When Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ flagship smartphones back in March, all the talk centered around their gorgeous screens. The same level of enthusiasm however was not extended to the phones' other components, and any changes in their design and functioning were essentially viewed as incremental updates to a long-running series.
However, the Korean phonemaker took a very intriguing decision of not following the trend of placing a dual camera on the rear side of the phone. In fact, it stuck with the 12 MP sensors in the new phones, just as their predecessor, the Galaxy S7.
The rear camera has an aperture of f/1.7 and boasts dual pixel technology for better low-light photos. The dual pixel uses a bigger than average pixel size to capture the image. Moreover, every single photo-diode in the image processing sensor is used for phase detection autofocus, providing a clear picture in a short amount of time.
The new rear camera also has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and a faster and richer user interface as compared to the Galaxy S7.
The Galaxy S8+ camera is surely going to be among the best phone cameras launched this year. However, whether it is going to be 'the best camera' is debatable. There seems to be a certain degree of dramatisation added to the photos.
The colours captured are vibrant and make people notice the photos. The camera tends to saturate the colours a tad bit but that being said, the phone has a fantastic and dynamic colour range.
Samsung cameras have traditionally taken this path, which also happens to be closer to what Google Pixel captures. The iPhone, on the other hand, shoots true to nature and brings out photos with warm colours.
One of the best things about the Pixel camera was their low-light performance. Google used a simple sensor but it showed its prowess in the post-processing software. There was some brilliant behind-the-camera work. Samsung's new phone is not lagging far behind. Some of the pictures I took in the pitch dark environment gave me amazing results.
However, the white balance — or, the accuracy of the colour of the objects in the photo — can be a bit off sometimes. Still, the end result was a very legible and shareable photo. Samsung seems to have mastered the dual pixel technology, combining it with a f/1.7 aperture. The latter helps the phone perform a notch better than the Pixel and iPhone cameras in low light.
One prominent feature of the iPhone 7 Plus camera was the optical zoom, made possible by the dual camera setup. While the Galaxy S8+ camera does not have optical zoom, the results are satisfying nonetheless.
The front 8 MP camera takes good selfies without applying any beautifying effects, though the phonemaker has also included Snapchat like filters embedded in the camera software. The camera's clean yet feature filled user interface is really fast. If you have used a Pixel, you will know that it took photos very fast. The Galaxy S8+ matches that speed. And, the video mode is just a button away on the left.
If you swipe right there are tons of modes such as 'food,' 'selective focus,' 'virtual shot,' 'slow motion,' a manual mode called 'Pro,' and more.
There are other downloadable modes such as 'dual camera,' 'rear camera selfie,' 'GIFs' and more. Switching to different modes, switching the basic functions such as HDR and flash on or off is pretty easy and intuitive. I also like the fact that you can switch between the front and the rear camera with just a swipe on the interface.
Samsung has mounted a sizable challenge upon its rivals in the camera department. It is to be seen if the iPhone's hardware and Google's AI can beat it.