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

Samsung in February introduced its latest high-end flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. We picked up one of the new Samsung devices, and thought we'd compare it to Apple's top-of-the-line smartphone, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, to see how the two premium phones compare to one another when it comes to camera quality.


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

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Comparatively, the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max has a 12-megapixel Wide lens, a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide lens, and a 12-megapixel Telephoto lens that supports 3x optical zoom. On paper, Samsung certainly wins out when it comes to raw specifications, especially in the optical zoom department.

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In practice, though, both smartphones take incredible pictures and from photo to photo, it can be hard to pick a favorite as you can see in the photos from our video and from this article. Note that all of the photos we're showing were captured in RAW, and are straight out of the camera using the default settings of the smartphone, no edits involved.

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You'll mainly see 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 elevate highlights, and while it can sometimes appear sharper, some may find the images to be a bit too washed out because of it.

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In some situations, the iPhone offers up more natural lighting for skin tones than the S22 Ultra, but the contrast that the ‌iPhone‌ uses can make dark areas darker, causing images to lose out on a touch of detail. The ‌iPhone‌ images tend to be more vibrant and can be more aesthetically pleasing, but it does really vary based on subject matter.

In Portrait Mode, there's a lot of similarity. Samsung has improved the edge detection and bokeh of its portrait photos, and both the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max and the S22 Ultra take great images. The ‌iPhone‌ is of course more vibrant, and in some images, it's a little sharper. Unfortunately, Samsung is still not great at skin tones and the S22 Ultra does not do as well at preserving skin texture.

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

As for video recording, the ‌iPhone‌ has the edge because it supports Dolby Atmos and ProRes for higher-quality video for those who need it, but for everyday videos, both are more than adequate. Cinematic Mode is better than Samsung's Live Portrait video option because Samsung restricts the feature to faces only, and the ‌iPhone‌ also wins out when it comes to stabilization. The Galaxy S22 Ultra does support 8K video unlike the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max, but the lack of good stabilization affects the quality.

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It's unlikely that most people are picking their smartphone based on the camera capabilities alone, and ecosystem plays a huge role. Someone who owns multiple Apple devices probably isn't going to go out and buy an S22 Ultra, nor is a regular Samsung owner likely to swap out of that ecosystem for an ‌iPhone‌.

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In day to day use, these smartphones are incredibly similar and really both take gorgeous, high-quality photos that rival those you can get with high-end point and shoot cameras, especially when lighting is good. What ‌iPhone‌ users can glean from the S22 Ultra is what we might see Apple do in the future. Will Apple rival that 10x optical zoom lens? Rumors say yes, because there's a periscope lens with greater zoom capabilities in the works, and Apple is always working to boost camera technology.

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What did you think of the photos in the video? Make sure to give it a watch to see all of the comparisons, and then let us know whether you prefer the Galaxy S22 Ultra or the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max.

Top Rated Comments

Wildsau Avatar
10 months ago

100% agree with you. You will get slammed for this, but you are absolutely right. These people unfortunately will never understand this. It is too big of a bubble to burst.
"These people"?

I disagree with you wholeheartedly. I'm quite certain EVERYone understands that dedicated cameras with bigger sensors are able to take better pictures. That wasn't something that was discussed in this post. The post is simply comparing two of the most popular smartphones and THEIR cameras, not a comparison between them and dedicated camera rigs.

Literally nobody in the post, nor in any of the comments offered the opinion that smartphone cameras are superior to dedicated cameras. But "these people will never understand this", right?
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
10 months ago

Smartphone cameras are still tiny little garbage cameras that only impress people who are used to taking crappy photos to put on social media sites. They in NO way can compare to traditional cameras with 1” type sensor (or larger). A Sony RX100 (any model number) will blow these garbage cameras out of the water, and the small Sony RX100 will still be as useful 10 or even 15 years down the road. If you want a small, pocketable camera get a traditional camera, don’t buy an overpriced smartphone with a garbage camera. I love my iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the cameras are improved over the older iPhone XR I had, but the cameras are not why I bought it. The smartphone cameras are a frigging joke compared to traditional cameras, and they are difficult to use and the image quality is a D- at best. It is like comparing an old standard definition TV set to a 4K HDR TV, there is no comparison other than “crap” versus “good”.
You can call them whatever you want, you should take a look at the photos that are shared in various forum threads here, they can be quite amazing.
Do they compare to what you can do with a full frame DSLR or mirror less? Nope, but that also depends a lot at the person who’s taking the photos…and, an iPhone is typically in reach, any other camera might not…

I do own a canon DSLR with several “L” lenses just to put that out upfront
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gaximus Avatar
10 months ago
Other than the obvious 10x optical vs digital zoom, they both look very good to me.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bluedesert Avatar
10 months ago

Smartphone cameras are still tiny little garbage cameras that only impress people who are used to taking crappy photos to put on social media sites. They in NO way can compare to traditional cameras with 1” type sensor (or larger). A Sony RX100 (any model number) will blow these garbage cameras out of the water, and the small Sony RX100 will still be as useful 10 or even 15 years down the road. If you want a small, pocketable camera get a traditional camera, don’t buy an overpriced smartphone with a garbage camera. I love my iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the cameras are improved over the older iPhone XR I had, but the cameras are not why I bought it. The smartphone cameras are a frigging joke compared to traditional cameras, and they are difficult to use and the image quality is a D- at best. It is like comparing an old standard definition TV set to a 4K HDR TV, there is no comparison other than “crap” versus “good”.
Huh? Nobody is talking about iPhones or Samsung phones taking on traditional cameras. Most people aren't buying phones because of the cameras, it's just a plus if they perform well for the form factor. As they say, the best camera is the one you have on you and pretty much everyone is gonna have a phone on them.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Taipan Avatar
10 months ago

100% agree with you. You will get slammed for this, but you are absolutely right. These people unfortunately will never understand this. It is too big of a bubble to burst.
It seems to me that it‘s you who doesn‘t understand that nobody is caring or talking about a comparison to traditional cameras.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SamuelFleming Avatar
10 months ago

Smartphone cameras are still tiny little garbage cameras that only impress people who are used to taking crappy photos to put on social media sites. They in NO way can compare to traditional cameras with 1” type sensor (or larger). A Sony RX100 (any model number) will blow these garbage cameras out of the water, and the small Sony RX100 will still be as useful 10 or even 15 years down the road. If you want a small, pocketable camera get a traditional camera, don’t buy an overpriced smartphone with a garbage camera. I love my iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the cameras are improved over the older iPhone XR I had, but the cameras are not why I bought it. The smartphone cameras are a frigging joke compared to traditional cameras, and they are difficult to use and the image quality is a D- at best. It is like comparing an old standard definition TV set to a 4K HDR TV, there is no comparison other than “crap” versus “good”.
You should be more specific about what you mean by crap. The average user will be more than happy with the results from these phones even up to an 8x10. In fact most people will be happy with them printing poster sized prints. Most people aren't artists or don't spend their time trying to sell their images.

I 100% understand if you need a DSLR there is no replacement, but as someone else noted, the camera that is with you will capture many images while the camera that isn't with you will never capture anything. Capturing a moment so I can have a memory with my iPhone is more than acceptable especially with the quality they have been achieving over the last several years.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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