Galaxy Note 10+ barely snags victory against iPhone XS Max and Pixel 3 in camera comparison

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The Galaxy Note 10+ is the hottest release this season, and while its camera is almost identical to that of the Galaxy S10, this still means it's an absolute high-performer.

You know how we are, guys – a new flagship comes, we just can't help but stage a heated camera comparison. And we know you love these fun little shoot-outs, which is why we've made sure to bring you one featuring the Note 10+ faster than anyone else in the galaxy.

This is a three-way camera comparison between the absolute finest pocket cameras: the Galaxy Note 10+, iPhone XS Max and the Pixel 3, and we've prepared some awesome scenes for you to enjoy. Can it get any better than this? No? That's what we thought. Let's go!


SCENE 1: GRAND MASTER V


scores (1-10)

A man known by many names. On his passport, it says Victor Hristov. On YouTube, he's better known as Vic Christoph. And God only knows what the hot senoritas he dances his salsa with call him! Being the writer and coproducer of this beautiful camera comparison, I'll allow myself to add one more name to the list: Grand Master V! No idea how he feels about it; guess I'll find out on Monday.

The Galaxy Note 10+, being the central figure in this comparison, makes a strong debut by taking the first round! It offers the best definition, richest colors and most pleasurable exposure of the three participating phones. The iPhone XS Max is a close second, being pretty solid itself, but it's photo is just a little bit muted, compared to that of the Note 10+. A very close third is the Pixel 3, which delivers almost identical result to the XS Max, but ever so slightly duller.


SCENE 2: "$10 IF YOU STOP IT WHILE WE'RE AT THE TOP"




The great thing about Ferris wheels is that whatever happens up there, stays there. Remember that, folks.

Pretty much the same observations as in Scene 1 are valid here. The Note 10+ keeps the lead with rich colors and spot-on exposure. Then comes the iPhone XS Max, and then the Pixel 3, each of which toning things down somewhat (for no apparent reason). All three phones have done a good job with the HDR processing, but the Note 10+ excels.


SCENE 3: HEARTBREAKER




While his friends refer to him as Rado, ladies typically call him 'Yes, sir', for some odd reason. Probably the result of spectacular upbringing.

This turns out to be a relatively easy win for the iPhone XS Max – it has captured the most balanced and in-your-face portrait shot of the three. The Note 10+ comes close in terms of color reproduction, but is just too hazy. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 has come up with artificial-looking colors and bokeh that is just too fake to take seriously. No to mention that its lack of a telephoto camera is evident in the proportions, which are decent, but not entirely correct.


SCENE 4: INFINITY GARDEN




"Man's capacity for destruction is only rivaled by man's capacity to create beauty in the world." – the Heartbreaker

Scene 4 is the first scene where the Pixel managed to edge out the competition by delivering the most well-rounded picture. The dreamy, slightly overemphasized flowers actually work to the benefit of the whole composition. The Note 10+ is not bad as well, although we aren't necessarily fans of the colder profile it's preferred here. The iPhone XS Max decided to hurl itself to the opposite spectrum, churning out an overly warm picture. Deceivingly warm.

SCENE 5: "I'M NOT SHORT; HE'S TOO TALL"




What we observe here is Einstein's theory of general relativity in full effect. There is no such thing as short, tall, skinny, fat, dumb, or smart. Everything is relative, there's always a bigger fish in the sea! For example, we could make a case that Vic is taller than me, but on the other hand, I'm taller than....... you know what, forget it. Lamest theory ever!

Ladies and gents, it's a scientifically proven fact that selfie cameras on smartphones suck. They are too wide, distort your perfectly shaped head and make you look like a banana. True, we may be sharing 60% of our genes with the yellow fella, but still! That's why we'd congratulate the Pixel 3 for having a working portrait mode for selfies. Take a look at the three photos and you'll find dramatic differences between the proportions. Initially,  the pics from the Note 10+ and XS Max may look alright. But then you look at the Pixel's photo and tears begin to flow, as you realize that all this time, we've been doing selfies wrong.

SCENE 6: BELLA FIGURA




You've got to give it to Italians: they may be making the crappiest cars on the planet, but they sure have the best food!

We can't really pick a winner between the Galaxy Note 10+ and the iPhone XS Max here – there doesn't seem to be any meaningful differences in this scene. The Pixel 3, however, has botched things by underexposing and making everything more yellow than it needs to be.

SCENE 7: MOONWALK




So Vic and I are just strolling around in the evening, looking for great scenes to capture for the camera comparison. A gentle summer breeze casually cooling our ripped bodies. And all of a sudden – a breathtaking view of the bright, clear moon over the sea. At that moment, it dawned on us: we're just two apex predators on top of this world.

Both the Galaxy Note 10+ and Apple iPhone XS Max performed respectably in these less than ideal conditions, with the iPhone bringing in the faster and cleaner results. The photo from the Pixel 3, on the other hand, is too lo-fi. It's needlessly yellow and noisy.

SCENE 8: SUMMER VIBES




While we were busy conquering the world, others were chilling out at the beach, socializing and having fun. Oh well, you know what they say – it's lonely at the top!

The Galaxy Note 10+ is killing it here with well-balanced colors and decent, realistic exposure of the scene. The iPhone XS Max has managed to keep up with the colors part, but its photo has turned out a bit darker. The Pixel 3? Well, you can see the orange results for yourselves.

SCENE 9: V IS FOR VICIOUSLY HANDSOME




Here's the thing, guys: there is handsome, and then there's viciously handsome. There's nothing wrong with regular handsome, but if you want to be a Grand Master or a Heartbreaker, you've got to step your game up! And as with most things in life, it all starts with a magnetic selfie.

The Pixel 3 has solidified itself as the ultimate selfie machine. Here again, it's made the most with what little light was available on the spot. It's produced a perfectly usable selfie with pleasant color and exposure. The iPhone XS Max is not bad at all, but it's obviously darker than ideal. Finally, the Note 10+ is brightly lit, but there's a bit of a watercolor vibe to it that fails to present the subject in the best possible light. Think of the hundreds of likes you're going to miss out on because of this.


FINAL SCORES



Well, that's it, folks. We've reached the end of the comparison, and now all that's left is to look at the final scores.

Keep in mind that as with most other camera comparisons, these scores reflect the performance of the cameras in these particular scenes. They don't necessarily mean one camera is 100% better than the others. With that said, the ratings seem quite revealing.

What they reveal is that all three cameras are insanely great! However, what we also found this time is that the Pixel 3 stumbled a bit in some of the scenes, typically by returning overly warm colors and suspiciously low exposure. We're telling you, guys, those algorithms can be too smart for their own good sometimes!

The Galaxy Note 10+ tended to outperform its competitors most of the time, although not by much, which we think the final scores illustrate with stunning accuracy. Almost without error, it delivered a tasty balance of rich colors, crunchy definition and eye-watering exposure. The close second, the iPhone XS Max, remains the fastest and easiest camera to use if you just want great results with zero understanding of the whole photographic process. It has the occasional underexposed or overly warm shot, but most of the time it's spot on.

What's your take on this comparison? How would you rank the three rivals? Share your opinion in the comments!


Related phones

Galaxy Note10+
  • Display 6.8 inches
    3040 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Quad camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
    12GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4300 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI
iPhone XS Max
  • Display 6.5 inches
    2688 x 1242 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A12 Bionic
    4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3179 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
Pixel 3
  • Display 5.5 inches
    2160 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Single camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
    4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2915 mAh
  • OS Android 11

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