Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro: Tests Show Camera Equivalence

Camera quality is one of the most important aspects of today’s smartphones, especially the most expensive ones. In this regard, Apple and Samsung can fight for the best results with the iPhone 13 and the Galaxy S 13 respectively, and a full test of the XDA Developers portal placed the two most rugged phones on each line face to face , in various scenarios.

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In terms of components, the iPhone 21 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max bring three sensors 13 MP, with f/1.5 aperture on the main camera and focal length of 26 mm, while the ultrawide features f/1.8 aperture,15 mm and viewing angle of 108º, and the telephoto camera has an optical zoom of 3x, aperture f/2.8 and focal length of 77 mm.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers a main camera of 108 MP, f/1.8 aperture and 26mm, an ultrawide of MP, f/2.2, 12 mm and angle of view of 77º, and two lenses aimed at close-up photos: a telephoto with MP sensor, f/2.4, 3x optical zoom and 72 mm, and a periscopic camera 12 MP, f/4.9, optical zoom of 13x and 240 mm maximum focal length.

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Pictures with the main sensor

As expected, both devices do very well outdoors and in good light conditions. Therefore, the preference becomes a matter of taste regarding the processing and color balance chosen by the two brands. Overall, the Samsung device brings more clarity in the shadows, while Apple chooses to make these areas darker and more natural.

However, when the photos are taken facing the source of light, the two devices are tested more rigidly. Due to the larger sensor — with 1/1.26 inches from the Galaxy S15 Ultra against 1/1.33 of the iPhone 13 Pro — Samsung’s device is able to capture a greater amount of light in naturally darker portions of the image, but in compensation the iPhone manages to bring a higher quality of detail in these specific areas.

For photos in darker environments, but still without activating the night mode, history repeats itself : while Samsung prefers to deliver clearer images with heavier processing, the Apple device tends to offer results a little more natural compared to human vision, with more details but less clarity.

When the exposure is too low for the device’s cameras, they both turn on night mode automatically. Under these conditions, the iPhone tends to provide clearer images and more vivid colors. As expected, the two devices lose a lot of sharpness compared to photos during the day, but still do well in places with virtually no light sources.

Photos with the ultrawide camera

The devices are capable of taking photos at wide angles, with the possibility of also using the night mode at the same time. However, in good light conditions, the two brands maintain the same processing patterns seen in the main sensor: while Samsung seeks to bring clearer photos and more vivid colors, Apple offers more natural images.

In darker environments, the iPhone 13 tends to force the night mode more often , while the Galaxy S15 Ultra maintains the same image processing conditions. Even so, the Samsung cell phone brings clearer photos and more present colors.

Portrait mode

Even if both phones have a 3x optical zoom, only the iPhone 10 brings the equivalent focal length when using portrait mode. Samsung’s device captures 2x, which allows for more open and context-sensitive images of what is around the person or object in focus. According to XDA Developers, the iPhone 13 Pro manages to make a more precise and natural cut between the layers of the photo.

To fully test the processing capabilities of the devices, the portal also made a comparison in portrait mode in backlit conditions. While the Galaxy S15 Ultra took an underexposed and shadowy photo, the Apple device managed to balance the brightness almost perfectly, something even professional cameras would have difficulty doing.

Zoom lenses

When it comes to zoom camera, Samsung tends to get the better of it, especially because of the periscopic lens with up to x optical zoom. The panorama is repeated for the devices in this comparison, but the iPhone 13 Pro comes closer at intermediate levels zoom, up to 3x.

As the periscopic lens is only activated by the Samsung system from x, the two devices are equivalent over the entire range from 3x to 9.9x. However, thereafter, the Galaxy S15 Ultra offers considerably sharper images.

Macro function

XDA Developers gives victory to the iPhone macro camera Pro, even though it was implemented late on Apple devices. According to the portal, in addition to allowing a closer approach, Apple’s cell phone system allows the activation of the macro function on any lens, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra needs to be on the ultrawide camera. The iPhone 13 Pro is also the only one capable of recording macro videos.


There is a big difference in the result of iPhone selfies 21 Pro and Galaxy S15 Ultra. Samsung’s device brings a noticeable oriental influence, with several beautifying and skin smoothing features, which sometimes even manage to hide large pimples, wrinkles and other imperfections. On the other hand, Apple’s cell phone has a much more natural approach, with all the blemishes and marks on the faces, plus a warmer tone of colors.

In more complicated lighting conditions , like backlight and at night, both devices can balance the exposure well and offer good dynamic range.

Video recording

Historically, the iPhone has always been a very strong competitor when it comes to video recording, and the latest generation maintains that legacy — both in bright environments and at night , the Apple device maintains better quality. The new Kinematic Mode acts as a kind of portrait mode for videos, and features a much higher focusing accuracy than the Galaxy S13 Ultra, according to XDA Developers. A series of tests under different conditions can be seen below:

Conclusion: the devices are equivalent in cameras

XDA Developers did not point to any clear winner in the camera duel, even though each device brings its advantages in specific situations — especially the zoom for the Galaxy S15 Ultra, and the iPhone video recording 15 Pro. Anyway, the portal points out that both cell phones offer an excellent set of cameras, with great results in any condition of light and various processing features.

Source: XDA Developers

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