In today’s world of hyper-powered smartphone cameras, everyone that owns a flagship phone can confidently call themselves a photographer.

A lot is often said and written about which brand actually has the best smartphone camera so we thought we’d put that to the test with Apple’s iPhone X and the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S9+.

Both cameras feature similar specs when it comes to ability to shoot portrait mode and megapixels. View the full specs here for Apple and here for Samsung.

We’ve tried to keep all test shots relevant to our world, which includes HDR shots of food, sneaker pics, and, of course, Instagram-ready architecture snaps.

Scroll through each of the categories below and be sure to use the vertical bar to shift between iPhone X and Samsung S9+ in order to best compare the photographs. Under each test we’ll give our verdict on the winner as well as an overall winner at the end.

HDR Mode


HDR mode allows users to capture photographs in as close to real-life detail as possible. High Dynamic Range mode basically takes several photos at various exposures and stitches them together to make one photo that highlights the best parts of each photo.

Of course we had to test this on our Sunday brunch, which allows for incredible detail and a huge array of color. Basically, the more detail the better for this part of the competition.

Our clear winner in this category is the iPhone X thanks to it’s deeper and wider range of colors, which made the photo look more life-like than what we got out of the Samsung Galaxy S9+.

Front-Facing Camera


We took selfies. And not just any selfie – we tested out the front-facing portrait mode on both cameras. The concept is really quite simple: instead of a normal selfie, you get a selfie in which you are the focus of the picture and everything in the background is blurred slightly.

Our experience with this mode was that while the iPhone X was again more life-like than its counterpart, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ was actually our preferred option. This was because of the milky tint it’s front-facing portrait mode creates, giving the illusion of the faces being touched up slightly.

Basically, we’re for anything that makes us look better when posting selfies.

Low-Light Situation


This category is where the Samsung Galaxy S9+ really shined. Its low-light capabilities are clearly better than the iPhone X’s which, to be fair, was no slouch in this regard either.

Our sneaker pics, taken in a dark corner of the Highsnobiety office, come out looking great on both cameras and, while they could potentially use some post-processing, don’t necessarily need it.

The Samsung camera manages to shoot a brighter shot in the same lighting conditions as the iPhone X and takes the W here too.

Normal Mode


The iPhone X takes the cake in this category and eats it too. It captured a much brighter, more detailed image than the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and was the clear winner shooting in normal mode. The image barely needs any editing and could be uploaded to Instagram as is and not look out of place.

Portrait Mode


Portrait mode is one of the biggest selling points for smartphone cameras nowadays. We tested it on some of the stuff lying around the office and ended up going with the above shots of KAWS’ companion figure.

While both images are incredible in their own right, considering they are coming from a smartphone and not a professional rig, the iPhone X edges it once again.

The same milky tint that made the Samsung Galaxy S9+ better for selfies is now its downfall, as the camera lets in a little too much light. The iPhone’s colors are more true, giving it the edge here too.

Overall Impressions

While we were impressed with both cameras, our in-house photography team was happier with the photos the iPhone X took. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ did take better selfies but that was down to our photo team appreciating the polished look and takes nothing away from what the iPhone X’s front-facing camera was capable of.

The same can be said for the lowlight situation: the Samsung was better but the Apple device was very good too. When looking at the other categories, all of which Apple’s flagship won and all of which are used much more frequently, it’s clear that the iPhone X has a better camera – at least for what people from the Highsnobiety universe take photographs of.

In the end, both cameras are incredible and you won’t be disappointed either way. It’s worth mentioning that other members from Highsnobiety‘s editorial team actually preferred the photos taken by the Samsung Galaxy S9+, so again it’s very subjective and you should make your own call.

There’s also of course the topic of price to consider. The iPhone X currently commands a hefty $1,000 price tag, while the Samsung Galaxy S9+ comes in at a slightly more humble $840. If you can ball out on the $160 difference and have been running iOS since Day One, than you’ll be better off with the iPhone X. If you appreciate the freedom Android allows, then the S9+is the obvious choice. In both cases, however, you simply can’t go wrong.

  • Photography:
Footwear Staff Writer

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