Good weather and bright snow have already become ideal conditions for shooting even for cheap smartphones. At such moments, it is difficult to understand the difference between two iPhones, between which there are even 3 years.

But in a dark room, almost all smartphones are rented.

Artificial lighting provides little “food” for hungry pixels, so the camera has to raise the sensitivity, keep the digital shutter open longer, twist the shadows. Noise and blurring begin. Why not an ideal field for tests?

Today we shot two birds with one stone. We checked how well Apple’s main camera phone copes with artificial light and found out how prettier the photomodules on the iPhone have been since 2017.

Between the cameras of the iPhone X and iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone X was released in November 2017 (review). It has two cameras:

Main 1x: analogue 26 mm, 12 MP, pixel 1.22 µmƒ/1.8
Telephoto 2x: analog 52 mm, 12 MP, pixel 1.0 µm, ƒ/2.4

iPhone 12 Pro Max was released in November 2020 (Review 1.2). Three cameras:

Main 1x: analogue 26 mm, 12 MP, pixel 1.7 µmƒ/1.6
Telephoto 2.5x: analog 65 mm, 12 MP, pixel 1.0 µm, ƒ/2.2
Super angle 0.5x: analog 13mm, 12 MP, pixel 1.0 µm, ƒ/2.4

In addition, the 12 Pro Max has Smart HDR 3, which intensively evens out shadows and lights, while the iPhone X does not have it at all.

Plus, the new product supports Deep Fusion on all cameras. This is a set of algorithms that improves the clarity of fine textures. It is most effective under the conditions of our experiment: when it is not too light, but still far from the Night mode.

Also, the main camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, due to the increased matrix, wider aperture and new lenses, physically transmits twice as much light.

And now for comparison without any processing. The results were notobvious.

On the left, there are always photos from the iPhone X (top if you are on mobile), and on the right will be from the iPhone 12 Pro Max (bottom on mobile).

1. Grilled sea bream and squid

Photos from the iPhone X look better here. This time, Deep Fusion played too aggressively and ruined the picture, killing all the lampness.

The strong contrast and warm tint at the top 10 gave the bar shot the vibe it had. The flagship, with its desire to unscrew everything that is possible, overdid it. The same fish turned into one big piece of foil.

The squid in the background was the most unlucky. The first smartphone hit him with overexposure, and the second evened out the shadows so much that a gray spot remained from the meat.

2. Fried Shrimp Poke

150% increase

You can immediately see the difference in clarity between the cameras.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max conveyed volume well. Look at the right side of the green algae photo. With better sesame outlines and highlights, this segment still conveys depth when the iPhone X turned it into a dark spot.

The blurring of the table is stronger due to the larger aperture and matrix of the flagship (1.7 µm and ƒ / 1.6 versus 1.22 µm and ƒ / 1.8 for dozens).

The abundance of light dvenashki is also evident from the brighter image.

3. Adjarian khachapuri with minced meat

Texture, volume, filling with uniform shades and clarity are clearly in the lead in the photo from the iPhone 12 pro Max. Here I did not miss with the white balance – and all the pluses are immediately visible.

The iPhone X is a little soapier, with bright light spots on potatoes, the edges of a roll and cabbage. Pieces of meat are also on the verge of merging with each other.

4. Salad with squid and seaweed with funchose

Left iPhone X, right iPhone 12 Pro Max

150% increase

iPhone 12 Pro Max produced a cold picture with a green tint. Therefore, the overall impression is at first more pleasant from the photo from the iPhone X.

But it is worth bringing closer, and I want to take the words back. Grated cheese, greens and pieces of seafood on top ten turned into a mixture of pixels, which is impossible to make out.

Promax also does not shine with clarity, but at least it is easy to make out all the ingredients on it, even at a scale of 150%.

5. Cavatelli with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Pieces of cheese, a small speck on the plate and the shape of the cavatelli definitely turned out better on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Here, the volume is better felt, because there are almost no overexposures. But the iPhone X gave a warmer shade and therefore still seems nicer.

But if the original Max If you can crop, tweak the white balance and post it, then I wouldn’t enlarge the photo from dozens. All whitened areas will be immediately visible.

6. New York steak from Tatar masters with chips

iPhone X

iPhone 12 Pro Max

150% increase

On the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the meat becomes voluminous and almost comes to life. If a piece in the first photo looks normal, in the second one you immediately want to cut and bite it.

Even more impressive was the texture of the chips in the photo from the flagship. Firstly, it is, and secondly, even with such an approximation, the picture looks

iPhone X, 2x zoom

iPhone 12 Pro Max, 2.5x zoom

Here the meat from the iPhone 12 Pro Max is ready to pop out of the screen. And that’s bad

I noticed that the iPhone 12 Pro Max often took the photo blue, which in the case of food always looks not so appetizing. Because of this, the shots above could have looked better with the iPhone X.

Deep Fusion, in my opinion, also worked aggressively.

But looking at the texture and volume of meat in both photos above, write off Max it is forbidden.

White balance and oversharp are corrected in no time right in the application editor A photoand here is a porridge of dark pickles on a section with dozens no longer fix.

7. Khinkali with lamb and lingonberry juice

150% increase

iPhone 12 Pro Max again upset with the choice of color. Khinkali turned out to be already blue, while on the top ten everything looks appetizing and light.

But when it comes to small details, Apple’s current flagship is a solid leader. Just check how well the ground pepper and dough folds are visible. Like a photo from an old smartphone lacks resolution.

This once again proves the futility of measuring megapixels. After all, both iPhones have the same 12 MP.

8. Pizza with truffle

iPhone X zooms in 2x, and iPhone 12 Pro Max zooms in 2.5x, so the shape of the pizza is different

I like the white balance more on the left dvenshka gave out too much greenish tint. However, white is more honest here, the iPhone X made it an unrealistic purple.

But all the light cheese bumps, small spots of truffle oil and a baked crust came out noticeably better on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

It’s a pity that the more even light in this photo looks dim, and therefore most people will probably like the photo from the old model.

9. Grilled cheese

The iPhone X photo came out darker, but that’s probably why it looks sharper. Even the wood on the table looks more voluminous for the same reason.

However, the cheese is slightly hazy when compared to the photo taken on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Thanks to the larger sensor, the latter still captured more details. Look at the cheese sticks, their texture is rendered better.

10. Mussels with parmesan and cream

100% zoom after telephoto

This was our last dish, and the 100% zoom angle came in very handy for dessert.

The general frame looks almost identical, but the second shot was taken with a zoom, and the difference in quality surprised me the most.

In the photo from the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the crust of bread looks like on the grocery store shelf, the small crumbs actually look like parmesan and did not turn into white homogeneous spots, as happened with the iPhone X.

Mussel meat inside fills with texture and clear outlines, the sauce takes on a healthy look, and does not look like a puddle of oil. And the layered surface of the sash at the bottom left reflects the light and is ready to become a poster.

The work of Smart HDR 3 and Deep Fusion played a huge role here because it was the even fall of light and detail in the photo from the iPhone 12 Pro Max that made a dramatic difference.

Which smartphone did the best?
  • iPhone X

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

66% iPhone X

34% iPhone 12 Pro Max

3 voted

PS You would get similar results on any iPhone 12 series. I remind you of our reviews and prices for the main Apple smartphones:

review of iPhone 12 (price from 79,990 rubles)
review of the iPhone 12 Pro (price from 99,990 rubles)
review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max (price from 109,990 rubles)
iPhone 12 mini review (price from 69,990 rubles)

1 stars2 stars3 stars4 stars5 stars (19 votes, overall rating: 4.53 out of 5)
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