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iPhone 12 Pro Vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Camera Ultra Review

iPhone 12 Pro Vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Camera: it’s the one you’ve all been waiting for.

It’s been very complicated to do this, you’ll find out why later, it is the iPhone 12 Pro versus the Note20 Ultra.

We’ll be testing out all aspects of the cameras.

But before we do that, I need to interrupt you for a second and that’s because the video is complicated, as mentioned.

So we will be getting to the video, don’t worry, we’ll be covering all aspects but we’ll do the video a little bit later so I can explain everything properly.

Let’s initially kick-off with images why don’t we.

So I’ve been out and I have taken hundreds of images with both smartphones, and honestly speaking, in good light with the primary cameras, I think both do great.

There are some differences in color, I find that the Note20 tends to go towards more vibrant, more punchy colors, whereas arguably, the iPhone does give you more natural colors.

But generally speaking, I think both do an overall great job, a lot of it is going to come down to personal preference.

Now there are some key differences.

The Note20 Ultra does have a much larger sensor for its primary camera.

Now this means a few things.

Firstly, it means that you will get more of a natural, shallow depth of field, the blurry background.

So here on this example of these shots, if you look at the iPhone, some of the leaves in the background are still in focus.

Whereas on the note, these have already started to blur, so it does pop a little bit more and that’s something that you may like.

Now this can have a positive as well as a negative because when you are close up to some subjects, then it can mean that some
of it is going to be in focus and the focus is going to fall off very, very quickly because of that larger-sized sensor.

So for instance, in this image, I do prefer the iPhone 12 Pro.

Now the ultra-wide camera, I think both have excellent ultra-wide cameras, they let in a lot more into the shots.

And again, there are those same differences, we do get some more vibrant greens on the Note whereas we get more natural
greens on the iPhone.

The iPhone is also wider compared to the Note, the dynamic range does go from one to the other.

So have a look at this shot, initially, the Note20 Ultra does look like the better shot because it’s brighter in the shadow areas.

But if you look towards the clouds, then it has clipped some of those highlights whereas the iPhone has maintained those highlights, however, the shadows are quite dark.

So I think the ideal would be somewhere in between these, but I think it’s going to come down to personal preference.

However in this shot, I prefer the iPhone, the shadow details are brighter and it hasn’t really clipped the highlights in the background.

And in this shot, the Note tends to look a little bit more pleasing, but once again, those highlights have been clipped in the clouds.

And although the iPhone hasn’t clipped the highlights in the clouds, if we look towards the shadow areas, then the iPhone is very, very dark.

Whereas look at the trees, the Note20 Ultra does look much better.

So honestly speaking, I think it is going to go back and forth, but both have great primary and ultra-wide cameras.

Now let’s talk about zoom.

So when it comes to 2x zoom, the iPhone is better because it has a dedicated 2x optical zoom camera.

The Note20 Ultra has a 5x optical zoom camera.

Now, this does mean that when you’re at 2x, it is cropping in on the main sensor, and that results in not as much of a sharp image as you get on the dedicated optical zoom camera on the iPhone at 2x.

However, as soon as you go to 5x or anything above, then the Note20 Ultra is just going to give you much better results.

Much sharper thanks to that dedicated periscope optical zoom camera.

Comparing this to the 5x digital zoom on the iPhone, there’s a clear difference.

Now we can go up to a maximum of 10x digital zoom on the iPhone, and comparing this to the 10x on the Note20 Ultra, which is using a combination of optical and digital zoom, you’ve got a much cleaner image on the Note20 Ultra.

And if 5x plus zoom is your thing, then clearly the Note20 Ultra is going to give you better results.

You can go even further and you could even get some usable results at around 20x but you can go up to 50x on the Note20 Ultra, this is something that I really don’t use, I don’t think you would get very many usable results at this range, but if there is something that you want to see in the absolute distance, you’re going to be able to do this on the Note.

Now let’s move on to portrait photography.

Now both devices can shoot portraits at 1x as well as 2x, and generally, they do a good job overall.

However, I’ve said this many times before but I am not a fan of how Samsung handles skin tones, it does tend to brighten things up in most instances, not all the time, but especially if you’ve got some sunlight, then I’m not a fan of how it handles skin tones, it does make me look quite fair and pale whereas I believe the iPhone maintains much better skin tones.

Now remember when I mentioned the whole 2x thing, you were probably wondering why I went into so much detail there, and that’s because when you are trying to shoot portraits at 2x, which is the equivalent of around 50 millimeters for a portrait, generally, the angle that I prefer when it comes to portraits, the iPhone pretty much always does a better job, and that’s because it’s got that 2x optical zoom camera.

On the note 20 Ultra, there is no 2x optical zoom camera.

So it seems like the Note20 Ultra is actually cropping into the primary sensor to give you the 2x portrait, which as you can see
appears very, very soft.

And this time, it’s actually done a very bad job in terms of my skin tones.

Edges, however, are very very good on both.

Generally speaking, I think it was pretty much a draw when it came to edges overall.

Sometimes they were really good, and there were certain instances where both of them also did fail.

And here’s another example of a portrait with 1x.

Both are doing very well.

The Note, again with those skin tones, I am not a fan of.

And if we go in 2x, then skin tones are much better on the iPhone, in my opinion, compared to that of the Note20 Ultra.

Now the interesting new thing on the iPhone is that we have a LiDAR sensor, and this enables low light portraits.

Now there is a bit of a catch that Apple didn’t really mention in their keynote, and that is that night mode only works on portraits at 1x, not 2x.

So here’s an example taken in low light and you can clearly see that the iPhone is doing much better we’ve got a much sharper image, colors have been maintained a lot better.

On the Note20 Ultra, I am looking like a ghost and although the Note20 Ultra does have a laser auto-focus sensor, this doesn’t seem to be used for depth information whereas the LiDAR scanner on the iPhone does.

Now just for an example, here is a 2x portrait at low light, and as you can see, these are in no way as good as the 1x.

Now, this is kind of understandable because the optical zoom camera does not have as much of a wide aperture as the primary camera on the iPhone, and when you do have a wider aperture, you can capture in much more light.

And then the Note, because it is using the primary camera and cropping in, although it is a softer image it does appear to be brighter.

Now here’s another example of a low-light portrait with the primary camera.

iPhoiPhone 12 Pro Vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Camera

Again, it is night and day.

I really do like that we’ve got low light portraits on the iPhone, they do seem to work very very well overall.

Now edges are not absolutely perfect.

But generally speaking, I do think on the iPhone you can get some excellent portraits in low light as well as in good light.

Now let’s look at some general low light images, and overall, I think both do a great job, both have a night mode so they do capture for a few seconds and give you much better low-light images.

Now generally I did find myself leaning towards the Note.

So have a look at this image, both are doing a good job but if you do look towards the trees in the background, the Note has maintained more detail in those trees compared to the iPhone, and the image just seems a tad sharper.

Here’s another low light image example, and one thing you will notice is that the iPhone tends to lean towards warmer tones in low light, whereas the Note20 Ultra leans towards cooler tones.

Here I think both are doing a pretty good job overall.

Now this image, it’s an easy one for me, the Note20 Ultra doing a better overall job, especially in exposing the highlights correctly,

it’s not blown them out as the iPhone has here when you look at the sign and the lights coming from the showroom.

For this indoor shot, it is a bit of a draw, but once again you do notice the warmer tones on the iPhone whereas you’ve got the cooler tones on the Note20 Ultra.

Now I do want to mention straight away that one of the reasons for this, may be because we do have a larger sensor size on the Note20 Ultra, which does allow for more light to get in.

Now ideally, I’d want to be doing this camera comparison of the Note20 Ultra versus the iPhone 12 Pro Max and don’t worry, that is going to be in the works as soon as the iPhone 12 Pro Max is out.

However, currently, the biggest demand on the channel has been to compare the iPhone 12 Pro, for now, to the Note20 Ultra to kind of give us a preview of what the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be like.

That does have a larger size sensor, so should perform better in low light.

Now having said that, I don’t think that the iPhone 12 Pro is bad in low light by any means, I just think the Note20 Ultra is edging it out slightly.

Now one of the new features that we’ve got on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which I’m super glad for, it wasn’t there for the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max is the ability to have night mode for the ultra-wide camera, this was something I was definitely missing and it does a much better job compared to if you did not have it.

However, I still do prefer the low-light images from the ultra-wide camera on the Note20 Ultra.

In this example, if you look towards the trees, then the Note20 Ultra has maintained more detail whereas they are a little bit blurry on the iPhone.

On this example, once again, if we look at the trees then you can see that we’ve got much sharper details on the Note20 Ultra, whereas they are starting to get quite blurry on the iPhone.

The final example here, the highlights once again, the Note20 Ultra has more evenly exposed those, not just brightened everything up and if you look towards those trees, then the Note 20 Ultra again sharper compared to the iPhone.

Now let’s look at some selfies.

Now one thing that I did notice straight away is the dynamic range on the new iPhone is crazy when it comes to selfies.

It does such a good job of pulling up the details in the shadows as well as maintaining those highlights and here is a perfect example.

Might look a little bit artificial to some, the Note20 Ultra is actually doing a better job in terms of maintaining the true color of my jacket and my t-shirt, which is black.

These are looking more towards the blue side on the iPhone however.

Now both devices can have a wider selfie mode and this allows you to capture much more (indistinct) images.

The iPhone is slightly wider, however, as you can see from this example.

Once again, the iPhone, a much brighter overall image without clipping any highlights.

And speaking of highlights, this is a very interesting example.

So I wanted to test out a very extreme situation where there were a lot of backlights.

And here I do think the iPhone is doing better.

Now in the Note20 Ultra’s defense, if we look at the background, it’s actually tried to maintain the highlights.

But in doing so, it’s made the foreground very, very dark.

The iPhone has kind of seen that there’s a face and it’s brightened things up at the expense of a few clipped highlights in the background.

But I think in situations like this to get a usable selfie, you don’t necessarily want to be a silhouette.

You do want the priority to be the face for exposure, not the background.

Now here’s an example in direct sunlight and I do think the iPhone is doing better overall.

As I was mentioning, I’m not a huge fan of how Samsung handles skin tones, especially when you are in direct sunlight.

But generally, I do think both are doing a good job.

Now what about portrait mode?

So this is the blurry background effect.

I think both are doing absolutely great in terms of edges, I would call this a bit of a draw.

However, the Note20 Ultra does get an advantage here, and that is because when it comes to portraits, the iPhone does not let you
get that wider angle of view, it does crop in whereas on the Note you can have portraits at both standards as well as a wider focal length.

So this is an advantage that you do get on the Note, and again, both seem to be doing a very good job overall.

Here’s another example.

Here the iPhone seems to be doing better because if you look towards the tree in the background, the Note20 Ultra has struggled a little bit, whereas the iPhone has done a much better job in terms of isolating the subject.

Now, what about low light selfies?

So this is just a standard low light selfie without any fancy modes, and here, I do prefer the skin tones on the iPhone, they are much more natural, I’m looking very very pale on the Note20 Ultra, but the iPhone is also very very noisy especially in the background.

Now both devices do have a night mode from the front-facing cameras so it does something similar to what we saw on the rear-facing cameras, and here both are doing much better.

Again I am pale on the Note20 Ultra, but I am a little bit yellow on the iPhone, and there does seem to be a lot of sharpening happening if we look, especially towards my jacket and my top, there is some post sharpening happening for sure here.

Now both devices also have a front-facing flash where the display is illuminated to give you some more light.

The Note20 Ultra, much brighter image, but it’s again, it made me look very very pale.

I think it’s overdone that flash a little bit.

The iPhone, much better in terms of skin tones, but it is quite a bit darker.

So I think when it comes to low light selfies, it is a bit of a draw.

Right, those were the images, now we’re going to move on to video.

Why have I left this towards the latter part?

Well, it’s because things are very, very complicated when it comes to HDR video.

I’ve been losing sleep all last week trying to figure out how to present this in the best way possible, and in a nutshell, HDR video is great, but only if you have the right compatible display to fully appreciate it.

Now when I’m making a camera comparison that’s going to be viewed by hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, God willing, who are going to be watching on thousands of different displays, this makes my life very, very difficult.

And as I said, I’ve spent pretty much the most part of last week just trying to figure out how to present this and I think I’ve found
the best way possible.

So both devices can film in 4k HDR, and they look great on the respective displays.

However, when you do bring them into, say, an editing program, then things kind of go haywire and this is where the whole compatibility thing comes in.

Nilay from The Verge has done a great explainer in The Verge’s iPhone 12 Pro review, I will leave that link down below. But essentially, what I’ve managed to do, the solution that I found instead of applying edits myself was to let the phones decide how to handle the HDR footage.

So both devices can export the High Dynamic Range video to Standard Dynamic Range video within the devices themselves, and that feature is there so that if you are viewing these video files on non-supported displays, they still look really good.

So what I did is I let the phones do the work and then I managed to get the files and have a look.

So here is an HDR example.

Now what you will see is that pretty much hands down, the iPhone is doing a better job.

And even looking at the displays, I did prefer the iPhone footage.

Dynamic range was better, shadow details were better, and colors were also better.

HDR video, although it is supported on the Note20 Ultra, it is buried within the settings and there’s also an (indistinct) sign on there, which kind of indicates to me that it’s more of a testing thing.

And also, this is only available on the rear-facing cameras, it is not available on the front-facing cameras.

So to test out the video in the way that I do,

I actually switched off HDR on both devices to kind of see what the differences are.

And as you will see from this example, so now we’re testing out the rear-facing cameras on both devices.

This is in regular mode.

The iPhone still has a better dynamic range even with HDR switched off because it’s still got all of that processing happening and giving you a file that’s viewable everywhere, and again, dynamic range is really really good.

Testing out the ultra-wide cameras.

HDR is switched off on both.

So let’s see how they both handle dynamic range.

So I went ahead and continued testing, I wanted to test out stabilization.

So here’s stabilization with the primary cameras.

And here’s stabilization with the ultra-wide cameras.

Now although I think both did a good job overall, I did think that the iPhone was more stable.

So so far, it’s looking very very positive for the iPhone.

However, the Note20 Ultra does have some features that the iPhone does not.

Firstly, it can film at up to 8K.

That’s a lot of resolution.

Now, granted, it does crop in quite a bit to achieve 8K, and you do lose stabilization generally.

So this is something that’s quite a specific thing which you’d have to use specific equipment for, you’d have to mount this on a tripod.

But nevertheless, the feature is there.

The Note20 Ultra also has a pro video mode, which is really great if you want to dial in settings and get a particular look.

This is something that’s not available as default on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Yes, you can get third-party apps such as FiLMiC Pro, but it’s something that’s not available natively.

Now when it comes to autofocus, I think both are really really good.

They do a great job, as you can see from these examples here.

However, when it comes to focusing in low light, then the iPhone was better overall, and that is thanks, once again, to that LiDAR sensor.

Now, again, I want to mention that there is a laser auto-focus sensor on the Note20 Ultra, but it just does not seem to do as much of a good job as the iPhone.

Now, what about low-light videos?

Well, here’s an example.

And for this low light test, let’s take a look in the clouds.

See what the noise levels are like and we’re just going to walk a little bit as well in low light.

See what things are like.

The iPhone producing a brighter image and the much cleaner image with less noise, especially when I was walking things did start to get quite blurry on the Note whereas they were much cleaner on the iPhone.

So for the low light video, I did prefer the iPhone.

Now what about vlogging from the front-facing cameras, well, you saw a quick example at the start of this video.

But generally the iPhone, even with HDR switched off, does give you overall better dynamic range, better skin tones, and for stabilization, I think it was a bit of a draw when it comes to the front-facing camera.

I did learn a little bit more about the iPhone however.

Now both devices can film at up to 60 frames a second.

However, you can only do 60 frames a second at 4K from the primary camera on the Note20 Ultra.

You can do this on all three cameras of the iPhone.

When it comes to the front-facing camera, however, although you can do 4K at 60 frames a second from both devices, I did
prefer the footage at 4K 60 from the Note20 Ultra.

It seems like when the iPhone 12 Pro goes to 4K 60 frames a second from the front-facing camera, the dynamic range really does suffer.

Now, this is whether you’ve got HDR switched off or on, it just does blow out the highlights quite a bit compared to the Note20
Ultra, which in my opinion, did a much more balanced job.

Now, why is that?

I’m not sure, maybe there’s just a lot to process for the iPhone when you are doing 4K 60 from the front-facing camera, this was not the case when using the rear-facing cameras.

And what about slow motion?

Well the Note20 Ultra, you can film super slow motion, which does give you even slower slow motion compared to the iPhone.

But the iPhone can film slow motion from all the cameras and this is something that I really like about the iPhone, the overall consistency generally across the cameras.

If one camera can do it, then the others can too.

For audio, I think it was very close, I think both record great quality audio, I’ll let you go back and have a listen to a few of those clips.

So that was the video and in conclusion, I think overall I would pick the iPhone for video.

I just think it gives you much more of a consistent experience across all of the cameras.

Although the Note20 Ultra does have a couple of advantages such as the 8K video, the pro video, as well as the better video
at 4K 60 frames a second from the front-facing cameras.

Now images, if we recap in terms of my conclusions,

I do think when it comes to the primary camera and the ultra-wide camera, both are absolutely great and it does go back and forth.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either of these.

When it comes to zoom, the iPhone does better at 2x, anything above 5x, it’s clearly the Note20 Ultra.

Portraits I did prefer overall on the iPhone thanks to that dedicated 2x zoom camera whereas the Note20 Ultra seems to crop in on the main sensor and also for low light portraits, having that featured here with the LiDAR sensor on the iPhone does produce overall better low light portraits.

However, when it comes to general low light images, I did prefer the Note20 Ultra, both for the ultra-wide camera as well as for the primary camera.

Now as mentioned, I believe the primary camera might be thanks to that larger-sized sensor, and the real comparison is going to be in a few week’s time when the iPhone 12 Pro Max is out.

If you want to see that camera comparison first, then you guys know what to do.

You need to subscribe and make sure you hit that bell icon so you don’t miss it.

What do you guys think?

Do drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

I think both cameras are great overall with advantages and disadvantages here and there.

I really hope you enjoyed this articles and found it useful.


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