Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera vs. the iPhone 13 Pro, Pixel 6 Pro

s22-ultra-vs-iphone-13-pro-pixel-6

Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is here, packing the best camera Samsung has ever put into a phone. But how does it stack up against its biggest rivals, the iPhone 13 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro? Samsung’s latest flagship superphone has a potent processor, a big beautiful screen and the S Pen stylus, lifted from the old Galaxy Note range. But it’s also got a hefty camera setup on the back, including a 108-megapixel main sensor as well as a superwide lens and two telephoto lenses offering up to 100x zoom levels. 

The S21 Ultra was already one of our top camera phones, but then so are the iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, both of which can take stunning images in both daylight and at night. So to see which takes the best photos, I have walked an exhausting amount of the streets of Edinburgh to get as many pics as possible to compare. You’re welcome. 

All shots you’ll see here are taken in JPEG with the default camera settings, unless otherwise stated. Let’s dive into our tests.

lamppost-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

lamppost-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

lamppost-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

The iPhone is not off to a good start here with a cold, dark-looking shot that looks much better in the S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro’s shots. There’s little to choose between the two Android images as both shots have great colors and tons of detail. 


Now playing:
Watch this:

Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Goes Head-to-Head with iPhone…



9:21

shopping-normal-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

shopping-normal-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

shopping-normal-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

All three phones have done a solid job at capturing plenty of detail inside this shopping center, but it’s the Galaxy S22 Ultra that’s taken things further by capturing much more highlight detail in the sky outside. Its shot has a much richer blue seen in the roof, without sacrificing any of the tones inside the building. That’s some good HDR work right there. 

shopping-wide-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

shopping-wide-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

shopping-wide-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Switching to the wide lens, the iPhone’s shot hasn’t really changed much with a pretty much empty white sky seen outside. But both the S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro have achieved much more balanced images, with vibrant blue skies on show. 

buildings-normal-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-normal-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-normal-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Moving back outside to this lovely street scene, the difference in colors is particularly evident in the strip of sky above the buildings. The S22 Ultra’s has been given an almost cyan tint, while the iPhone’s is a more natural, vivid blue. The overall exposure and contrast is spot on with all three shots, but for the colors alone I’d give this one a win for the iPhone. 

buildings-wide-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-wide-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-wide-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Shooting with the superwide lenses, the colors are again less natural on the S22 Ultra. I do like the warmer, lighter tones on the building and the road, however. 

buildings-3x-s22-ultra

S22 Ultra, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-3x-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

buildings-4x-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, 4x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

At 3x optical zoom on the S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro, both shots are pin-sharp and packed with detail, but I prefer the iPhone’s deeper tones, particularly on the big green door. The Pixel 6 Pro has a 4x optical zoom, which gives a closer view than the iPhone can manage and I think its shot here is superb, with great exposure and detail. 

buildings-10x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

But the zoom is where the S22 Ultra plays its real trump card, taking its optical zoom right up to 10x and easily beating the reach of its competitors. Here I’ve been able to get much closer into this scene, and while there’s a shift in the colors, I’m impressed with the overall exposure and detail. 

And it really is that zoom that sets the S22 Ultra apart from any of its rivals. It gives you a view that you simply can’t get with the other phones. While you might not want to shoot with it all the time, I really enjoy making use of it sometimes. I’m a photographer myself and having this 10x zoom is the same as carrying a big telephoto zoom with you on a DSLR. It allows you to find totally different compositions in the scene in front of you — ones that your friends with their wide-angle lenses simply won’t be able to capture. 

leith-10x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

I’ve used it here to get this glorious shot overlooking the suburb of Leith, with the snow-capped hills in the background. 

swan-10x-s22-ultra

  Galaxy S22 Ultra, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

And here, to capture this dreamy scape overlooking the city.

crags-10x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

crags-3x-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

crags-4x-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, 4x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

In this view of Edinburgh’s Salisbury Crags, I’ve been able to fill the frame with the rocky outcrop on the S22 Ultra, while the iPhone and Pixel just show the crags as a distant bit of geology. 

princes-normal-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

princes-normal-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

princes-normal-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Then there’s this scene overlooking Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. Very little to choose between the three shots.

princes-10x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

princes-3x-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

princes-4x-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, 4x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

But hitting that zoom lens and the S22 just destroys the competition, giving a glorious up-close view of the towers and turrets that I love so much in this beautiful city. 

Fair to say, then, that the S22 Ultra has impressed me with its zooming abilities. But these are all daylight shots taken when the sun is shining and everything looks gloriously colorful. So what about when the city falls into darkness?

night-boat-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-boat-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-boat-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

The differences between the phones’ regular lenses become a lot more noticeable, for one thing. Both the S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro’s images are plagued by this brown patch toward the bottom of the frame which doesn’t exactly look beautiful, but that’s not an issue on the iPhone’s shot, which is crisp, vibrant and with spot-on colors. 

night-roseleaf-s22-ultra

S22 Ultra, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-roseleaf-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-roseleaf-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

The S22 Ultra has done much better here, with a nicer-looking shot than it managed in that boat scene. It’s got a generally similar color balance and exposure as the iPhone 13 Pro, but zooming right in on those details shows that the iPhone 13 Pro’s shot has better clarity on those tiny night time details. 

night-roseleaf-s22-ultra-100crop

Galaxy S22 Ultra, night mode, standard lens, 100% crop.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-roseleaf-iphone-13-pro-100crop

iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, standard lens, 100% crop.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Whether you’d notice that difference in your everyday shooting is unlikely. But hey, if you’re spending over $1,000 on a phone you’d be right to nitpick things like this. 

night-shore-wide-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22, night mode, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-shore-wide-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-shore-wide-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

None of the phones are great when it comes to ultrawide night shots. Sure, the images are just about bright enough, but the details are much fuzzier than from the regular lenses and there’s a lot more image noise. They’ll probably do in a pinch, but you shouldn’t rely on any of them for truly captivating wide-angle night time images. 

night-shore-3x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, night mode, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-shore-3x-iphone-13-pro

iPhone 13 Pro, night mode, 3x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

night-shore-4x-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, night mode, 4x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

Night mode works much better with the various zoom lenses however, with the S22 Ultra’s 3x optical lens and the Pixel 6 Pro’s 4x optical lens both capturing bright and detailed shots. Not a great effort from the iPhone here, however. 

night-shore-10x-s22-ultra

Galaxy S22 Ultra, night mode, 10x optical zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/topwatchbest

You can take that zoom up to 10x optical on the S22 Ultra even at night. I’m impressed with this shot, especially considering how much more it needs to stabilize the image when using such huge zoom levels. 

So which phone has really wowed me with its images in this test? Well to be honest I’m a bit disappointed in the iPhone in some of these shots, with quite cold and dark images which look much better taken with either of its Android rivals. The S22 Ultra’s shots have been consistently bright, vibrant and its zoom has no competition. The iPhone 13 Pro does take the lead in some night-time situations, and generally its color balance is a bit more natural.

Much of this will come down to personal preference, and while I might criticize Samsung’s phone for inaccurate colors, you might prefer the way its shots look. But the S22 Ultra has generally put in a stellar effort here and it’s a superb phone to consider if you’re looking for an amazing all-round photography experience from your phone. 


Now playing:
Watch this:

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review: The Galaxy Note Lives…



8:25

Leave a Comment