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Camera Comparison: iPhone 5s vs LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, HTC One, Motorola Moto X, DROID Ultra

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Introduction


The iPhone 5s is a smartphone that is in many ways better than its predecessor, and one of the upgrades it brings along is the improved 8MP camera. Yup, the resolution hasn't been boosted, but other aspects of the snapper itself have been tweaked, including those larger, 1.5-micron pixels and that wider, f/2.2 aperture. As a result, the camera should perform better, especially in low light situations. However, are the photographic skills of the iPhone 5s on par with those of the competition? Well, that's what we're here to find out.

For today's camera comparison, we have chosen to stack up Apple's finest against some of the top smartphones out there. Among them is the LG G2, which has already proven itself as a very capable shooter with its 13MP OIS camera, grabbing the first prize in our previous challenge. Of course, Samsung's best handsets, namely the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3, are also in the game and will defend the company's reputation with their 13MP cameras. And to make things even more interesting, we've brought along the HTC One with a 4MP, optically stabilized UltraPixel camera, as well as the Motorola MOTO X and the Motorola DROID Ultra, both packing 10MP Clear Pixel cameras. So yeah, the fight will be pretty tough. Let's get straight into it!

Note: the Panasonic Lumix GH2 is used as a reference camera.

Details


Thankfully, the weather and lighting conditions during our testing were favorable, allowing all of the smartphones to present us with the best results they could achieve. And the ones that gave us the best impression were the LG G2 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, which packed tons of details in their photos. They weren't leading by miles, however.

Daytime photos taken with the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy S4 look great even at 100% zoom, so we can comfortably examine even the fine details in them, such as the leaves on trees or the license plates of passing cars. The iPhone 5s and the Galaxy Note 3 photos look very detailed as well, but still, they are a step behind the G2 and the S4. Also, we see that, as usual, the iPhone's photos are noisier than what we're used to seeing.

Photos taken with the Motorola MOTO X, DROID Ultra, and HTC One are usable, but their detail levels are average at best. Nevertheless, the images they produce are perfectly suitable for uploading to a social network and even making small prints.

Camera Comparison: iPhone 5s vs LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, HTC One, Motorola Moto X, DROID Ultra


100% crop - Camera Comparison: iPhone 5s vs LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, HTC One, Motorola Moto X, DROID Ultra

100% crop



118 Comments
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posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:43 22

1. tech-head (Posts: 132; Member since: 02 Sep 2011)


Go LG G2!!!!

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:55 11

10. nerdylish (Posts: 51; Member since: 13 Apr 2013)


And the iPhone 5S! :)

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:33 19

28. jacko1977 (Posts: 388; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


keep telling urself that

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:03 2

43. nerdylish (Posts: 51; Member since: 13 Apr 2013)


Butthurt much?

posted on 15 Oct 2013, 01:30 1

104. jacko1977 (Posts: 388; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


i got nothing to be butthurt over

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:27 8

46. Dorothy69 (banned) (Posts: 498; Member since: 21 May 2013)


Actually, the first iPhone picture is about as blurry as swamp water - I can't make out anything under Christoper Columbus. Galaxy Note 3 and Lumix GH2 are clearest. But, go ahead and keep fantasizing.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 14:03 3

73. JunitoNH (Posts: 862; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


Well, no disrespect, you either need glasses or a new monitor, cause I can see every single letter and detail.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 17:37 1

84. BillyG (Posts: 305; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


you need to tell the last sentence to yourself. go ahead... do it now...

posted on 30 Oct 2013, 21:25

113. MartyK (Posts: 693; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


Hell, I'm glad someone else thought it was blurry, I clean my monitor and my glasses...lol thanks for confirming this for me....lol

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:29 4

47. Dr.Phil (Posts: 893; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I think they should redo the night test with the iPhone 5S. There is clearly some sort of backlight in the photo (most likely from a car's headlights as evident by the shadow you see). This could give results that are different than if that car wasn't there.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 13:54

70. Dorothy69 (banned) (Posts: 498; Member since: 21 May 2013)


So, if they car weren't there shining a light you really wouldn't be able to see anything in the pic - isn't that called CHEATING Dr. Phil?

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:33 8

29. rd_nest (Posts: 735; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


Just another sponsored article by LG, nothing to see here.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:48 12

36. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5151; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Why the hate? Camera comparisons aren't sponsored, it's just a comparison. I'm pretty sure that you won't say that if the Note 3 wins this comparison.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 13:02 1

66. robcar (Posts: 71; Member since: 18 Jan 2011)


And you have this argument every time your team loses?...

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 14:19

79. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1047; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


I agree. PA made this so LG would look good and pay them more. And I only say this because we all saw the G2 get destroyed yesterday in the blind comparison.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 16:21

83. eli577 (Posts: 81; Member since: 29 Jun 2010)


Yeah, like that blind comparison was really blind....on the first day everybody knew, which picture belonged to the selected phones, so it really was unbiased....LOL.
If there were only crops, and not full pictures, then it would had been a fair fight

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:43 18

2. MrTzr (Posts: 101; Member since: 26 Jun 2013)


You forgot to include the Z1.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 14:22 5

81. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1047; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


They wouldn't want anyone beating the G2! LG is Phonearena's biggest sponsor.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:43 20

3. PunyPoop (Posts: 714; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)


Where's Lumia 1020 and Xperia Z1?

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:49 23

8. eli577 (Posts: 81; Member since: 29 Jun 2010)


I think the 1020 is out of question, because it performes so much better than the others that it wouldn't be a fair comparison. The Z1 is a more interesting one, wondering why they left it out of the article.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:56 3

12. nerdylish (Posts: 51; Member since: 13 Apr 2013)


LOL! Nah, read comment #7.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:19

19. eli577 (Posts: 81; Member since: 29 Jun 2010)


.... :D

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:20 1

20. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1135; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


I would definitely add the z1 but not the Nokia 1020. The 1020 is a year old phone with a great camera attached to it. No different if Sammy was to add a great camera to a year old S3. Plus where do you draw the line? What if you add the perfect camera to a 2 year old Galaxy S2?

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:54 1

59. Immolate (Posts: 274; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)


So you're saying that the 1020 isn't qualified to compete with the other cameras, even though it's better than all of them by an impassable gulf, because it's an old phone? The tech may not be impressive, but neither is the Moto X or the iPhone, and they do just fine. Also, the 1020 was release in the US in late July 2013, so less than three months old here. Sounds like you just don't like getting smacked around.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 13:01 1

65. Shatter (Posts: 1979; Member since: 29 May 2013)


1020 is a good backup camera and good call quality, it ends there.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 16:40

100. Johann (Posts: 3; Member since: 13 Oct 2013)


Well wouldn't it be quite a fair comparison because the iPhone 5S is basically a year-old phone with a fingerprint sensor added onto it?

You have to include the best phone camera into a comparison of phone cameras.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:46 3

4. bloodline (Posts: 691; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


I would agree this accurate.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 19:04 1

88. hung2900 (Posts: 776; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


I agree. But I heard that Note 3 has a toggle "Smart stabilization"used for taking low light photo, and we have to toggle in unlike built in as G2. PA can you check it?

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:48 6

5. quadrazeus (Posts: 359; Member since: 03 May 2013)


An excellent and well balanced camera comparison by PA!
Butthurt sammities attacking in 3..2..1..

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:22 2

22. PorkyBurger (Posts: 203; Member since: 18 May 2013)


Why butthurt.
I think well done. :) Don't be so...idk lol.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:01

40. nerdylish (Posts: 51; Member since: 13 Apr 2013)


Well, have a look at the butthurts then, comment #31 for instance.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 14:16

76. darkkjedii (Posts: 10296; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Quad what phone you rockin now, and are you getting a new iPad?

posted on 09 Oct 2013, 03:36 1

90. quadrazeus (Posts: 359; Member since: 03 May 2013)


An iPhone 5 on iOS 7. I really like the iPhone 5S, but I think I'll wait another year for the iPhone 6. And nope, no plans to buy a new iPad 'cause I'm pretty satisfied with my iPad mini. And another huge reason is that I'm out of money 'cause I also bought the MacBook Air 2013 not so long ago, lol.

posted on 09 Oct 2013, 06:05 1

95. darkkjedii (Posts: 10296; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


I feel you bro, good luck with what you have. 2014 is gonna be huge for apple, stay tuned. +1

posted on 09 Oct 2013, 06:21 1

96. quadrazeus (Posts: 359; Member since: 03 May 2013)


Yeah, dark. iWatch and iPhone 6 are already on my list!

posted on 11 Oct 2013, 18:04

99. darkkjedii (Posts: 10296; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Oh yeahhhhhhhh, mine too quad. +1

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:48 4

6. wicpromd (Posts: 266; Member since: 20 Aug 2013)


why excluded Xperia Z1 and Lumia 1020???

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:53 5

39. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5151; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Because both of them are boss, if PA include them in this camera comparison, both of them will be on top.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:49 13

7. _PHug_ (Posts: 380; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)


Before anyone asks why there aren't any Lumia (enter random #s here) in the test.
The answer is NO ONE BUYS THOSE.
Thats why Blackberry and Palm wasn't included also.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:56 16

11. chandancherry (Posts: 29; Member since: 25 Jun 2013)


"NO ONE BUYS THOSE."
Are you from Mars?!?!

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:04 16

15. amats69 (Posts: 995; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)


The title says "Camera Comparison" not "Sales Comparison"

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:49 1

55. GoogleSafariFox (banned) (Posts: 100; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


_PHug_ i agreed with you! Hahaha You nailed it! Here in New jersey, CA nobody likes any Windows Nokia Phones LOL!

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:58 3

63. Immolate (Posts: 274; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)


I bought one yesterday. The reason the 1020 isn't here is because it overshadows all of the phones that are here, as does the Z1 to a lesser degree. None of these phones can compete with either. This is a shoot out of the second tier smartphone cameras of late 2013.

posted on 30 Oct 2013, 21:29

114. MartyK (Posts: 693; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


You're so wrong for that!...lol

Adding Palm, Sanyo in with blackberry and ex Nokia..lol

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 10:50 9

9. amats69 (Posts: 995; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)


Yes i agree..where z1 and nokia 1020?

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 20:40

101. sdjfnjw (Posts: 3; Member since: 13 Oct 2013)


Simply because they would top it off

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:00 6

13. HalaMadrid (Posts: 92; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)


No Z1 :/ why? iPhonearena?

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:14 1

16. feres13 (Posts: 306; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


Because the Z1 isn't available yet in the US and since there is a droid ultra in this comparison, this comparison has been made in the states

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:36 2

32. tomn1ce (Posts: 100; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)


I hope that the Droid Ultra and the Maxx get the Moto X camera update to make those cameras better. This way the owners of said device can enjoy their pics.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 12:17

45. rawbow (Posts: 407; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


Bankai

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:01 3

14. moronman66 (Posts: 159; Member since: 09 Jan 2012)


All of them are good cameras, I mean, compare these cameras to any camera two years ago and you have clear winners! Good job all manufacturers, although I do wish the Z1 were a part of this. The 1020 has been tried and proven but the Z1's camera hasn't been tested yet as extensively

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:16 2

17. darkkjedii (Posts: 10296; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Lumix, note 3, moto x, g4, g2, 5S, One, and the ultra. As good as the 5S camera is, it took a weak photo here. As far those Christopher Columbus pics go.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:17 3

18. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Looks to be pretty unbiased. Nice comparison.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:22 2

23. syedej123 (banned) (Posts: 71; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)


Hehe its not from JOhn VVvVVVVvVV ;-)

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:21 2

21. nxl2610 (Posts: 49; Member since: 14 Aug 2013)


i think that the overall score is strange ,because in recent blind camera test ,the S4 had more vote than the 5S and G2

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:27 3

24. bustervic (Posts: 22; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)


Everything seems fine until you get to the "Night" Photos. Giving the S4 and Note3 a rating of 3 is ridiculous. In the sample photos the difference between the 5S and S4 is minimal and how there is a 5 point spread is beyond me. That difference alone take the S4 from even to the 5s to 3rd place.

Provide us with photos that show the "unusable" shots and I'll be inclined to agree with the final ranking, but otherwise this is an glaring discrepancy in your review.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:27 2

25. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


Moto X before or after the recent camera software update?

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:16

106. darylzero (Posts: 1; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)


This is my question as well. I am really perplexed as I really like the Moto X except the camera. Also, I have seen other comparisons on the web (YouTube videos) which conclude that the Moto X has a better camera than others. I'm not sure who to believe.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:29 2

26. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 789; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Moto X fans not going to be happy about this, but it really doesn't compare to other Android flagships anyway, it's a mid ranger.

posted on 08 Oct 2013, 11:32 1

27. rd_nest (Posts: 735; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


With so many articles sponsored by LG in PA, why is it so difficult to see that LG sponsored this contest? iPhone is clearly better.
LG is basically the sponsor of PA articles now.

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