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Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4

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Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4

Did you know that the Samsung Galaxy S7 can block telemarketers from calling you? Or that heat inside it is dissipated by a liquid cooling system? Or that its components are rubberized to prevent water damage? Or that it has a camera feature similar to Apple's Live Photos? Or that you can make it block notifications whenever your favorite game is running?

That's great and all, but we suppose you're a lot more curious to know how well the Galaxy S7's camera performs. And we're here to shed some light on the matter. In fact, we're about to compare the Samsung Galaxy S7 against three other well-known shooters. Firstly, there's the iPhone 6s – a phone that we feel obliged to include not only for its very potent camera, but also because it is among the Galaxy S7's biggest rivals. Then there's the Galaxy S6, Samsung's flagship from a year back. Naturally, we're expecting the Galaxy S7's camera to have a lead ahead that of its predecessor, but we're eager to see how big of a gap there will be between the two. And the LG G4 is in the race to spice things up a bit by giving its competitors a good run for their money.

Before we take a look at the images we've shot, here's what these four handsets have to offer in terms of camera specs:

Camera specs
Samsung
Galaxy S7
iPhone 6sSamsung
Galaxy S6
LG G4
Resolution and
aspect ratio
12MP @ 4:3
4032 x 3024 pixels
12MP @ 4:3
4032 x 3024 pixels
16MP @ 16:9
5312 x 2988 pixels
16MP @ 16:9
5312 x 2988 pixels
Sensor and
pixel size
1/2.5"
1.4 μm
1/3"
1.22 μm
1/2.6"
1.12 μm
1/2.6"
1.12 μm
Focal length
and aperture
26mm
F1.7
29 mm
F2.2
28 mm
F1.9
28 mm
F1.8
Focus and
stabilization
Dual Pixel AF
Optical stabilization
Phase detection AF
No OIS
Phase detection AF
Optical stabilization
Laser AF
Optical stabilization

Clearly, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a lot to stand its ground with. It might not have the most megapixels (which is something you shouldn't be worried about anyway), but it has wider aperture, larger sensor, and larger pixels. This should allow it to pick up light more easily than its rivals, thus producing better photos, especially in low light. But that's all theory, as we like to say. Let's now take a look at some photos and see if the camera on the Galaxy S7 is as awesome of a shooter as specs indicate.

High-resolution photo samples might take a few moments to load. 

Scene 1: A walk in the park


Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4

It was a gloomy afternoon when we took this photo, and it looks like every single one of the phones had a different opinion as to how the scene should look. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is treating us to an image that captivates with its vivid, saturated colors. We wouldn't call it the most color-accurate, but this is definitely the photo that best draws our attention. The iPhone, on the other hand, shot a dull, cold-looking image, which is not the kind of behavior we expected of Apple's handset. 

Surprisingly, it is the Samsung Galaxy S6 that delivers the most life-like colors, with an image that looks very close to what our eyes could see in real life. As for the LG G4, its camera appears to be trying to introduce warmth to the image, but the result isn't exactly great. Hints of red and pink appear in areas of the photo where they shouldn't be.

Colors aside, we see that all four cameras managed to capture plenty of detail. Only the image from the G4 seems to be a bit hazy in certain areas, but this could be due to the fact that the camera doesn't sharpen the photo as much. 

Scene 1: EXIF data
Samsung
Galaxy S7
iPhone 6sSamsung
Galaxy S6
LG G4
ISOISO64ISO25ISO64ISO50
Shutter speed1/1001/331/501/40

Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4


Scene 2: Hotel London


Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4


We took these four shots later that day. It is clear to see that the iPhone's image stands out, but not exactly in a good way. Colors in it are much warmer than they should be, which gives us a rather unnatural reproduction of the scene. All other phones managed to deliver colors closer to reality, although we still see an odd hint of red in the G4's photo. As far as details go, we're pleased to see that all four phones managed to snap clear shots, with little to no visible noise even if we take a close look. Again, the LG G4 seems to be less aggressive with the sharpening dial, so its photo looks very natural even at 100% zoom.

Scene 2: EXIF data
Samsung
Galaxy S7
iPhone 6sSamsung
Galaxy S6
LG G4
ISOISO50ISO25ISO40ISO50
Shutter speed1/2891/1971/1481/134

Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4


Scene 3: Playground


Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4


Looking at this particular set of shots, we can say that all four cameras managed to capture the bright, saturated colors very accurately, without exaggerating them or making them appear duller than they actually are. That's a good thing, of course. However, the iPhone's photo could use a bit more exposure. As the case is with the previous couple of scenes, details captured by all four cameras are plentiful, with the LG G4 introducing the least amount of filtering. 

Scene 3: EXIF data
Samsung
Galaxy S7
iPhone 6sSamsung
Galaxy S6
LG G4
ISOISO50ISO25ISO40ISO50
Shutter speed1/2531/1601/1321/120

Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4



Scene 4: Yellow flowers


Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4


Mahonia aquifolium, also known as Oregon grape, is the plant producing these pretty yellow flowers. All four phones captured their natural beauty rather well, with plentiful details and pleasing colors. There are some slight variations in color tone between images, but we wouldn't call them a big deal in this particular scene. 

It is worth pointing out that the bokeh effect – that artistic blurring of the background – is most pronounced in the LG G4. There's also plenty of it in the photos from the two Galaxies. The iPhone 6s produces the least amount of bokeh, which doesn't come as a surprise given its camera's narrower aperture – a factor that determines how much blur will be present in the out-of-focus areas.

Scene 4: EXIF data
Samsung
Galaxy S7
iPhone 6sSamsung
Galaxy S6
LG G4
ISOISO50ISO25ISO50ISO50
Shutter speed1/1891/1591/1001/120

Best smartphone cameras compared: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4

138 Comments
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posted on 14 Mar 2016, 13:16 59

1. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


The iPhone came in last place? Is this really happening PA? I'm playing the lotto tonight.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 13:28 41

6. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


It's obvious, the iPhone's camera is not just up to those ones in this contest.

Hands down!

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 13:37 1

11. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


That might be true of the 6s but the 6s plus takes better pictures than the 6s, proven fact.
http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 13:38 1

12. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


The 6s isn't that good they should have used the 6s plus if they wanted the best iPhone camera.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:09 3

22. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 4180; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


It is really difficult for me to take all this in now! Some say DXOmark lost it's credibility ever since it named Z5 the best smartphone camera (I'm not sure if you're a part of that) but again referring to DXOmark for iPhone camera values is, kind of, unstable, I feel.
I'm not pointing fingers at you but simply stating.
Is there no other "reliable" source other than DXOmark?

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:19 2

25. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


The only other reliable source is that I have the 6s plus and I have friends who have the 6s and the 6s plus takes better pictures in my experience.

And apparently the Z5 does take really good pictures but you have to use the manual setting.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:29 6

28. bucky (Posts: 2982; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


the 6s has an outstanding camera. Its just not the best one right now.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:30

29. kevin91202 (Posts: 592; Member since: 08 Jun 2014)


"That might be true of the 6s but the 6s plus takes better pictures than the 6s, proven fact." -Arch_Fiend

Huh? 6s, 6s, and 6s? What exactly are you trying to say?

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:35 20

31. sgodsell (Posts: 4412; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


Bull, the S6 has a superior camera over the 6s plus. Never mind the crappy non OIS 6s. Even the 6s plus is crappy with low light pictures and requires software processing to improve images. These are facts.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 14:38

34. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Read what you said again because I clearly say the 6s plus takes better pictures than the 6s

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 15:42

48. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Isn't that obvious. 6s plus has OIS, 6s doesn't.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:07 8

50. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 12983; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


100% agree.
I can say PA, this is probably the best camera test of all time.
But the photo with the girl in it. When you look at the closeup of her hands, the LG G4 and the S7 took a much clearer and sharper picture vs the S6 and iPhone 6S.

Also, since Samsung includes OIS on both S7 models, wouldnt it have been fair to also include a shot from the 6S Plus for each?

I am not surprised the iPhone came in dead last. But I expected it honestly to beat the G4, not the Galaxies.

Every blog site has stated the 6S/6S+ don't take better pictures than the 6/6+. But I did expect a 3rd place for the iPhone.

To me none of LG phones have ever taken good pictures even though I surely want the LG G Pro.

I wonder how the LG G5 would do?!

Good show from all 4 performers.

This seals the deal though. The Galaxy S camera has been the one to beat since the 16MP shooter that appeared on the S5. No other phone has taken better pictures in this class, except each newer Galaxy.

Looks like Samsung has 12MP done right!

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:11 1

52. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


The 6s having a superior camera over the 6s plus is no fact.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:13 1

53. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Yes it does but it isn't the best iPhone camera available. The 6s plus would have lost as well but it would have done better than the 6s.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:24 5

59. akaliel (Posts: 34; Member since: 19 Jun 2015)


It has OIS, which will result in better pictures, but not enough to make up for the bad low light iPhone performance in general, and odd white-balance issues.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:27 1

60. akaliel (Posts: 34; Member since: 19 Jun 2015)


A little better, but having OIS wouldn't have improved low light pictures, or proper color reproduction. Those appear to be the major faults of the these tests. OIS would only improve clarity in pictures where the user didn't keep the camera steady.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 16:31

61. SYSTEM_LORD (Posts: 919; Member since: 05 Oct 2015)


Yeah, I've had two Xperia Z phones. I can say for a fact the photos are much better in manual mode than in the so-called "superior auto mode"

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 17:26 2

64. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


"I can see strong Samsung bias in your comment. It's insane to see you say LG phones doesn't take good pictures and should be inferiorly ranked than the iPhones.

LG is just as good as Samsung when it comes at smartphone photography!

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 18:29 6

69. SuperMaoriBro (Posts: 531; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)


I have two Xperia Z's, they both suck. Sony often supply the sensors in the top camera phones, but for some reason screw up implementing the same results in their own devices.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 18:52

72. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Nothing about my post was BULL lol I just realized that you said the S6 I didn't even mention the S6 in my most #11 so what the hell are you even talking about. Learn to read before you post smh.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 18:53

73. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


It's not ois that makes it better the picture reproduction is better.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 19:47 1

74. j2001m (Posts: 2999; Member since: 28 Apr 2014)


cathedral Image, is a joke you gave to the iPhone, it's the only one without 2 lights in the image, this will have changed how they image will have came out with ease

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 20:34 1

75. vincelongman (Posts: 4877; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


Actually OIS would improve low light pictures
Since it would allow the camera to use a longer shutter speed to let more light in
Without OIS, longer shutter speed means there would be motion blur

But OIS won't help with the color reproduction issues
That's more because of the f/2.2 lens+1.22µ pixels and software processing

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 21:15

78. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3260; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


I didn't know that and I didn't say OIS helped with color.

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 21:35

79. vincelongman (Posts: 4877; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


I think you miss read, I was replying to akaliel

See "in response to #60"

posted on 14 Mar 2016, 23:03

81. khaldoon (Posts: 62; Member since: 17 May 2013)


Actually to understand the DOX realist you have to fully read them. DOX gives their results not only based on pic quality, but also the overal features of the camera. Let me explain. For example, the z5 is still the highest scoring phone there in terms of focus speed and accuracy( you can't argue that only the s7 beats the z5 in that area). and so on. DOX doesn't only measure pic quality it measures the overall

posted on 15 Mar 2016, 00:38 1

85. BattleBrat (Posts: 1476; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I have a Z3v the camera when shooting in manual BLOWS away everything I have used before I can print 8x10 or larger with it, something I have never been able to do before.

posted on 15 Mar 2016, 01:21

88. sobit81 (Posts: 38; Member since: 18 Apr 2015)


You are right.

posted on 15 Mar 2016, 01:39 1

91. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


Exactly my experience with the Xperia Z5, it's camera is way better whilst on Manual Mode. Too bas Tech sites review it's camera on Auto.

posted on 15 Mar 2016, 03:42 1

96. Heisenberg (Posts: 134; Member since: 11 Feb 2015)


Apple's check must have bounced

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