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Photo duel – Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Vivo X90 Pro Plus (part I.)

I apologize in advance for the English, it is a machine translation.

I’ve decided it’s time to replace my old Samsung Galaxy S10 Note, which is already properly worn and its photos don’t make me so happy anymore. I think, I’ve been picking a new phone for about two years now, I’ve ruled out all the Chinese manufacturers and waited for the new Samsungs (S22 Ultra) and the new iPhones (13 Pro), but neither convinced me that I should give the money for them (not just because of the photos, but overall as mobiles.)

I tried the Vivo X80 Pro, the improvement in photos was noticeable, but I had to return it because it couldn’t be used correctly as hands-free in the car – the call was crazy choppy.

So I decided to wait for the new Samsung S23 Ultra and I wasn’t too excited about the information that came out before the release, but the new Vivo came out with a 1″ main camera chip and the decision was made. I was waiting for the global debut of the X90 Pro Plus, but we just learned that this model will stay only in China… Eventually, it came to me through a friend and I also have a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra available, so I can do a quick amateur comparison and decide which one to keep for years to come.

What is a better photo mobile?

I’m not evaluating either device in terms of mobiles, features, usability, ecosystem, displays, etc. I’m only focusing on photos – which one shoots better – as with any comparison, we find that each shoots better under certain conditions and often by chance. Subjectively then everyone will like something different – different colour rendition, sharpening, etc. I’m doing the comparison mainly for myself, but I’m putting it here publicly, which is quite time consuming for me. So if you don’t like something, “take it or leave it”.

I won’t bother with the video at all, just the photos.

I took these photos on auto mode, the resulting photos are without any editing on the computer or in the app on the mobile – just JPG as it comes out of the mobile. There are photos in this article where Zeiss mode was NOT selected on the Vivo.
I didn’t have time to focus on the photography particularly, this is not some elaborate photo shoot and comparison.

I would like to point out that I didn’t compare very bad photos, I always tried to compare the best I could. Something and sometimes you just can’t take a good picture with a mobile phone. At least in this first part there are only photos that were taken in rush.

I recommend viewing the photos on a large monitor. They look pretty good on 4K 32″, 99% sRGB space coverage 🙂

Firmware versions (up to date):
Vivo – PD2227C_A_13.0.19.1.W10.V000L1
Samsung- 5.15.41 – Feb 14 UTC 2023

Selfie camera

Front camera:

  • Samsung S23 Ultra: 12MP, f/2.2, FOV: 80˚, Pixel size: 1.12μm
  • Vivo X90 Pro Plus: 32 MP, f/2.5, 24mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.8µm

Samsung has a slightly better lens aperture and therefore DOF – which, surprisingly for me, was also shown in the resulting photo.


These are not shoot in portrait mode, the blur behind the person is created by pure physics.


Samsung has managed a miracle, tell me how is that possible? Pixel count is not everything and I am shocked. Vivo is not so good at details, look at the cap or the beard. Of course the photo on the right can still be enlarged (62%), but that’s all the more reason to see imperfect details. It is not terrible photo, but Samsung is better even in less resolution.

The colour of the jacket and hat – I would say that the Vivo was more accurate. Similarly, I like the sky better on the Vivo, on the Samsung it seems to me already an unnecessarily large HDR hit.

Main rear camera

Wide camera:

  • Samsung S23 Ultra: 200 MP, f/1.7, FOV: 85˚, 0.6μm (12MP 2.4μm)
  • Vivo X90 Pro Plus: 50,3 MP, f/1.75, 23mm, 1.6µm (1.0″)

Samsung has a 200 megapixel chip on the main camera, but in default mode it shoots at 12 mpx – it folds the result into a smaller image from the main chip and uses the rest of the pixels from the chip to help the overall photo look better. You can also shoot directly at 50 or 200 mpixels, but then some functions/options are not available.

In contrast, the Vivo X90 Pro Plus uses a 1″ chip, which can collect more light and has a larger DOF – depth of field.


The Samsung has slightly more vibrant colors (jackets, horse).

The details of the people (faces) being photographed are great in both photos. The background blur (field) is more apparent on the Vivo, so on the Samsung, on the other hand, there is more detail around (to the point of maybe over-sharpening – e.g. the “leaky” knee on the jeans). Personally, it seems to me that overall the Samsung photo is a bit more contrasty (maybe sky and the horse mainly).

Here both cameras provided very nice photos. I am very satisfied.

For the photos from the shooting range, I pulled out my phone, click-click, and put the phone back in my pocket. I only saw the result later and am unable to replicate.


I’m quite curious if Vivo could have photographed it better, because at first glance it’s kind of awful and a big disappointment. Burnouts are huge.


On the other hand, if we look at some details “up close”, Samsung has completely “ironed out” the sleeve and the hand, the beard.

Overall, however, the photo from the Samsung is much nicer, the HDR was pretty good (although it could use a little darker black somewhere).


From a different angle, both mobile phones managed to take a photo almost one to one.


In another 100% cut-out, we can notice at first glance that the targets are sharper on the Samsung. Oh yeah, but the targets aren’t the main object – that’s the guns, and they’re sharper and better rendered on the Vivo (read the engravings on the frames). The fact that the Vivo targets are out of focus is probably a larger chip that has a greater depth of field. Or not, I’ve never been to physics and exact formulas 🙂

Telephoto camera

  • Samsung S23 Ultra: 10 MP, f/2.4, FOV: 36˚ (69 mm?), 1.12μm, periscope, 3x Dual Optical Zoom
  • Vivo X90 Pro Plus: 64 MP, f/3.5, 90mm, 0.7µm, periscope, 3.5x Optical Zoom


For me, the photos turned out better for Vivo. Better unobstructed sky, details of the horse in the foreground. Although maybe it could use a little more bright white…


The picture above shows Samsung at 100% crop.


In the picture above is even vivo at 100% crop of the photo.


It was quite windy. I like the color of the Vivo. The details seem to be very much on the edge, but just look at the oversharpened Samsung and it’s clear that the photo from Vivo is not the best. Oversharpening by Samsung is also not ok for me.


Something between the two photos would be best. In addition to the colors, the bokeh is also better with the Vivo, it is not aggressive there and with less noise.


In the photo above, the “portrait” mode was used, which artificially blurs the background. Samsung again has a flatter image due to excessive HDR (car in the back, fence, snow on the stroller), it has a little less detail.


But it excels at the most important thing if someone wants to use this mode (I’m not a fan) – and that is blurring the right thing and keeping what should be sharp. It looks natural for Samsung and I can’t see a mistake anywhere. Look at Vivos – fence at the elbow, jacket under the hand of left.

At first glance, however, these are good images for both mobile phones.

To be continued…?

Is that like everything? Few photos? And where is the ultrawide and where are the night photos, etc.?

Maybe next time 🙂 I would definitely like to make another part, but time is my enemy.


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