Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra cameras: the flagships go head to head

Two of the most anticipated smartphone releases of 2022, but which one has the better camera for photography?

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

The Sony Xperia 1 IV and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra look set to be two of the most sought-after smartphones this year. Both go above and beyond when it comes to their camera systems - but which one snaps the better shots? 

Given Sony's knowledge of digital cameras and its reputation for long-lasting, reliable electronics, it'll be no surprise to hear that their devices are regulars in T3’s guide to the best Android phones. They've come up with a winning formula, for sure. 

The Sony Xperia 1 IV combines all of that expertise into a high-end smartphone with photography at its core. But that’s not all it has to offer, the 6.5-inch OLED screen is a beauty, it packs the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, and there are all sorts of extra features for gamers, while its waterproof design means it should survive whatever the weather. 

The competition is fierce right now though, and there are tonnes of other truly excellent handsets out there, including the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra which is widely considered one of the best phones in the whole world. 

Samsung's premium flagship blew us away when we tried it out, so much so that it picked up a coveted 5-star rating in its T3 review. We were impressed by its performance, we loved the built-in stylus and the big square screened design was a hit too, but out of everything, what we raved about the most was its camera system. 

I’ve been testing these two photography giants out side by side to see which takes the best photos, and what better place to do it than in some of the UK’s most stunning beauty spots.

Each sample shot is labelled below with which phone it was captured on, so you can judge for yourself which device takes the most jaw-dropping photos.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: camera specifications

Keeping a similar camera setup to its predecessor, the Sony Xperia 1 IV has a 12MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera and a 12MP periscope lens with a new 85mm-125mm optical zoom. On the front, you get a 12MP selfie snapper.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is made up of a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 108MP wide camera, two 10MP telephoto cameras (one with 3x optical zoom and the other with 10x optical zoom) and a 40MP front camera, so this phone doesn’t mess about either.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: rear cameras

You can see from the images below that generally the Sony Xperia 1 IV provides tonnes of detail and a true-to-life representation of the scene, but that can sometimes leave it looking a little dull without a bit of editing here and there. 

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra uses AI to boost the image, making them look a lot more eye-catching even if that does mean pictures can sometimes come out looking a little over-saturated. 

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: low light photography

Snapping shots in the evening has long since been a challenge, but both the Sony Xperia 1 IV and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra have automatic Night Modes to help brighten up the scene so you can capture photos at all times of day (and night). 

Both performed well but for me, the Samsung came out on top because it managed to lighten shots considerably more later in the evening and you can make out a bit more of the scene than you could on Sony's equivalent, although if you fiddle with the Xperia settings you could definitely get better results. 

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: zoom

Both devices are leading the way when it comes to their zoom, be that optical or digital.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV features a periscope lens, which can vary its optical zoom between 85 and 125mm (3.5 - 5.2x zoom). The lenses inside the handset physically move around which means there's no digital cropping. It's a feature that is unique to Sony as things stand.

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra only goes up to 3x optical zoom but its digital zoom can reach a whopping 100x zoom which is incredible.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: selfies

The front cameras on these phones are wildly different, the Sony Xperia 1 IV produces flattering, softer selfies while the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is more accurate with much harsher colours. 

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: verdict

Which phone camera is better will depend on you and what you need from it. To sum things up in a sentence: the Sony Xperia 1 IV is better for post-capture editing and for photography enthusiasts whereas the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra does all the work for you and so produces shots that are much more social media-friendly. 

The Sony Xperia 1 IV can produce incredibly detailed, precise images but to get the best results you'll need to fiddle with the settings a lot - it is by no means a quick point-and-shoot camera. It will best suit those who have time to compose their shots properly and who want full control over the results. 

On the flip side, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has one of the most advanced point-and-shoot smartphone cameras there has ever been. It relies heavily on AI to boost the look of the image which means you'll consistently get professional-looking photos. For those who don't really know their way around manual camera settings, it's undoubtedly the better choice. 

You can buy both handsets right now: the Sony Xperia 1 IV starts from $1,600 in the US and £1,300 in the UK, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will set you back $1,300 / £1,150. 

To see the best deals on them from across the web right now, take a look at the widgets below. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.