Here's how the triple camera on the Galaxy S10+ compares vs iPhone, Note 9, and LG V40

Here's how the triple camera on the Galaxy S10+ compares vs iPhone, Note 9, and LG V40
Yesterday was Samsung's big day. At the highly anticipated Unpacked event, the company unveiled its latest flagship smartphones – the Galaxy S10 series – while journalists and nerds like us got to try them for the first time. In fact, we had the privilege to walk away with one.

Yup, we have a Samsung Galaxy S10+, and we've been playing with it for the past 24 hours. We've been testing the performance of its processor, the smoothness of its One UI, and the quality of its edge-to-edge display, among other things. We also took it outside for a camera shootout against some of its biggest rivals, and these are our initial impressions.

The triple camera on the Galaxy S10+ can be super useful

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ comes with three cameras at the back. One has a standard field of view – and is also the camera you're most likely to use throughout the day. The second cam has a 2x zoom telephoto lens, meaning that you can bring your subject closer without noticeable loss in quality – just like on the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S9+, for instance. And the third cam is a new one for the S line – a super wide-angle shooter with a GoPro-like angle of view. 

Needless to say, having three different camera perspectives can be of great use to both novice and experienced photographers. While the secondary telephoto and super wide-angle cameras have certain limitations, including poorer low-light performance compared to the main cam, they can be super useful in tricky situations. This puts the Galaxy S10+ ahead of the Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max, both of which have only a standard and a telephoto camera. The V40 is more or less on par with the S10+ in terms of versatility as LG's top-tier model has a nearly identical triple camera setup.

Here's how these four phones and their cameras perform:

Live Focus portrait images don't look any better

In fact, they may have gotten slightly worse. Portrait mode was popularized by the iPhone 7 Plus, which had a second 2x zoom telephoto camera designed with portraits in mind while software algorithms added blur to the area behind the subject. Samsung's answer to this feature came with the Galaxy Note 8. Live Focus, as Samsung called its implementation, also used a dedicated telephoto cam for taking portraits. And they looked great! This is how Live Focus works on the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 as well.

On the Galaxy S10+, however, Live Focus uses the main camera instead of the telephoto one. Why is this a bad thing? Well, the optical properties of such cameras make them more suitable for taking portraits: they have less distortion and a more narrow field of view, drawing the attention of the viewer toward the person being photographed. It's not a difference an untrained eye would notice, but it is definitely there making an impact. 

Here's how Live Focus shots from the Galaxy S10+ compare against portraits from the iPhone XS Max and the Galaxy Note 9, both of which have 2x zoom telephoto cams. We've also thrown in photos taken with the LG V40, which also has a portrait mode but doesn't use its telephoto cam either. 

Colors are bright and vivid. Perhaps too vivid

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ wouldn't be a 2019 flagship without some AI sprinkled on top. Some of that AI goodness is found in its camera app – in the form of an image optimizer feature whose purpose is to detect scenes and tweak camera settings accordingly. All sounds great in theory, but in practice, it appears that Samsung's scene optimizer tends to boost saturation too much in certain situations – when flowers are detected in the scene, for instance. Its rivals are more likely to stick with a more neutral, more natural color representation. But hey, this could be a look you actually like, and if you don't, the scene optimizer can be disabled. Here are some more camera samples from the Galaxy S10+ and its rivals:

Overall image quality is still great, but not dramatically better

After testing the Galaxy S10+'s camera for a day, we'd say that its photos do look great, but if you're already a Note 9 or an iPhone XS Max owner, don't expect to be blown away by the results. Overall, images out of these phones are of very similar quality when looking at aspects like exposure or fine detail. Dynamics range appears to have been improved over the Galaxy Note 9, although what we're seeing could be simply a difference in the image processing software. 

The goal of this quick comparison was to give us a good first look at how the cameras on the Galaxy S10+ compare against those on its rivals and predecessors. While we do need to do further camera testing to give the Galaxy S10+ our final verdict, it does appear to be a very capable shooter. But again, the images we've taken so far suggest that the Galaxy S10+ does not deliver dramatically better image quality over its rivals or predecessors. Its greatest strength so far is its versatility – the broader degree of creative freedom that you get by having three capable cameras at your disposal. We'll be testing the S10+ further in the days to come, so be sure to stick around for more coverage.



1. apple-rulz

Posts: 2195; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

The picture quality between the phones used in the article is all but imperceptible.

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 615; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

In your flower pictures, the iPhone XS Max looks oversaturated compared to the S10+. If you're saying the S10+ is too vivid, the iPhone pics are more than that. Not to mention that the iPhone pictures are FLAT and unrealistic.

16. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

These all phones are not great indoor with people faces

5. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2248; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

The S10+ has contrast issues. It looks way to light it missing shadow detail. So far iPhone is still looking good for last years phone. The Note 9 doesn’t look too shabby either. More cameras doesn’t make it a better camera system or make it a better picture. Software and processing is the key to a great picture.

6. DizzysEat

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 05, 2018

So are reviewers forbidden from taking low light pictures? I can't seem to find any.

18. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Not yet.. All those reviewers will make another article just for low-light, they're trying to milk web traffic from S10's articles as much as they can.

21. Nick_T

Posts: 186; Member since: May 27, 2011

There are several in the very last gallery. Click on the "view more images" button.

8. Boast_Rider

Posts: 535; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

S10 ~ iPhone >> Note 9 >>>>>>>>>> V40. The S10 and iPhone have really good dynamic range, with both of them capturing a lot of shadow and bright areas. The iPhone tends to go with a lot more HDRish look, while the S10 decides to keep more contrasty look. Note 9 does okay, and the V40 looks like trash.

9. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

S10 uses HDR far more frequently than Note 9 does, resulting in slightly more artificial but generally more pleasing photos. It also oversaturates green channel more than Note 9 does, but it looks like WB is spot on all the time. Another thing I noticed is that in low light, images get really muddy and lose all the textures that iPhone XS and V40 record without any issue: is that because of the lens quality or just bad processing? I don't know, but hopefully Samsung will address it in the upcoming updates.


Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

WTF did the V40 do in the portrait image? It looks like it's camera morphed him into some kind of alien/ zombie compared to the rest. Very weak showing by LG (and I'm a loyal LG enthusiast). I'm curious how much better the V40 shots would come out with cstark27's awesome GCAM6 ports...

11. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

The s10+ pictures are great.

12. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

It is really interesting to see changes in colour saturation. Sadly, we can't tell if anything else is different since you do not show us full resolution or provide a decent tool to compare pictures as GSM does.

13. Knownhost

Posts: 109; Member since: Nov 13, 2017

I used a V20 for nearly a year, and I used the wide-angle camera more than the regular. Several phones later, I still miss it and wish my Note 9 had it.

14. Budhainthemood

Posts: 88; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Well, honestly I'm a little disappointed. I expected much more. For me, the battle here is between the Samsung Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max. 10+ is a blunder...

17. M55ikael

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Is it impossible to do a Live Focus (Portrait mode) shot with the telephoto lens? That's a huge mistake if true.

19. talon95

Posts: 1000; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

I agree, should give us the option to do it with either one. I was also hoping for more manual controls. Bulb mode and other pro settings. And I would have liked a 3x zoom.

20. alligator

Posts: 104; Member since: Jan 09, 2016

In the same time, DxOMark says the cameras on this phone are best in class: The selfie shooter is also on top of the list. Who should I believe to?

23. Foxgabanna

Posts: 607; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

To be completely frank with you all the Note 9 and iPhone XS Max Look damn good and the S10 dosent look THAT much better than they do. The iphone XS really stands out when you did the portait shot in the cafe. The note 9 was not far behind.

24. Smithson52

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 27, 2018

Why was the LGV40 in this? If anything you should've had the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, at least it would have been a worthy comparison compared to the rest.


Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

Because Trump says so. Huawei being Chinese, is a threat to national security - so including it would be unpatriotic of course!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.