Review: The Samsung S7's camera now rivals the iPhone

NEW YORK -- It's difficult to justify paying for a high-priced, top-end smartphone these days -- unless, that is, you want to take good pictures.

See Full Article

In this Age of Instagram, a great camera is one of the few reasons to pay $650 or more for the latest smartphone, instead of $200 or $300 for a budget phone that does texting, Facebook and Web surfing just as well.

Samsung's phone cameras have shown tremendous improvement in just a few years. The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones take much better pictures than last year's S6 models. In fact, they're now basically neck and neck with Apple's iPhones, meaning that you no longer have to compromise on picture quality if you prefer Android.

I took more than 2,000 still shots and a few videos using 10 smartphones from Samsung, Apple, LG, Huawei and Motorola. To make the comparison clearer, I focused on indoor and night settings, such as museums, bars and New York's Central Park at night. Even budget phones can take great shots in good light, but only great phones take good shots in poor light.


I was impressed with the S7's ability to capture Central Park's unlighted Bethesda Fountain at night. Shots from most other phones appear pitch black, save for a faint outline of the fountain's statue and some distant light from building windows.

The S7 was also more likely to get the focus right on its own, without having to choose a focus area first by touching the phone screen. Even with touching, focusing sometimes takes a second or two on other cameras. I don't get that lag with the S7, meaning fewer missed action shots.

The lens and image sensors on the S7 aren't large enough to match the capabilities of full-bodied SLR cameras, but the phones borrow some of the focus and light-capturing technologies found on more sophisticated shooters. These technologies combined result in brighter, sharper images in low light.


The S7 also has a wider-angle lens than last year's S6 models, one that now matches iPhone hardware. It captures more of what's in front of you. Among other things, people don't have to squeeze together as tightly for group shots.

Samsung also corrected some design deficiencies in earlier models. The S7's camera lens no longer protrudes awkwardly, as it did on the S6. Its screen turns into a flash for low-light selfies, just like the latest iPhones. (That means my selfies now look awful because of their subject and not the low light.)

The S7 also takes photos in a standard 4-by-3 rectangle, not the wider 16-by-9 frame of the S6. While overall megapixel count is lower on the S7, that's entirely a consequence of the narrower width, which yields a photo like an S6 shot with its far edges chopped off.


Many indoor shots come out yellowish, possibly reflecting the yellowish nature of indoor lighting. On the S7, books look as though they've yellowed from being out in the sun too long. Egg whites on a burger don't look so white (though bacon comes out brighter). Faces are more orange than usual.

Odd colours can make pictures look better, but they often don't seem natural.

The S7 also produces a white outline -- a bit of a glow -- around black text. It isn't noticeable when viewed on a screen, but looks fake when enlarged.


Of all of the phones I tested, the S7 and iPhone 6S produced the most consistent low-light photos. The S7 shots typically had better focus, while the iPhone pictures looked more natural, with colours typically mirroring how you see things.

The S7 has also cloned Apple's Live Photos feature, in which the camera captures short video clips as it's taking still photos. The feature is on by default on the iPhone, but you need to turn it on with the S7. Unlike the iPhone version, Samsung's Motion Photo has no sound.

The latest Apple and Samsung phones are comparable in many other ways. (I took a first look at the S7 a few weeks ago: .) One impressive non-camera feature is the S7's fast-charging capability. With the included charger, I get a full charge in just 80 minutes, and that's enough for nine hours of Hulu video streaming on the S7, 10 hours on the S7 Edge.

The camera, though, is where these phones really stand out from the pack.


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Mysterious free-roaming hippo captured in southern Mexico

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A local offers a hippopotamus which locals have named Tyson, a branch to snack on, in Las Chopas, Veracruz state, Mexico, Friday, March 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Armando Serrano) Source
  • Ashes of Stephen Hawking to be placed in Westminster Abbey

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LONDON -- The ashes of celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking will be interred at London's Westminster Abbey near the grave of Isaac Newton. A spokesman for the abbey said Tuesday the ashes will be placed there later this year at a thanksgiving service. Source
  • Google launches news initiative to support media, combat fake news

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- Google is rolling out a news initiative aimed at supporting quality journalism by stopping the spread of fake news and helping publishers pick up more subscribers. The technology company says the $300-million initiative will adjust algorithms and use new services to make users see links from publications they pay for higher up in their search results. Source
  • Canadians vulnerable to politically-motivated Facebook data abuse

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Every like, share and click you perform on Facebook is already being used to target you with content and consumer advertising, but experts warn that activity can also be used to subtly (and sometimes dishonestly) influence your political beliefs, especially with a federal election looming next year. Source
  • Indian wildlife sanctuary sees jump in one-horned rhinos

    Tech & Science CTV News
    GAUHATI, India -- A tiny wildlife sanctuary in northeastern India has reported a jump in the number of one-horned rhinoceroses. All of the world's five rhino species are under threat from poachers who sell their horns on black markets, often in countries where rhino horn is believed to increase male potency. Source
  • Crash marks first death involving fully autonomous vehicle

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TEMPE, Ariz. -- A fatal pedestrian crash involving a self-driving Uber SUV in a Phoenix suburb could have far-reaching consequences for the new technology as automakers and other companies race to be the first with cars that operate on their own. Source
  • There was one male northern white rhino left, and we euthanized it

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The world's last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after "age-related complications," researchers announced Tuesday, saying he "stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength." A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized on Monday after his condition "worsened significantly" and he was no longer able to stand. Source
  • Elections Canada prepares to fight fake news, foreign influence in 2019 vote

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Elections Canada is erecting multiple lines of defence to fight fake news, cyber-attacks and foreign interference in next year's federal election campaign. Democracies around the world are grappling with new threats to democracy in the digital age, from foreign actors tampering with voting systems to the viral spread of disinformation through social media. Source
  • Are scientists male or female? See how kids draw them

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new study shows more children in the United States are drawing female scientists than ever before, but as they get older they tend to draw more male scientists, meaning they draw what they see. The findings show kids "are in touch with their world" because more women have become scientists in recent decades, said Alice Eagly, psychology professor at Northwestern University and co-author of the research that assessed children's views of scientists. Source
  • Here's how to protect your privacy on Facebook

    Tech & Science CTV News
    As Facebook takes heat after it was disclosed that a U.K.-based company improperly obtained data from 50 million users, now’s a great time to look over your Facebook account’s privacy settings. But first, some background. Source