Galaxy S21 Ultra triumphs with a very narrow win in our blind camera comparison

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Galaxy S21 Ultra triumphs with a very narrow win in our blind camera comparison
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the latest and greatest phone to come out of Samsung's conveyor belt. We've already compared its main and selfie cameras against the venerable Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the Google Pixel 5. You can check out the comparisons right below to check out for yourselves, but the consensus is that the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a welcome improvement over last year's Galaxy S20 series and stacks very well against its top competitors.

But what is your take on the Galaxy S21 Ultra's camera prowess? Can you spot which of the photos below have been taken on Samsung's new pride and glory? We've taken some pictures with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Note 20 Ultra, Pixel 5, and iPhone 12 Pro Max in a variety of lighting scenarios. All the pictures in the galleries can be zoomed and inspected to your desire, but rest assured that no EXIF data is present, so playing dirty won't yield you any gains here.

Read more:

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
9.1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


The Good

  • The longest, cleanest zoom on a phone, and most versatile camera set
  • The best battery life in its class
  • Brightest display with the most granular adaptive refresh rate
  • Stylish Contour Cut design and richer variety of colors
  • Unique 12-bit color RAW capture at 108MP
  • S Pen stylus support
  • Next-gen Wi-fi 6E standard support

The Bad

  • Still big and bulky to carry and use, especially with an S Pen case on
  • $1200 gets you just 128GB, no charger, earbuds, or memory card slot
  • The new ultrasonic finger scanner is still comparatively slow
  • Softness in the main camera sample edges

Scene 1: Playground



It seems that the iPhone has won your hearts in our first scene, leaving Android's finest behind.

Which photo do you like best?

A - iPhone 12 Pro Max
38.08%
B - Google Pixel 5
21.23%
C - Galaxy S21 Ultra
26.38%
D - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
14.31%

Scene 2: 3X zoom



When it comes to zooming, the Galaxy S21 Ultra crushes the competition and wins with an overwhelming vote.

Which photo do you like best?

E - Galaxy S21 Ultra
52.74%
F - iPhone 12 Pro Max
21.55%
G - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
7.71%
H - Google Pixel 5
18%

Scene 3: Rainbow girl



This one is a toss up between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Pixel 5. And rightly so, as both photos look great!

Which photo do you like best?

I - Google Pixel 5
30.15%
J - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
21.7%
K - iPhone 12 Pro Max
29.42%
L - Galaxy S21 Ultra
18.73%

Scene 4: Sunset



This beautiful sunset scene goes to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but the rest of the phones have done a mighty fine job and share the remaining votes quite evenly.

Which photo do you like best?

M - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
27.21%
N - Galaxy S21 Ultra
36.22%
O - Google Pixel 5
18.16%
P - iPhone 12 Pro Max
18.41%


Scene 5: Storefront



The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has done a commendable job in this particular scene, beating the iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Which photo do you like best?

Q - Galaxy S21 Ultra
21.12%
R - Google Pixel 5
21.19%
S - iPhone 12 Pro Max
19.35%
T - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
38.34%

Scene 6: Toy



I was certain the Pixel 5 will win this one as it captured an excellent photo. There's no way of you knowing that, but it also got the colors just right, unlike its competitors. Great job, folks.

Which photo do you like best?

U - Google Pixel 5
54.52%
V - iPhone 12 Pro Max
17.27%
W - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
8.03%
X - Galaxy S21 Ultra
20.18%

Scene 7: Night mode #1



Surprisingly to me, the Note 20 Ultra overwhelmingly gets this round. Personally, my preferences are in Galaxy S21 Ultra's favor, but vox populi, vox dei.

Which photo do you like best?

Y - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
53.59%
Z - Google Pixel 5
11.66%
A1 - Galaxy S21 Ultra
30.78%
B2 - iPhone 12 Pro Max
3.98%

Scene 8: Night mode #2



Android's finest steal this round from the iPhone, and you seem to like the Galaxy S21 Ultra the most in this specific scenario. Personally, I'd go with the Pixel 5, but both photos are excellent.

Which photo do you like best?

C3 - Galaxy S21 Ultra
38.29%
D4 - iPhone 12 Pro Max
4.08%
E5 - Google Pixel 5
28.83%
F6 - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
28.8%

Scene 9: Night mode #3



When the scene is better lit and tons of artificial light is involved, the iPhone does a much, much better job. This seems to be the general consensus here.

Which photo do you like best?

K11 - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
23.36%
L12 - Google Pixel 5
17.33%
M13 - iPhone 12 Pro Max
39.88%
N14 - Galaxy S21 Ultra
19.44%

Scene 10: Selfie



Once again, despite people liking more realistic selfies, the iPhone's slightly warmer and more vivid auto-portraits win the popular vote.

Which photo do you like best?

G7 - Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
17.01%
H8 - Galaxy S21 Ultra
12.16%
I9 - Google Pixel 5
29.8%
J10 - iPhone 12 Pro Max
41.02%

Final results


To sum it up:

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra - 27.6%
Google Pixel 5 - 25.1%
Samsung Note 20 Ultra - 24%
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max - 23.3%

That's a pretty close win by the new Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it's worth noting that all votes are quite even and spread evenly among the phones we've tested in this here blind comparison. There's a pretty logical reason explanation: all phones we've tested have great cameras and are unlikely to disappoint you. Of course, as evident by the results, some perform more appealing to most people in specific situations, but overall, any of these devices will be an admirable photography sidekick.

Related phones

Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Display 6.8 inches 3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 108 MP (Quad camera) 40 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 5000 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI
iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Display 6.7 inches 2778 x 1284 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3687 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
Pixel 5

PhoneArena Score:

8.7

User Score:

8.7
  • Display 6.0 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Dual camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4080 mAh
  • OS Android 11
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Display 6.9 inches 3088 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 108 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI

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