Now, there are five cameras in total on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Three 12MP shooters on the rear – primary, ultrawide, and 2x telephoto. And, there’s the 4MP UDC camera on the inner display plus the 10MP selfie camera on the cover display. The only difference in the camera setup from the Z Fold 2 is that you get Optical Image Stabilisation on the telephoto now. That is it.
While I am not expecting too much from the camera performance of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I still decided to run a very quick comparison alongside another phone that costs Rs 1,50,000 – the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Here are the results:
Starting with the details, Samsung clearly goes for an over-sharpened look to compensate for the slightly inferior sensor quality. The iPhone 12 Pro Max’s details are extremely natural. Plus, the colour of the blue sky and green foliage reproduced by the iPhone 12 Pro Max is closer to what my eyes saw.
In fact, in my second image looking just at the colour accuracy, the iPhone tends to make the image slightly warmer than natural but the Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes it extremely cool. Both the White Points are off but iPhone 12 Pro Max is closer to reality. Plus, the reproduction of the blue denim colour of the cushion and the reds on the books are nearly accurate too. Samsung’s processing does create that distinctly over-saturated look.
Where the iPhone 12 Pro Max just sucker punches the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is in HDR performance. This is where I tell you pictures speak far louder than words. From the fantastically well-exposed building, to the absolutely gorgeous dynamic light play in the evening sky, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s image stacking algorithm is just way better.
The two 12MP ultrawides on the 12 Pro Max and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 are very good at maintaining the colour science parity with the main camera. And thankfully, with the ultrawide, Samsung doesn’t over-sharpen as much. So, detail retention is similar on both the phones. But, thanks to the more accurate colours, I’d go with the iPhone 12 Pro Max here. If you can fix the colours in post, then it is basically a tie between the two.
As for the telephoto, again Samsung tends to over-sharpen the details. Plus, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can go slightly closer with its 2.5x lens as opposed to the 2x magnification possible on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Plus, the colours are completely off on the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Portrait mode shots on both Samsung and Apple flagships have always been great. However, in this shot, you can clearly tell that the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s skin tone is very good as Samsung tends to over-exposed. But, the edge cutout is generally better on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, with far better outlines.
As for selfies, let’s get one thing out of the way, the UDC is absolutely useless for the purpose. But, there are two more options, so it doesn’t really matter at all. And, since you can actually take a selfie with the primary camera, you are bound to get better looking selfies using the Z Fold 3. What I noticed with the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the selfies have a warm tone to them. On the contrary, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a cool temperature, which also affects the blues. Details and noise performance are very similar. It is a matter of which look you prefer, at the end of the day.
Low light photography is a vital part of any flagship camera performance. I really love how Apple approaches low light photography with its smart algorithm that detects the light available and cranks up the shutter speed to capture a very natural recreation of the scene. You can see how the Night Mode cranks up the saturation in the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s image. And, with Night Mode on, you get far better detail retention on the iPhone compared to the soft details on the Z Fold 3 as is evident from the second image. Clearly, I’d pick the iPhone 12 Pro Max for better low light shots.
Low Light Selfies
Between the two phones, the iPhone 12 Pro Max takes far more natural looking low light selfies. I don’t even need to explain why.
As far as video recording using the rear camera or the front camera is concerned, both the phones can shoot in 4K 60fps. But, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s quality is just way better. Fantastic colour accuracy, supreme dynamic range, slightly better audio recording, and most importantly the capability to shoot directly in Dolby Vision format. This is one area where the Galaxy Z Fold 3 definitely cannot match up.
While the iPhone 12 Pro Max is definitely a better camera system compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I don’t think the foldable phone from Samsung is bad or anything. If anything, I actually used it exclusively during my trip to Jaipur and managed some really gorgeous shots with the phone. And, if you can edit in post, these phones offer the option to shoot in RAW as well. Additionally, the bigger tablet display makes it easier to compose a shot too. If you are a sucker for a great flagship camera experience, I’d suggest going for the iPhone 12 Pro Max or the Mi 11 Ultra or the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Otherwise, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will work just fine.
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