Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Sony Xperia Z3, LG G3, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3
Rememeber the last time you used one of those basic, point-and-shoot cameras? It must have been a while if you own a phone with a good camera on it. That's the case for millions of folks and it comes as no surprise – most modern high-end smartphones take quality photos, as our numerous camera tests and comparisons have shown.
Today we bring you another of our camera comparisons, and the star of the show is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It is a phone with plenty of potential as far as photography is concerned – with a 16MP snapper and optical image stabilization, it impressed us greatly when we took it through the review hurdles. Our readers favored it as well in a recent blind camera comparison. Now, however, will it stand its ground in a full-on camera comparison against 6 other heavyweights?
We've chosen to compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 against some of its biggest rivals, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. We've also invited the Sony Xperia Z3 and the LG G3 to the party. In addition, we feel obliged to put Samsung's own Galaxy S5 and last year's Galaxy Note 3 in the ring as well. Here's what all these phones have to offer in terms of specs.
As we know from experience, Samsung's recent phones have this general tendency of producing images with a colder color tone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, however, is rather different. Color accuracy in its images is spot-on, with colors being neither warm, nor cold. Also, the sky's shade of blue, which is usually hard for a smartphone camera to represent faithfully, is reproduced very close to its real-life hue. As far as saturation goes, colors are vivid, but not overblown.
Hardly a surprise, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus perform well in this category. Like the case is with the Note 4, colors in their images are lively and eye-pleasing, but never too saturated. We're noticing a slightly warm tone in them – it is more pronounced in some scenes, but barely noticeable in others – but we're okay with that slight imbalance.
Photos from the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 exhibit a slightly cold-ish tone, but this is only noticeable in some of the photos that we took. Color saturation is slightly boosted, giving the images a more lively look.
Similarly, a colder tone is noticeable in the LG G3's images, but it tends to be a bit more pronounced. Whether you'll notice it or not depends on the kind of scene. Either way, it isn't likely to bother you, unless you're very picky about image quality.
The Sony Xperia Z3 has a somewhat different approach to color reproduction. Colors in its photos are neutral to washed out, and we find them lacking in saturation. There's a coldness to them as well.
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1. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 2110; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)
No Lumias? Oh, right. No professionals allowed. Hats off to Note 4.
100. Damo579 (Posts: 242; Member since: 18 May 2013)
Sorry PapaSmurf but they should include a Lumia in these comparisons. If not the 1020 then the 1520.
118. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)
lol. they're dead. no one buys these. over 70% of the lumia sales comes from the low end, then count the midrange .. what remains for the high end? and your profile picture? wow lol you're so 2005
19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4831; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Well the Note 4 is the overall champ. I don't get how it scored so low in night shots but whatever. I think it can take better night shots than those. Also is it me or did the S5 come back with a vengeance from the last camera comparison?
Now we need the Nexus 6 in this comparison.
32. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)
PA is this serious? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
37. Awalker (Posts: 1498; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
PA can only go by the pictures they took. Who knows what someone else did?
50. bur60 (Posts: 847; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
Reason is crappy superior auto function. I use Google Camera on the Z3 and it takes almost as good as the lumia phones... almost.
Also no app or phone beats Google Camera panorama. I use Camera FV-5 for pro shots (high shutterspeed, metering, bracketing etc) and google camera for regular and pro shots
56. bur60 (Posts: 847; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
Sample pictures with Google Camera if anyone is interested
Note that I focused on the big building in the center
108. bobox (Posts: 6; Member since: 03 Jun 2014)
you post 2 photos of z3 comact
color tone is purplish and reddish
that is the feature of sony z serial
51. Reality_Check (Posts: 277; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
Going by that video the Sony Xperia Z3 is way better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. But in Phonearena tests the Sony Xperia Z3 performs consistently worse than the competition. Am I missing something here? :S
70. sherkhan (Posts: 33; Member since: 02 Oct 2014)
its because PA is using Auto Mode In Xperia Z3...One can easily say it bcz of the aspect ratio of photos took by Z3 i.e. 16:9 bcz Z3 takes pictures in 4:3 in Manual Mode .. Sony Xperia Z3 is a professional camera phone just like 1020 ...just like DSLR's take average quality pics in Auto Mode same is the case with Z3
88. proto (Posts: 59; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)
No offense, but:
1. but no camera on any phone is professional.
2. if you have to tweak settings in difficult manner to archieve great result... something is wrong.
3. Everyone will use superior auto on Xperia bcs most people will get worse results when they will try their own settings. IT is hard to set things right in different enviroment every time... and it takes time.
72. sherkhan (Posts: 33; Member since: 02 Oct 2014)
PA is just biased towards Samsung ... Sony Xperia Z3 is capable of capturing DSLR Quality Pictures on Manual Mode... PA Just need to hire some Good Photographers who know how to manually Set the Camera instead of just capturing on Auto Mode
135. nopoint (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Dec 2014)
Absolutely correct. As a professional photographer (magazine / journalism, fine art, etc), using the z3 in iauto which downsamples the photo into 8mp is a true injustice to what it can do. The term for what is being done is "binning " which combines pixels together to produce a single pixel. This will obviously decrease image quality. The z3 has a significantly larger sensor than any of the others. It is almost comical to compare this review to that of an actual photography site like dpreview or benchmarking done on DxO.
Please, if you are incapable of evaluating a camera, don't assume that you can evaluate a camera phone.
89. Lememurilo (Posts: 26; Member since: 13 Oct 2014)
This video is a lie on youtube there are several other videos on the Note 4 humbles Z3, Accept, Note 4 is way better than crap Z3.
96. pitzy (Posts: 42; Member since: 15 May 2014)
by the time that video is uploaded the note IV wasn't even released! the uploader used photos in the name of the note IV. is ridiculous how is trying to show that the z3 has a better camera but here it ended in last place..
41. hung2900 (Posts: 956; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
I thought Note 4's night photos are way nicer. The problem is the metering, easily can be fixed with EV.
PA intended to show how "good" iPhones are with strong source of light in low light. However, iPhone always makes the night photo darker to keep the detail. In other scene it's just ugly.
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113. slimafool513 (Posts: 4; Member since: 25 Aug 2014)
The low light sensitivity in most samsung phones lags and is some times slow to capture pics due to the samsung software that's used in the camera app. So they always score samsung devices lower in low light or night shots.
110. Industriality (Posts: 131; Member since: 08 Sep 2014)
I think they are comparing recent flagships, not old phones. Lumia remains the best I think, but N4 really kicks ass.
119. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)
what is a lumia? never seen any .. why?
3. tech2 (Posts: 3450; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
PA, logic in color accuracy:
iPhone 6: 'We're noticing a slightly warm tone in them – it is more pronounced in some scenes'
Galaxy S5: 'Photos from the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 exhibit a slightly cold-ish tone, but this is only noticeable in some of the photos that we took'
So iPhone is warmer and GS5 is colder yet somehow Galaxy S5 scores a point less then iphone 6. Also, if you ask any photographer he would take colder tones rather then warmer tones. Therefore, not surprisingly iPhone 6 performs better then GS5 in your overall score.
Those scoring patterns are completely screwed up.
105. marlowe10011 (Posts: 16; Member since: 23 Aug 2014)
You are absolutely correct man i can't understand how their criticisms are.
4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10456; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Note 4 and 6 Plus reign supreme. Lol at Z3 final score and Panorama score.
7. nohatenofanboy (banned) (Posts: 515; Member since: 15 Jul 2014)
imagine 6 plus has 16 mp camera..
13. KingDingaLing (Posts: 324; Member since: 11 Oct 2013)
Wish they would've bumped it up a little, but still takes stellar pics.
64. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)
why imagine? when we know it very well that, thats not gonna happen
116. Craig747 (Posts: 16; Member since: 01 Nov 2014)
Actually there's rumors that the iPhone 7 could have a 16mp camera.
23. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4831; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Hey that was my favorite panorama of them all! C'mon!
92. the_matchless (Posts: 64; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)
Having a keen interest in photography since long, I know a thing or two about cameras and I find such reviews absolutely flawed. So much so Iv'e stopped paying too much attention to such reviews. Looking at such a biased review, however, compelled me to write this time.
Seriously it has come to a point that it might sound justifiable if manufacturers start suing such lame reviewers who seem to have an unchecked liberty of imposing their personal remarks upon others, so that at least they start taking their jobs more seriously.
Agreed that in terms of video recording Z3 isn't the best and panorama is the lowest. Still Z3 has undeniably one of the best camera in the whole lot & to put it as the worst by staging up a review that sets the ground to make it look like the worst reflects the dull mind of an incompetent reviewer to say the least.
5. samub (Posts: 34; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
sony have best details yet you give worse scores to it.sony should ban samsungarena really.
15. tech2 (Posts: 3450; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
I have to agree on that one. No way Z3 deserved a score of 7 on that one.
63. Philipand96 (Posts: 97; Member since: 12 Jul 2014)
The iphone 6 & 6 plus the only two phone NOT to have Bluetooth or NFC so basically email the photo
and there is thishttp://www.phonearena.com/phon
same phone but bigger
35. AwesomestMaximuss (Posts: 146; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)
Well they had to give the iphones at least second place,,so they had to do that,,,
Otherwise z3 would easily be the 3rd spot holder,after Note 4 and S5.
79. bur60 (Posts: 847; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
frkin superior auto man. I dont even look at comparisons anymore. I know the truth for myself,
my own pictures with Z3 on manual mode;
Anyone with a brain should have the capacity to press on manual mode and select the highest megapixels.
141. TAMARETTE (Posts: 182; Member since: 15 Jun 2014)
LOL that's a great idea! I would love that.
6. pyradark (Posts: 852; Member since: 10 Jun 2012)
What happened to Z3?? Hahahaha. Well better luck next year. Im still waiting for a Ultra version. My z ultra camera suck
42. akki20892 (Posts: 3901; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
and dxomark lab scores are different......
62. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Yeah. But I would like to test iPhone 6 camera myself, because it's hard to believe it would beat Z2/Z3. I've compared iPhone 5s so many times to my Z2 and the camera is just simply inferior. But then again, dxomark is supposed to be a good site so I dunno
94. the_matchless (Posts: 64; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)
My dear do this and you'll get the whole story.
Go to GSMARENA and use their camera comparison tool. First select the Z3 Superior Auto and pit it against iP6 and Lumia 1020 or even NOTE 4. Then select the Z3 20mp shots and compare at full res and also scaled down to 16, 8 or 5mp (Lumia gives its best results at 5MP in that list) and compare. I am sure you'll end up wondering what is up with PA??? or even DXOMark... Z3 is simply untouchable...
97. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Yeah I just checked. The manual mode has taken a HUGE leap from the Z2. I hope they will update it with the 4.4.4 update on Z2.
98. the_matchless (Posts: 64; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)
Actually no update may bring that to the Z2 and the reason is pretty straight forward i.e. the hardware of the Z3's lens module is updated from the Z2 & Z1. This is why the full res pictures are simply amazing and noiseless. Having said that, its quite funny to see PA technically placeing Z3 even below the Z2 when the hardware on the Z3's camera is actually better / upgraded.
99. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Hmm. Might be. But at least on the Z3 Compact there's still the same clear distortion around the edges just like with the Z2. I'm sure they did some software tweaking too.
124. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)
iPhone cameras are not as good as they used to be 3 and 4 years ago, now they're good competing with a last year flagship or a midrange phone, and yes your Z2 takes better pictures than the 5s the 6 and 6+ .. remember this is iPh0nearena here they can't just admit defeat easily
9. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 588; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)
Sony and their abnormal camera software. When will they learn? Softwares from their excellent cameras like the simple RX series won't hurt sales or something. I do hope they'll do better also in sound an display.
11. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)
why do sites do this to the xperias?
before, when the 8MP photos delivered better sharpness compared to the manual mode, they used the fully 20.7MP manual mode.
now that the manual mode is already looking better, they decide to use the 8MP superior auto mode and declare that the xperia z3's photos have the worst details.
can you at least be consistent? i wouldn't mind the scoring. just please be consistent.
does anybody here feel weird that the galaxy s5's photos suddenly become not as good as when the first reviews and photo comparisons came up?
101. phantom_six_man (Posts: 82; Member since: 12 Feb 2014)
its simple,its because authors love iCash and Samcash,they dont even mind using their brains just to have reliable comparison results,but anyway,xperia manual mode is amazing,we just need to use our brains,not like them(authors)
12. samub (Posts: 34; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
just use manuel mode on z3 , it will oblitirate all these phones.
14. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)
Nice. Sammy FTW.
I only like iPhone's camera.
17. samub (Posts: 34; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
just search for z2,s5 camera comparions on pa , except panoroma mode it did beat s5,note 3 but now even though z3 have better camera then z2 it cant beat s5.if you want warm photos use white balance , if you want more detail use 20mp mode.