Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Pixel 6 Pro: Camera Comparison

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The Galaxy S22 Ultra looks and feels like a Galaxy Note phone, but if you are the kind of person who mostly cares about the camera, you might be wondering: does it improve over the S21 Ultra? And can it beat the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Pixel 6 Pro, two of the best camera phones out there?

We were eager to find out too and we have already captured hundreds of photos with the Galaxy, the iPhone and the Pixel.

We found some surprising new developments and a new way of processing images on the S22 Ultra, which gives mixed results. But we also realized that the other companies still haven't come up with a good answer for Samsung's 10X zoom camera. We will be looking at all that and more below, so let's get this camera comparison started!

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Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Specs Comparison

The big takeaway here is that Samsung isn't changing much what has worked before in terms of hardware: we have the familiar 108MP main camera sensor, just coupled with an even wider lens than before at 23mm. All the rest is familiar stuff, the ultra-wide, the 3X zoom, and 10X zoom periscope all share the same DNA with the S21 Ultra from last year.

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We do miss having such a periscope zoom lens on the other two phones, it's one obvious disadvantage. But let's take a look at the photos, shall we?

Main Camera

Look at a few samples above and it becomes clear that Samsung now goes for this much brighter look on almost all photos. And we’re not sure we like it! Just look at some of the brighter spots in images, they look almost burned out, and images from the Galaxy are on the verge of being overexposed, while the other phones are more balanced.

And take a closer look at details like the tree branches, they are oversharpened to the point they get a little halo around them, which just doesn’t look good.

Not only that, with this new even wider Samsung lens you lose detail around the edges of photos, while it’s all way cleaner on the other two phones. You might not notice it on your phone screen but look at the pictures on a laptop or zoom in, and it is noticeable.

All of that doesn’t sit right with us, and calls for an urgent update from Samsung. As it is currently, we are actually a bit disappointed with the Ultra, but let us know in the comments if you feel the same way.

Adaptive Pixel: the new Hi-Res mode

Samsung has always allowed you to capture a full-res 108MP photo with a click of a button in the camera app, but this time it has gone beyond with what it calls Adaptive Pixel. This new technology automatically merges a full sensor image with a pixel-binned photo (that is usually brighter), so 108MP snaps at night no longer have to suffer.

Well, we looked at a crop and compared just the level of detail from the default pixel-binned camera mode vs 108MP and... yeah, the difference is very noticeable, so it's definitely worth shooting 108MP, just don't forget that each file tends to end up at 20MB or even 30MB. 

Ultra-wide Camera

Comparing the ultra-wide cameras, you see the same thing as with the main camera: slightly overexposed photos with very aggressive sharpening on the Galaxy, and again, highlights are often burned out, so this is not quite the camera improvement we were hoping for.

We ought to mention that the Pixel barely qualifies for this round: it technically does have an ultra-wide camera, but it's not nearly as wide as what you get on the other two.

Zoom Quality

The Ultra is still the undisputed zoom champion. Going to 10X zoom really shows the big advantage the Galaxy has over the competition: the level of detail, the colors, everything looks better on the Galaxy. It's worth noting how the camera also stays less shaky, and it’s just easier to shoot 10X, 20X and beyond with it.

The Pixel is also a surprisingly capable shooter, making the most of its 4X periscope lens that still stretches itself to produce good-looking shots at 10X zoom. And the iPhone… well, it should not even be in the zoom conversation.

Portrait Mode

If you read our previous camera comparison with the OnePlus 10 Pro, you probably already know how we feel about portrait mode on the Pixel 6 Pro: it's disappointing to say the least.

So it's no surprise that the Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone capture far better looking portrait photos. Samsung, however, has promised that it can now recognize even individual strands of hair and separates them accurately from the background. We did not have a curly model or pets to test this yet (coming soon, though!), but in the portraits above you can see that the Galaxy indeed does a commendable job with excellent subject separation and colors.

It's a close call between the Galaxy and the iPhone, but we'd actually give the edge to the Galaxy and don't forget that you can also use the 10X camera as a kind of a portrait mode that also gives you great results!


You have a close-up or a wider view selfie on all three phones, but the Pixel can wider than the rest, which is very helpful for those group shots or if you want to capture more of the background.

Interestingly, the Galaxy has developed a new warmer look and often times it takes it to the extreme so colors appear way too orange. The iPhone has its own fair share of issues with pale skin tones and detail that is often missing, which leaves the Pixel as the dominant phone as it captures the most natural and detailed look in selfies.

Night camera comparison

The night shots we took with the Galaxy showed improvement from previous models, and we'd say they often looked on par or better than the iPhone, which occasionally erred with brighter lights at night.

Still, we'd say that the Pixel had an edge over the other two, it just captured the cleaner shot with more detailed and the one that looked best balance. Too bad that the camera app is just so incredibly slow capturing a photo at night, but if you wait, the results you get are worth it.


So is the Galaxy S22 Ultra that big leap that would elevate Samsung above and beyond iPhones and Pixels?

Well, if you have read our thoughts above, you might get a bit of a sour aftertaste. The S22 Ultra is certainly an excellent camera, but often times it seems to be way to aggressive with the processing as photos turn out oversharpened and a bit overexposed. It almost seems like colors aren't as vibrant on the Galaxy as they are on the iPhone and the Pixel, especially during the day.

Of course, the Galaxy still rules supreme when it comes to zoom quality, and unless the other companies come up with a longe-range zoom sensor, we're not sure how they will catch up in that area. Overall, we enjoyed using the Galaxy camera, we just expected a bit more, but we will continue testing it over the next few weeks and giving you occasional updates.

Meanwhile, let us know your thoughts: which phone do you think won this camera comparison? And why? 

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