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3D Scanning Challenge: Shining3D Einscan H vs iPhone 12 Pro

January 25, 2022

Consumer technology is constantly improving and the smartphones of today offer so many advanced features like 4k video, instant translations, augmented reality, and even 3D scanning. Yes, 3D scanning! So, why would you need to invest in a professional option like Shining3D’s EinScan H 3D Scanner? The Einscan H is primely positioned as a reliable option for when & where accuracy is needed most: within the workplace. We decided to put the Einscan H to the test by comparing it to the 3D scanning capabilities of an iPhone 12 Pro. Keep reading to learn more, or click here to jump to the results and see which Scanner came out on top!

What Is 3D Scanning?

3D scanning is the process of making a 3D model from a real world object by collecting data on the object’s shape and appearance. The data collected is based on the type of 3D scanning, such as a data-point cloud collected from structured-light scanning. A software application then uses this data to produce the 3D object.

The iPhone uses a combination of Photogrammetry and Lidar 3D scanning technologies. Photogrammetry takes multiple HD pictures of an object as photos and uses the data from those photos to construct the 3D model. The quality of the scan is based on the quality of the pictures, the resolution and the number of photos taken. Lidar is a technology that determines the range from the object to the scanner by measuring the time light takes to get back to the system. By using Lidar and photogrammetry, the 3d scanner app is able to create a mesh and add texture to the points as it perceives it.

The Shining3D EinScan H uses a hybrid of structured light scanning, a technique that projects light patterns using both LED and invisible infrared light. This hybrid light technology allows the scanner to work well for a broad range of applications, including scanning faces. With a built-in color camera and large field of view, EinScan H provides high quality 3D data with full color ready-to-use in minutes.

Why Use 3D Scanning?

3D Scanning is useful for a wide variety of applications including reverse engineering, modifying existing parts, prototyping, digital measurements and creating 3D printed copies of existing items. Our partner PrintCluster offers several of these services. This makes scanning a valuable tool in manufacturing, engineering, medical, architecture, design and a variety of other industries.

The Scanning Challenge: Jia

We chose to scan a person because it worked as a great challenge for both the iPhone and the EinScan 3D scanner. We chose a person as the subject to avoid dealing with any high gloss points that may be difficult to scan without something like AESUB Scanning spray. The variety of textures present allows us to also test the colour scanning capabilities of the Einscan H and the iPhone 12 Pro. The organic shapes would make it difficult to otherwise measure and model, so scanning makes sense for this application. Lastly, a human is good for testing without making special considerations for size. Thank you to Jia, a member of our Tech team who volunteered to be scanned.

Scanning a human did have one unique challenge, which was holding a pose. We utilized brooms to act as a support for Jia’s arms so that he wouldn’t have to hold them in place, as too much movement could distort the end scan.

In the Red Corner: iPhone 12 Pro and the 3D Scanner App

We went with an iPhone 12 Pro that retailed at $1399 on release (2020) with the free “3D Scanner App.” The iPhone uses photogrammetry for scanning and is able to produce a full-colour 3d model. We went with this combination because the iPhone 12 is one of the few phones in today’s market that has 3d scanning capabilities and an accessible price point. However, it should be noted that different apps or a more recent phone may offer different results.

In the Blue Corner: Shining3D EinScan H 3D Scanner

For this project we are using Shining3D’s Einscan H. The EinScan H is a Hybrid LED & Infrared Light Source Handheld Color 3D Scanner. The Colour scanner is able to create a model with colour and texture which can then be compared with photogrammetry. The EinScan H also has:

  • Body scanning accuracy up to 1.2 million points
  • Body scan accuracy up to 0.05mm
  • Full body scanning modes
  • Easy to use and interact with software
All of these features make it a great system to accurately scan a full human body.

The Process

For our set up of Jia, we had him stand in our showroom with about 1.5 meters of space around him, as both the iPhone and Einscan require enough space to walk around the subject. We found that the iPhone required more room to get an accurate scan than the EinScan H.We set the Einscan H to “full-body scan” and the iPhone scan mode was set to Hi-Definition and Masking for a Person.

The Challenges

As with any project we ran into a few challenges during the scanning process.
The first was dealing with movement. If the subject being scanned moves too much during the process it can affect the quality of the scan or lose tracking. To solve this we gave Jia two poles to support his arms to help keep him stationary. We also ran into issues getting a good quality scan of the subject’s hair, this is because hair’s texture and sometimes dark colour causes problems with getting a good 3D scan. For the iPhone scanner, we found that it was difficult to get enough data to properly render the hair. The EinScan scanner also had difficulties as it works by projecting a pattern that it can see and triangulate, but the texture of the hair has anisotropic specular reflections—think of patterns on brushed metal—that confuse the scanner by making it hard to recognize the pattern. Moving back and increasing the exposure can help with this issue but you may lose tracking if the exposure is too high. In our case, the hair wasn’t a necessity so we had our subject use a hat to create an easier surface to scan.

Viewing The Files

To check the files afterwards we used the EXScan for the einscan files and then previewed the iPhone scan in its respective app. Both apps let us view the models in 3D after the scan was completed.

Initial Thoughts

Initially when we were first scanning the model we had a few assumptions, we expected that:

  • Einscan would produce a high quality scan.
  • iPhone would produce a basic scan
  • Einscan would hand an easier time with dark objects like hair
  • both models would be complete after the first scan


When deciding on a victory of the Einscan for iPhone we had to take a few things into consideration which were

  • Usable scan
    • How useable the scan was before post processing the file
  • Little to no cleanup
    • How much cleanup was required within the scan to get to something useable
  • Overall appearance
    • The appearance of the scan and how good it looked and if all the body parts were in the scan
  • Texture quality
    • How high quality the texture on the scan was and if it captured depth

After we completed a scan of Jia with both the Iphone and Einscan H we found a few things with the Einscan.
What we found with the Einscan was that:

  • The Einscan H was great at scanning a human body
  • The Einscan H produced a very high-quality scan in a short amount of time and the scanning process was easy
  • the face and other body parts came out great and areas that were missed we were able to easily patch up in the EXScan post processing software
  • any unnecessary object that was in the view of the scanner we could easily remove (Such as the broom handle on the floor)
  • The Einscan model could create and replicate organic shapes (such as wrinkles in clothing and face shapes

What we found with the iPhone was that

  • It had trouble putting a complete file together to make one scan
  • It had trouble scanning heads
  • It had trouble scanning appendages
  • Some of the body parts
  • It picked up too much of its surroundings compared to the EinScan

Final thoughts

So how does a free iPhone 12 3D scanner app compare to Shining3D EinScan H, a professional grade 3D scanner? After testing the two products we found that the EinScan H outperforms the iPhone app in all our categories: usability of the final scan, amount of cleanup required, overall appearance, quality of the texture.

We also found the EinScan workflow was better
The Einscan workflow was better for a few reasons, the fact that the model could be edited within its own software, the speed of the scan and the overall quality of the full body scan. all of the remaining touchup and post-processing was completed within Einscans suite of software making it a great all-in-one solution for scanning large items or bodies.

When would the iphone make sense? When would the EinScan make sense?
For use cases where you need a part or an object scanned with high dimensional accuracy or a human body, we would suggest using an Einscan unit. their software paired with the scanning of the Einscan can get you the best reproduction of the part that you are scanning, perfect for reverse engineering. When scanning something that needs to be done super fast and doesn’t need to be accurate where it's just for reference, the iPhone would be a perfect match. with its ability to scan faster it's much easier to use where you would just need a rough scan of an object. See for yourself with our direct comparison:

Overall, both the Einscan and iPhone have their advantages for what they are specialized for. Einscan is more for reverse engineering and scanning with high dimensional accuracy, while the iPhone is for more hobbyists that don't need a precisely replicated scan, or if you are trying to scan a room.

See the results for yourself. Download our files using the form below:

Interested in a professional 3D scanner? Check the Einscan product page here. We also offer 3D scanning services through our partner:

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