Blind Photo Test: Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max – The Verdict from 10 iPhone Users

Mwahahaha! Here I am perpetuating the “Android vs. iPhone” debate with yet another blind test with iPhone users, allowing me to establish whether iDevice owners genuinely favor their own phone for photos.

Previously, I initiated a blind test with the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 8 Pro. The iPhone participants in that test favored Android for zoomed-in photos, but when it came to wide and ultra-wide shots, Apple seized the throne.

Now that I possess the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, I was eager to conduct another blind-test with iPhone users yet again.

SEE ALSO:
iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: What are the differences?

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. iPhone 15 Pro Max photos

I brought the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max with me to Columbus Circle in New York City over the weekend. I tested both phones’ wide and telephoto capabilities — and even their night mode prowess.

U.S.S. Maine National Monument (wide)

I captured photos of the U.S.S. Maine National Monument, which features a golden female figure inside a chariot.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 200MP ultra-wide camera while the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 48MP wide lens. The Samsung phone appears to have more muscle in this showdown, but despite the iPhone being seemingly out-equipped, the iDevice won participants’ hearts.

U.S.S. Maine National Monument wide shot

Left:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Granted, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s capture is more authentic, accurately replicating the wintry scene’s dreary, bleak ambiance. (Trust me; I was there.) However, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s wide camera, alongside the software, enlivened the setting, delivering better dynamic range and richer colors.

Observe the sky, too. The iPhone 15 Pro Max renders more clouds in its photo compared to the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Champion: iPhone 15 Pro Max

U.S.S. Maine National Monument (Night)

I also captured wide shots of the U.S.S. Maine National Monument at night.

U.S.S. Maine National Monument at night

Left:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Although the Galaxy S24 Ultra does a better job at keeping lens flare at bay and maintaining the trees’ wiry definition, the iPhone 15 Pro Max outperformed the Samsung device in capturing the weathered details on the monument’s steps.

The colors on the Apple phone are richer, too. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the scene’s natural hues, which are less striking in real life, but the richer tones caught participants’ eyes.

Champion: iPhone 15 Pro Max

Columbus Circle Globe and Magnolia Bakery cake (3x telephoto)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 12MP telephoto camera, which is ideal for portraits and zoomed-in shots, with up to 5x optical zoom.

Magnolia Bakery display cake

Left:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, the new kid on the block, Galaxy S24 Ultra, has two telephoto cameras; one is a new 50MP telephoto with 5x zoom and the other remains the same (i.e., 10MP with 3x zoom).

The last-generation Samsung phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, had two telephoto cameras, too, boasting a 10MP telephoto with 10x zoom and another 10MP telephoto with 3x zoom.

Some fans were up in arms about Samsung “downgrading” the 10x zoom to 5x zoom, but Samsung hinted that the new 50MP lens should compensate for the optical zoom range “downgrade.”

Columbus Circle Globe

Left:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

At 3x zoom, I took photos of both the iconic Columbus Circle globe and a display cake inside Magnolia Bakery near Central Park South.

Participants again favored the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s shot. It’s crisper, sharper, richer, and preserves more color. The globe photo is particularly striking; the iPhone 15 Pro Max seems to be better at rendering textures. You can almost sense the small indentations that appear on the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s photo.

Champion: iPhone 15 Pro Max

Flowers (10x zoom)

By some miracle, I stumbled upon some flowers in the thick of New York City winter. However, I had to step inside a Manhattan pizzeria to find them.

I decided to test both phones’ capabilities at handling 10x zoom. Keep in mind that the optical zoom for the Galaxy S24 Ultra maxes out at 10x before the software kicks in. For the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the cap is 5x.

Flowers taken with S24 Ultra

Left:
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Here is where the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s fortunes start to change for the better. Participants in this blind test favored the Galaxy S24 Ultra here. And I don’t blame ’em. The zoomed-in shot is sharper and more detailed, delivering less noise. The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s software is overcompensating, making the flowers excessively pink.

Champion: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Concluding Thoughts

The iPhone-owning participants in this test favored the iPhone 15 Pro Max, making it the victor of this blind test.

However, when it comes to zooming in really close, respondents favored the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Fifteen iPhone-owning co-workers, colleagues, and friends participated in this blind test, but only 10 were valid as five failed to vote on all five photos.

UPDATE: Jan. 23, 2024, 11:43 p.m. EST Photos replaced with side-by-side format for easier comparative analysis for readers. Plus, first photos are wide photos, not ultrawide.

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