As any Apple executive will gladly tell you, the company isn’t so concerned about being the first to introduce a new feature as they are with offering up the best implementation of any given feature. As a prime example, when Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, it wasn’t the first smartphone with a fingerprint sensor. And yet, it was light years ahead of anything that was previously available.
With the recent release of the iPhone 11, it appears that history has repeated itself yet again. The new Night mode feature on the iPhone 11 is absolutely incredible, if not downright magical. And sure, Apple wasn’t the first smartphone to offer up a way to take clear photos in low-light situations, but early testing suggests that Apple’s implementation is far superior to similar offerings from the likes of Google and Samsung.
Highlighting this, Michael Simon of PC World recently pit the iPhone 11’s Night mode against similar features found on Google’s Pixel 3 XL, Samsung’s Galaxy S10+, and the OnePlus 6T. The results of the photo comparison are pretty telling, with the iPhone 11 coming out on top in most examples.
One of the things that makes the iPhone 11’s implementation of Night mode so useful is that it isn’t trying to make photos at night seem like they were taken during the day. As Austin Mann observed in his thorough iPhone 11 camera review:
One thing I love about Apple’s approach to Night mode is the strategic balance of solving a technical problem while also caring deeply about artistic expression. [It’s] clear their team didn’t take the let’s-make-night-look-like-day approach, as some of their competitors have. Instead, it feels more like an embrace of what it actually is (night) while asking, “How do we capture the feel of this scene in a beautiful way?”
Diving right in, the first example Simon posted is a simple indoor shot of a picture frame in a low-light environment. The photo on the far-left was taken with an iPhone 11, and to the right we have the Pixel 3XL, the Galaxy S10+, and the OnePlus 6T:
I tested the four cameras in various settings. The iPhone 11 consistently delivered sharp, detailed shots that didn’t look washed-out or unnatural. In a couple of my nighttime sky shots, it even captured a couple of stars that I could barely see with my eyes, which straight up blew my mind. It didn’t always win, but it was the most consistent (other than the OnePlus 6T, which was consistently the worst).
A few more examples can be seen here.
Night mode on the iPhone 11 is clearly a game-changer and it stands to reason that Apple will focus heavily on the feature once it starts ramping up its iPhone 11 ad campaign as we slowly head into the holiday shopping season.
And for good measure, here’s another shot, via Twitter, which showcases what Night mode can do: