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Looking for a new phone with a "better" camera

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,876
5,231
126
Current phone is a Samsung Galaxy S9+. I've only ever owned Samsung Galaxy S series smart phones.
Verizon offered me some decent trade-in and deals on both the Samsung S21Ultra and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. (as well as on the newest Note...S20?)

I've never owned an iPhone...maybe used someone else's one time...but I do have an iPad and love it, so I don't think the change in brands will be too challenging.

I know the S21Ultra has a much longer zoom lens (108x) than the iPhone, (12x) but depending on whose review you read, it's either the best cell phone camera ever...worth of throwing away your DSLR over...or it's muddles, fuzzy, full of noise...and just generally not that great.
The iPhone, while only having a 12x zoom, is rated as having the best overall picture.

I live on the Washington coast...and am on the beach several times per week. I'd LOVE to be able to take some decent pics of wildlife and various "seascapes" when the opportunity arises. I have an entry-level DSLR, (Nikon D3300) with a few lenses...but "the best camera is the one you have in your hands when you need/want it."

I was at Costco on Tuesday. I tried both. I gotta agree that the S21+ picture sucked when zoomed out. I tried looking across the store, and everything was blurry, full of noise and just not clear. You could barely read text on signs. I've read that it's probably something Samsung will fix with a software update...MAYBE. I'm not comfortable shelling out that kind of $$$ for a phone with a mediocre camera and HOPE Samsung comes up with a fix.

Neither camera has SD storage or headphone jack...but I don't use the wired ear buds that have always come with phones...I have bluetooth on-ear/over-ear headphones instead. The storage issue really isn't MUCH of an issue as long as I can download the pics and such to my PC.

The guy manning the Costco booth was obviously a Samsung guy...which is fine, but if it's your job to sell phones...don't talk one brand up and put the other down to the point where a customer who was ready to buy just walks away.

How about some info and unbiased opinions? I don't NEED a new phone...current one works...fine...but it's been 2-1/2 years...technology has improved greatly...and I WANT a new phone.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
16,756
419
126
As you saw, the 108x zoom on the S21 Ultra is more of a gimmick. IMO, it's still one of the best Android phones out right now. I haven't seen the latest Notes though.

I have the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it takes great pics, and the 12 Pro Max is a slight improvement. I don't think you will have any issues moving to an iPhone, as the OS is pretty simple. My last Android phone was the Note 8, and I'll admit that I do miss the pen every now & then. Other than that, I don't miss Android at all.

Most people who buy new phones don't need them, it's a want.
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
5,880
372
126
Current phone is a Samsung Galaxy S9+. I've only ever owned Samsung Galaxy S series smart phones.
Verizon offered me some decent trade-in and deals on both the Samsung S21Ultra and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. (as well as on the newest Note...S20?)

I've never owned an iPhone...maybe used someone else's one time...but I do have an iPad and love it, so I don't think the change in brands will be too challenging.

I know the S21Ultra has a much longer zoom lens (108x) than the iPhone, (12x) but depending on whose review you read, it's either the best cell phone camera ever...worth of throwing away your DSLR over...or it's muddles, fuzzy, full of noise...and just generally not that great.
The iPhone, while only having a 12x zoom, is rated as having the best overall picture.

I live on the Washington coast...and am on the beach several times per week. I'd LOVE to be able to take some decent pics of wildlife and various "seascapes" when the opportunity arises. I have an entry-level DSLR, (Nikon D3300) with a few lenses...but "the best camera is the one you have in your hands when you need/want it."

I was at Costco on Tuesday. I tried both. I gotta agree that the S21+ picture sucked when zoomed out. I tried looking across the store, and everything was blurry, full of noise and just not clear. You could barely read text on signs. I've read that it's probably something Samsung will fix with a software update...MAYBE. I'm not comfortable shelling out that kind of $$$ for a phone with a mediocre camera and HOPE Samsung comes up with a fix.

Neither camera has SD storage or headphone jack...but I don't use the wired ear buds that have always come with phones...I have bluetooth on-ear/over-ear headphones instead. The storage issue really isn't MUCH of an issue as long as I can download the pics and such to my PC.

The guy manning the Costco booth was obviously a Samsung guy...which is fine, but if it's your job to sell phones...don't talk one brand up and put the other down to the point where a customer who was ready to buy just walks away.

How about some info and unbiased opinions? I don't NEED a new phone...current one works...fine...but it's been 2-1/2 years...technology has improved greatly...and I WANT a new phone.
how often and important are your photo's are you whale watching / looking for bald eagles? to be honest i think the only thing ive used my super zoom for is for checking out a girl on the beach. I use a usb-c hub in a pinch on my galaxy s20+ / s10+ to transfer off things (WHICH DOESNT WORK OUT SO WELL ON APPLe PHONES FOR ME) so i guess i dont really need a SD card (but i do indeed have 512gb unlocked version of the phones and a 512gb sd in both of them) anandtech has wonderful reviews that show the same photo taken from each phone so you can decide which you like best. (freaking love those reviews better then any other place online)
You really want to spend 1000$ on a phone right now? I usually wait for the next iPhone to drop or Christmas and grab one used from someone else buying latest greatest in like new and either unlock it from https://store.unlockboot.com/ (super cool guy / quick chat reply) and has unlocked and done many things for free in the past the chat price is always less then the price listed :)
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,876
5,231
126
Thanks, Muadib. I was interested in the iPhone 11 Pro...until Verizon offered me a better deal on the 12 pro max.

Killster, while I get the savings of buying used, it has historically not worked out well for me.

I don't have any problen transferring photos and videos to the PC, SO THAT's not a problem...and Samsung's Dex is a PITA. I generally just bypass it.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
16,756
419
126
Thanks, Muadib. I was interested in the iPhone 11 Pro...until Verizon offered me a better deal on the 12 pro max.

Killster, while I get the savings of buying used, it has historically not worked out well for me.

I don't have any problen transferring photos and videos to the PC, SO THAT's not a problem...and Samsung's Dex is a PITA. I generally just bypass it.
If I was buying today, I would get the 12 pro max. It has 5G, and although that may mean nothing to you now, I’m pretty sure that it will in the future.
 
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killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
5,880
372
126
If I was buying today, I would get the 12 pro max. It has 5G, and although that may mean nothing to you now, I’m pretty sure that it will in the future.
Can you name a phone released in 2021 that doesn't have 5g? How about a phone in 2020 without 5g? It's a gimmick anyway unless you have unlimited data it's silly. (Verizon actually recommends to disable 5g to boost battery life)
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
16,756
419
126
Can you name a phone released in 2021 that doesn't have 5g? How about a phone in 2020 without 5g? It's a gimmick anyway unless you have unlimited data it's silly. (Verizon actually recommends to disable 5g to boost battery life)
I guess you missed the part where he said he was looking at the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,876
5,231
126
I guess you missed the part where he said he was looking at the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Because I DON'T have an unlimited plan, I was looking at the 11. With the limited amount of data, it just makes sense...BUT, the deal Verizon offered includes an upgrade in the data plan as well. (for some reason, they REALLY want us off our "grandfathered" 10gb shared data plan) We live way out past the back end of the boonies...5G is at least 50 miles away....and Seattle is the closest for the "Ultra-wide 5G" that's supposed to e so good...about 150 miles.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
16,756
419
126
Because I DON'T have an unlimited plan, I was looking at the 11. With the limited amount of data, it just makes sense...BUT, the deal Verizon offered includes an upgrade in the data plan as well. (for some reason, they REALLY want us off our "grandfathered" 10gb shared data plan) We live way out past the back end of the boonies...5G is at least 50 miles away....and Seattle is the closest for the "Ultra-wide 5G" that's supposed to e so good...about 150 miles.
I can relate to that. I bet it was the same when you got 4G. You will get it sooner or later.
 
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MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
10,074
6,163
136
I live in an area with 5G and I like my 12GB shared plan. I have never needed 5G speeds since I've had 4G. It's all marketing bs for most people's needs. I use my phone as a hotspot sometimes at work, like a couple times a month during the busy season, and it's more than enough speed. I'm sure there are folks who could use 5G, but I can't think of too many who really do. Marketers latch onto simple easy to understand metrics to sell shit. Just like the megapixel race for cameras. Triple cranks for bikes. Now it's 8K for TV's when 4K is still just establishing itself. And on and on.
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,876
5,231
126
Exactly. 5G doesn't mean much to me. As long as I get decent 4G speed, I'm fine That's one of the reasons I was looking at the iPhone 11 Pro Max...it would work better with my existing data plan...BUT, Verizon offered me a nice upgrade to Unlimited plans for both of us...which would cost about $15/month more than out shared 10gb plan...and the deals on the phones all hinge on getting an unlimited plan.
 

manly

Diamond Member
Jan 25, 2000
8,833
434
126
An extra $15/month to Verizon in perpetuity sounds like a good deal... for them. :p

Best Buy Mobile seems like a good option? (Samsung dot com has been doing a lot of deals recently, and that's where I've bought my carrier unlocked phones.)

No professional reviewer has claimed the non-Ultra S21 camera setup is "mediocre." You're working with only a "3x hybrid zoom," so don't leave your Nikon at home. ;) For comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro has 2.5x optical zoom.

The phone kiosks inside Costco are operated by a third party and their sole goal is to open new lines (for which the carriers pay them some incentive).
 
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MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
10,074
6,163
136
Digital zoom will suck. Look at the optical zoom capability of your phone as stated above. Digital zoom can take it a tiny bit further but anything else is just marketing gimmicks.
 
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Tusharma

Junior Member
Apr 14, 2021
4
0
6
I have a Samsung Galaxy A32 smartphone with Helio G80 chipset and its camera section is awesome. Works well for me.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,098
67
91
Your real camera with a real telephoto lens will destroy any phone cam for less money since you already have the camera body.

That said phone cameras are so very handy because as you say, you have it with you.

Optical zoom is the only number that really means anything. Digital zoom is basically just a cropping operation. You are throwing away all the pixels outside the zoomed area at the expense of resolution. If your resolution is high enough to start out with some digital zoom/ cropping is okay but it looks worse and worse the further you push it.

Having plenty of light will help so I would expect outdoor pics to look a lot better than indoor.
 

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