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Photo quality comparison: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 versus iPhone 11 Pro – AppleInsider



Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphones have arrived in the form of the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra, so AppleInsider compared their spectacular cameras with Apple’s own iPhone line to find the better snapper.

We were thrilled to get our hands on the new Note devices, with Samsung touting some amazing new upgrades for the cameras. Between the high resolution, incredible zoom, and 8K video, there was a lot to check out, so we hit the road to capture some stellar shots that show off the camera’s abilities.

While there are some sample images included in the piece, check out the video for all our test shots.

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A look at the specs

For this comparison, we’ll be taking a look at the Galaxy Note 20, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, as well as the iPhone 11 Pro. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have the same lens setup, so photos taken with one will look the same as if shot on the other.

One thing to remember is the iPhones are now roughly a year old, with iPhone 12 inching closer to release. This is still a useful comparison, however, as the iPhone 11 line will be around for some time, and is still the most current iPhone to compare against.

Taking a closer look at the cameras, all devices sport a 12MP ultra-wide angle lens. It’s the other lenses where it gets interesting.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 sports a 12MP wide-angle lens as well as a 64MP tele lens. Those two lenses combined are able to offer 3X hybrid zoom as well as a maximum of 30X digital zoom.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is packed with a 108MP wide-angle lens alongside a 12MP tele lens. It is able to obtain 5X optical zoom and 50X digital zoom.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 12MP ultra-wide, 108MP wide, and 12MP teleSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 12MP ultra-wide, 108MP wide, and 12MP tele

It is good to see that Samsung listened to its audience and pulled back from the 100X “super zoom” offered with the S20 line. Photos produced at 100X were grainy at best, and largely unusable.

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max both have 12MP wide and 12MP tele leness with 2X optical zoom and 10X digital zoom.

Photo tricks

Portrait mode, 108MP mode, live focus, panorama,

It seems each year there are more and more facets to these cameras just in the stock camera apps let alone with third-party apps can pull off. We don’t want to spend too much time on all of these, but wanted to give some general impressions of our time using them.

Both phones still include a portrait-like shooting mode, which Apple calls Portrait mode and Samsung calls Live Focus. These haven’t changed much since the last phones we tested.

Samsung still leans towards the “fun” side with effects such as swirls of the background as well as the normal blur. Apple has focused very much on replicating real-world lighting effects and as a general rule creates a more polished looking picture.

Which is better depends on which style you prefer.

Panoramas shot with each device yield different sized photosPanoramas shot with each device yield different sized photos

Panoramas are also a common shooting mode. We took a few sample pics across the phones and did our best to keep the same speed each time, yet, the photos ended up entirely different sizes.

The iPhone’s picture was the widest while the Note 20 was the most compact, and the Note 20 Ultra was somewhere in between. I prefer the wider look to these, because the more compact the image, the more distortion is apparent in tighter shots.

The wider shots also lend themselves more to large prints.

The final special feature we wanted to touch on was the impressive 108MP mode of the Note 20 Ultra. While it has that many megapixels packed onto the sensor, by default it shoots in a much more reasonable size, but User have the option to enable that massive 108MP resolution if they choose.

When we tested this, it didn’t make a huge amount of difference. Not much extra detail was picked up in the shot and you could zoom in a bit more, but at that point you may as well have just used the optical zoom offered by the phone to begin with.

Every day shooting

For your normal, everyday shots, these cameras compared quite well. Samsung still has the slightly oversaturated look it is known for, and in some shots, this worked out OK.

The water images we took looked actually more true to life than the slightly parred back shots found on the iPhone. In the flower shots you can see below, the flowers were so oversaturated they lost a bit of detail and contrast.

In low light shots, such as of our pup Mosby below, the iPhone managed to pull out a bit more detail. Mosby was photographed with a three-second shutter in night mode on all three devices, and the Samsung Note photos look good, but just not quite as crisp.

We also did a seven-second shutter of the night sky. The iPhone again was slightly brighter — though grainy — and the Note 20 photos were unusable with almost all black in the images.

The image of our toasted marshmallow porter shows how much better the iPhone nailed focus. The bubbles in the head were super sharp while the Samsung still seems to have issues with the autofocus.

This year, Samsung is using lasers to aid in the focus, but on this picture of a curved cup, the autofocus decided to focus on the front of the clear cup rather than the top ring, the beer’s head, or the toasted marshmallow.

In general, the focus system does seem improved over the Galaxy S20.

In this alley shot, the iPhone had better exposureIn this alley shot, the iPhone had better exposure
These flowers lacked contrast and were oversatured on both Note images

These flowers lacked contrast and were oversatured on both Note images

The Note's focus was an issue here, focusing on the front left of the cup rather than the topThe Note’s focus was an issue here, focusing on the front left of the cup rather than the top
The iPhone had better performance here in low light with more detail on MosbyThe iPhone had better performance here in low light with more detail on Mosby
Low light shot of an indoor lampLow light shot of an indoor lamp
Night sky looked good, though the Ultra skewed the white balanceNight sky looked good, though the Ultra skewed the white balance
The Note shots looked more true to lifeThe Note shots looked more true to life in this water shot

Tele capabilities

Where Samsung really shines is with the telescopic capabilities of its new devices. Both the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra blow away Apple in terms of picture quality.

Our far away subject shot at 1X for our zoom test

Our far away subject shot at 1X for our zoom test

In our samples, we shot a lighthouse that was a significant distance away. Our iPhone photograph at 10X looked just okay, but the Note 20 at 10X was far better due to its hybrid zoom and higher resolution tele lens.

The 50X shot from the Note 20 Ultra was sharpest at that level, though it too started to lose definition.

iPhone zoomed to 50X compared to Note 20 Ultra at 50X is a no-braineriPhone zoomed to 50X compared to Note 20 Ultra at 50X is a no-brainer

When we were zoomed into 50X and looked at a target that far away, it became increasingly difficult for us to keep the subject in the shot, which makes this level of zoom useless in moving situations.

Note 20 at 30X compared to iPhone at 30X shows how far ahead Samsung isNote 20 at 30X compared to iPhone at 30X shows how far ahead Samsung is

We wanted to test the zoom capabilities once more, so we took some pics at a bevy of kites flying through the air. When zoomed to 50X, the iPhone’s pictures were a distorted mess, while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was very easy to discern what we were looking it.

It may not be sharp enough to do anything with, but in some situations, it can create very usable photos.

The Note 20 Ultra at 50X is even better than bothThe Note 20 Ultra at 50X is even better than both

Apple’s pro cameras definitely start to look antiquated compared to these new incredible tele capabilities on Samsung’s latest phones.


This camera comparison was particularly focused on the photo capabilities, but we have to at least mention video. We toyed around with this a bit and are so excited by the prospect of incredible 8K video recording coming to smartphones.

It is true that there aren’t many 8K TVs or monitors in people’s homes, but when shooting in 8K, you can crop in the video to still maintain at least 4K resolution. You’re limited to only 24 frames per second on the Notes but that is more than enough, making it a potentially invaluable tool for mobile filmmakers.

On iPhone, we are still limited to 4K at 60 frames per second. Fingers crossed we see improvements in this area on the upcoming iPhone 12.

So which is the better shooter?

Picking a winner here is hard. In everyday shots, we leaned a bit towards the iPhone the less saturated images, better focus, and better portrait mode. The overall tone of the image though can be adjusted after the fact, so if it is a white balance, contrast, or saturation issue, that can all be tweaked a bit after.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra

Samsung knocks it out of the park with the tele capabilities here. Some extreme zoom shots may be too distorted to be usable but even the 10X images look far better than the iPhone’s 10X images.

Apple very much needs to step up its game when it comes to the zoom. Apple’s strategy seems to be prioritizing your typical shots and the wide-angle lens, but if you want anything past 5X, the images very much begin to suffer in this comparison.

Where to buy

Pick up the Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra at these retailers starting at $999:

If you’d prefer the iPhone 11 Pro, these wireless carriers are offering special incentives on the device:

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Xbox’s Bethesda acquisition is evidence of blockbuster gaming’s volatility – VentureBeat



Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division is acquiring The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim publisher Bethesda for $7.5 billion. And it’s difficult to overstate how much this changes gaming. The easiest way for me to think about this is that Xbox just bought one of the only other companies that actually has a major media presentation during E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show) each year. This has led to a lot of talk about what the purchase means for Xbox and its Game Pass subscription service. But the deal tells us just as much about how unsustainable the triple-A blockbuster gaming business is.

Bethesda is one of gaming’s main publishing companies. Like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two, it built a business by creating studios and releasing games for PC and consoles. Its biggest releases are megahits like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. And yet the owners of ZeniMax Media — the parent corporation of Bethesda — sold off their interests in the gaming business to Xbox. Why? What is happening in games that would make ZeniMax stakeholders want to cash in?

Well, the explanation is evident in the recent history of Bethesda, and it speaks to the challenges facing the entire games-publishing business.

One flop away from failure

Making video games is a difficult and volatile business. Blockbuster budgets inflated over the last 10 years to well over $100 million for a single, top-tier release. And that makes every game a massive bet that could prove disastrous.

On top of this, publishers and developers struggle to predict what consumers will want. The audience has fickle tastes. And even when a studio is working on something with proven appeal, like a military shooter, they must compete against ingrained properties often from teams with even bigger budgets.

This leads to escalating investment costs as studios try to compete. Is your game not as pretty as Red Dead and not as big as Assassin’s Creed? Well, that sounds like a game I can wait to play until it’s on sale.

Live-service games come for us all

The especially tough thing for publishers is that even if they launch a high-quality game to good reviews, it’s often not enough to pull an audience away from their chosen live-service games. More players are returning to evergreen hits like Fortnite, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Warframe repeatedly for months and years at a time.

In that environment, it often seems like only the most prestige single-player narrative-driven games breakout from the crowd. This raises the threshold for what games can succeed. This is why you’ll often hear people lamenting that the middle-tier game is disappearing. The threshold for success is higher than ever. On the PlayStation 2 and then the Xbox 360, a “B” game could make a return on its investment. Now, they struggle to pull any attention away from whatever is hot on Twitch at the moment.

That can leave publishers feeling like the only safe bet against this trend is their own live-service games. But these are just as hit driven as any other game. The only upside is that developers have a better chance of slowly building a service game into something more appealing over time.

Subscriptions and stores

The other way to compete is to start your own distribution store, your own subscription service, or both. If a company can directly monetize their audience, this can offset some of the increasing costs of development. No more sharing 30% with Steam. And establishing steadier and more predictable revenue streams.

But the challenge is that starting your own PC digital store is expensive. Epic Games continues to invest heavily into its Epic Games Store, and it’s still struggling to compete with Steam. And a subscription service requires a huge upfront investment to build content without any guarantee that players will stick around.

Bethesda tried everything

Bethesda ran into all of the problems I listed above.

It tried to compete with high-budget single-player experiences. At E3 2017, the company even had an initiative called #saveplayer1 about ensuring the future of solo games. That led to games like a Dishonored 2 expansion, The Evil Within 2, and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. But none of those games were huge financial successes, even if they all are beloved by their fans and received positive reviews.

Bethesda then tried to launch the live-service game Fallout 76, which had a disastrous release (although it’s slowly building an audience through updates that have improved the game). That game likely would have performed better if Bethesda would have delayed it, but — again — making games is difficult. That’s the point.

The publisher also tried its own store with the Bethesda Launcher on PC, only to witness EA soften its position toward running the EA Origin store. It also saw companies like Ubisoft and EA try their own subscription services. Bethesda knows how expensive and challenging it would be to get those programs off the ground. And in the end, Steam and Xbox Game Pass are probably still going to win in the end.

The reality is that the industry is going through a massive shift where publishers probably aren’t going to look like the company Bethesda grew into. That left its stakeholders with an option: Try to figure out the painful process of transforming Bethesda into something new, or sell Bethesda to a company that needs it. And Microsoft can use Bethesda because Game Pass is already a de facto industry standard with 15 million subscribers.

This deal ensures that the people and teams that make up Bethesda have a chance to remain together. The alternative under an independent ZeniMax Media was likely closures, layoffs, and fewer games. And I guess that’s the good news for fans. This deal will get you more games.

Meanwhile, if you’re one of the people on the receiving end of that $7.5 billion payday, take that money. In a few years, gaming’s tectonic plates will settle into place — at least momentarily. And then you can start your next gaming startup when you know what the future looks like.

Media consolidation is bad, but so is everything

Not to give into nihilism, but I can only get so worked up regarding concerns about media consolidation. This Microsoft move echoes Disney’s efforts in film and TV, but it’s not like the status quo in gaming has led to a dynamic and healthy market. And ZeniMax’s options here were likely shrinking down to either selling or aggressively reorganizing. Business as usual was probably not under consideration.

And the reorganizing option would have led to studio closures and layoffs. Under Microsoft, the plan (for now) is to let Bethesda keep operating as it always has. It seems like most of the people involved will continue in their current positions. The only difference is that Satya Nadella will sign their paychecks.

So yeah, media consolidation is bad and reduces competition. But game publishers are so afraid of the aforementioned risks that we don’t have a ton of competition in the blockbuster segment as is.

Ultimately, I view Microsoft’s Bethesda acquisition as an enabling move. It is purchasing eight new studios to empower them to keep making games. This is distinct from prohibitive moves where a company pays a publisher a fee to keep a game off of a competing platform.

It’s hard to say that the deal is good for the game industry, though. But for now, it’s probably better for the people making games at Bethesda.

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Heart Analyzer for iPhone and Apple Watch adds iOS 14 widget, blood oxygen data, more – 9to5Mac



Heart Analyzer is one of the most powerful ways to visualize and access your Apple Watch heart data. A new update to Heart Analyzer this week brings integration with the Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen readings, iOS 14 home screen widgets, and more.

With this week’s update to Heart Analyzer, the app now supports Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen data. This includes a new complication for your watch face as well as tracking directly in the Heart Analyzer app on your Apple Watch. One of the new complications for Apple Watch is a full-size heart rate graph for the infograph modular watch face.

iOS 14 widgets have become a staple of app updates this week, and Heart Analyzer is no different. Heart Analyzer version 8.2 includes new home screen widgets for easily monitoring your heart rate without launching the app itself. Heart Analyzer has also extended the available data for heart rate tracking to four years.

Heart Analyzer also integrates with Apple Watch ECG recordings, including the ability to compare two readings side-by-side.

Here are the full release notes for today’s Heart Analyzer update:

  • Blood Oxygen Saturation support
  • Electrocardiogram viewing and comparison
  • A configurable Dashboard for App Customization users
  • Extended Data doubled up to four years of heart rate data
  • Brand new complications on Apple Watch
  • Blood Oxygen Saturation tracking in the Watch app including on a complication
  • Watch Face sharing support
  • New support for more workout types
  • The Heart Analyzer Guide, now available in the app for those wanting to broaden their app knowledge
  • Improvements to Heart Rate Recovery metrics in the Deep Analytics section
  • Dashboard interface tweaks for more intuitive navigation
  • A new option for complication privacy on the Watch Face

Heart Analyzer is available on the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch. It’s a free download with in-app purchases for additional features.

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Here's where you can pre-order the Xbox Series X and S in Canada – MobileSyrup



Earlier this month, Microsoft confirmed that its pair of next-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, will launch on November 10th in Canada.

The beefy Series X will be priced at $599 CAD, while the lower-cost, all-digital Series S will cost $379.99.

Ahead of launch, Canadian retailers will start taking pre-orders for both consoles on September 22nd at 11am ET/8am PT. Keep in mind that this only applies to online pre-orders, so you’ll need to check with your local retailer to see whether they are taking any in-store.

Additionally, it’s important to note that not every retailer has put up their online listings for the consoles yet. Therefore, we’ll update this story with the appropriate links as they go live.

For now, at least, know that Series X and S pre-orders will be available at the following retailers at 11am ET:

Amazon Canada

Best Buy

EB Games

London Drugs

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series S
Games and accessories

Microsoft Store

Shoppers Drug Mart

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series S
Games and accessories

The Source

Note: most retailers only charge you once the item ships, but The Source will charge you as soon as the pre-order goes through. Therefore, prepare to spend several hundred dollars now if you’re looking to get a console from The Source.


Given that we don’t know exactly when pre-orders will sell out, you’ll want to be quick on the draw. To save time at checkout, it’s a good idea to already have an online account for whatever retailer you plan on pre-ordering from. Make sure all of your shipping and payment details are up to date. Finally, log into your account ahead of 11am ET. Doing all of this ahed of time will ensure that all you’ll need to do at the top of the hour is add the consoles to your cart and finalize the transaction.

Some food for thought

It’s important to note that Xbox All Access, Microsoft’s console financing option, is coming to Canada exclusively through EB Games. That said, the program will not be available come pre-order time, with Microsoft simply saying it will launch sometime before the consoles release on November 10th. Further, specific Canadian details like pricing have not yet been confirmed.

It’s also worth mentioning that Microsoft just announced plans to acquire Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion USD (nearly $10 billion CAD). Once the deal is finalized, this means that developers like Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls), id Software (Doom) and Arkane (Dishonored) will be wholly owned by Microsoft. The timing of this news — a mere one day before pre-orders go live — was no doubt intentional, given that it’s now gotten many people actively talking about Xbox.

With all of that said, then, you may want to factor in the current unavailability of All Access — as well as the long-term prospect of Bethesda games on Game Pass — into your pre-order plans.

What about the PS5?

The simultaneous launch of the Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders across all retailers is a markedly different strategy than the one employed by Sony with its own next-gen console, the PlayStation 5.

Last week, the Japanese tech giant revealed mere hours after its big PS5 Showcase that pre-orders would open the following day, only to suddenly announce right after that they were going live that same night. Making matters more complicated was the fact that retailers soon began to accept pre-orders at different times. This all came after Sony had specifically said it wouldn’t just drop PS5 pre-orders “at a minute’s notice.”

A few days later, Sony apologized for the PS5 pre-order situation, noting the process “could have gone a lot smoother” while promising to have more stock available between now and the end of the year. Overall, the company says it will have more PS5s available at launch than it did for the PS4 when it launched in November 2013.

We’ll have more on additional Canadian PlayStation 5 pre-orders as that information becomes available. The PS5 will launch in Canada on November 12th for $629 CAD alongside its $499 disc-less Digital Edition counterpart.

Which console(s) are you planning to pre-order? Let us know in the comments.

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