For a good reason, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is at the top of the best camera phones, but now it comes with a big caveat. Since it tested it with the new version Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, the new Galaxy takes the crown in image quality when the sun goes down on the horizon.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra provides additional shooting features that benefit its low-light performance. Still, even without them, we found the S22 Plus better at taking low-light photos than the more expensive iPhone. Even more impressive is that while the S22 Plus is still a premium flagship phone, it’s not top of the range.
If getting the best possible low-light photos in just a few clicks is your priority, it’ll probably work better with the Galaxy S22 than the iPhone 13.
Ease Of Use in Low Light- Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max
Both smartphones will automatically enable their night modes when faced with a low-light focus. Still, the S22 is slightly happier with this than the iPhone. One of the sloppy shots we tried showed a string of lights on a tree in night mode by default for the Samsung, while not the iPhone. It presumably won’t be an issue for most users. Still, it came to my attention when we went back to look at my photos and found what we thought was a huge quality gap between the phones. Still, it turns out this is because the iPhone wants a darker scene before switching to night mode on its own.
We can manually enable night modes on any smartphone under slightly different circumstances. Activating the Galaxy S22’s night mode requires a trip to the More menu. Still, from there, you can have the phone set the exposure time automatically, or you can ask it to set it to the maximum exposure time. The camera app of iPhone doesn’t give you the option to turn on night mode yourself, but when you do enable it, you can select a default exposure time, set it to maximum, or set it in between if the maximum is two seconds or more. We took all the photos you see below with auto mode enabled, but if you decide to play ball, the iPhone gives you more control of overnight photography in the default app.
Night Mode Photos- Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max
First, the average shot of the green wall in Paddington Central appeared in two very different ways on both phones. There is much visible texture in the iPhone photo, but as a result, the color looks a bit off. We like what the S22 produced, and even if you don’t get the same detail in the masonry or leaves, the coloring is much more attractive and subtle for how we see the scene.
Picking up phones to take a close-up of this statue (and ignoring the huge difference in the field of view), we have closer competition. The S22’s image becomes brighter, more detailed, less distorted, and sharper again if you zoom in. We still like the iPhone shot, though, as we feel like it has better color accuracy this time around.
First, the S22 captured my hair better, and the boundaries between me and the background were much cleaner overall. The coloring is also normal, as the iPhone made me and the landscape behind me look very warm again.
Finally, we have an interior shot of a beautifully decorated coffee mug from one of my housemates, kept on a low shelf in a dingy room. None of the shots were particularly good due to the lack of lighting, but the S22 photo isn’t noisy and brighter than the iPhone’s.
However, the iPhone managed to capture better the reflection in both the cup and saucer, also winning the Honesty Award this time for a more realistic shot.
Even without the high-end hardware unique to the Ultra model, the Galaxy S22 Plus shows that the night mode of Samsung is now at a level that rivals, if not surpasses, Apple. The cost you need to assess is how realistic the S22’s shot compares to a real-life subject, but that won’t continually be an issue.
Because of this test, the iPhone 13 Pro Max hasn’t lost my respect as a camera phone. We are not asking the TG Seniors Council to give up its place at the top of our best camera phone guide. We’ll do two things, though: We are keeping our fingers crossed that Apple has some new night mode improvements for iPhone 14. We remember to put the Galaxy S22 Plus in our pocket the next time we go out tonight.