Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920 and Galaxy S III
- 1 Introduction and Overall presentation
- 2 Details
- 3 Indoors
- 4 Night photos
- 5 Video
- 6 Interface and features
- 7 Conclusion
- Samsung Galaxy S4 specifications
- Apple iPhone 5 specifications
- HTC One specifications
- Nokia Lumia 920 specifications
- Sony Xperia Z specifications
- Samsung Galaxy S III specifications
Since the Samsung Galaxy S4 finally landed at our office several weeks ago, we've been having quite a lot of fun with it. First we gave it a full-blown review treatment and then we compared it to some of the smartphones it will be going toe to toe against. Yet we haven't taken an in-depth look at its camera capabilities, so that's what we'll be doing right now. In particular, we'll be comparing it against five other high-end smartphones, namely the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, and the Samsung Galaxy S III. For reference purposes, there's also a proper digital camera involved in the comparison – a Panasonic Lumix GH2 equipped with its out-of-the-box lens kit.
We'll start by taking a look at all photos from the viewpoint of an average consumer. In other words, we're keeping things simple for this category, without focusing on the minute details (as we're saving that for the next page of the comparison). For fairness' sake, all of the photos below have been scaled down to a resolution of about 2.8 megapixels as that's sufficient for most people's needs, such as sharing the images online or printing out small-sized hard copies.
Although the lighting conditions weren't perfect – our outdoor samples were taken on an overcast afternoon, all phones managed to deliver satisfactory results. A few of them stood out, however. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5, in particular, take photos that are very pleasing to the eye. When compared to our reference camera, it becomes evident that both phones tend to boost the exposure and color saturation a bit, but they rarely overdo it. As a result, images are livelier and better looking, without being too detached from reality. Also, both phones' photos look nice and sharp, although we'd say that the Galaxy S4 is a step ahead of the iPhone 5 when comparing overall image detail and presence of noticeable digital noise.
The Samsung Galaxy S III has always been strong in the camera department and it once again presents us with great results. In fact, it is almost as good of a performer as its successor, although its photos aren't quite as vivid. About as good of a camera as the S III, at least in this case, is the Sony Xperia Z, whose imperfections (smeared details, purplish tint around edges) aren't noticeable at lower resolutions.
The HTC One deserves credit for keeping colors as true-to-life as possible, but we noticed that its camera has a tendency to underexpose objects when shot against a relatively brighter background. Also, there's a lack of contrast in its daytime shots. The Nokia Lumia 920, on the other hand, distorts reality in the opposite way as it has its saturation dial turned way too high. That might work well in particular scenes, but others simply look unnatural.
1. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)
Well.. Thats a really a close call between iPhone5 and S4 and lumia 920...
I would choose S4 though...
21. AamirSIII (banned) (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Oct 2012)
why my brother's iPhone 5 does not have such powerful flash in low light as PA?
i feel its not somethings have been altered with iPhone 5 low light shot!
u can see the dual shadows... look close and u can see the shadow of the tree is on the wall and the shadow of the table corner is downwards...!!!
160. amansingal14 (Posts: 309; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)
Also Lumia got 5 points in night shot. Lumia - Night Shot - 5Points?
Enough said to prove that this is BS
173. gustavoace (Posts: 172; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)
and for me, S3 has the best color accuracy overall.
32. akki20892 (Posts: 3874; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
In some area some phone's camera take great shot, in some area some phone's camera don't take great shot.......they should take photos from all kind of weather conditions.......then we can see differences.....!!! Fair enough
122. cloud_atlas1991 (Posts: 61; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
While I was browsing over the pictures I let my friends (apparently not tech geeks and photo experts) choose the best among the bunch. Funny because they were so amazed by the results of LUMIA 920, saying colors are vibrant and alive while pertaining to other photos as "boring" and "dull".
130. iushnt (Posts: 1330; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)
Similar happens to my amoled screen of infuse.. Its just wvga but when comparing videos and images with ip4s, my friends who are not tech geeks always prefer my phone over ip4s..they say that ip4s look dull and boring comparatively..
184. trexnkrumpets (Posts: 45; Member since: 15 Jan 2013)
Yeah, just looking at the jpeg details instead of expanding them you can pick out the 920 pictures fairly easily. (last shot the experia stands out for some reason lol)
48. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)
Props to Apple for being able to be competitive with the GS IV. There won't be an upgrade to the 5S until probably Sep or October, and yet, it is competitive with the GS IV.
All Apple needs to do is update their 2007 UI. (Sighs)
151. illiad (Posts: 119; Member since: 07 Feb 2012)
All Apple needs to do is update their 2007 UI, and increase the res to 1280 x 1080, and do an AMOLED version, etc, etc....
179. sniper1087 (Posts: 484; Member since: 31 Dec 2011)
no need for amoled, IPS/LCD is fine they have normal color saturation, not over saturated, super LCD 3 is where its at, anything past certain pixel density is negligible, get 400 ppi and you are set for life, your eyes cannot see any individual pixel, now if the next iphone brings a better camera with higher res, better battery life, hopefully away from this lithium ion, we need something that will last a week, new UI is needed and maybe they will offer different screen sizes. O I forgot put front facing speakers just like the HTC One.
180. Gdrye (Posts: 110; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)
yes, super lcd 3 is my thing right now used to love amoled till that even super lcd 2 came along...it hurt when tim cook said "the iphone 5 has the best screen resolution out there" i was like WTF really?
138. 007akshay (Posts: 37; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
for me s4 den iphone n htc comes 2nd den followed by lumia 920 n xperia z n last but not least s3...........
165. solution2u (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Apr 2013)
Amazing !!! So I submit this review as joke of the day and I won it.
168. X55526622233 (Posts: 17; Member since: 14 Apr 2013)
Why hate the plastic build of GS4? isn't it that the nokia 5210 the "God of phones". is also made of plastic. THAT CAN BLOCK BULLETS!! WHY HATE SAMSUNG FOR PLASTIC BUILD? f**king samsung haters. I am a sony fanboy, but this time, I know GS4 is better than my xperia Z or my HTC one :( though I didn't see it in personal. I've read a lot of review. and I know GS4 wins against my xperia Z T____T how I love to die.
183. trexnkrumpets (Posts: 45; Member since: 15 Jan 2013)
I like how you can pickout just from the small jpegs which one belongs to. The experia did a surprisingly good job on the last shot imo.
196. tashreef (Posts: 476; Member since: 24 Nov 2012)
198. kunalnanda (Posts: 2; Member since: 29 May 2013)
And that really tells the story. Why do I get the feeling the Lumia 920 photos in this review were, dare i say it, photo shopped to make them look worse?
2. rickywinataa (Posts: 262; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)
how this translate to very average consumers: i could zoom in more without any pixelation !
no, this is not a mock or sarasm towards galaxy s4, s3's camera had always been great and i know s4 will be even better
3. brucewayne (Posts: 29; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
Yet again no 808..When you want to do acamera test OBVIOUSLY you compare it with the best out there..Not also-rans..
5. baldilocks (Posts: 705; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
But as a phone, the 808 is an also-ran. So your point is?
6. brucewayne (Posts: 29; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
This aint comparing phones..If you didnt read properly i said comparing cameras..not phones..And now also if you dont get my point then i dont blame you..The world is full of ppl like you..
36. baldilocks (Posts: 705; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
So you can have an opinion, but no one else can? You must be a liberal Democrat.
117. osanilevich (Posts: 282; Member since: 29 Sep 2009)
I'm pretty sure the point of this comparison is to compare the cameras of phones that people will actually buy. 808 might have the best camera in the business but, unless you're a professional photographer, I doubt you'll be buying the phone anytime soon
147. jsdechavez (Posts: 713; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)
I get the point. But people should see how everything fares with the best out there. xperia user here.
106. Leo_MC (Posts: 807; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)
You mean: if you place a phone call, the operator keeps it in the waiting list untill S4's calls are made?
7. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
It's not needed to put 808 in these comparisons. Everyone knows already that it has easily the best camera out there. They want to compare these cameras that are more close to each other.
71. akki20892 (Posts: 3874; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
Use My Nokia N8, still can beat those all phones from 2012 and 2013.
190. phonemirer (Posts: 111; Member since: 07 Dec 2012)
is it still better than gs4?? if yes, its really amazing, its like 3 years old now, n8 is only beaten by 808 and upcoming eos
166. cristianer (Posts: 41; Member since: 20 Aug 2010)
I agree, I used a SGSIII and changed back again to N8 because of its camera.
131. iushnt (Posts: 1330; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)
Easy answer.. They are comparing flagship devices..
148. jsdechavez (Posts: 713; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)
Better answer. They're comparing cameras.
132. illiad (Posts: 119; Member since: 07 Feb 2012)
no, you compare like for like! .. would you compare a porche or rolls royce to a mini metro or 'smart car'????
you will have to wait for the 40Meg comparative camera test....
4. MrKoles (Posts: 368; Member since: 20 Jan 2013)
Galaxy S4 is a decent phone with one of the best camera till today!
86. hung2900 (Posts: 919; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
Funny to see how "phone arena is full Samsung fans" here.
A pretty subjective comment and a quite obvious fact and has received 10 thumbs down vs 12 thumbs up (at this time).
Fans or haters? Lol, at the blind contest, a hater showed his shame of picking iPhone by blaming "Samsung fan did choose iPhone" in the first comment while many many comments in the blind test choose #4 as Lumia or One.
100. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 765; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
those are fans of other brands wo were totally brainwashed..
oops for the succeeding replies, i/we am/are not brainwashed by samsung. wer just telling our opinion and the truth about the results of review
127. rsiders (Posts: 773; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
Seriously, you need to know what you're doing with the Lumia 920's camera. With the Pro Shot app which greatly gives you control over your photos. See for yourself...http://forums.wpcentral.com/at
8. Kakooli98 (Posts: 7; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)
Samsung uses the exmor RS found in the xperia z but sony's compression is ruining the camera experience. Sony can be the best in terms of camera.
94. vincelongman (Posts: 3486; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)
If I think Sony makes the sensors for the Xperia Z, S4, SIII and iPhone 5, and the Z sensor is newer than than the SIII and iPhone 5. But the iPhone 5 and SIII takes better photos than the Z because the Z has poorer software.
102. Kakooli98 (Posts: 7; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)
Even the s4 uses the exmor RS. Samsung's software is better. I wish sony would use their g lens or even a carl zeiss one for better image quality.
154. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)
What kills the Z's quality is compression. The Z shots look much better when you have compression off (uyou need 3rd party stuff to turn it off)
185. mistahmo (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)
Hey, what kinda 3rd party software would I use to turn off the compression?
11. p211093 (Posts: 25; Member since: 12 Dec 2012)
gays just see the pic of lumia 920.and see the details.and see s4 detail.920 is best of all.phonearena r just samsung fanboy.r i am right
60. magnanimus (Posts: 490; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
this test is completely bias-free. I hate it when some people cant just accept defeat. The over-saturation is perfectly obvious
98. AeroPrime (Posts: 175; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)
Absolutely! haters are haters.... no matter how it is.... they still deny it.... Lumia 920 is best camera smartphone to beat
13. skill08 (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Apr 2013)
Clearly 920 is the best of all, it tooks a close up pic and blurs the background and pic. Quality is fascinating.. I just love it..
going to purchase 1 now..
15. p211093 (Posts: 25; Member since: 12 Dec 2012)
buy it.ialso have read nl 920.and the video quality chumesware
17. Diego! (Posts: 546; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S 4 is really amazing!!!
197. tashreef (Posts: 476; Member since: 24 Nov 2012)
18. joeymk (Posts: 101; Member since: 26 Jan 2012)
I prefer Lumia, but what ever you pick from this phones you will be very very happy with the results
20. Synack (Posts: 676; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)
So the Lumia 920 underexposes, but is still pretty good.
The HTC One overexposes, meh.
The S4 and iPhone5 are pretty close to each other.
22. Feanor (Posts: 624; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
So, the final score states clearly that the Sony sensors are the best as all three top cameraphones use either the new Exmor RS (Z, S4) or last generation Exmor R (iPhone). At Sony they ruin their flagship because of poor post-processing but they seem to be just an update away from the top.
155. cheetah2k (Posts: 1378; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
I wonder what firmware iPA are using on the Sony Z. If its the old 350 firmware then I would expect it to be as bad as they suggest, but not on the 434.
The latest 434 fixes a few things and I do not experience any purple tinting or anything else that they experienced here. I find it an excellent cam, with an exceptional burst mode and auto focus.
24. Penny (Posts: 1625; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)
What white balance setting are you guys using on the Lumia 920? I heard that by default it is on "fluorescent" white balance, so that might be what is giving you guys saturation/coloration problems with your shots. Otherwise, it looks like the detail is still there. I was also reading online somewhere that tweaking the settings on the HTC One can give you much less faded looking results. They are very capable cameras if used correctly.