Galaxy S8 Camera Tests: Small Changes Make Big Difference

When Samsung announced that the Galaxy S8 would have the same 13-megapixel rear camera module as last year's Galaxy S7, we had fairly low expectations about improvements to image quality, even with Samsung promising tweaks to the camera's image processing. However, with several YouTubers getting a hold of the Galaxy S8 before the phone's official April 21 release, we're seeing some pleasantly surprising results from the new phone's camera.

MORE: Galaxy S8 Hands-on: Return of the King

The main area of improvement seems to stem from Samsung’s new multi-frame image processing, which snaps three pictures at once, chooses the best and then uses the other two to help provide more detail and clarity. This results in HDR photos that feature better exposure and colors, even when the S8’s pictures are compared side-by-side to some shot by an iPhone 7 Plus.

Image credit: Krystal Key/YouTube

(Image credit: Image credit: Krystal Key/YouTube)

A sample from YouTuber Krystal Key does a great job of showing the S8’s advantage in HDR. Samsung's phone produced a pic with significantly more light and detail in the fore- and midground versus the iPhone 7 Plus, while only sacrificing the smallest of details in the bright sky behind. And while some may say that the tree on the right looks unusually saturated, the rich greens are definitely more eye-catching than the muted hues in the iPhone 7's pic.

image Credit: XeeTechCare/YouTube

(Image credit: image Credit: XeeTechCare/YouTube)

Another comparison between the S7 and S8 from YouTuber XeeTechCare does a good job of demonstrating the difference made by Samsung’s new image processing. With the S7’s picture on the right, almost the entire top half of the orange is blown out, while the S8’s camera manages to preserve much more detail. Furthermore, if you look at the bottom half of the orange, you can see that the S8 also sports a wider dynamic range.

As for the the S8’s front camera, Jonathan Morrison says the S8 “simply outperforms the iPhone” thanks to a wider-angle lens and better dynamic range. That said, the comparison above makes it look like the S8's beauty mode has been left on to some degree, resulting in tones and details on his skin that look a little too smooth.

It's not all roses for Samsung, as multiple YouTubers have said that while audio sounds about the same, the iPhone 7 seems to shoot smoother, more shake-free video. Then there’s the iPhone 7’s second camera module, which lets it shoot superior portraits compared to the Galaxy S8’s single rear camera setup.

At Tom’s Guide, we’re really looking forward to testing the S8’s cameras out for ourselves in the very near future, so check back soon from even more in-depth camera analysis on the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).