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iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8: Similar cameras, different results

Both flagship phones for Apple and Samsung have nearly identical camera hardware. But the photos and videos they take are pretty different.

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Patrick Holland
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iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 photos

The Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X were announced within one month of each other. The specs for the dual-rear cameras on each phone caught my attention because they were so similar. The following are several dozen moments and scenes each photographed by the Note 8 and iPhone X.

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iPhone X - Sunrise

The sun rises over the Mission. Notice the saturation the iPhone renders.

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Note 8 - Sunrise

Here's the same sunrise taken with the Note 8. This was closer to how it appeared to my eyes.

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iPhone X - Butterfly breakfast

This was taken indoors at the rain forest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. The iPhone rendered the scene with punchy contrast and saturated colors.

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Note 8 - Butterfly breakfast

The Note 8's shot looks a tad overexposed. However, the colors and contrast look how I saw things with my eyes.

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iPhone X - Safety pin sculpture

This is a sculpture of a giant safety pin in front of the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

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Note 8 - Safety pin sculpture

There is not a huge difference in these photos. To my eye, the Note 8's photo has more contrast and the iPhone X shot more dynamic range.

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iPhone X - Stella the cat

The iPhone X photo here is sharper, has more detail and a wider dynamic range of colors.

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Note 8 - Stella the cat

This shot on the Note 8 still looks great.

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iPhone X - Range Rover

This Series 3 was parked in San Francisco just before Thanksgiving.

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Note 8 - Range Rover

The differences between the iPhone's photo and the Note 8's photo are hard to distinguish.

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iPhone X - T Rex

This was taken with the iPhone's telephoto camera at 2X optical zoom. Notice the contrast in the shadows and colors of the fossil.

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Note 8 - T Rex

This shot was taken with the Note 8's telephoto camera using optical zoom. The image is a tad overexposed, but colors look more true to life.

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iPhone X - Earth

The California Academy of Sciences has a large rotating globe of the Earth.

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Note 8 - Earth

It's difficult to spot any major differences between this photo and the preceding one.

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iPhone X - Living Roof

Atop the Academy of Sciences is a living roof. This shot was taken with the iPhone X.

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Note 8 - Living Roof

And here's the living roof as taken with the Note 8.

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iPhone X - Aquarium

The iPhone renders the aquarium with more contrast and saturation than the Note 8.

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Note 8 - Aquarium

Here's the Note 8 version.

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iPhone X - Paradise City

The iPhone X photo of this bus has more dynamic range and colors in the sky.

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Note 8 - Paradise City

This shot from the Note 8 has more saturation in the colors of the bus.

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iPhone X - Portrait Lighting Mode

Cats named Como make excellent subjects for Portrait Lighting Mode photos on the iPhone X.

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Note 8 - Live Focus

The Note 8's portrait mode is called Live Focus.

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iPhone X - Portrait Lighting Mode

Portrait Lighting Mode shots typically have sharp focus on the subject's face and even focus fall off from the foreground to the background that's akin to that of a DSLR. Here the iPhone over blurs a chunk of hair on the the left side of the photo.

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Note 8 - Live Focus

Live Focus photos from the Note 8 look softer, but sometimes that can be more flattering for people's skin. Focus fall off is almost nonexistent and the subject looks more "cut out" from the background.

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iPhone X - Portrait Lighting Mode

This was taken in a dimly lit restaurant. It took a long time for the iPhone to get focus but the resulting portrait is impressive.

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Note 8 - Live Focus

Here's a Live Focus shot taken in the same dim restaurant.

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iPhone X - Portrait Lighting Mode

The iPhone X handled this portrait of avocado toast like a pro.

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Note 8 - Live Focus

The Note 8 rendered the same toast with more contrast and saturation.

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iPhone X - Portrait Fish

One thing I discovered was how good the iPhone X took Portrait Lighting Mode photos of fish.

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Note 8 - Live Focus Fish

Live Focus on the Note 8 did OK with fish.

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iPhone X - Portrait Fish

But here's a rockfish taken with the Studio Light effect.

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iPhone X - Portrait Fish

Here's the same rockfish taken with the Stage Light effect.

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iPhone X - Portrait Fish

And here's another fish taken with the Natural Light effect.

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iPhone X - Portrait Fish

Here's the same fish taken with the Stage Light effect.

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iPhone X - Wide angle

This is the jaw of a shark taken with the iPhone X's wide angle camera.

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Note 8 - Wide angle

Here's the same jaw taken with the wide angle camera on the Note 8.

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iPhone X - Telephoto 2X optical zoom

Here's the same jaw now taken with the iPhone's telephoto camera. Notice the color of the jaw. It looks like there was a filter added to change the colors.

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Note 8 - Telephoto 2X optical zoom

And here's a shot of the jaw taken with the Note 8's telephoto camera. It rendered things more true to life than the iPhone's shot.

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iPhone X - Wide angle

The de Young Museum in San Francisco has a beautiful metal mesh overhang. This photo was taken with the iPhone X's wide angle camera.

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Note 8 - Wide angle

Here's the same overhang taken with the Note 8's wide angle camera.

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iPhone X - Telephoto 2X optical zoom

And now let's zoom in a bit. Notice the clouds and the details in the mesh.

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Note 8 - Telephoto 2X optical zoom

Here's the Note 8's telephoto shot. Notice there's more blown highlights in the clouds than the iPhone's shot

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iPhone X - Selfie Portrait Mode

Yep, the iPhone X allows for Portrait Lighting Mode photos to be taken with its front-facing camera. The results are OK. I often got blurred patches in the background.

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Note 8 - Selective Focus

The Note 8's selfie portrait mode is called Selective Focus. It looks more artificial than Live Focus photos taken with its rear cameras.

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Note 8 - Beauty Mode

But the Note 8 also has a beauty mode for its selfie camera that can smooth your skin, make your eyes bigger and face thinner -- if you're into that.

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Note 8 - Selfie stickers

These stickers have Snapchat written all over them. I'm a reindeer.

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Note 8 - Selfie stickers

I'm an old French guy.

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Note 8 - Selfie stickers

I have a bad cold.

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Note 8 - Butterfly

For more about what I thought of the iPhone X and Note 8's cameras checkout my in-depth comparison.

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