Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The convenience of a phone camera is the reason it has become such an integral part of the smartphone experience. The ability to quickly pull it out of your pocket, snap a picture, and know you’ll get a great picture is why a lot of people splurge on a high-end flagship phone. However, you no longer need to break the bank to get an amazing camera phone.

The iPhone 12 is Apple’s affordable smartphone. The one that avoids some cool features for a lower and more affordable price. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is an affordable and feature-packed flagship.

With similar prices, but two different ecosystems, we pitted the two phones against each other to test their imaging prowess. Here is Android AuthorityIPhone 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE camera test comparison. Be sure to vote for the poll winner at the end.

Editor’s Note: We are using the Exynos version of the Galaxy S20 FE for this shootout. While there may be some minor differences in the ISP setting, the camera samples generally reflect both the 4G model and the Snapdragon-powered 5G version that you can purchase in the US.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs iPhone 12: Camera Specs

Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro, the standard iPhone 12 is happy with two lenses. a 12MP primary camera and a secondary 12MP ultra-wide sensor. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, features a 3x telephoto lens paired with an 8MP sensor. Here’s a look at the full camera specs for both phones.

See also: The best budget camera phones you can buy

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has an advantage over the iPhone 12 with the addition of a dedicated telephoto lens. Beyond that, the two phones are similar in their capabilities. They both support dedicated night modes, portrait mode shooting, and more. The iPhone 12 supports Dolby Vision video recording at 30 frames per second, which is an industry first, but you’ll need a compatible display to really see the benefits.

iPhone 12 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Rear cameras

iPhone 12:

12MP, f / 1.6, 26mm, 1.4µm, OIS
Ultra-wide 12MP, f / 2.4, 13mm, 120 degree FOV

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

12MP, f / 1.8, 26mm, 1.8µm, OIS
Ultra-wide 12MP, f / 2.2, 13mm, 1.12µm, 123 degrees FOV
8MP telephoto lens, f / 2.4, 76mm, 1µm, OIS

Rear video

iPhone 12:

UHD 4K 60 fps
1080p 240fps
Dolby Vision HDR

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

UHD 4K 60 fps
1080p 240fps

Front cameras

iPhone 12:

12MP, f / 2.2, 23mm

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

32MP, f / 2.2, 26mm, 0.8 µm

Video before

iPhone 12:

UHD 4K 60 fps

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

UHD 4K 60 fps

Day light

Food photography, selfies, or just a random photo taken while walking around the neighborhood are common use cases for a smartphone. For me, it’s when I spot an interesting building, an old monument, or a delicious plate of food. With that in mind, I took out the iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE to see how well the two phones performed under similar conditions using the multiple lens combinations.

Photography terms explained: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc.

The main camera is where most (no pun intended) of smartphones are focused. Usually the bigger sensor, most high end phones work well here. In fact, the differences usually boil down to the camera and software setting, as well as individual preferences.

The iPhone 12 goes for a softer, warmer tone, closer to the original scene. The Samsung, on the other hand, predictably opted for boosted shades a trend that has remained constant in all of our tests.

The photo of the Galaxy S20 FE with a contrasting, overly sharp look may be a bit more striking on social media, but not everyone will like it.

In a slightly more complicated shot of an abandoned monument, the different approaches to the imagery become more apparent. The neutral tone of the iPhone 12 is more visually appealing compared to the significantly boosted greens pulled by the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

The iPhone also moves forward by keeping a bit more detail in highlights, as well as dynamic range to bring out details in shadow areas. The Galaxy S20 FE image looks a bit too striking for my taste, although your mileage may vary.

The same scene taken using the wide-angle camera once again presents a very different approach to capturing images. The iPhone does a decent job of correcting distortion, but is not as wide as the Samsung. Additionally, flaring is a constant concern with the iPhone 12 when shooting in a light source. You can see it with the setting sun in this image. However, it has a lot more detail in the image.

At first glance, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE produces a more striking image. However, the HDR processing goes too strong to subdue the highlights, bringing out the blues of the sky. the scene looked nothing like it. Cropping reveals significant loss of low level detail and this is visible in both foliage and trees.

Indoors in a cafe, the iPhone 12 beats the Galaxy S20 FE with better light retention, reduced noise, and better color science. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE blurs warm yellow tones with an almost pink tint that is far from accurate.

As it is now clear, the two phones have a fundamentally different approach to the pictures. Samsung opts for a more dramatic shot with lots of contrast compared to the iPhone’s neutral tilt. In some cases, it ends up looking more attractive. That said, the iPhone 12 still does a better job of reducing glare.

Now I’m just as guilty as most people for taking a photo of a good plate of food instead of directly digging. Food photography is an extremely popular use case for smartphone cameras, and the iPhone leads here with better low-light performance. Up close there are more details, although the iPhone 12 tampered with the white balance by shifting too much into warm tones.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE tends to smear details in less than ideal lighting. The plate looks dull and lifeless here.

Portrait mode, selfies and low light

Computer photography has come a long way. Whether it’s better portrait mode, both on the rear and front cameras, or better low-light imaging, the merging of hardware and software has made great strides in the prowess of smartphone imaging. Let’s take a look at the software capabilities of both phones in our Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs iPhone 12 camera comparison.

Let’s start with the portrait mode. I asked a socially distant family member to take a picture of me. The goal was to see how well the two cameras are able to segment faces and add natural bokeh blur.

There are a couple of things that stand out in the portrait mode examples. The two phones have a drastically different white balance neither is quite correct. The iPhone 12 goes for a slightly brighter tone with drop shadows and a much warmer white balance for a more engaging shot. The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, leans too much towards the blues and features excessive sharpness.

I’ll be honest here. I am surprised at how well the Samsung has managed to create an effective cutout around me. The bokeh effect is a bit more subdued compared to the iPhone, but it still manages to look pretty convincing. The falling bokeh on both phones is also reasonably natural. It can be further adjusted using the Gallery app on either phone.

Portrait mode selfies are where we start to see a broader differentiation between the two phones. This time around, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE produces a more natural image, with the iPhone opting for warmer color tones and heavily lifted shadows.

Our opinion : Apple iPhone 12 review

Out of the camera, the iPhone 12’s photo looks more appealing and has better dynamic range. Conversely, the Galaxy S20 FE nails color but trades it with strong noise reduction and a general lack of detail.

Both phones have fairly robust night modes built in. In the scene above, both cameras defaulted to a two-second handheld shot and captured crisp, well-exposed footage. At first glance, the image of the S20 FE may seem a bit sharper, but this is due to a significant reduction in noise.

The iPhone 12, on the other hand, has a lot more detail at the expense of a more grainy image. In addition, it tends to increase the black levels a bit. The iPhone 12 wins this round.

Things get a little more interesting when shooting in night mode using the ultra-wide cameras. While both images show signs of strong noise reduction, this time around the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE leads the way with a much more evenly lit shot, along with more detail. This despite the much-vaunted Deep Fusion algorithms applied to the iPhone 12’s wide-angle camera.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs iPhone 12 camera test: the verdict

iPhone 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE from top to bottom

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

To wrap up our review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs iPhone 12 camera, it’s a bit surprising how close Samsung’s affordable flagship is to the iPhone 12. However, Apple’s phone has it. wins with a small margin.

In many cases, there is no obvious winner. It’s more a question of preferences. However, there is no doubt that in most cases the iPhone 12 solves the details a bit more and handles highlights better.

Overall, the two phones take very different approaches to solving the same problem. The differences boil down to a personal choice in color science rather than a drastic gap in imaging capabilities.

The video quality is however much better on the iPhone 12. So if this is a priority for you, the choice becomes much easier.

Which series of images do you prefer? Vote for the winner of our shootout in the poll above.