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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ua shootout: Is it the best camera phone of 2022 so far?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Table of contents

We rated the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra the best camera phone of 2021, and we’ve been equally impressed with the Galaxy S22 Ultra so far. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so how does the phone stack up against the very best competitors?

For this camera shootout, we’ve pitted the Galaxy S22 Ultra against the equally new Oppo Find X5 Pro, the renowned Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the much more affordable but no less excellent Google Pixel 6 Pro. All are among the very best camera phones, but each has its pros and cons. Can the Galaxy S22 Ultra comprehensively best any of them? Let’s find out in this Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera test.

Galaxy S21 Ultra camera specs compared

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Oppo Find X5 Pro Google Pixel 6 Pro Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Main Camera

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

108MP (12 MP binned)
ƒ/1.8 aperture
1/1.33″ sensor
PDAF, OIS

Oppo Find X5 Pro

50MP (12.5MP binned)
ƒ/1.7 aperture
1/1.56″ sensor
multi PDAF, 5-axis OIS

Google Pixel 6 Pro

50MP (12.5MP binned)
ƒ/1.9 aperture
1/1.31″ sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

12MP
ƒ/1.5 aperture
1/1.66″ sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS

Ultrawide

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

12MP
ƒ/2.2 aperture
1/2.55″ sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF

Oppo Find X5 Pro

50MP (12.5MP binned)
ƒ/2.2 aperture
1/1.56″ sensor
multi PDAF

Google Pixel 6 Pro

12MP
ƒ/2.2 aperture

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

12MP
ƒ/1.8 aperture
1/3.4″ sensor
PDAF

First zoom

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

10MP
ƒ/2.4 aperture
1/3.24″ sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
3x optical zoom

Oppo Find X5 Pro

13MP
ƒ/2.4 aperture
1/3.4″ sensor
PDAF
2x optical zoom

Google Pixel 6 Pro

48MP (12MP binned)
ƒ/3.5 aperture
1/2″ sensor
PDAF, OIS
4x optical zoom

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

12MP
ƒ/2.8 aperture
1/3.4″ sensor
PDAF, OIS
3x optical zoom

Second zoom

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

10MP
ƒ/4.9 aperture
1/3.24″ sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
10x optical zoom

Oppo Find X5 Pro

N/A

Google Pixel 6 Pro

N/A

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

N/A

Focusing

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Laser AF

Oppo Find X5 Pro

N/A

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Laser AF

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

3D ToF Lidar

Selfie

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

40MP
ƒ/2.2 aperture
1/2.8″ sensor
PDAF

Oppo Find X5 Pro

32MP
ƒ/2.4 aperture
1/2.74″ sensor

Google Pixel 6 Pro

11.1MP
ƒ/2.2 aperture

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

12MP
ƒ/2.2 aperture

In addition to the traditional camera specs listed above, it’s worth noting that some of these phones offer less conventional approaches to smartphone image processing hardware as well. Oppo debuted its in-house Marisilicon X AI ISP in the Find X5 Pro, boasting superior low-light capture and denoise capabilities. Similarly, the Pixel 6 Pro leverages the custom Google Tensor SoC, featuring Google’s machine learning silicon tightly coupled to the image processing pipeline.

Of course, Apple and Samsung also leverage the machine learning smarts of their respective processors. Still, the other two are dedicating even more silicon area to the imaging cause than we traditionally see in a smartphone. Let’s see if it makes a difference.

See also: What to look for in a great camera phone

Color and exposure

Let’s dive right into the general look of images captured from these four high-end smartphones.

The shots above really stress how each phone handles color processing. The Oppo Find X5 Pro leans most heavily on saturation for added pop that looks over the top. Pay attention to the grass greens and blue hues in the sky. Highlights are also slightly clipped on this phone, which is very undesirable.

Apple’s latest iPhone and Google’s Pixel 6 Pro sit at the other end of the spectrum, with more reserved and realistic colors. Although you may have spotted the iPhone pushes the highlights and yellows a little more while the Pixel 6 is slightly darker than the rest. The Galaxy S22 Ultra sits somewhere in between, with a bit more punch but certainly not as over the top as Oppo’s color profile.

Photography terms explained: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and more

We’re paying closer attention to exposure and white balance in this second gallery. Again, we see a slightly warmer, yellow tint in the iPhone’s pictures, which looks unnatural in the first image but less so in the second. The Pixel 6 Pro nails an ideal white balance in both these snaps. However, it’s slightly underexposed in both instances, perhaps in an effort to deal with the bright backgrounds.

The Oppo Find X5 Pro is again more colorful in the first snap — see the orange hue on the wooden table. Its dynamic range and exposure are generally excellent, but there’s a slight tint on the white wall in the second snap. Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra provides the brightest exposure in our second shot and otherwise matches the Pixel for white balance accuracy. The drinks shot is also very well exposed, as we can make out the blue of the sky through the window, unlike in the iPhone’s shot.

Color and exposure rankings:

  1. Google Pixel 6 Pro — Colors and white balance are generally very realistic. Some occasional underexposure issues, but not a major complaint.
  2. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — Offers great exposure and white balance in daylight. Colors are a little more saturated than is strictly realistic, but it’s not strong enough to ruin your pictures.
  3. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — Has slight problems with exposure and white balance, particularly with bright backgrounds and a slightly yellow tint. Colors are otherwise accurately presented.
  4. Oppo Find X5 Pro — Heavy oversaturation and highlight clipping make this the least accurate phone in this shootout, although the phone’s white balance is otherwise good.

HDR

You won’t have a problem with general snaps from any of these phones, as you’d expect from some of the best in the business. But what about trickier HDR shots, where balancing bright highlights with deep shadows is not so straightforward?

Except for the iPhone, our handsets tackle this tricky subject rather well. However, let’s take a closer look at the highlights and shadows to see which phone extracts the most detail from this scene.

The iPhone struggles the most, failing to pick out much detail in the scene’s shadows. Apple’s algorithm seems to prioritize not clipping the clouds, despite me highlighting the darker area as our subject. On the other hand, some shadow stretching in the Find X5 Pro’s shadows produces a washed-out look. That said, the phone picks out more detail than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which offers an extremely high contrast look that’s not very realistic. Despite the slightly clipped clouds and more saturated look, the Google Pixel 6 Pro balances this tricky HDR scene best.

It’s a similar state of affairs in this second shot. Apple’s iPhone again captures the least amount of color and detail in the shaded parts of the scene. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6 Pro and Find X5 Pro extract the most detail in these areas. However, Oppo’s punchy colors are, once again, a bit over the top. The Galaxy S22 Ultra sits somewhere between, balancing the scenes highlights against the shadows but, unfortunately, crushing the darkest parts of the shot.

HDR rankings:

  1. Google Pixel 6 Pro — Super potent HDR technology extracts maximum detail from highlights and shadows. It’s not perfect, however, as the Pixel’s HDR technology can overdo it and produce images that lack a little depth.
  2. Oppo Find X5 Pro — Although virtually on par with Google’s technology in terms of HDR balance, the phone’s overzealous color processing takes the shine off the results.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — Samsung seems to have changed its HDR implementation this year, which now underexposes some parts of the scene, producing an unnatural look in places. It’s an unfortunate backward step for an otherwise capable shooter in challenging scenarios.
  4. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — While its pictures look fine, the lack of shadows exposure and occasional highlight clipping indicate that Apple’s HDR technology still lags behind the competition.
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Detail and macro

Turning to macro photography, the iPhone, Find, and Galaxy handsets all switch to their ultrawide cameras when you move close to a subject. This works well enough but does mean you lose the shallow depth of field effect you may want from a macro shot. Both Oppo and Samsung offer the option to turn this off and shoot from the primary camera if you like, but neither can focus as close up without switching to the ultrawide.

All these results look very good for macro shots. However, the Find X5 Pro struggled the most with focus even when moving slightly further back, which is disappointing. Overall, Samsung’s image comes off best here, capturing plenty of detail, color, and white balance. The iPhone is a bit too yellow, again.

Unfortunately, the Google Pixel 6 Pro has a fixed focus ultrawide camera, making it unsuitable for macro photography. The main camera won’t focus at this distance either, meaning you’ll have to take a step back and use the zoom camera. Fortunately, Google’s zoom technology hands in results that are every bit as competitive as the ultrawide cameras used by the other phones.

But let’s see what the main cameras can do.

In good daylight, color balance is a more significant differentiator than detail. The iPhone’s image is slightly soft, and shadow details are slightly less pristine than the other three. The Find X5 Pro is a little heavier on the sharpening pass than the competition, which we can see in the slight haloing around the tree branches and aliasing on the flag pole.

All these results look very good for macro shots.

The Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra are surprisingly close, but each has its intricacies. The Pixel has better HDR and therefore captures more detail in the highlights, but details look a little oversharpened. The S22 Ultra has a few blurry spots and the tree branches seem more artificially sharpened.

This next look at detail takes place in less ideal overcast lighting conditions. Again, each phone’s color balance and exposure are more obviously different than any noticeable detail issue.

Cropping in, there’s not a massive amount between any of them even when peering into the shadows under the bridge. Again, Google’s Pixel 6 looks a little artificial thanks to a detail sharpening pass, as does the Oppo Find X5 Pro. Meanwhile, the iPhone is softer yet still seems to rely on denoise and sharpening to polish its images, which makes the brickwork look flatter than on other phones. The Galaxy S22 Ultra would nudge it here for the most realistic look. However, there are some weird sharpening artifacts in the green tree and more noise than the competition. Overall, it’s tough to pick out any of these phones as clearly superior to the others, at least in daylight.

Detail rankings:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — It’s certainly not perfect, as it’s noisier in low light and has a clear sharpening pass that’s noticeable on complex textures like trees. Still, the phone is very consistent and hands in reasonably realistic details for landscapes and macro shots.
  2. Google Pixel 6 Pro — Occasionally oversharp details aren’t great to crop in on but generally it holds up very well. Sadly the phone can’t do macro photography without using the zoom camera.
  3. Oppo Find X5 Pro — Heavier dose of sharpening than the competition and the camera can struggle to focus on macro shots. Otherwise, there are no apparent issues, and it’s very tight among the top three.
  4. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — Details can be pretty soft, and reliance on post-processing in lower light leaves complex textures too blurred. Macro shots look great, though.

Low-light and night photography

Lower lighting conditions have historically separated the good from the best, but with each of today’s competitors packing a good-sized primary sensor and a wide aperture for light capture, the battle could be closer than ever.

None of the phones have any trouble with exposure in the dim indoor lighting conditions above. The Find X5 Pro’s white balance is off, though, likely through a combination of dim lighting and the phone’s aggressive color saturation. However, its large sensor has no trouble extracting fine details. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a little soft and noisy by comparison, but it offers solid exposure. Likewise, there’s a small amount of grain in the Pixel’s picture, but its white balance is a little better than Apple’s. Overall, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most realistic for the scene, capturing fine details and just the right color hues. However, its white balance is perhaps a little on the red side.

Turning the lights down lower, I captured the same scene below with night modes on and off to judge both the phones’ ability to grab a quick snap and their long exposures. A point of note: Oppo always uses night mode when it detects low light, so I took a snap with the phone’s Pro mode to demonstrate the difference.

Our phones perform surprisingly OK without night mode, except the Find X5 Pro, which struggles with detail and color. The Pixel 6 seems to capture less light than the iPhone and Galaxy handsets due to its narrower aperture. The iPhone’s exposure is surprisingly good given its smaller sensor, but its colors are washed out. Again, we see a slight over warming with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but otherwise, it’s the most accurate given the very dark conditions.

Check out: Tips for improving your low-light photography

Turning night mode on makes all the difference to all four camera phones. The Pixel 6 Pro’s colors, exposure, and white balance are the best and brightest. However, the exposure is arguably too bright given this is supposed to be a night scene. You’ll also spot a lot of fringing and blurring from the very long exposure time taken to capture the shot. By contrast, Apple’s night mode exhibits no such fringing. It’s very sharp, arguably popping a little too much, and it’s a solid low-light picture if you can forgive the small amount of noise. Results from Oppo and Samsung are somewhere in between, with some minor smudging but slightly more realistic-looking details. However, neither nails the white balance — the Find X5 Pro is too cold and the Galaxy S22 Ultra is too warm.

Finally, a batch of low-light shots taken using night mode from the main and ultrawide cameras and at 3x zoom. We’re looking for how usable each camera is in low light and how well the image processing matches as you switch between them.

The iPhone didn’t want a long night exposure for any of these shots, but the ultrawide lens would have benefited. Its comparatively tiny 1/3.4-inch sensor doesn’t capture anywhere near as much light as the Find X5 Pro’s big ultrawide sensor, which performs nearly as well as the primary camera. However, the colors are a little washed out. Oppo’s 3x zoom shot is a little too dark. The iPhone’s zoom image is comparatively brighter but also oversharp and more heavily processed from the use of night mode. Both are reasonable efforts, but there are some small compromises here.

All four are capable nighttime shooters.

Google’s results are more hit and miss. Its main and ultrawide camera results provide the best exposure out of all four phones. However, the colors aren’t as vibrant as we see from the others. This is especially the case in the 3x zoom shot, which appears more heavily processed than the competition. Super-res zoom doesn’t work quite so well in low light, it seems. Samsung’s zoom picture is the best, providing a brighter exposure, a shallow depth of field, and pumped-up colors. The Galaxy S22 Ultra also produces excellent results from its primary and ultrawide cameras, but they’re not quite as well exposed as the Find X5 Pro’s results.

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This one is a tough call. All four are capable nighttime shooters, so the rankings below are based on the finest margins.

Low-light rankings:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — Has some issues with red tint but otherwise performs acceptably in low light even without the aid of night mode. Samsung’s night mode works well across all its cameras, even though it doesn’t always produce the brightest exposure.
  2. Google Pixel 6 Pro — The camera doesn’t perform as well without night mode, resulting in low-light noise. Google’s Nightsight is extremely powerful and produces the best exposure here. However, the technology can leave pictures looking blurry and heavily processed, especially when zooming in.
  3. Oppo Find X5 Pro — The phone is entirely reliant on night mode, which takes a couple of seconds to capture. Even then, the phone struggles with white balance. Still, it hands in good-looking low-light snaps from its ultrawide and telephoto cameras.
  4. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — Can struggle without night mode, as the camera is a little noisy, but its results can look oversharp when enabled. The ultrawide lens is too dark to use in low light, making it marginally weaker than its competitors.

Ultrawide

The Galaxy S22 Ultra already provides a wide field of view from its primary camera, yet the ultrawide still provides a big step back from the main camera. It’s matched by the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which also offers a 13mm focal length ultrawide lens, yet it appears to take a larger step back due to the narrower focal length of its main camera. The Pixel 6 Pro’s ultrawide is the narrowest here, with just a 17mm focal length, meaning it can’t fit as much into its shots. Oppo’s Find X5 Pro slots in between with a 15mm equivalent focal length.

Image quality wise, all four do a good job at matching the exposure and color profile you receive from the primary camera. Even in the tricky HDR shot above, you’ll spot good colors, white balance, and HDR capabilities from all four. The iPhone’s ultrawide camera struggles to pick out shadow details even more than the main sensor if we’re being picky. I’d also argue that 13mm is a bit too wide, as the iPhone and the Galaxy S22’s shots have more of a warped look than images from the other two phones. The Find X5 Pro’s ultrawide seems like the sweet spot, and the use of a larger image sensor ensures that switching lenses doesn’t impact image quality in trickier lighting conditions.

While being able to fit more into the frame is nice, manufacturers and users alike have to be aware of the lens distortion trade-offs that come with a vast field of view. We’ve taken a 100% crop at the very corner of each image below to look for any issues.

Related: The complete guide to ultrawide camera phones

All four cameras exhibit some issues, albeit to varying degrees. The Pixel 6 Pro is the most blurry and noisy, which we expected given the older hardware used here. The other three are much closer, although the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most smudged right at the edge of the lens. The Find X5 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are pretty much equivalent, although given the iPhone’s wider field of view we’d have to give its lens the nod as the best for distortion-free capture. Of course, you have to crop in to see these issues but they are something to be mindful of if you ever want to print or blow up your ultrawide pictures.

Ultrawide rankings:

  1. Oppo Find X5 Pro — Oppo doesn’t offer the widest lens here, but it handles tough shooting conditions better than the rest and controls lens distortion. You’ll have to live with the phone’s saturated colors, though.
  2. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — Apple offers a really good ultrawide setup here with a very wide field of view and minimal lens distortion. However, the small image sensor exposes the phone’s so-so HDR capabilities.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — It’s close within the top three, but Samsung’s ultrawide snapper suffers from marginally more edge distortion than the iPhone and Find X5 Pro.
  4. Google Pixel 6 Pro — With the narrowest field of view, fixed focus, and most noticeable signs of edge distortion and noise, the Pixel’s ultrawide camera is a class below today’s competitors.

Zooming in

With 2x, 3x, 4x, and 10x camera hardware available across the phones, we should see an interesting mix of capabilities play out here. We’ll start with a closer range shot.

Thanks to their native telephoto cameras, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra are the cleanest at 3x. Details are sharp and focused, while color balance and exposure are also reasonably good, glossing over the iPhone’s continuous yellow hues, of course.

The Pixel 6 Pro’s super-resolution technology is competitive here, but the software solution comes off a little harsher and oversharp compared to optical zoom. Its white balance is also too warm in this shot. The Oppo Find X5 Pro doesn’t quite find the right color balance either, and its details are a little soft. Its small 2x telephoto zoom is still perfectly serviceable at 3x, but it already looks like Oppo’s lack of long-range optics will hurt it here.

Read more: Camera zoom explained

Pushing out to 5x, we see the Find X5 Pro is definitely out of its league. There is no meaningful detail to observe and there’s noticeable fringing too, suggesting a poor zoom lens implementation. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is better at holding on to fine details at 5X but struggles for exposure.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro are brighter and present far more detail. Cropping into 100%, there’s very little between the two images, which is a testament to the two’s software upscaling algorithms. Samsung’s snap is a fraction too sharp, owing to more upscale from 3x to 5x compared with Google’s 4x optical lens, but we’re talking marginal differences.

It’s crystal clear who the winners are at 10x. The iPhone 13 Pro Max and Find X5 Pro are well past the point of use for this shot — their digital upscaling leaves very little detail in the image. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 10x periscope camera wins here with excellent detail and colors. Google’s super-res algorithms are really not far behind, though. There’s a very competitive level of detail, albeit slightly oversharpened, but the more muted colors give away the lack of optical zoom hardware. Still, the Pixel 6 Pro punches well above its hardware specs and outperforms everyone except the S22 Ultra at long range.

Zoom rankings:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — Whether you’re zooming near or far, the Galaxy S22 Ultra hands in consistent and good-looking results up to about 30x. Its software zoom isn’t always perfect but has improved this generation.
  2. Google Pixel 6 Pro — Comes in hot on the heels of the S22 Ultra despite only offering a single zoom camera. Google’s super-res zoom algorithm punches above its weight but even the best software zoom is still not quite as clean as optical.
  3. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max — The 3x telephoto camera holds up well to above 5x, which is good but not entirely comprehensive.
  4. Oppo Find X5 Pro — With the weakest zoom hardware of the group, Oppo’s camera was always going to struggle to compete. It’s fine for short distances but isn’t much use beyond 4x.
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Portrait and selfies

I grabbed a quick snap of a statue using portrait mode. Each of the cameras offers a slightly different crop factor when shooting in portrait mode, with the iPhone being the most stubborn in preventing you from changing it. So matching the frames exactly isn’t possible here.

Despite the tree branches that snuck their way into the foreground, all four cameras handle the background bokeh well here. However, the Find X5 Pro can’t quite decide which branches should be blurred and which shouldn’t, while the other phones are more decisive. You’ll probably have spotted that the Pixel 6 Pro looks a little sharper than the rest. Disappointingly, everything you shoot with the Pixel 6 Pro’s portrait mode looks too heavily processed, whether it’s the stone statue or skin textures. I think the iPhone and Galaxy are the marginally better portrait shooters here.

Now for some selfies.

In bright daylight, all four phones hand in fine details and there are few issues with bokeh edge detection, even managing to tell the difference between my hairline and the trees. However, the iPhone makes a small mistake around the ears.

Again, the Pixel 6 Pro is marginally too sharp when it comes to skin textures and its white balance seems to have ignored the fact that the sun was shining. The picture is a little too cold, while Samsung’s is too warm but otherwise very nice. Sadly the Find X5 Pro clipped the highlights on my face and in the clouds, but otherwise gets the skin tone and texture spot on. Apple’s selfie is similarly good in terms of tone and texture, but the subject is perhaps fractionally under-exposed.

Shooting in the shadows is trickier for these cameras. The Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t blur the gap between my hair and headphones on the left. It’s also really punched up the green of the grass and made my face a little too orange. It’s a fine but not brilliant selfie. Apple has a similar issue with slightly too much saturation on the grass and it doesn’t quite handle the HDR backdrop as well. But it’s hard to argue with Apple’s skin textures — they’re very good.

Overall, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best here, balancing skin tones and texture against the bright backdrop very well. Unfortunately, Oppo’s bokeh effect completely blows out the background highlights. It appears that the phone can’t do bokeh and HDR processing simultaneously. That’s a shame because otherwise, its skin tone and subject exposure are arguably the best.

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There are some clear winners and losers when it comes to low-light selfies. The iPhone is the worst, handing in a very noisy shot that fails to expose my face correctly. The Find X5 Pro is notably better, but there’s a lot of noise and a somewhat unflattering white balance. Google’s selfie camera and night mode come to the rescue, handing in solid exposure and colors even though the selfie is still too blurry. This leaves the Galaxy S22 Ultra as the best of the bunch by quite a margin, even though it too is a little soft. Still, Samsung nails the proper exposure, colors, bokeh, and skin hue to produce a useable selfie in some pretty difficult conditions.

Portrait and selfie rankings:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — Not always the very best but takes first place for consistency. Solid portraits, smooth bokeh, and selfies that look good whether you’re in bright daylight, a backlit environment, or in low light.
  2. Google Pixel 6 Pro — Edges into second place for the low-light selfie but the Pixel’s skin textures don’t always look great on close inspection. Still, the phone performed better than the iPhone in both bokeh accuracy and low-light performance, making it a more consistent if not always better shooter.
  3. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max —  Portraits and selfies are Apple’s specialty and the phone provides solid skin tones and textures. Just don’t try to use the selfie camera in low light as it’s really awful.
  4. Oppo Find X5 Pro — Last place feels harsh on Oppo’s flagship as its portraits and selfies are very good. However, the phone’s bokeh effect isn’t quite up to scratch and neither is the selfie camera’s low-light capabilities. That’s disappointing given the fuss Oppo made about its RGBW selfie image sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera shootout: The verdict

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Overall, we have four excellent camera phones here, but it would be a cop-out not to crown a victor. There’s no out and out winner of every category in this shootout but totaling up the scores gives us two phones that rank consistently near the top — the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Google Pixel 6 Pro. Neither is the perfect all-around package, but if you’re looking for the most consistent and versatile shooter, Samsung’s latest flagship earns our recommendation. Its color balance, low-light shooting, selfie, and zoom capabilities are all very good to excellent.

However, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is hot on its heels, especially in the zoom department, and actually edges out the S22 Ultra in this shootout’s HDR scenarios. Most importantly, it performs almost as well while retailing for a fraction of the price — just $899 versus the Ultra’s $1,200 tag.  That’s a considerable saving and almost certainly makes Google’s flagship the better buy for all but the pickiest of mobile photographers.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra may be the marginally better shooter, but the Pixel 6 Pro is the better bargain.

Oppo’s Find X5 Pro puts in a solid performance and would have done a lot better if not for a couple of persistent problems, namely, the overzealous color pallet and lack of a decent quality zoom. The former could be fixed in a software update, but at this price, the phone really should be more competitive at a distance. I’m yearning for the return of Oppo’s periscope camera.

This leaves us with Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro, a fair camera phone but one I feel is a bit overrated these days. Its HDR and zoom capabilities are a little off the pace, and the camera’s consistent yellow tint is an annoying bugbear that Apple seems in no hurry to address. That said, it’s still an excellent phone for portrait lovers or night owls who avoid selfies, and it has one of the better ultrawide cameras on the market right now.

Which phone takes the best pictures overall?

7 votes

I’m sure each of these phones will find their fans for their given strengths and weaknesses. But if you’re after a robust shooter that will seldom let you down, spring for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can’t go wrong with the inexpensive Google Pixel 6 Pro.

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