iPhone 7 camera loses to Samsung in expert tests

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iPhone 7 back
iPhone 7's new iSight camera is better, but not the best.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The new iSight camera packed into iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is Apple’s best yet, according to tests carried out by the experts at DxOMark. It has been improved by a wider aperture, support for a wide color gamut, and faster autofocus.

But it’s not quite enough to beat the cameras found in Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphones.

DxOMark tested the iPhone 7 (its iPhone 7 Plus review is coming soon) and awarded it a score of 86. In comparison, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus scored 82 and 84 respectively. This might not sound like a massive jump, but Apple has made some significant improvements.

One of the biggest is the introduction of optical image stabilization, which helps you capture sharper images, smoother video, and improves low-light photography — and was previously only available in Plus-sized iPhones.

We also get a wider f/1.8 aperture with this year’s iSight camera, up from f/2.2 last year, which allows the camera sensor to absorb more light. Apple has added support for the DCI-P3 wide color gamut, too, and added an improved image processor.

This is a camera upgrade that’s not to be sniffed at, then — and that’s proven in DxOMark’s tests, which found the iPhone 7 delivers significant improvements over the iPhone 6s series in still image quality, thanks to superior texture quality and greatly reduced artifacts.

“With very few weaknesses, the iPhone 7 secures a podium position with one of the top three scores among all the mobile phone cameras we have tested,” reads the review. “Delivering superb photos and videos in a variety of shooting conditions, the iPhone 7 offers a visible improvement in image quality over the iPhone 6s Plus.”

However, all these improvements aren’t quite enough to knock Samsung’s latest smartphones off the podium.

The Galaxy S7 edge, which boasts the same camera as the Galaxy Note 7, maintains its crown as one of the best-performing cameras DxOMark has ever tested, achieving a score of 88. Last year’s Galaxy S6 edge+ is also a step ahead of the iPhone 7 with a score of 87.

If you’re an avid iPhone fan, then, Apple’s latest devices will provide you with the best shooting experience for your money. But there’s no doubt that in recent years, rival smartphone makers have overtaken Apple in the camera department, and it hasn’t quite caught up yet.