The iPhone XR has a single 12MP, f1.8 wide-angle camera on the back. The S10e, on the other hand, has a 12MP f1.5-2.4 wide angle and a 16MP f2.2 ultra wide-angle camera.
Both phones have excellent main cameras and both also look quite similar. It's only when you zoom in closer do you start seeing the difference.
The iPhone photos are generally sharper, even though the S10e can stop its aperture down to 2.4 in bright lighting. The iPhone generally chooses to retain detail even at the cost of added noise. The S10e prefers to smooth things a bit to reduce noise, which also results in less detail.
Tip: If you are browsing the desktop version of our website, you can click the compare button in the lower right corner of each set of images to compare the camera samples head-to-head.
The S10e tends to overexpose a bit like some of the previous Samsung phones. This results in some loss of highlight detail. The iPhone has better overall exposure and also retains detail better in highlights. Both have capable HDR mode but the iPhone's HDR is more subtle and it also uses it more frequently. The S10e enables its HDR less often but you can also tell when it has been used.
The color performance differs quite a bit on the two phones. The iPhone, in most lighting conditions, will choose to go for a warmer image while the S10e will have a cooler color tone. The S10e image often looks better between the two but the iPhone image is more natural. However, the iPhone also messes up its white balance at times. Incandescent lights tend to trip up the iPhone camera, resulting in colder looking images.
The actual colors are very similar on both. However, the iPhone has wide color support, so if you have a P3 compatible monitor then you will see a greater range of colors from the iPhone image. The reds, in particular, look much deeper and vivider than from any other phone camera. The S10e can artificially saturate its colors if the scene optimizer is on, depending upon the subject.
In low light, there's again not too much of a difference between the two aside from white balance. The iPhone images are once again a bit sharper but noisier while the S10e cleans up the noise at the cost of some detail. The S10e does have a Night mode that kicks in automatically in extremely dark situations but it's only if you have scene optimizer enabled and it's also not particularly good.
Where the S10e camera pulls ahead is in having a Pro mode in the camera app. While most people aren't likely to use it, it's good to have this option, which also allows you to save images in raw format.
The S10e also has a more usable portrait mode. Called Live focus, it works with people as well as objects. The Portrait mode on the iPhone XR, however, only works with people and you will have to download a third-party app such as Halide if you want to use it with objects.
But the biggest trick up the S10e' sleeve is the ultra wide-angle camera. While only having a fixed focus lens, this camera offers a tremendous field of view, which is both useful and also lets you capture much more interesting-looking shots. Once you get use to shooting with this lens, the standard wide-angle feels much more restrictive and boring in comparison. Unfortunately, the quality of the sensor is not as good as on the main wide-angle camera, and the lens itself has heavy barrel distortion around the edges. The latter can be corrected through a setting in the Camera app but then it also crops in a little. Still, it's an extremely fun camera that more phones need to have.
Coming to the video quality, here iPhone scores a resounding victory over the S10e. The XR can record 4K video in 24, 30 and 60fps along with 240fps 1080p slow motion video. The quality of the video is excellent, especially in 4K 24 and 30fps modes. In these modes, the camera captures twice as many frames as the frame rate and stacks them to improve the dynamic range. This results in really good highlight detail, something many phone cameras struggle with. The bit rate is also high enough that you don't notice too many compression artifacts.
In 60fps mode, the dynamic range isn't as good as it's no longer combining frames but the image quality is still good. The slow-motion options also produce a good quality video. The videos are also quite stable thanks to the combination of optical and electronic stabilization. There's also wide color support, so they look even better on a P3 color display.
The S10e video isn't as good. Whether you are shooting at 30fps or 60fps, the dynamic range is much worse on the S10e with blown highlights everywhere. The videos are also a bit softer compared to the iPhone's.
Samsung's video stabilization in 4K is on par with the iPhone's. The S10e does offer a Super steady mode, but that drops the resolution to 1080p. It's a bit more stable but not by much and not worth shooting in 1080p.
For the dynamic range, Samsung does offer a solution in the form of HDR10+ recording. Videos shot in HDR10+ on the S10e look excellent, with wide dynamic range, wide color support, and great detail. Unfortunately, outside of the S10 phones and a select few HDR10+ televisions, these videos are useless as there exist very few devices and zero platforms that support this standard. So, while you will have great looking videos on your phone, you won't be able to share them with anyone.
The S10e also has the 240fps 1080p slow motion but there's also a 960fps 720p Super slow motion mode. This can be quite fun when used correctly but needs superhuman reflexes to time the shutter button release precisely when the action is happening, or else you miss the moment due to the short 0.6-second window.