Radical New Smartphone Camera Destroys Galaxy S21 Ultra, iPhone 12 Pro Max – Forbes

A new smartphone has just been crowned camera king: The first to use Samsung’s latest imaging technology, it delivers outstanding performance but is not a Samsung phone.

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According to the respected benchmarking site, Dxomark, Xiaomi’s brand new flagship, the Mi 11 Ultra now has the best-performing smartphone camera available, beating both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra by a huge margin. 

Scoring 143 points in Dxomark’s performance tests, the Mi 11 Ultra beats the reigning champ, Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro+, by four points and comes in a full 13 points ahead of the iPhone 12 Pro Max at 130. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, however, lags way behind on 121 points.

And this is where it gets interesting: Dxomark’s extensive, yet often controversial, tests reveal that the Galaxy S21 Ultra seriously underperforms when it comes to image noise, scoring only 69 points in this specific test where the iPhone 12 Pro Max scores 75 and the Mi 11 Ultra achieves a whopping 98.

The key difference here is that the Mi 11 Ultra is using Samsung’s latest 50-megapixel,1/1.12-inch Isocell GN2 sensor, whereas the Galaxy S21 Ultra is fitted with the 108-megapixel, 1/1.33-inch Isocell HM3.

As the largest image sensor yet to be installed in a mainstream smartphone, the Isocell GN2 sensor may have less than half the pixels of the Isocell HM3, but its physically larger size gives it a major advantage in overcoming image noise, which is exactly what we’re seeing in Dxomark’s results. 

While Samsung insists on playing megapixel wars with the S21 Ultra, I’d personally be happy to trade some resolution for overall image quality. One of the main advantages of a 108-megapixel sensor is the extra detail which should enable you to crop in more tightly without losing quality.

However, according to Dxomark’s preliminary figures, the Mi 11 Ultra absolutely destroys the Galaxy S21 Ultra (and the iPhone 12 Pro Max) in zoom performance too, although we’ll have to wait for the full test report to see exactly how they stack up.

Despite its current advantage, Xiaomi’s reign at the top of the camera charts may yet be short-lived as Huawei’s next-gen flagship is tipped to feature an even larger main camera sensor.

Perhaps we’ll see a large-sensor Galaxy flagship in due course but, for now, Samsung seems content to let the Chinese manufacturers fight it out for camera supremacy with its own hardware. The big question is, why?

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