But that’s not necessarily always a good thing. In the shot below, the iPhone’s image is contrasted with deeper shadows that look much more striking.

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Main camera: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

Differences in portrait mode

The main cameras of both devices can also take portrait photos. This is done with a small digital crop, because the standard focal length of 23 mm is too wide for portraits. A few interesting notes about the portrait photo below. When it comes to human skin, the iPhone goes back to more natural colors, while Samsung still lightens the skin a bit. The barista’s skin color is better represented in the iPhone shot.

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Main camera portrait mode: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

In addition, the iPhone intelligently focuses on the man’s face. The Samsung’s photo, on the other hand, focuses more on the glass with ice and the espresso (because they are closer to the camera). The difference is subtle, but if you zoom in on the face, the S24 Ultra’s shot is slightly blurry. But that cup of ice cream also looks very sharp in the iPhone shot. Still, given the intent of this shot, the iPhone made the right decision in prioritizing the face.

Comparison of the 5x zoom lenses

The iPhone 15 Pro Max and S24 Ultra both have a 5x zoom lens. Despite the different names and implementations, the fundamental technology of the two cameras is the same: they are lenses in which the image information passes through multiple magnifying glasses before reaching the image sensor. The S24 Ultra’s method is the ‘Periscope’ zoom lens, which has an L-shaped path placed sideways in the body. Apple’s method is called a ‘Prism’ and has a zigzag-shaped path.

The S24 Ultra of course has an additional 3x zoom lens, making it more versatile. With the iPhone, any zoom between 1.1 and 4.9x is technically digital zoom, although Apple claims the 2x in-sensor crop is “optical quality.”

iPhone 15 Pro Samsung S24 ultra camera
5x zoom: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

In this photo we can see that Samsung’s Periscope zoom lens, with a higher number of pixels and a longer path for the light, is superior to the iPhone’s Prisma zoom. The Samsung recording is simply cleaner, clearer and more vibrant. Note the building behind the billboard and in front of the billboard. The details in the iPhone shot are clearly very soft.

When it comes to ‘normal’ 5x zoom photos, the S24 Ultra beats the iPhone 15 Pro Max every time. But that changes with 5x zoom portrait photos, thanks to the iPhone’s superior portrait mode. In general, Samsung’s shutter speed is slower than the iPhone’s. So if you’re photographing moving subjects, the S24 Ultra’s images may contain more blur.

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5x zoom: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

Ultra-wide-angle lenses compared

The performance of the ultra-wide-angle lenses is almost the same. Both lenses have the same number of megapixels and the same aperture. The iPhone’s ultra-wide angle takes photos slightly cooler, but has more noise and grainy detail at the edges. Technically, the ultra-wide angle of the S24 Ultra is a hair’s breadth better, but that doesn’t matter much because these types of shots are not meant to be viewed in such detail.

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Ultra wide angle: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

The iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung S24 Ultra selfie camera

Fortunately, Samsung no longer tries to make your selfies look like an airbrushed KPop artist. Imperfections are no longer polished away. However, in this photo the skin color is still not completely accurately and naturally reproduced by the S24.

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Front camera: iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right).

Video performance of both devices

In the past the iPhone always won handily on this point, but now the performance is very comparable. The Galaxy S24 Ultra probably records the best videos of all Android devices. The image stabilization works almost as well as that of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, even when you walk and film with the 5x lens at the same time. or when you want to zoom in and out smoothly.

Conclusion: iPhone 15 Pro vs Samsung S24 camera

The camera performance of both devices is closer than ever. In the past, Samsung would easily win on zoom, but Apple has significantly improved its zoom. The S24 Ultra is still the better camera for zooming, but the difference is no longer that big. Meanwhile, Samsung’s video capabilities have improved so much that the iPhone is no longer head and shoulders better in the video field.

Overall, the iPhone wins the comparison thanks to a more consistent portrait mode and better selfies, but the S24 Ultra is more versatile. If you choose one of these two smartphones, you are always in the right place in terms of camera.

Would you like to try out the camera of the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max yourself? Then check out the deals below and take your chance!

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