Condé Nast use iPhone 7 Plus for magazine cover shoots. Why not Galaxy S8+?

Imagine being hired for a fancy photo-shoot for a magazine cover, let’s say. That would be cool! Imagine turning up at the shooting location, models waiting for you, lights on and all, and you pull out your iPhone and go “Ok, everyone, let’s do this!”.

That’s what photographers for Condé Nast experienced at the photo-shoots of the May covers for ‘Traveler’ and ‘Bon Appétit’ magazines. The covers look absolutely stunning! The photo-shoot was done by a husband and wife couple, known as Peden + Munk, and inspired by the link between photography and travel. The idea being that travelling with an iPhone 7-like gadget is more convenient and does not take away from the quality of your snaps. Those guys…

We couldn’t help but ask why didn’t they use a Samsung Galaxy S8+. It only makes sense that the newer, the better, right? However, we recently compared the cams of the best available flagships, and, honestly, we probably would have chosen iPhone 7 Plus for this specific photo-shoot, too. Here’s why.

What are you shooting? 

We don’t really pick our smartphones based on the type and set of photos that we are going to take. We are more concerned about bling-bling looks and price. Looking for a phone with just a "good camera" is the same like looking for a smartphone to make calls - you must consider what shooting environment you aim for, in order to have the results you expect from your phone's cam. 

In the case of Condé Nast, those guys apparently took pics out in the Mexican sun (Oaxaca, to be precise), and at the beach – outdoor places with lots of light, natural colors and a minimum of shade. Both covers required strong contrast capabilities, even though the color transitions on the ‘Traveler’ cover are a lot smoother.

In our cameras comparison, iPhone 7 Plus certainly excelled in settings with abundant light, showed sharp contrasts and plainly delivered superb image quality. 

iPhone 7 Plus cam vs Samsung Galaxy S8+ cam

Both phones deliver the same aspect ratio and resolution, so that’s not a point of debate. However, iPhone’s cam features a slightly smaller sensor and smaller pixels than the new Galaxy flagship. Samsung has also improved the image processing aspect of shots you take, which digitally clears blur in pics. Sometimes too much, though, giving photos a slightly artificial look.

Samsung does have a good touch on photo processing algorithms that will separate colors and shapes better than your eye. However, like we said above –it’s more important what you are shooting than what you are shooting it with. 

Why sometimes iPhone takes richer pics?

The duo of 12MP lenses on iPhone 7 Plus can pull off some tricks that the 3-photo comparison on S8 just can’t quite attain, in terms of optical quality. Yes, in low and indirect light, iPhone lacks the richness in image that the Galaxy produces, but in abundant light, the optical zoom can produce some true masterpieces. And covers of magazines, apparently.

Notice how both magazine covers have solid focus on a large primary object that fills most of the composition? Notice how the woman’s colorful attire blends smoothly with the deep blue background; and how the boat’s red rim naturally transits into bland sand colors? Even though the sensor takes in less light than that of S8+, the optical rendering delivers superior natural looks, with well-balanced, but sharp shading.

Where Samsung’s digital processing would worry about pixel noise, and thus create some weirdly looking edges, iPhone’s optics would blend lines so well, that you’d have to wonder whether Photoshop played a part. Had a Galaxy S8+ been used in place of iPhone 7 Plus, the left rim of the ice-cream might have had a much sharper, darker pink depth line. When zoomed, the red rim on the boat probably would have had a vague, but very real, hue of a handful of pixels, garbage of digital rendering. 

A new era of photography

$2000 DSLRS are making room for much cheaper artworks of technology, in the face of some truly magnificent pieces of smartphone cameras. Condé Nast’s choice to use an iPhone for the shoot of covers for its magazines is not a novelty, as last year’s Culture issue was also shot by iPhones. The trend is here to last. And why not?

Samsung certainly takes its cam game to a next level with the Galaxy S8. The phone does really well in low-light conditions and when shooting moving objects, thanks to state of the art image processing that chooses the best out of three possible variants for your snapshot.
However, when light is not an issue, and shooting a close-up or portraits, iPhone 7 Plus has more on offer than you would think, considering its “age”. Even though the sensor and the pixels on iPhone are smaller than the ones on Galaxy S8, the 7 Plus benefits strongly from its optical prowess. Images look natural, colours are full, zoom mode is fun. We just can’t wait for Apple’s next flagship to make a splash later this year. It will be interesting to see whether the folks at Cupertino will bet on the double-lens plan again, as it proved to be a winner in the last iPhone.

Related phones

iPhone 8 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2691 mAh(21h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S8+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(24h 3G talk time)



1. bucky

Posts: 3790; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I've said it from the beginning, each camera has its strengths. I like the zoom in detail of the galaxy, the contrast of the g6 and the colours and video of the iPhone.

11. Unordinary unregistered

The colors in that river shot are f**king horrendous. I agree.

23. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Nice all around post!

33. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

but the answer for this particular case is obvious.. because they didnt have S8, it's still not shipped yet by now.. or another possible reason, because apple sponsored this magazine.. that cover isn't too demanding anyway, they can use any 2016's flagship, did some editing and no one can tell the difference

37. steodoreben

Posts: 379; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

PA: Condé Nast use iPhone 7 Plus for magazine cover shoots. Why not Galaxy S8+? Me: duh! Samsung just recently released their Galaxy S8 smartphone. The photographers have their iPhone 7 for months. Who would have thought buying a new phone when you already have one.

2. manojmcn

Posts: 634; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

The cameras of the top 3-4 flagship mobiles are equally good, with a few plus minus here and there. The main difference is the person standing a few cms behind operating it. Eg: Phone Arena battery test can show disappointing stats for S7 Edge, when the entire tech world certifies very high endurance.The lesson - An idiot can make any big technology look crap.

28. brazuca

Posts: 26; Member since: Dec 12, 2016

About the battery test, wouldn't it be because the S7 Edge tested used a Snapdragon 820 instead of an Exynos SoC?

32. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Not really as we see on Anandtech and Phonescoop that it's not all that bad either way.

34. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

no, it's simply because PA's battery test is terrible

3. kumar1234 unregistered

Galaxy phone's camera produce unrealistic and fake looking photos whereas iPhone produce pleasant and natural looking photos. iPhone camera is better than Galaxy camera and one of the reason most professional photographer prefer iPhone over galaxy phone.

9. SaRPeR

Posts: 147; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

You'r wrong. One of the world's best photographer chosed S6 Edge+ and both the S7/Edge and S8/S8+ are better than that.

12. Unordinary unregistered

Except he's not. Everyone knows that the iPhone has the most accurate colors when compared to a galaxy. Everyone knows the Galaxy's results are altered and manipulated to give a better image.

21. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1079; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

It's called Pro Mode on the Galaxy devices, you can adjust settings for a better color. If you're a professional photographer and using Auto mode on your camera, which the above pictures are using.... you are not a professional

24. peace247 unregistered

Ikr... Professional and auto? Thats like using automatic gears in formula 1. Iphone camera is the most overrated camera. Every protog use iphone bcos duh its a fashion statement. That thing compliment their wealth.

25. peace247 unregistered

Ikr... Professional and auto? Thats like using automatic gears in formula 1. Iphone camera is the most overrated camera. Every protog use iphone cos duh its a fashion statement. It compliments their wealth.

40. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Horrendous nonsense, since there is nothing accurate about a yellow veil to fake golden hours in every shot and end up with people looking like they have a liver disease. The average deviation in colors is actually measurably worse on iPhones. Let's not mistake marketing for proof of quality. If you want acurate colors, you shoot RAW, forget the fluffy talk in this article, based on assumptions, fallacies and stuff irrelevant for RAW shooters (most professionals).

27. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

That's funny. I agree somewhat that the Galaxy takes pictures that in many cases are unrealistic, but they still look way better than the washed out iPhone photos. When you watch the Samsung Unpacked event for the S6, every video they played and every photo they showed was shot with the phone. It amazing how their photos and videos look absolutely stunning, and yet when end users use them, they look different. But here is where the Galaxy is 100% better...SETTINGS. I don't personally understand what all the camera settings mean, but at least the Galaxy does give you the option to make adjustments if you know what you are doing and understand what each option does to the sensor. The iPhone doesn't even allow you to change anything, not even the photos actual resolution. You are forced to take the picture at the highest resolution every single time. Based on my usage of the Galaxy, the phone IMO takes better pictures at 1080p than it does at QHD or UHD an higher. Videos also seem to come out better at 1080p, but I have gotten some very sharp ones at QHD. But I can say with a certainty, when a person uses a s4|tty camera for a long time, their eye get use to that s4|tty crappy photo production and they think it look loads better. IPhone pictures are always yellow toned, which ruins any shade of red green or blue, and they are more noisy vs the Galaxy as well. The Galaxy makes reds to punchy, green way to green, but the blues come out really well. But at least you can adjust the Galaxy for pictures that look more realistic which you can'ton any iPhone. Apple thinks they know whats best for its user and not allow those who have the ability to make changes the option to do so. Yet they claim they believe in choice!

4. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Simon closely monitoring comment section. Words that kill any valialbe journalism "... produce some true masterpieces." . Rise of the courtesan.

5. AmashAziz

Posts: 2931; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

You say the image from S8 of the woods is natural looking? If I say what I percieve would have been the actual image, the iPhone clearly has the more natural-looking image with great dynamic range, better colours,and the sky can easily be told apart from the clouds. That said, the exposure seems to be better than the S8. However, that's what I percieve would have been the actual scene. If someone thinks the image from S8 is more realistic, then that's their own opinion. I am totally fine with it.

19. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

I agree. The iPhone pic of the wooded scene is much more natural and realistic looking. Ive been hunting and playing in woods since I was a lil kid. The tree trunks and grass and all that don't look that bright. The tree trunk in the left foreground looks much more realistic in the iPhone pic. The S8 pic is too bright. I do however think the water looks better in the S8 picture.

6. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1575; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Considering my S7 is absolute garbage compared to my Nikon, I can't believe professionals are using an iPhone for a photo shoot.

16. bucky

Posts: 3790; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

If i were a professional i wouldn't use a phone either but nowadays its all in the software afterwards.

7. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

This could make a run for the dumbest article ever on PA. First off.. you assume through the entire article that the photo was shot and sent right in for publishing. "Had a Galaxy S8+ been used in place of iPhone 7 Plus, the left rim of the ice-cream might have had a much sharper, darker pink depth line." and "maybe photoshop played a part" Ya think!?! I can assure you that there is NO WAY that this photo wasn't processed in photoshop, or some other tool. Skipping it in publishing just doesn't happen, unless it was a specfic "no retouching!" assignment. This photo was more than likely color corrected for the publisher, sharpened, softened, manipulated on whatever manner the photog and publisher wanted for the magazine. Again - stupid article.

15. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

*shows a doll* Show us where phoneArena touched you and we'll provide therapy.

8. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Ha ha it is amazing how low iphonearena can go. It is so pathetic, it is beyond anything.....

17. bucky

Posts: 3790; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

you could always leave you know.

10. Talhamid

Posts: 61; Member since: Jun 13, 2009

Oh, easy answer: All those Apple dollars have to go somewhere, especially magazines, which shoot crappy covers and make a news out of it, to be reported by "tech sites' like PA, which in turn entices more readers to think that iPhone is the best, so they line up like lemmings to buy them, providing more money to Apple, which again pays review sites (such as PA) and magazines to pretend that nothing but iPhone is worthy, which.... you get the idea

14. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

Dude, if you're sick of this websites, I suggest you move to somewhere else like Android Authority. The only reason you and some people are heated up is because your egos can't take a jackass without Apple being mentioned.

13. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

How could they use a Galaxy 8+ when it isn't even out for another two days?

18. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

,'We couldn’t help but ask why didn’t they use a Samsung Galaxy S8+' Maybe because it's not even out yet.

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