Camera Comparison: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

In February, Samsung introduced its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. We picked one of Samsung’s new devices, and thought we’d compare it to Apple’s best smartphone, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, to see how the two premium phones compare to each other when it comes to camera quality.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is equipped with four cameras in total this year, including a 108MP wide-angle camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 10MP telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom, and a 10MP camera with 3x optical zoom.

By comparison, the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max has a 12MP ultra-wide lens, a 12MP ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP Telephoto lens that supports 3x optical zoom. On paper, Samsung definitely wins when it comes to raw specs, especially in the optical zoom department.

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Practically speaking, though, both smartphones take incredible photos and from picture to picture, it can be hard to choose a favorite as you can see in the photos from our video and from this article. Note that all the photos we show were taken in RAW format, are straight out of the camera using the default settings of the smartphone, and no adjustments were made.

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You will mainly notice differences in color temperature, depending on the scene. The Galaxy S22 Ultra tends to have a cooler tone, while the iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max is warmer. The S22 Ultra also tends to raise the highlights, and while it may sometimes appear sharper, some may find images to be a bit blurry because of this.

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In some cases, the iPhone provides more natural light for skin tone than the S22 Ultra, but the contrast used by the ‌iPhone‌ can make dark areas darker, causing photos to lose touch of detail. iPhone photos tend to be more vibrant and can be more aesthetically pleasing, but they really vary based on the topic.

In portrait mode, there are a lot of similarities. Samsung has improved edge detection and bokeh in its selfies, and the iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max and S22 Ultra both take great photos. The iPhone‌ is of course much more vibrant, and in some photos it’s even sharper. Unfortunately, Samsung still isn’t great at skin tones and the S22 Ultra doesn’t do well in preserving skin texture either.

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When it comes to zoom capabilities, the 10x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom, and 100x digital zoom offered by the S22 Ultra are leagues ahead of the ‌iPhone‌‌ with 3x optical zoom and 15x digital zoom. The 100x zoom is fun to see how close you are, but even at 30x you can get some fairly usable photos out of the S22 Ultra.

For video recording, the ‌iPhone‌ has the advantage as it supports Dolby Atmos and ProRes to get high-quality video for those who need it, but for everyday videos, both are more than enough. Cinematic mode is better than Samsung’s Live Portrait video option because Samsung restricts the feature to faces only, and the ‌iPhone‌ also wins when it comes to installation. The Galaxy S22 Ultra supports 8K video unlike ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max, but the lack of good stabilization affects the quality.

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Most people aren’t likely to choose their smartphone based on camera capabilities alone, and ecosystem plays a big role. A person who owns multiple Apple devices probably won’t go out and buy an S22 Ultra, and the average Samsung owner isn’t likely to replace that ecosystem with an ‌iPhone‌.

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In everyday use, these smartphones are incredibly similar, and both take great, high-quality photos that rival those you can get with high-resolution cameras and shoot, especially when the lighting is good. What iPhone users can get from the S22 Ultra is what we might see Apple do in the future. Will Apple compete with the 10x optical zoom lens? The rumor says yes, since there is a periscope lens with greater zoom capabilities in play, and Apple is always working to enhance its camera technology.


What do you think of the pictures in the video? Be sure to give it an hour to see all the comparisons, then let us know if you prefer the Galaxy S22 Ultra or ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max.