The cameras included in smartphones are becoming an increasingly important part of the industry. Major new handsets are linked with increasingly sophisticated camera technology well before they actually appear on the market. So it is no surprise that Samsung has significantly improved the camera specifications of the recent Galaxy S7, including dual-pixel technology for the first time.
And the larger Galaxy S7 Edge device features an even more powerful camera than its smaller cousin. Samsung, of course, intends for the Galaxy S7 range to compete with the iconic Apple iPhone, so how does the Galaxy S7 Edge camera compete when it is compared directly with the existing iPhone 6s Plus?
Depth of field
Samsung should be applauded for the fact that both of the new Galaxy S7 cameras feature impressive f1.7 apertures. This ensures that the Galaxy S7 Edge can deliver images with a shallow depth of field. Considering that the iPhone 6S phones have an aperture of f2.2, this means that the Galaxy S7 Edge performs better in this department.
Capturing selfies is increasingly important for smartphone manufacturers, as the popularity of social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram grows. Both the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 6s Plus feature five-megapixel front-facing cameras, that both deliver excellent performance in well lit conditions. It is notable, though, that the Galaxy S7 Edge features a significantly wider field of view, ensuring that it is possible to fit more detail into any particular shot. However, it has been suggested that the narrower field of view on the iPhone 6s Plus actually works better with selfies.
The f1.7 aperture of the S7 Edge ensures that the smartphone performs particularly well in low-light shooting conditions, ensuring that selfies are improved in darker atmospheres. Overall, the two smartphones have different strengths and qualities in this area, but there is no doubt that the Galaxy S7 Edge is a significant improvement over its predecessor.
The major advantage of the new dual-pixel technology and larger aperture included in the Galaxy S7 Edge is intended to deliver superior photographs in darker conditions. This has been a notorious difficulty for all mobile cameras over many years. And indeed, the iPhone 6s Plus tends to underexpose photographs in low-light shooting conditions, while misfocus is also a perennial difficulty.
While the Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t perhaps perform as well as commercial cameras in this department, it does take a significantly better photograph in gloomy light than the iPhone 6s Plus. One possible criticism is that the color balance is a little on the warmer side with the S7 Edge, but the images produced in dark shooting conditions are superior to anything that has been seen in the smartphone niche previously.
One weakness of the Galaxy S7 Edge is that it has a tendency to overexpose images, which has not been addressed adequately since the release of the Galaxy S5. This means that the iPhone 6s Plus can produce better results on occasion, but overall it must be said that the new technology has had the desired effect of ensuring that the Galaxy S7 Edge delivers the best low-light shooting conditions in the mobile marketplace.
Assessing the quality of photographic images will always be subjective to a certain extent, but the speed of the camera apps included in the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 6s Plus is obviously less contentious. And it is notable that the Galaxy S7 Edge camera application is faster than that of the iPhone, particularly as Samsung has ensured that the camera can be launched by simply double-tapping the Home button.
The iPhone 6s Plus camera will take around 3 1/2 seconds in order to launch from the moment it is removed from your pocket. This is obviously not a huge amount of time, but it is nonetheless noticeably longer than that of the Galaxy S7 Edge.
Additionally, the camera app included with the Galaxy S7 Edge focuses faster than that of the iPhone. Samsung also appears to have improved the autofocus speed of the Galaxy S7 compared to its predecessor, and it slightly outperforms the iPhone 6s Plus in this department, even when both are operating in good lighting conditions.
This is one area where Samsung still has some work to do. The Galaxy S range has been noted for producing oversaturated images, and this is still a possible criticism of the Galaxy S7 Edge. Somehow the iPhone 6s Plus produces subtle and more naturalistic photographs in color terms, and the Galaxy S7 Edge does not quite remove this deficiency that was widely reported in the Galaxy S6 generation. So advantage Apple here.
Both smartphones offer an assortment of shooting modes and features, but it must be said that the iPhone is somewhat better served by Apple’s Live Photos software. This superiority is perhaps dampened down by the fact that the iPhone control options are less robust than its competitor, with there being numerous settings in the iOS 9 OS that could be made more convenient to access. There are pros and cons of both handsets in this department, but the excellent functionality offered by the established Live Photos software suggests that Apple has a marginal edge in this department.
It was generally considered that the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s were of similar quality in photographic capabilities, so the improvements made in the Galaxy S7 most certainly put the unit ahead of the existing iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung’s camera is faster, vastly improved in darker conditions, and generally produces somewhat superior results to the iPhone 6s Plus.
However, the iPhone 6s Plus does have its advantages over the Galaxy S7 Edge, and can outperform the dual-pixel camera included in the Korean offering in certain settings and conditions. But it is clear that Apple must improve the camera functionality in the iPhone 7 if it is to be equal or superior to Samsung once again in this critical aspect of the contemporary smartphone.