iPhone 14 Pro versus Samsung S23 Ultra: Whets appetite for 15

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iPhone 14 Pro versus Samsung S23 Ultra: Whets appetite for 15


An iPhone 14 Pro versus Samsung S23 Ultra camera battle concludes that there’s no clear winner, with the choice depending on the type of photos you want to take.

But given that it was a close-run thing mostly because of Samsung’s 10x telephoto lens versus Apple’s 3x one, it certainly suggests that the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro will be a clear winner …

iPhone 14 Pro versus Samsung S23 Ultra

CNET’s comparison is based on “shooting “shooting hundreds of photos and pixel peeping for hours,” and Stephen Shankland says that even after all this, he can’t pick a clear winner.

With its superior telephoto capabilities and an interesting 200-megapixel main camera, I wanted Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra to teach Apple a lesson in how a flagship phone should handle digital photography. Not because I want Apple to lose, but because I want competition to improve everybody’s smartphone photography.

But even though the S23 Ultra camera specs look better than the iPhone 14 Pro’s in many ways, I’m not going to declare it the better option for photographers. Nor is Apple the clear leader. After shooting hundreds of photos and pixel peeping for hours, this race comes down to what you value most in smartphone cameras.

Processing: iPhone wins

Shankland said that neither phone was vastly better, and that both are guilty of over-processing images, but the iPhone came out ahead because it achieves a more natural look.

Face detection: iPhone wins

Both did well, but the iPhone was smarter.

In one comparison, it correctly focused on a toy block construction, not the child who created it who was sitting in the background. In a variety of similar scenes, the Samsung went for the faces, every time.

Portrait mode: Samsung wins

Shankland gave the win to Samsung, for better separation – but looking at his sample comparison, I’d personally give the win to Apple for the same reason: The Samsung looks too much like a Photoshop cutout.

Detail: Samsung wins

The S23 has a 50MP sensor which captured more details (though Shankland says the full 200MP interpolated mode is just a gimmick).

Wide-angle: iPhone wins

Samsung has the wider view, but Apple’s shots look more natural.

Low light: Samsung wins

iPhone shots were described as muddier and less detailed – though there was no consistency in which camera brightened night scenes more.

Telephoto lens

This is obviously the biggest win for Samsung, with 10x optical zoom versus 3x. That’s due to the periscope lens in the S23, and we’re of course awaiting the same thing in the iPhone 15 Pro models – though we don’t yet know the exact magnification it will offer.

Ultrawide: iPhone wins

The iPhone won here for sharper images and more natural rendering of colors.

Conclusion: No clear winner

Shankland concludes that the 10x zoom of the Samsung provides a lot of flexibility for creative shots, but the iPhone gives more natural results – and has a better camera app. There is, though, no clear winner.

All of which suggests that, even if the iPhone 15 Pro did no more than add a 10x zoom through the upcoming periscope lens, that would change the equation completely in favor of the Cupertino company.

Of course, Samsung fans will point out that things may change again next year. But there’s probably no reason to try out Samsung’s iPhone-based try-out for now …

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