Camera Comparison: Google Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5s, Sony Xperia Z1, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, LG G2, Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One
- 1 Introduction and Details
- 2 Color reproduction
- 3 Indoor
- 4 Night
- 5 Panorama
- 6 Video
- 7 Camera interface and ease of use
- 8 Conclusion
- Google Nexus 5 specifications
- Apple iPhone 5s specifications
- Sony Xperia Z1 specifications
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 specifications
- Samsung Galaxy S4 specifications
- LG G2 specifications
- Nokia Lumia 1020 specifications
- HTC One specifications
Camera interface and ease of use
Having a great camera on your phone isn't the only requirement for taking high-quality pictures. In addition to that, a lot of thought has to be put into developing a versatile camera app and an easy-to-use interface.
The camera app and UI found on the Google Nexus 5 leave us with mixed feelings about them. On one hand, we like how clean and uncluttered it is, but on the other, we find it organized poorly, with settings that are not as easy to get to as they should be. On the other hand, we like the fancy PhotoSphere mode that comes standard with it, and the lock screen shortcut is nice having.
The iPhone 5s isn't very generous on camera settings. In fact, there's very little one can adjust manually. However, the interface is extremely easy to use and can be accessed in a blink of an eye via the dedicated lock screen shortcut. What’s more, the camera is extremely rapid and requires minimal time between individual shots. For those who are into these, image filters can be applied to the photo. Special modes include HDR, which works surprisingly fast, and 120fps slow-motion videos. The handset itself is very comfortable to hold and its volume button can be used as a shutter key.
Using the Sony Xperia Z1 to take photos and videos with is a pretty straightforward process. First of all, the shape of the handset is ideal for the purpose and the dedicated 2-stage camera button allows us to instantly launch the camera app straight from the lock screen. The interface itself is set to its Intelligent Auto mode by default, adjusting the scene settings for you as best as it can. To get the most of the Z1's camera, however, you'll have to use the manual mode instead, where there are more settings to be tweaked. Sony has not forgotten to throw in a handful of awesome features as well. For example, you can stream video straight to your Facebook wall or add augmented reality effects to your shot.
Designed from the ground up with photography in mind, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is easy to hold in landscape orientation and its 2-stage button is very convenient to use. There are two camera apps loaded out of the box, namely Nokia Smart Cam and Nokia Pro Cam, and regardless of which one you choose to use, the camera's optical image stabilization will be live and running. The Smart Cam app is for casual users, allowing them to easily apply advanced manipulations to the image, such as to remove moving objects or to create dramatic action shots with motion blur and all. Those who are really into manual controls will appreciate having the Pro Cam app, which gives control over the camera's exposure, white balance and ISO speed. Even the focus and shutter speed can be adjusted manually – something most other phones will not let you do. Additional camera features, effects and filters (referred to as “camera lens”) can be downloaded from the Marketplace.
To no surprise, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 share the same UI. A whole ton of shooting scenes and modes are available for the user to play with, and most of them can actually be quite useful given the appropriate conditions. We find it convenient that two separate shutters have been added – one for taking photos and another for recording videos – so there is no need to switch manually between modes as the case is with the Z1 and the G2. Both come with software image stabilization, eliminating (to some extent) the effects of vibrations introduced by the user's hand. A solid advantage for the Note 3 is that it has the option to record extra-smooth 1080p video at twice the normal framerate – 60fps. Support for 4K videos is present as well, and that footage would look nice on one of those new, fancy 4K TVs.
There is no shortage of shooting scenes, modes, and options on the HTC One. It can take HDR photos and videos at 1080p resolution, 60 frame-per-second videos at 720p, all the while capturing stereo sound of fantastic quality. However, the UI hasn't been organized the best way possible. Most settings and adjustments are placed in a single list with lots of sub-menus, so getting to the one you need may take more steps than it should. Thankfully, the frequently used ones are placed on the very top of the list.
On the LG G2 we have a well-arranged user interface with lots of shooting scenes for photos and live effects for videos. The best thing about the smartphone's camera is that it features optical image stabilization, and it works pretty well, as our experience shows. Another awesome perk is the option to shoot video at 60 fps, and the improvement in quality is easy to notice.
1. MrKoles (Posts: 325; Member since: 20 Jan 2013)
This Ultrapixel "thing" is just huge disappointment...HTC shall stop putting it in flagships and come up with a better idea!
7. Finalflash (Posts: 1799; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)
It isn't but the post processing and the fact that they went only 4MP really cost them. If they fix those two items, they will likely be the top. So now we see what they do with their next flagship.
10. LiyanaBG (Posts: 346; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)
HTC always every Camera Comparison they always get worst score. because of stupid Ultrapixel
51. JEEPOFFROADV8 (Posts: 35; Member since: 01 Apr 2009)
That is a false!! not on other tech sites which i would value there opinion more then phone arena. i had 2 samsung gs4. allthou the gs4 had more megapixels the htc one took better pics overall. sorry. i am not biased towards either phone. just stating facts.
64. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 396; Member since: 24 May 2011)
Are you kidding. Even i have seen both their photos and S4 takes better pics no doubt. By any chance you saw them on your cell? Cause i had seen them on my TV. That could make a difference.
66. pharttart (Posts: 7; Member since: 05 Dec 2013)
I visit this site on occassion but You are the reason I made an account.....educate yourself on what Megapixels are and edit your comment.
70. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 396; Member since: 24 May 2011)
4 megapixels are still more pixels than a standard tv. Yet their is difference when viewing them. So i asked him If he did . Its a valid question. Dont get over smart.
18. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8614; Member since: 14 May 2012)
I'm honestly not surprised by the results. Lumia 1020 on top followed by the Z1 (beat camera on the Android front) with the HTC One in dead last. UP was the biggest disappointment from HTC in 2013.
74. oldhamletman (Posts: 39; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)
I bought a 1020 a few weeks back and the 41MP sensor is awesome, on the fly zoom in video and stills is really smooth... using it with pro shot gives an excellent camera solution that is in line with full blown cameras.
I wish the 1520 had the same camera.... I'd like the bigger screen, but there is no way I'm giving up the cam on the 1020
27. mqmorasch (Posts: 6; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)
all the shots are obviously done in Zoe mode by the lack of zoom
31. Muayyad (Posts: 127; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
No it is not, I'm very happy with the results it gives me for a pocket shooter.
34. emadshiny (Posts: 1135; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
Im sure if they have put Xperia Z instead of One it would achieve a far better score.
I don't understand whats the problem with PA. They have put Z aside from the beginning of its appearance.
42. downphoenix (Posts: 2357; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
except that the Z has consistently been in the top ranks of this contest, it went lumia, Z, G2 (Although I argue the G2s pictures were better overall, it was close enough that I can see where people would prefer the Z's) as the top 3 more or less. There were some like the panorama test which doesnt matter at all (like less than 1% of people will actualyl even bother with that, it is such a little used feature it should not have warranted it's own category) that they both had poor scores on, but otherwise did very well.
50. JEEPOFFROADV8 (Posts: 35; Member since: 01 Apr 2009)
why cuz phone areana says so? lol. there camera is just fine and look around the web its got some good ratings. sure htc should have put in at least a 5 or 8 megapixel. but i personally love this phone. hands down still the best overall phone on the market. might not be the best camera phone. but best overall phone and thats what i care about
2. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1396; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)
I've been expecting the similar results.
3. cezarepc (Posts: 573; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
Well the fact that the N5's output is comparable to these high-end phones is very telling (OIS definitely makes a lot of difference in indoor/low light situations). Definitely worth your money (combined with the rest of what it has to offer), would love to get one for wifey.
4. noler (Posts: 167; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)
No Lumia 1520?
HTC One score is "4" because it has 4MP camera?
16. Finalflash (Posts: 1799; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)
Yea, the scores literally follow the MP count.
43. downphoenix (Posts: 2357; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
so much for megapixels meaning nothing, eh HTC?
5. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
In daylight details the Nexus 5 comes out on top almost everywhere, where the Lumia loses quite a bit per pixel (more pixels, less sharpening), interesting scores PA. Color reproduction is spectacular on the 1020 though, and overall it often beats out the DSLR.
6. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Did you leave HDR+ on for the Nexus 5 shots, Nick?
8. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
BTW, Photosphere does much better panorama than panorama on the Nexus photo SW. In fact I'd call it best in class providing you can keep the lens in the absolute middle.
13. taikucing (unregistered)
HTC One score... lol
14. enthasuium (Posts: 90; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)
page 2, Color reproduction , how come iphone 5s comes 3rd, its looking as worst as HTC one. pls correct it
15. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)
So that makes Z1's camera the best in Android.
Well, most of the cameras up there are made by Sony anyway.
19. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8614; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Z1 followed by the G2 and Note 3. Z1 is in a league of it's own.
45. Remmy (Posts: 55; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)
True, though I believe their software/algorithm are not as good as others'. :/ (except for the Z1 of course)
20. Assa7inKing (Posts: 26; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)
Yes ! Nice SONY ! so that means Z1 is THE BEST ANDROID CAMERA PHONE !!!!
22. yasir-921 (Posts: 79; Member since: 02 Oct 2012)
Has Xperia Z1 got latest firmware for its Camera?
It is known that the latest camera update of Z1 improves its camera performance very much.
23. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)
I really hope Z1's snapper have OIS, it would've scored better than 8 overall.
26. bloodline (Posts: 693; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
Impressed by the nexus 5 and Google is already building a software patch to improve the nexus 5 cam
53. marbovo (Posts: 655; Member since: 16 May 2013)
I don´t think it is just a patch, it´s a hole new camera app with new features, I remember a google employee saying how great nexus 5 camera would be, but unfortunatly the app did not got finished right on time, but let´s just wait
28. cristianer (Posts: 40; Member since: 20 Aug 2010)
I said it when the HTC One was released: It can be hiper-mega-ultrapixel but it still has 4 mpx. Not good for a flagship.
29. mqmorasch (Posts: 6; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)
obvious that the HTC One wasn't taken in noral shooting mode but rather Zoe mode with lack of focus. Comparisons can be subjective to the one conducting the test
37. jellmoo (Posts: 690; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
No mention of how long it takes to focus and then for the shutter to engage? The Nexus 5 takes perfectly good photos in HDR+ mode (less stellar when it isn't engaged) but the time to focus and then shoot is quite long. Long enough to impact the ability of taking candid shots.
Info on how other devices fare in this regard would be useful. A beautiful picture is nice, but many of us are looking to record snapshots of our lives rather than artistic masterpieces. Knowing how these devices perform when you are looking to grab a quick shot would be nice.
38. sbw44 (Posts: 397; Member since: 04 Dec 2012)
Wow as always in the world of PA the 1020 does not perform in shots where sites praise it! Video last? ever heard its audio quality? OIS? lossless zoom???
Same with night time photos! how on earth can a phones with a much smaller sensor, No OIS and a weaker LED flash beat one with a proper XENON Flash?
Also why don't you do a no holds bar camera comparison where you can change settings as much as you like! That's where the 1020 will kill these phones!
39. sbw44 (Posts: 397; Member since: 04 Dec 2012)
And don't tell me the average user will only take photo's on default! If so you then basically comparing a Bugatti Veyron with 2 of its turbo chargers disabled to Nissan GTR!
40. JulianGT (Posts: 82; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)
Was the lumia 1020 running the latest software?
41. papss (unregistered)
I remember when PA had an article about how awesome the ones camera was going to be.. just funny and sad
44. ctn10 (Posts: 9; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)
I think result OVERALL RATINGS (AVERAGE) is WRONG ?
46. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2691; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)
Nice article Nick, thank you very much, but where is GH2 ratings, I can't see them? ;)
Next time I want to see 1520 and 929, and Oppo and Zopo also if possible with above brigade.
HTC's normal camera phones are way better than this One's UP.
48. twens (Posts: 668; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
So much hate for Sammy no one is even mentioning the fact that the galaxies are serious imaging devices. Next year Sammy is going disgrace all of you haters. The competition will be so far behind when Sammy is done with ya'll.
55. drkuthan (Posts: 22; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)
Note 3 is very bad when it comes to night shots and night videos .
Lumia 1020 is very good while video recording.
I don't believe that phonearena is objective
56. Trex95 (Posts: 553; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)
PA hates HTC one as usual nothing new. One of my ppl owns an cellphones shop and i try out all these phones camera myself, I found that HTC one has the best color reproduction plus great low light video.
S4 Octa camera the worst in still shoot at low light including Note 3
S4 snapdragon 600 better than both Note 3 and Octa S4 at low light
IP5S still and video shoot still the best in all lights condition with great color reproduction
Xperia Z1 great camera with camera software issue and mediocre low light shoot
Lumia 1020 the best of all but with over saturated colors with mediocre OIS.
LG G2 equal to S4 camera with better video with OIS but the worst video at low light plus the green and silver colors in pics looks so shiny that doesn't looks like the real scene.
Nexus 5 order it in the way.