Lab – Apple iPhone 14 Pro: the picture in front of Samsung, but a notch behind Google

It took seven years before Apple changed its tune. In fact, since the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the Cupertino company has not changed the definition of its photo sensors, which do not seem to be resolved at 12 megapixels. Then came the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max with a new 48MP main sensor! “It’s a revolution”obviously.

As always in the world of Apple, the manufacturer of the sensor that equips the iPhone 14 Pro remains unknown. And not surprisingly, the company did not interfere with the operation of the specified sensors found in modern smartphones.

From 48 to 12 MP in moments

So, by default, when you shooting with the main module (24 mm f/1.78 in eq. 24×36), the photos taken are always at 12 Mpx, the terminal has recourse to the well-known practice of pixel binning. In each shot, the device combines the pixels to give an image that is definitely not very defined but, with a lot of software grub, it may be possible to get more successful images in low light, and less bugs -at for the bowels of your phone.

on Digital, as you well know, every new technology tickles our curiosity. Also, when we got our hands on the new high-end smartphones from Apple, we tried them on our test benches.

A truly relevant increase in meaning?

This analysis goes through RAW files in full definition. Because yes, a little angry made by Apple, to access 48 Mpx, you have to go through the acquisition of the image in its proprietary ProRaw format. We want to compare the shots from the main module of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max with their most relevant competitors.

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In a fairly classic way, we multiply the tests in our scene by concentrating on the main module of each mobile. We also use their default mode, which only analyzes files from pixel binning during the day, in low light, with and without “night mode”. Let’s save the battle for the high definition for a later battle.

In the sun

Compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max

During the day, the similarities between the two Apple products are clear. Despite adding definition, combining pixels, changing the focal length or even changing the aperture, it is difficult to distinguish the iPhone 14 Pro Max from the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, if you look closely, you can see differences here and there.



iPhone 13 Pro Max


iPhone 14 Pro Max

When it comes to colorimetry, the management of micro-contrasts allows the iPhone 14 Pro Max to offer a slightly more detailed shot. It remains slow, but the new baby offers a slightly better image than its elder brother. That being said, the leap forward is not as pronounced as one might think with such a change.

Compared to the Google Pixel 6

Google has become an expert in transforming its photos software. The shots from the Pixel 6 are very rich, almost too much, but they bring out most of the hidden details in our scene. Notice for example the lines of cards in the middle or lower left.



Google Pixel 6


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

On the contrary, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is more shy about managing micro-contrasts, but it has better controlled colorimetry and is closer to reality. In fact, Google’s 2021 vintage smartphones tend to oversaturate colors that don’t always represent what our eyes actually see.

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Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung takes the opposite view of American manufacturers. Despite a more defined primary sensor, the South Korean manufacturer opted for a softer treatment. It is a little less flattering on a smartphone screen, but within the framework of the banknote in the center of the image, the rendering of the S22 Ultra, from our point of view, is more elegant, because less forced, compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max.



Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

However, this less advanced treatment pays off as one moves away from the “hypercentre” of the shot. The image provided by Samsung is thus less clear, almost more “mushy”, perhaps proof that handling a 108 Mpx sensor is not always easy. Apple, by offering a more homogeneous image from start to finish, is better.

At night

Compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max

When the light is lowered significantly, we can see the contribution of the new sensor compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The combination of pixels makes it possible to recover more light and the shots produced by the 14 Pro Max are sharper and brighter.



iPhone 13 Pro Max


iPhone 14 Pro Max

The latest model takes a clear advantage when the night mode is deactivated, which is always interesting for photos on the fly.

Compared to the Google Pixel 6

The Google Pixel 6, even without a night mode, does everything to get close to a scene lit up like daylight. The tint is less orange, the whites are less clear and the micro-contrasts are less marked by Google, for an overall more successful shot in the center of the image.



Google Pixel 6


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

However, Apple has a slight advantage in the photo periphery.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

As we already know during the test of the S22 Ultra, excluding the night mode, the images are not very flattering. The rendering is very soft, almost blurry, which pushes the user to use night mode only.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

At the same time, the 14 Pro Max provides a more homogeneous image, is more usable, and has more readable details.

Night Mode

Compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max

If, once the night mode is deactivated, it is easy to observe a real difference between the two vintages of Apple, once this mode is activated, with more long exposure time and a calculation of the captured images, the differences will be slower. It is very complicated to know which version of iPhone dominates the other. In detail, it seems that the 13 Pro Max is better, a shame!



iPhone 13 Pro Max


iPhone 14 Pro Max

In addition, while during the day the colorimetry is done the same, in the night mode, we see the uneven treatment of the colors leaning, according to the author’s wishes, also in favor of the older of the two devices. .

Compared to the Google Pixel 6

Not surprisingly, once in night mode, Google’s Pixel 6 lives up to its reputation. If it weren’t for the slight underexposure, you’d think the photo was taken with our sunlight. True, our scene lit under 3 lux is darker and the light is more orange, but we are still amazed by the software that runs Google to offer a very clear and detailed shot.



Google Pixel 6


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro Max excels in this area. If there is a draw without the night mode, Apple still has to do to reach the level of the American rival once the “night vision” is activated later.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

As from the beginning of our article, the S22 Ultra offers a much slower image, which does not necessarily upset us. But even in night mode, many details are lost and the scene remains too dark.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

With the iPhone, compared to the shot of the Samsung, it almost seems to return to a light because the scene is better exposed. The color processing is not the most accurate, but the picture turns out to be very flattering and usable.

A marginal difference between the two generations of Apple

After our various comparisons, this new version of the iPhone leaves us a little skeptical. Like other manufacturers, and although Apple took its time, we expect better pictures. True, there is an improvement at night compared to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, but for others, in our laboratory, the differences are in the margins, and not always in the right direction.

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