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Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Two flagship smartphone cameras compared

By Marcus Wong - 2 Apr 2019

Camera interface

Camera interface: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Pro mode of the app lets you adjust shutter speed, ISO and compensation.

As you can see, the Mate 20 Pro has many options available in the interface. Four dots (refer to 1x in the above screenshot) help you quickly jump between Wide, 1x,3x, and 5x zoom, but you can always run your finger across the bar to get to any levels in between. While the placement of the modes doesn’t change with the orientation of the phone, this does shift to the right or the bottom of the screen depending on whether you hold the phone vertically or horizontally.

A large number of dedicated scene modes are available here too, from Night to Portrait to the Pro mode, which basically lets you set one of ISO, shutter or aperture. Added features like Panorama, HDR, and Super Macro mode are also available, and those are found under the More tab. In essence, everything you might want from your smartphone camera is just a few taps away. Switching between scene modes resets settings back to default, so that’s an easy fix if you’ve messed around with the options too much.

And there’s a good number of options in the settings page too, like basic Assistive Grid display, adding watermarks, and resolution (which really just changes the aspect ratio of the image captured). Huawei has this Ultra snapshot option, which lets you take an image by double-pressing the volume button even if the screen is off, as well as an option to get the camera to take a picture just by saying “Cheese”. Interestingly, there’s even an option for the camera to take photos when your voice reaches a certain decibel level, though we don’t think you’ll want to be shouting every time you want to take a picture.

The camera will prompt you to hold steady when it's performing sharpening.

Huawei’s version of AI is called “Master AI”, and it automatically selects the appropriate shooting mode for you based on what the camera detects in the scene. If you want to use your own settings, simply tap the X on the pop-up card that appears to denote the automatically chosen mode.

 

Camera interface: Galaxy S10+

That little face icon indicates the camera has detected a face and has shifted to portrait mode.

The Galaxy S10+’s interface seems to be a little simpler, with a quick link to Instagram-like filters on the top-right corner, and icons to signify the zoom level at the bottom – wide, normal, and full telephoto. Pressing and holding down on the zoom icons brings up the zoom bar, after which you either slide your finger left and right or up and down to adjust the zoom settings. Unlike the Mate 20 Pro, the zoom bar doesn’t change position to match the orientation of your phone, but that doesn’t seem to complicate things.

HDR is added when needed instead of being a separate function.

On the Galaxy S10, HDR is added when necessary and not a separate mode in itself (though you can toggle a settings option to always capture with HDR enabled). A key feature of the camera app is Scene Optimization, which analyzes the scene you’re trying to capture and applies the best settings for you. It’s interesting to see how the Scene Optimizer indicator switches icons to reflect what the phone has detected the scene to be. In general, it does a pretty good job of classifying and applying the appropriate scene-based optimization for an improved shot - great for the everyday user who would much rather have the phone do the thinking. However, there is no in-between level of control for the scene settings applied, nor can you enable a scene optimization manually.

For novice users, you can even enable Shot Suggestions in the camera settings and this will go so far as to present two circles on screen for you to line up your shot to obtain what the camera thinks is the best composition. Both the Scene Optimizer and Shot Suggestions are examples of the phone's improved AI processing capability at work on the Samsung S10 series.

Four different types of focus effects are available to play with.

In place of a dedicated portrait mode, the Galaxy S10+ has what it calls Live Focus mode that lets you adjust the effect applied - in both pre and post-capture. To adjust the level of intensity of the effect, you're presented with a simple slider, and you can choose between one of four types of focus effects – Blur, Spin, Zoom, and Colour point – to be applied. And yes, you can change both the level of intensity and effect type even after taking the shot. Colour Point is probably going to be the most fun of these effects.

Overall, it’s definitely a simpler interface, with perhaps just Food as the only real “scene” mode available. This creates a pseudo bokeh effect by letting you tap to place a circle of focus anywhere in the scene, with an easy slider to adjust the overall color temperature.

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