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Camera Comparison: Google Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5s, Sony Xperia Z1, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, LG G2, Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One

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Conclusion


All the previous Nexus-branded smartphones were great devices as a whole, but failed to impress with the quality of their cameras. The Google Nexus 5, however, turns out to be quite different in that respect. As our testing goes to show, its 8MP optically stabilized camera can capture very detailed and good-looking images – images that are good enough to rival even the best guys in the camera department.

To no surprise, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is the undisputed leader of cameraphones thanks to its big 41MP sensor and xenon flash. Even though its rivals are steadily catching up, it will take quite a lot of effort to produce something that will outperform Nokia's high-end snapper. Still, even the Lumia 1020 could have been better, if it had better color reproduction.

The Sony Xperia Z1 is also packing a larger than normal sensor, but it is a 20MP one and is physically smaller than that of the 1020. However, it helps it score very good results when it comes to details and low-light performance. However, the color fidelity could have been better and we wish it performed better with night shots and panoramas.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, with their 13MP cameras, are both great performers overall. They take some the best smartphone photos and videos we've ever feasted our eyes on and they get the job done well in any conditions, be it when we're shooting during the day, at night, or indoors. The rich set of modes and settings offered by their camera software enhances the experience even further. We should also note that they deliver the best panoramas.

Beautiful images can be produced with the LG G2 as well, especially when its 13MP camera is given optimal light conditions. It delivers detailed images with very good amount of noise.

The iPhone 5s with its 8MP snapper is definitely the simplest to use for taking photos and videos. You just point, shoot, and enjoy! And the results are almost always great, which makes the camera on the iPhone 5s suitable for the needs of the great majority of consumers. Its panoramas are also of great quality.

The HTC One can't do much to impress us with. Sure, its photos do look okay in small size and its videos have excellent sound in them, but as a whole, we're not amazed by its 4MP “UltraPixel” camera. The images it produces are good enough for using on social networks or for making small prints, but if you're really serious about mobile photography, better look elsewhere.



Disclaimer: The overall score for each phone represents its average rating, but note that we're only taking into account the Details, Color representation and Indoor categories in the Overall score. We're factoring all the others (such as Night and Panorama) out, since those represent situations where users are less likely to take images in. Video recording isn't included as well, since we consider it a separate thing from photo-taking. We've done this in order to end up with an Overall rating that is representative of a camera's performance in those areas, which we think are most important to users. It's not an ultimate rating, though, so if you're particularly interested in a specific area, such as Panorama, or Video, just check out the devices' ratings in that category!

Software versions of the smartphone units used in the comparison:

Google Nexus 5 – Android 4.4 – Build KRT16M
iPhone 5s - iOS 7.0.3 (11B511)
Sony Xperia Z1 - 4.2.2 Build 14.1.G.2.257
LG G2 - Android 4.2.2 - SW version D80210a-EUR-XX
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - Android 4.3 - Build JSS15J.N9005XXUBMI7
Samsung Galaxy S4 - Android 4.2.2 - Build JDQ39.I9505XXUAMDM
Nokia Lumia 1020 - WP8 8.0.10328.78 - Firmware 3049.0000.1330.1001
HTC One - Android 4.2.2 - Software 2.24.707.1



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72 Comments
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posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:33 24

1. MrKoles (Posts: 330; 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!

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:55 4

7. Finalflash (Posts: 1901; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:07 10

10. LiyanaBG (Posts: 374; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)


HTC always every Camera Comparison they always get worst score. because of stupid Ultrapixel

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 08:23 1

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.

posted on 04 Dec 2013, 10:41

64. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 400; 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.

posted on 05 Dec 2013, 11:50

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.

posted on 06 Dec 2013, 12:24

70. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 400; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:56 7

18. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; 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.

posted on 11 Dec 2013, 15:03

74. oldhamletman (Posts: 40; 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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:31 1

25. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


Hyperpixels.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:42 1

27. mqmorasch (Posts: 9; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)


all the shots are obviously done in Zoe mode by the lack of zoom

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 13:13 2

31. Muayyad (Posts: 142; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)


No it is not, I'm very happy with the results it gives me for a pocket shooter.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 15:27 5

35. x_maly_x (Posts: 69; Member since: 01 Jun 2013)


Then you must change eye doctor.....

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 08:24

52. JEEPOFFROADV8 (Posts: 35; Member since: 01 Apr 2009)


your a idiot lol

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 13:05

54. x_maly_x (Posts: 69; Member since: 01 Jun 2013)


Idiot make you...and fogot splash....

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 15:26 3

34. emadshiny (Posts: 1142; 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.
Thats shameful.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 18:33

42. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; 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.

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 02:36

47. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)


I was here for say that...

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 08:12 1

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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:38 3

2. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1471; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


I've been expecting the similar results.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:42 2

3. cezarepc (Posts: 608; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:46 3

4. noler (Posts: 192; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)


No Lumia 1520?
HTC One score is "4" because it has 4MP camera?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:12 1

11. shahrooz (Posts: 202; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)


Loading...

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:27 3

16. Finalflash (Posts: 1901; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Yea, the scores literally follow the MP count.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 18:34 2

43. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


so much for megapixels meaning nothing, eh HTC?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:47 2

5. _Bone_ (Posts: 2138; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 09:51 4

6. _Bone_ (Posts: 2138; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Did you leave HDR+ on for the Nexus 5 shots, Nick?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:05

8. _Bone_ (Posts: 2138; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:05 8

9. protozeloz (Posts: 5381; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Nexus 5 shots are quite amazing

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:13 12

12. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3295; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


1020 and Z1 FTW!

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:22 2

13. taikucing (unregistered)


HTC One score... lol

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:22 1

14. enthasuium (Posts: 94; 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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:25 12

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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:57 12

19. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Z1 followed by the G2 and Note 3. Z1 is in a league of it's own.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:24 3

24. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


Agreed.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 21:53 1

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)

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 10:31 11

17. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


HTC...

Hate
That
Camera

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:17 7

21. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


Or worse...

Help
This
Company

=D

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 13:17

32. Muayyad (Posts: 142; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)


how old are you?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 15:31 7

36. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


What's the relevance?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:03 6

20. Assa7inKing (Posts: 26; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)


Yes ! Nice SONY ! so that means Z1 is THE BEST ANDROID CAMERA PHONE !!!!

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:18 2

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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:21

23. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


Most probably.
I really hope Z1's snapper have OIS, it would've scored better than 8 overall.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:32

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

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 11:21

53. marbovo (Posts: 658; 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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:46 1

28. cristianer (Posts: 41; 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.

posted on 06 Dec 2013, 00:13

67. pharttart (Posts: 7; Member since: 05 Dec 2013)


Explain

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 11:46 2

29. mqmorasch (Posts: 9; 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

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 12:43 2

30. Shatter (Posts: 2031; Member since: 29 May 2013)


Pol go die htc your camera is garbage.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 16:10 1

37. jellmoo (Posts: 704; 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.

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 16:40 3

38. sbw44 (Posts: 412; 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!

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 16:43 1

39. sbw44 (Posts: 412; 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!

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 16:55

40. JulianGT (Posts: 83; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)


Was the lumia 1020 running the latest software?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 17:53

41. papss (unregistered)


I remember when PA had an article about how awesome the ones camera was going to be.. just funny and sad

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 21:37

44. ctn10 (Posts: 9; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)


I think result OVERALL RATINGS (AVERAGE) is WRONG ?

posted on 21 Nov 2013, 23:55 1

46. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2866; 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.

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 04:51

48. twens (Posts: 699; 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.

posted on 22 Nov 2013, 05:43

49. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 1255; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


sony made..

posted on 23 Nov 2013, 10:34 2

55. drkuthan (Posts: 25; 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

posted on 24 Nov 2013, 02:24 1

56. Trex95 (Posts: 571; 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.

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