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At the snap of a finger: which flagship takes photos the fastest?

At the snap of a finger: which flagship takes photos the fastest?
It feels like it has been ages since the first modern smartphones came to be back in 2007. In an industry characterized by mind-blowingly rapid progress, we've quickly gotten to a point where the initial A + B + C equation to what makes a great smartphone is now absolutely inadequate. In fact, it has grown into something our word editor can't even properly display. The process has gotten insanely complicated, in other words.

And while we're mostly talking about different approaches that, inevitably (with flagships, at least), lead to a great outcome, it would be completely wrong to assert that one can produce an objective, one-size-fits-all, device that is better at everything than the rest. Indeed, the nuances are there, and different manufacturers invest in different aspects of the package that smartphones have grown to represent. One such major aspect is the camera.

Yep, no big surprises there -- pretty much without exception, flagship cameras are the object of the most sizable investment for manufacturers, and that's understandable. And yet, the main focus is on image quality. Pursuing that is a perfectly-understood necessity, but that's hardly all there is to a shooter. As you gleaned from the title, we believe that the time it takes you to power on your camera, focus on your object, snap a picture, and have your phone save it to its memory, is also a factor when it comes to what makes a great cameraphone. That's especially important when you get one of those unexpected, "Hell-I-need-to-take-a-picture-of-this-right-now" moments, where every second counts.

So which modern flagships excel in this field? Check them out.

78 Comments
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posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:07 28

1. tech2 (Posts: 2317; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Lol....Lumia takes 10 secs to fire up ?!

Does their camera app also offer to put the kettle on while opening the app ?

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:15 12

2. ihavenoname (Posts: 1487; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)


Seriously
1...2...3
1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
You really can miss a moment.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 01:32 1

53. Sid91 (Posts: 83; Member since: 06 May 2014)


Photo subject already left the building,

Its focuses and takes the pic quickly but than processes for like 8 seconds

Lol the 1020 is a year old but still thats a long time to take a pic, I think thats for 41mp pic processing time on the old time processor, for just 5mp its considerably less but nowhere near the others

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 04:19 1

57. lalalaman (Posts: 372; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)


Lol.....its a year old phone while z2 s5 are just 3 months old.....there is a huge diff in processor.....just wait until 1020 successor is announced with sd805

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 10:59 1

63. srgonu (Posts: 62; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)


Note 3 is around 9 months old fyi

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:18 8

5. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 885; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


I thought this was well know by now, the 1020 does indeed take a LONG LONG time to take a pic, i reckon my HTC One can take 30 pics or more while the Lumia 1020 takes one. I have compared both side by side.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:03 10

22. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


Maybe you could take 30 pictures before the 1020 is ready to take its second, but that one picture from the 1020 will be far and away better than any of those 30 and the end result is all that really matters in photography.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 19:53

43. Ikechukwu (Posts: 147; Member since: 03 Oct 2011)


Wise words

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 23:47 1

48. LionStone (Posts: 460; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


So projecting, you don't know that

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 06:43 3

60. khaledmhawesh (Posts: 38; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


you will miss the moment in 10 sec. tell me how nice it is taking a perfect picture of something you dont need :P

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 13:19

64. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


Except it doesn't take 10 seconds to take a photo on the 1020, from the lock screen it takes 4 seconds to capture an image.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:20 5

6. Beijendorf (Posts: 323; Member since: 27 Aug 2013)


It's 10 seconds to start the app, take a picture and save it down to the internal memory. Not just to start the camera application.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:10 12

13. akki20892 (Posts: 3603; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


There is difference between 4, 13, 16, 20MP vs 41MP

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:40 11

17. hurrycanger (Posts: 1227; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


The article really got the chance to make fun of the 1020.
But anyway, the z2 has 20mp right? Why does the 1020 take more than 3 times the total time just because it saves a pic twice as big?

It is slow. The extra 20mp shouldn't take 7 seconds to save. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:54 7

20. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


The reason the 1020 is so slow is because it's handling those massive images on a Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC (dual 1.5GHz Krait cores), a chip that shouldn't even be able to handle that much data coming from the camera. Nokia actually had to work with Qualcomm to re-design the camera stack to get it all working, so it really is no surprise that it's slow processing each image.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:31 3

24. sip1995 (Posts: 907; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


Nokia/Microsoft already doing this with Qualcomm in the be Nokia Lumia 1020.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 18:23 4

33. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3601; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


"The reason the 1020 is so slow is because it's handling those massive images on a Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC (dual 1.5GHz Krait cores)..."

All because Microsoft artificially crippled Windows Phone OS to only support two cores at the time, even though the kernel could support 32 cores. So Nokia couldn't use a newer/faster four core chip from Qualcomm.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 01:13

51. -box- (Posts: 3853; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Actually WP8 supports up to 64 cores right now, with the potential for more if ever needed. Remember, it shares its kernel with a desktop OS, so there is plenty of potential available to unleash if/when components ever get to that point.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 18:39

39. hurrycanger (Posts: 1227; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


Understandable then. I forgot about that. But then that's a sad part about the 1020. For a flagship from last year, it deserved a better processor. The rest about the phone seems great.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 22:44

47. wilsong17 (Posts: 1052; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)


excuse fan boy

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:54 1

31. akki20892 (Posts: 3603; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


2X pixels, it takes 2X large photo and catch so much details. Plus processor. It doesn't mean that close number has to be closer, u know there is 0.01ms can make difference in ranking.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:36 4

16. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


No, it doesn't take 10 seconds to fire up. I have a 1020 and from the lock screen it takes 4-5 seconds to take a picture, but then takes another 4 seconds or so to save that image. So for taking the first picture it's actually close to being on par with the others in this round up, it's taking that second picture that really takes time.

Having said that I'd still take the 1020's camera over any other at the moment, the images it produces are so much better than any other smartphone that it's well worth the wait. Plus you rarely need to take a second shot as it tends to get things right the first time.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:49 5

28. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2054; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


You fandroids laugh at the speed of the camera of the L1020, we WP fans laugh at your phone's imaging quality.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:56 4

32. akki20892 (Posts: 3603; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Their photos are so tiny to compare our Nokia Lumia 1020 photos.... Lolololol.
We need only one photo and they need 100 photos to choose best one.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 02:33 4

54. tech2 (Posts: 2317; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Go check dxomark. Xperia Z2 and GS5 has put your beloved pureview tech to shame.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 13:24

65. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


If they were to re-test the 1020 with the Nokia Black update it would be a totally different story. The 1020's camera was initially hampered by some poor algorithms, particularly when it came to white balance and over sharpening, but they were fixed quite soon after launch. If they tested it now it would get a much higher mark than it originally did and would easily beat the likes of the Z2 or S5.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 13:33 1

66. tech2 (Posts: 2317; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


When talking about pureview I was referring to Pureview 808 and not L1020. As far as I know 808 didn't had any shortcomings on its release still Z2 and GS5 managed to beat it.

And you'd probably know that L1020 is no where close to 808 when it comes to its camera dept. So, in short, if GS5 and Z2 beat 808 then it would easily beat L1020 even WITH the black update.

posted on 17 Jun 2014, 22:18

73. sdreamer (Posts: 6; Member since: 17 Jun 2014)


Not sure if they were put to shame. The Z2 tied the 808 (81 vs 81) and the GS5 at 80 points was one point under; all in terms of still photography; yes, they did best the L 1020 (with a score of 79, which died in this category due to post processing which has been altered multiple times since the review). They take the crown when you start to include video. IMO, video quality can still increase with raw processing power, which is their edge over the rest of the competition really. If you look at the video scores, there is a much bigger gap, which I think can be attributed to just raw hardware and better optimization. Putting it to "shame" I wouldn't agree, but catching up to and matching to some degree I think is a bit more correct if we're talking about just still photography.

posted on 18 Jun 2014, 11:24

76. elitewolverine (Posts: 1902; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)


Actually no it did not. It was the Video score that brought it down vs the others.

In terms of picture power, the others still cannot match it.

There is a reason they have yet to test the s5, z2 and other smartphones against real DSLR's.

Where as the 1020 has been pitched against DSLR's, real cameras, and came out suprisingly good. To the point in alot of the photos the 1020 was on par or better with the entry DSLR's.

posted on 18 Jun 2014, 14:27

78. tech2 (Posts: 2317; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Firstly, their marks aren't affected because it was pitched against DSLRs. It is still listed in the same category as GS5 and Z2. Even Note 3 was pitched against DSLRs and stood on par against them:
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Samsung-Galaxy-Note-3-vs-Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-video-comparison-results-will-surprise-you_id55754

L1020 scored 79 vs 80 of GS5 and 81 of Z2
That score is only of picture and NOT video recording capabilities.

Whereas in video dept.,
L1020 scored 64 vs 79 of GS5 and 73 of Z2.
and here L1020 lost terribly.

So GS5 and Z2 are better camera wise in picture and video dept.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 17:28

68. wilsong17 (Posts: 1052; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)


hey dummy if it was so good why dont i see in the street hardly never seen one

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 06:48

61. Daniel.95 (Posts: 89; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)


Put the resolution on 5Mp
It start cam and snap pic in 0.000000000000000000000000000000001 s

posted on 17 Jun 2014, 03:48

71. Alex123 (Posts: 227; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


This is what i hate about my NL925 and it really miss a moment.

posted on 17 Jun 2014, 23:43

75. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


yeah sure comparing a dual core with 41mpix camera vs 8 mpix crap loaded with quad cores thats what you get
but it sure makes up in quality 10 pics from rest of the crop vs one from 1020 and still 1020 is unbeatable

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:16 5

3. clodderes (Posts: 27; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)


what about 1520? 1020 is yesteryear hardware, you can't compare them. I've got my 920 (the same processor as 1020) from December 2012....... Some of the mentioned phones is from this month!

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:17 15

4. fzacek (Posts: 2062; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)


The fact that HTC One M8's camera is only 4MP ruins everything else that's good about it...

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:21 7

7. Beijendorf (Posts: 323; Member since: 27 Aug 2013)


The One M8 isn't nearly as bad as everyone keeps whining about it being. The images are nice, the colours are accurate and the ability to take good images fast and in any lighting condition is great.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:27 2

8. ihavenoname (Posts: 1487; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)


True, but still would've been nice if it was at least 8mp instead of that duo-camera.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:53 1

11. yahia_malka (Posts: 101; Member since: 27 Mar 2014)


It's a ultra pixel , and mega pixel number doesn't make sense anymore because it all depend on the resolution , check the pictures taken by m8 , It's fantastic even better than the galaxy s5

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:19 3

15. Astoni (Posts: 560; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


I really like the m8 but try zooming or cropping a picture its taken.. it f*cking looks horrible.. why? low megapixelcount. Sure MP dosen't do everything but its till the 30-40% of the picture quality..

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:43 6

18. DarkStar286 (Posts: 68; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)


Erm, ultra pixel was just a marketing term created by HTC to try and move the focus away from the very low pixel count. They're just pixels like you find on any other digital camera, nothing special about them at all.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:08 1

23. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3152; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Megapixels are the resolution... 8 mpx means 8 million pixels, which would be for example a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 20:39 2

45. GoBears (Posts: 374; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


To yahia: Sorry dude but that statement is simply not true. I went from the M8 to the S5 specifically because of the camera. Although the M8 camera isn't as bad as it's made out to be, the S5 camera curbstomps the M8 in every way possible except the speed and extreme low light.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:32 5

9. fzacek (Posts: 2062; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)


True, but details are just lacking. Think about it, one pixel from the M8's camera is the same size as four pixels from the S5's camera. That's a big difference, and no amount of color accuracy or speed will change that...

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 19:45

42. pwnarena (Posts: 956; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


unfortunately, sample photos from almost everywhere prove otherwise.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 01:26

52. shuaibhere (Posts: 1652; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Proves what???
S5's camera is miles ahead...

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:13 5

14. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8798; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Having both the S5 and M8, the M8 can actually take pretty decent photos. Don't buy the M8 if you crop a lot of photos. For posting online to Facebook or Instagram, the 4UP camera is definitely fine.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:51 4

10. yahia_malka (Posts: 101; Member since: 27 Mar 2014)


U missed a thing , first Lumia 1020 has a 41 mp camera , second all these phones mentioned have quad cores and over 2.0 Ghz processors , that is not fare

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:34 1

25. sip1995 (Posts: 907; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


I want to see the successor of the Nokia Lumia 1020 + now with the Nokia Cyan update, you can take faster photos.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 15:59 2

12. -box- (Posts: 3853; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


The lesser Lumias are a bit faster, but part of the fault is the Nokia Camera app, default on the 1020 and optional on other Lumias (I have it default on my 925), and while it's a good deal slower than the stock WP camera app, which is pretty darn quick, it's because it's loading up all the amazing manual camera controls and sensors.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:36 3

26. sip1995 (Posts: 907; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


Nokia Cyan update will make Lumias take faster photos.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 16:53

19. gigaraga (Posts: 1357; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


Note 3 is awesome..didn't expect it to be faster than the G3, but then again, its not by much. LOL at 1020 speeds.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:00 7

21. muneshyne21 (Posts: 16; Member since: 09 Apr 2013)


So phonearena conveniently leaves out the 1520 and ICON from every recent camera test after beating out everyone once but decides to include a two year old phone in this test? Yeah that sounds fair and balanced.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:37 1

27. sip1995 (Posts: 907; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)


PA is a paid site, we already said that.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 17:53 4

30. Derekjeter (Posts: 310; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


I had the icon and I had to tell everyone to stand still for 4 seconds so I could take a good picture. There's no NOKIA phone that takes quick good pictures. Only fan boys will say they do. The best quick and steady decent pictures come from the iPhone 5s and. My galaxy S5 takes quick but not clear pictures.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 18:25

34. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3601; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


Well said. This is a good summary of how phone cameras are in day to day use.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 18:30 1

36. muneshyne21 (Posts: 16; Member since: 09 Apr 2013)


After camera technology brought the entire experience under 5 seconds, anything faster was just extraneous for the masses. Its kinda like why we stalled out with quad core processors in PCs. That was the limit that the masses could utilize in a PC or phone.
Quick pictures are usually in comparison to a point-and-shoot. Quick to me is starting up and snapping a good picture under 5-6 seconds which my 928 can do. It can probably do better with the stock camera app. I'm not a Bigfoot hunter and I'm not constantly holding my phone looking for pictures to take so I don't need 1 second start-up and shoot times. My facebook newsfeed doesnt have a single action shot that required lighting quick reflexes and camera shots. In fact its filled with group shots that probably take 2 minutes just to get everyone to assemble, look at the camera and smile.

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 20:42 1

46. GoBears (Posts: 374; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


My 928 is the perfect compromise between speed and quality for Nokia/WP devices. Takes great pics pretty damn fast. Plus the xenon flash just can't be beat.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 03:11

55. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3152; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


The thing is, you can't take good pictures quickly :)

posted on 18 Jun 2014, 11:30

77. elitewolverine (Posts: 1902; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)


Any camera phone will need 4 seconds for any good picture. Low light? Forget it.

But once you set the focus manually, bam bam bam bam super fast great detail.

Considering i just did a test on my 925, from lock screen, 5 seconds to start, snap, and focus and save till next shot. On the beta app, that also takes a live picture. If you know what a live picture is, it adds that much more time to take a pic since it is taking a short video before the picture.

Using the default MS Camera app, from lock screen takes about 3-4seconds. Not bad for a dual core phone.

As you stated, there is a huge difference between quick and good. My friends s4 'quick' photos were bad enough that my 925 out of all the camera's there at a party, was designated and passed around as the camera for the party.

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