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iPhone XS vs. Galaxy Note 9: Why Apple’s Camera Wins

The camera on last year’s iPhone X impressed us out of the gate, but Apple was unable to hold the lead for long. Fierce competition from Google’s Pixel 2, Huawei’s P20 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 series left the iPhone X looking a lot less like a leader in mobile imaging. But the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max promise better photo quality, thanks to a new sensor and welcome new features like Smart HDR.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a pretty advanced camera, too. For example, the Note 9’s rear shooter has a variable aperture that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4, depending on the necessities of the scene. Additionally, the Note 9 employs Samsung’s new Scene Optimizer technology, which leverages AI to tune images, depending on the type of scene that’s being shot.

Both phones have dual, wide-angle and telephoto 12-megapixel lenses equipped with optical image stabilization, both are capable of 2x optical zoom and both can capture shallow depth-of-field portraits with bokeh that can be manipulated after tapping the shutter.

To crown a winner, we took to the streets of New York City to capture an assortment of photos across all types of scenarios, from a sunny morning to a starry night. Here’s how they compared.

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