Not too long ago, Apple dominated the smartphone camera scene, with its flawless implementation of an abled shooter packed within its slim iPhone chassis.
The likes of Sony, LG, HTC and Xiaomi tried, but ultimately failed to reached the level of technological sophistication, and fell short of the mark.
Except Samsung. The Korean chaebol worked hard in improving its camera and two years ago, and it not only came close, but it actually beat the American smartphone maker on the photography front. Suddenly, scores of online comparison sites had to work harder in photography comparisons, as Apple was no longer the definitive winner.
So does this mean that when the best of Android is compared to the best iOS phone, the resulting winner has to be number one?
Alas for Samsung, it has a new competitor, in the form of Huawei. Another Android smartphone maker, Huawei has been a long time player in the scene but the company broke through the noise last year, when it launched the P9.
What stood out was its dual camera module, which was co-engineered with Leica, the famed German camera maker. Photography buffs swooned over the union, and this automatically elevated Huawei into the serious contender status.
Of course, have a good partner is only part of the mix. The original Nokia smartphones had a long time partnership with noted optics maker Carl Zeiss, but those devices were never known for their cameras. Sony has tapped on its own camera and lens making expertise for a while now, but its mobile devices aren’t known for its photographic capabilities either.
But Huawei and Leica’s partnership brought about a new challenger, and in the next two months, all three companies will be launching their latest flagship models for the year.
Samsung is first with the expected announcement of the Galaxy Note 8 on Aug 23, and a new camera module guaranteed to be better than its current one is expected. Apple is expected to announce its 10th anniversary iPhone in September, and after receiving a critical drubbing for its camera in last year’s model, it is definitely placing a new and improved module on this year’s model.
Huawei is expected to launch a new Mate device in October, given that its Leica engineered Mate 9 was announced at this time last year. As the same Leica camera module has been in use since the P9, a new upgrade is expected.
Funnily enough, while there are many Apple vs Samsung camera comparisons, there have not been too many Samsung vs Huawei camera shoot outs, so since we had both devices on hand, we decided to test them out and determine which is the winner.
We will put the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the Huawei P10 Plus to the test. Both flagships use the latest camera modules from each company.
Move the slider to view the respective photos, Samsung Galaxy S8+ is on the left, and Huawei P10 Plus is on the right.
National Art Gallery (Roof)
On the surface, both shots look equally sharp and detailed. The one taken with the Galaxy S8+ offers a punchier feel, because of the denser colours with the green shrubs, but when you look at the details, something is off. The Huawei P10 Plus has duller greens, but the details in the foreground, of the dense shrubs, is more obvious. In terms of shadows, both cameras offer the same level of details in the darker area under the Aura restaurant.
Wall of Fern
As with the earlier photo, Samsung’s images are often more vibrant, due to the more oversaturated colours. Here, the greens of each of the leaves are more aesthetically pleasing. Both shots offer the same details on the leaves, which show tiny water droplets hanging for their dear lives. Over in the background though, the details on both buildings are more pronounced on the one taken with the Galaxy S8+. With Huawei, the finer details are on the wooden panels on the roof of the walkway on the left.
Char Kuay Teow
Both images offer great details on the local fried noodle delicacy, such as even the dash of chilli flakes can be spotted very easily. But there’s no denying that the lighting on the image taken with the Galaxy S8+ is sharper, and serves the dish much better. The shadows are also denser, providing a more intense presentation over the image with the P10 Plus.
Hong Lim Food Center
In a scene filled with fluorescent lighting, details in both images are clear and detailed. Names and writing on the signboards on the stalls in the rear are easy to make out. The oversaturation of colours work to Samsung’s advantage again, as the colours pop out a little more.
Both these images are virtually identical, which basically speaks volumes about the imaging quality from Huawei. The details of the flat in the background is the only obvious difference I can see at first glance. Otherwise, everything else, from the stains on the wall to the shadows cast by the open window frames are well represented in both photos.
National Art Gallery
Indoor shots are where images start to differ by a bit. On the left, the grey segments of the building come out well, but a tad flat. On the right, the Huawei camera gives it somewhat of a textured feel, but the colour is a little off. It’s the ceiling that offers us a glimpse of what the Leica camera is capable of, as here, there is more texture to the ceiling whereas with the Galaxy S8+, it looks like one uniform colour. Both handle the grills on the skylight very well.
The skylight shot looks identical, but where the Samsung Galaxy S8+ wins is with the metal plating on the left. The holes within the plating are more prominent, and not a mush of smudges on the Huawei.
It is quite apparent that the Samsung Galaxy S8+ handles low light photography better than the Huawei, but only by a bit. Here, the colours on the statues on the left are sharper. The details on the pedestals that each of the characters stand are also better defined, with clear lines.That said, there are slightly more highlights on the hair of Death and Dream. You can also make out the face of Dream at the hip of the Stormtrooper on the left.
The Last Of Us
In this final shot, it is very obvious that the details on the statues of Joel and Ellie are more pronounced, from the highlights of Joel’s hair, to the expression on Ellie’s face. While both were shot in low light, the details available on the shot on the left gives it a bigger edge.
The camera on the Huawei P10 Plus is a commendable one, and the company has come far in two short years. Samsung Galaxy S8+ still offers some advantages, especially in low light mode. There are instances where the P10 Plus is comparable to the Galaxy S8+, though the Galaxy S8+ manages to outperform it on more instances.
It will be interesting to see if Huawei manages to dominate the competition by October, or if Samsung will find away to up its game. And you never know what Apple has up its sleeves.