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Camera comparison: Galaxy S9 vs the Galaxy S7

The primary rear camera on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ is as important as that found on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Samsung introduced Dual Pixel autofocus to its phones with the Galaxy S7, bringing an important upgrade to the already excellent cameras found on Samsung flagships back then. With the Galaxy S9 comes another big upgrade, and that’s the dual-aperture camera lens that lets the phone switch between a narrow and wide aperture (f/2.4 and f/1.5 respectively) to take better photos under bright light and in low-light conditions respectively.

We have already compared the Galaxy S9 camera to the Galaxy S8’s, and our conclusion then was that the Galaxy S9 captures more accurate colors (which can seem dull when compared to the S8 side-by-side) and creates photos with less noise in low-light conditions. Outdoors and in brightly lit scenes, the difference between the S9 and S8 isn’t noticeable, and the f/2.4 aperture mostly just helps with better (or less blown-out, to be precise) exposure of a scene.

But how does the Galaxy S9 camera compare to the Galaxy S7’s, which is now two years old but remains an excellent phone for photography? We took a few pictures with the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S7 edge to find out.

Camera comparison: Galaxy S9 vs the Galaxy S7

First, let’s talk about daylight photos. While the Galaxy S8’s photos weren’t much different from the S9’s in bright outdoor conditions, it’s not the case with the photos taken by the S7. As you can see in many of the images below, the Galaxy S7 seems to better expose the far-out portions of the scene, such as the sky behind a building. This results in better contrast between the foreground and background, especially in those where HDR comes into play, but the foreground can be a tad too dark at times. See the image below to see what we mean (slide right for the S9 image, left for the S7’s).

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The Galaxy S9, meanwhile, better exposes the entire scene. In tandem with the narrower aperture of f/2.4 (remember, the Galaxy S7’s aperture is fixed at f/1.7, like the Galaxy S8), the foreground is kept better lit, and the background doesn’t get overexposed. This can, however, sometimes be a disadvantage, as you can see in the photo with the red flowers below. The flowers are rather blown out compared to the Galaxy S7, and you could say that’s a general theme throughout the daylight photos, with the S9 taking photos that look quite pale. The same goes for the colors. The Galaxy S9 keeps things natural in most cases, and that’s saying something considering the Galaxy S7 usually reproduces less vivid colors than the Galaxy S8.

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In low-light scenes, the differences become apparent. There’s less overall noise in the Galaxy S9 images, even though it might not be immediately noticeable in all photos. The detail in far-off objects is slightly higher, just like it was in images compared to the Galaxy S8. The wider aperture of f/1.5 helps here, as the camera can keep the ISO slightly lower and, in turn, keep noise in check (for those unaware, the ISO values decide the brightness of the image sensor, and increasing ISO results in more noise creeping in after a point). In fact, at f/2.4, the Galaxy S9 uses a slightly higher ISO setting than the S7, which is why you don’t find its photos as dark as they would be with a wider aperture of f/1.7 or more. A balancing game, in short, something that is made possible by the physically adjusting aperture.

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Well, take a look at all the pictures from the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S7 side-by-side below and decide for yourself how the two compare (slide right in each image to look at the Galaxy S9 photo and slide left for the picture from the Galaxy S7). Before you go ahead, we should mention that the framing in the Galaxy S7 shots may not always match the Galaxy S9, as the S7 is a smaller device and hence captures a smaller scene when kept at the same distance as the S9. We’ve tried to compensate where possible, but the disparity does exist in a few photos.

Note: Our website doesn’t currently allow bigger images for comparison, so we’ve uploaded all the photos in full quality in this Google Photos album. It’s also available at this Google Drive link as a compressed ZIP package, so you can download and extract it on your PC or phone and check things out in more detail (the photo with the A suffix is from the S9 and the one with B is the S7 image). Furthermore, while the devices used in this comparison were the Plus/Edge models of the two phones, the regular models will offer the same camera performance.

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42 Comments

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utahman1971
utahman1971

I think s7 has more colors, while s9 is blah on pictures. They went down on quality of camera on s9 to me.

mdnadifmahmud
mdnadifmahmud

when s7 edge will receive oreo?

EVANOVESKY
EVANOVESKY

when S7 edge wel receive the 8.0 oreo

Sjokoprins
Sjokoprins

S9 looks a little bit better than the s7. Difference is minimal but noticable in low light. 12mp sensors on mobile phones looks like theres barely progression. Better use mirrorless cameras with m4/3 or aps-c if you want good picture quality

vNezcro
vNezcro

S7 camera is way better. S9 just has less noise. In everything else S7 is way better. The S9 quality just looks depressing. This is why I will stick with my S7 for a long time. It’s also the last classic Samsung premium phone with a home button, it’s perfect. No regrets. I recently just bought one and set the S8 aside. Oreo update is coming soon and hopefully it also gets Android P. Samsung only does two upgrades I know but sometimes they can change.

utahman1971
utahman1971

You are hoping too much for P for s7.

Amarganth
Amarganth

The difference is astounding. With modern CPUs being more than good enough since the Note 4 there’s practically zero reason to upgrade a phone nowadays. When the latest and greatest boasts about its camera like the centerpiece of its package and it turns out it’s actually worse than a flagship from 2 years ago… Seriously, the S7 pictures look a LOT better than the S9’s. Every single picture is more clear and sharp on the S7 while also not skipping out on the contrast. Black areas are darker and yet retain more detail. The S9 is such a flop I’d… Read more »

mirrordemon92
mirrordemon92

It seems to me that the S9 washes out the contrast compared to the S7 Edge which is upsetting. I upgraded from the S7 Edge to the Note 8 and the reason was the secondary camera and the S Pen. Samsung needs to get the algorithms fixed to not wash out the contrast, the blacks look black in the S7 and to me, that’s better than having improved low light since the daytime photos aren’t as good in my opinion.

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

I’m worried that Samsung is focusing too much on low light pics and videos and neglecting other aspects. I’m finding more difficult to get pics of moving subjects without blur with my Note 8 than I used to with my Note 4 and now my Note 5. My friend upgraded to S8 from S6 and has told me the same. I keep saying I personally think Samsung should go back to 16MP with 16:9 ratio by default which you can scale down to 12MP with 4:3 like in Note 4, 5 and S6 variants. I usually end up preferring the… Read more »

Amarganth
Amarganth

The pictures of the S6, Note4 and Note5 were definitely miles better than what we have today. Back than the focus was on daylight shots and it shows. Even beyond the blur the pictures of the S9 are so mushy, like they were taken under water. It’s like applying 16x FXAA.

SAMgalaxyXXX
SAMgalaxyXXX

I can’t really talk about the S9 apart from few review videos and articles and though I think Note 8 is better all around I don’t think it’s miles ahead of the Note 4 and Note 5 taking into account it’s 2 years later and supposedly more advanced camera and indeed it falls slightly behind in some aspects. Samsung needs to stop focusing on low light because low light pics are better with flash anyway. I’m not saying it should neglecte it and forget about it but daylights pics of moving subjects hasn’t improved probably the opposite and it should… Read more »

OrbTech
OrbTech

S7 edge is clearly a winner. Go upgrade from the S9 to the S7. S7 is a better choice.

cloudpunisher
cloudpunisher

This comparison is by far a comparison between an orange and an apple. White balance is different in a lot o pictures. To make a correct comparison you should switch to pro mode and input the same settings. I know you lose the HDR but this is when you need to be more than 95% accurate.

cloudpunisher
cloudpunisher

Plus colour temperature is not the same. S9 is clearly cooler that S7 edge that are much warmer.

utahman1971
utahman1971

Plus color temperature is not the same. S9 is clearly cooler that S7 edge that are much warmer.

devoidx
devoidx

I upgraded from the S7 Edge only because of a cracked screen and agree, at the moment anyway, in most cases, I prefer the images taken with my S7. I have far more occasions where lens flare is apparent on my S9 shots and this was rarely an issue with the S7. My concern is some of these issues may not be fixed by software updates as they may relate to the quality of the camera components (eg. Lenses) which may not be of the same quality as previous builds.

Biransahin
Biransahin

We did this comparison ourselves. My wife got S9 plus and she kept her S7 Edge for a few days. The S7 Edge is a great camera of course. Daylight shots are really about equal, that’s a matter of taste what type of effect one prefer and it can be adjusted in Pro mode. But the 2 x optical zoom lens is a huge improvement on digital zoom, and portrait mode is far better than the selective focus option. However the main difference is at night. There’s a lot of noise on the S7 Edge. It can be improved a… Read more »

DareDevil01
DareDevil01

Definitely agree. Compared my Note 8 and my friends Galaxy S9 in Pro mode on 50 ISO and same settings except with a faster shutter on S9 due to wider aperture. Captured a RAW photo of the sun on the beach on both, underexposing slightly to keep the highlights in the clouds. Not only does the S9 sensor have slightly better native dynamic range but it also has much better noise performance in shadows which is extremely useful for when bringing out the shadows of the DNG file in Lightroom. Theres definitely more to the camera improvements than just the… Read more »

Biransahin
Biransahin

Thanks for the reply. I totally agree. Good to hear from someone who knows something about photography and the difference aperture size actually makes rather than the usual auto pilots as I call them. 🙂

Amarganth
Amarganth

No, the daylight shots are NOT equal. Are you literally blind or do you just have buyer’s remorse? The darker areas in the daylight photos of the S7 show more detail than they do on the S9 despite being brighter. Just look at the white cables of the lamps being chopped up on the S9 or the mushy reflections in the mirror on the S9. The s7 pictures are a lot clearer and sharper. The noise is almost unnoticeable on the S7 and yet the S9 only achieves less noise by applying some form of AA which mushes out the… Read more »

o0MHJ0o
o0MHJ0o

the S9 is clearly better, I think people have the slides confused lol

vNezcro
vNezcro

Or it’s more like you have the slides confused yourself. Check the slides again ;). Reload web page. Sliding right from normal position is S9 and left is S7.

donrojo
donrojo

Thank you for the comparison! IMHO it seems that S7 images can achieve S9 quality by slightly editing the exposure in dark situations or removing a yellowish tint in light conditions. Perhaps you can try doing this and give another opinion! If this is true, a software update for S7 camera could narrow these differences.

DareDevil01
DareDevil01

If you have a look at many of the daylight shots, not only are the darker areas more bright in the S9 shots but the clouds also maintain the details in the bright areas

Amarganth
Amarganth

If you have a look at the many daylight shots, even the darker areas on the S7 pictures retain more detail then the same brighter areas on the S9.

Hardy Tosin
Hardy Tosin

S7!

jenny5446
jenny5446

s7 edge bettar camera

Kathan Gandhi
Kathan Gandhi

By considering all above images, I like S7’s image quality better. Even My previous S6 edge was also better in photography in all condition. I have now A8+ 2018 but still s6 edge (2015) is still better option.

Amarganth
Amarganth

The S6, Note 4 and Note 5 had better cameras than even the S7, let alone the S8 and S9. Back then the focus was on daylight shots. Instead of simply replacing the led flash with a xenon one Samsung sacrificed one over the other.

gtone339
gtone339

S7 had better contrast. S9 has downgraded the aesthetically pleasing looks from previous flagship models.

sgs2aus
sgs2aus

S7 is more aesthetically pleasing.

bauwoo
bauwoo

S7 winning imo. That S9 sure likes to crank up exposure and HDR processing.

VIRGIN KLM
VIRGIN KLM

We live in a day that upgrades are not so incremental in quality on flagships as some years ago. With every year it makes less and less since to upgrade. So I think it’s time they should try to push the quality of their midrange and entry level devices, these have much more room for improvement and it’s an area that Samsung is weaker compared to other companies. They should refocus atleast for the moment on their midrange and entry level options. It might prove much more rewarding.

SteveTud
SteveTud

S7 is a lot better

chetroni
chetroni

How was the phones HDR set up? On/Off/Auto?

djcbs
djcbs

In daylight the S7 produces better pictures (though, we have to remember, it has 2 years of updates and improvements upon it). In low light, the S9 is obviously better.

Honestly, if I took photos is auto-mode, these would probably make me rethink upgrading from the S7 to the S9 as I did, since the camera was the only single reason why I upgraded.
But having the dual aperture with manual mode is much better. If I could transplant that to the S7’s body though…that’d be perfect.

DareDevil01
DareDevil01

So you don’t like the superior screen and much better speakers?

Biransahin
Biransahin

Some people can’t afford it so try to legitimise it by saying a two year old phone is just as good. It’s not, they know it, won’t admit it. As I said my wife upgraded from S7 Edge to S9 plus and she just loves it.. Like me she’s into photography and also has a professional DSLR and is amazed at what she can do with this camera compared to the S7 Edge. Of course she knows how to use Pro Mode, in fact she’s better than me to be honest. Pointers and shooters just don’t understand. One doesn’t know… Read more »

Amarganth
Amarganth

Nice buyer’s remorse you’ve got there. Keep telling yourself how you didn’t waste your money. If you were into photography AT ALL you’d NEVER use your phone to take pictures, especially if you’ve got the time to go into pro mode. If you just want to point and shoot then the AUTO mode on S7 is just superior.

Just because you’re unlucky and you’re trying to fill a gapping hole by buying the latest and, oddly enough, not the greatest, doesn’t make your shallow pointless ramblings devoid of argumentation any more true.

Biransahin
Biransahin

I use a Nikon DSLR, as I believe I already explained, my wife who is a fashion photographer uses a variety of cameras, obviously enough. When we go out we obviously don’t bring our camera equipment with us every time. Are you really stupid enough to think people won’t take the opportunity to shoot a pic just because they’re not carrying their camera? Ok, you are obviously unhappy, maybe because you can’t afford a new phone and legitimise it by denigrating others who are more knowledgeable than you, and not so damned rude. My opinion is based on years of… Read more »

Amarganth
Amarganth

So you actually notice a difference between this screen and any screen since the S5? Seriously I can’t see the difference between a 720p J3 screen and my S7 screen…and I have highly above average sight.

Oh, you actually use the speakers on your phone? Strange…mostly I don’t like to disturb everyone around me by comparing ringtones on the bus. Teenagers these days.

vNezcro
vNezcro

If you’re good at noticing small details then you’d know that the S7 is miles better. But the S9 is not more worth it for better speakers or whatever. There’s only a small difference. No more Samsung phones for me until S11 but if that’s not that different then still no either.