Camera Comparison: Samsung S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max

Samsung came out with its 2024 flagship smartphone lineup in January, with the new devices competing directly with the iPhone 15, ‌iPhone 15‌ Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max. Samsung’s high-end S24 Ultra adopts some Apple-like features like a titanium chassis and a 5X zoom lens, but it also has standout additions that set it apart. We have an S24 Ultra, and thought we’d see how one main feature compares to the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max — the camera.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 200-megapixel wide-angle camera (Apple’s Wide lens is 50 megapixels), a 12-megapixel ultra wide camera (equal to Apple’s), a 10-megapixel 3x telephoto lens, and a 50-megapixel 5x telephoto lens (Apple has a single 12-megapixel Telephoto lens). A higher pixel count equates to a higher resolution for printing and cropping in, but it doesn’t necessarily make for better images because the size of the sensor is more important.

In the sample images, you’ll see that there’s not too much of a difference between the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max and the S24 Ultra. The S24 Ultra is a little bit more saturated and the highlights are brightened, so the S24 images can look brighter in straight from the camera comparisons. The iPhone images tend to be sharper for the most part, but Samsung’s algorithm works well for night mode images.

Samsung primarily focused on AI this year, so the S24 Ultra camera is almost identical to the S23 Ultra camera, but the telephoto lens is a major difference. Samsung ditched its 10x telephoto lens and opted instead for a 5x telephoto lens that more closely matches the 5x telephoto lens on the ‌iPhone‌. Telephoto images are close to the same, but in Portrait mode, Samsung’s photos come out crisper.

There are two telephoto lenses in Samsung’s smartphone, so it supports up to 10x optical zoom, and Samsung has long had the edge when it comes to digital zoom. The S24 Ultra can zoom in up to 100x, and while the ‌iPhone‌’s digital zoom is good, it’s not able to zoom in to that level.

On the topic of AI, Samsung added some AI-supported features for post processing. You can use generative fill to remove objects from images and change the crop, cut down on noise with remastering, add slow motion to any video, and record with both the front and rear-facing cameras at the same time. We may see camera-related AI additions on the iPhone 16 models or in iOS 18, but for now, Samsung has the edge when it comes to fun AI-based tools.

No smartphone is able to measure up to the ‌iPhone‌ when it comes to video quality because of its stabilization and resolution, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the closest competitor, and it has an edge when it comes to microphone quality. The S24 Ultra’s microphone has great noise isolation and clarity, and the Cinematic mode looks nice, though Samsung’s Cinematic mode overdoes it on the blur. 4K video is supported at 30 and 60fps, but not 24fps, which is problematic for those who want to shoot high-quality 24fps video. On ‌iPhone‌, there is a setting for recording 4K video at 24fps.

As smartphone cameras get better and better, it gets more difficult to distinguish which smartphone takes superior images. Both the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max and the Galaxy Ultra S24 take excellent quality pictures, and it’s impossible to pick an overall winner. We think these cameras are about on par.

Samsung and Apple are using different algorithms and processing for image capture and to make pictures look sharper in lower light, so you’ll see some differences in brightness, white balance, saturation, and similar parameters, and “better” becomes a matter of preference.

Which images do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.
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