IPhone X Vs. Galaxy S9+ Shootout: Camera Architecture, Hardware, And Software

By 10:20 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


Two phones with two 12MP cameras each

The iPhone X and the Galaxy S9+ each have a pair of 12MP cameras on their backs. But they are not quite the same.


Sure, their sensor resolution is the same, but a few other numbers differ. Looking at the main cameras, the normal ones, the Galaxy's 1/2.55" sensor is larger than the iPhone's 1/3" and it's also got bigger individual pixels - 1.4µm vs. the iPhone's 1.22µm pixel pitch. In theory, larger sensors mean more total light can be collected, and larger pixels potentially lead to lower noise and better dynamic range. However, not the entire pixel area is used for light gathering.

You see, the Galaxy S9's pixels also double as phase detection agents, all of them - that's what dual-pixel autofocus stands for. It makes for a wickedly quick auto focus, but it also wastes some of the light gathering surface. So we shouldn't compare pixel sizes directly on these two.

The iPhone relies on phase detection auto focus too, but only a small portion of the total pixels are dedicated to the task.

This year's Galaxy's chief claim to fame is the ability to switch aperture between f/1.5 and f/2.4 on its main camera. The brighter setting lets in more light (to an already larger sensor) for improved images in dim environments, while the f/2.4 setting allows for sharper photos and larger depth of field in brighter conditions. Meanwhile, the iPhone X is using f/1.8 on its main camera.


The main capturing camera at the top: f/1.5 on the left, f/2.4 on the right

The Galaxy's field of view is wider - 2mm may not sound like much, but it's a noticeable incompatibility when you're talking about wide angle lenses, and the Galaxy's 26mm equivalent lets more in the frame than the iPhone's 28mm.

Not so with the telephoto cams - these are, in fact, mostly the same when it comes to the numbers. On either phone, you'd be getting a 1/3.6" sensor with 1.0µm pixels, and a stabilized lens with an f/2.4 aperture and a 52mm equivalent focal length. That last bit means that on the iPhone you'd be a few mm short of a 2x zoom as 52


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