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Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8), Galaxy S4, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z1



We've tested dozens upon dozens of smartphone cameras over the past several years, and Samsung's offerings have always been among the very best. The Galaxy S II, for example, was an excellent performer for its time, producing detailed images and even 1080p videos (which was a feature rarely seen on a smartphone in 2011). Then came the Galaxy S III with its improved BSI sensor, super-fast burst-shot features, and drastically reduced shutter lag. Keeping up with the trend, the Galaxy S4 made the jump to 13 megapixels of resolution, while its set of software features received a welcome expansion – modes allowed the user to remove moving objects from the frame, and slow-motion videos were also added.

Having all that in mind, it goes without saying that our hopes for the Samsung Galaxy S5 are set pretty high. Will its new, 16MP camera manage to tackle the fearsome competition, however? Well, that's what we're here to find out – it is camera comparison time again! We've chosen to pit Samsung's flagship against some of the best smartphones out there, including the HTC One (M8), the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple's iPhone 5s, the LG G2, the Google Nexus 5, and last but not least, the Sony Xperia Z1. Here's a quick look at what these phones' cameras have to offer:


Color representation can make or break a photo, which is why it is important to know which phone captures the most accurate colors. The bad news is that neither of these phones is flawless in that respect. However, some of them do a better job than others. The Samsung Galaxy S5, in particular, captures most scenes in great fidelity, especially when given lots of light to work with. Gloomy, cloudy scenes have a slightly more saturated tone to them, but we're not bothered by that at all. However, brightly-lit white objects, such as the petals on the daisies in our photo sample, may turn out too bright, presumably because the software is set to boost the contrast of the image up a notch. But overall, we're very pleased with the Galaxy S5's color reproduction.

As for Samsung's flagship from last year, colors in its photos are not bad at all. In fact, we have to admit that some of its shots look better and more accurate than those from the S5, at least color-wise, while the new flagship has the upper hand in other scenes.

The iPhone 5s has an opinion of its own as to how things should appear. Its photos are very pleasing to the eye with their lively colors, but they turn out a tad warmer than what we'd call neutral. Nevertheless, the iPhone's photos are still very pleasant to look at.

The LG G2 is a strange beast. Sometimes it takes photos with excellent color fidelity and gets closer to our reference photos than any other phone. In other scenes, however, it can't get its colors exactly right, or at least not from the first shot. For example, the sky in one of our photos turned out violet, then we immediately re-took the photo only to get a much more natural image. Similarly, the HTC One (M8) delivers mixed results, but its gets its job done well most of the time. We noticed that better results may be obtained if we tap on our subject before taking the photo in order to aid the camera in setting its exposure straight.

Next up we have the Sony Xperia Z1. Its photos look nice when looked at on their own, but a quick check with our reference shots makes it clear that the phone boosts the colors' intensity quite a bit. The Google Nexus 5 is last on the chart. Not that its photos are bad, but their colors are often overly warm.

Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8), Galaxy S4, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z1

  • Options

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:31 29

1. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

Can you do a camera comparison if you have the Z2 already? And please PA, include a DSLR shot.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:32 5

2. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

Still don't understand why they still use Z1 or Z1 compact for comparison on PA

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:35 9

5. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

Maybe they don't have the Z2 yet. But I think they should rather wait to get the Z2 than do first this and then an other one when Z2 comes

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:37 17

7. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

This review isn't detailed as this http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Sony-Xperia-Z2-overview-Revised-model-takes-first-place-in-Mobile-rankings.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:24 33

30. FaisalWibowo11 (Posts: 163; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)

For those of you who don't know how dxomark test smartphone cameras, I will tell you.

Dxomark takes 500+ photos from real life conditions and studio shots then evaluating them one by one, tough job isn't it?

Dxomark doesn't test cameraphones in full resolutions, they test them in 8MP equivalent values in order to make a fair playing ground for all cameraphones.

So from that aspects, it is safe to say that dxomark is a really fair and unbiased. And calling them blind is downright preposterous and disrespectful if you ask me..

My personal opinion about phonearena: great site when it comes to smartphone news and user personalisations. But when it comes to review and comparisons.. Meh, it is biased, unprofessional, and inconsistent

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:32 3

43. hboy857 (Posts: 349; Member since: 03 Jun 2013)

+1. excellent comment.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 12:17 3

55. limporgyuk (Posts: 276; Member since: 06 Nov 2013)

Couldn't agree more

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 12:24 2

57. james004 (Posts: 486; Member since: 15 May 2013)

perfectly said.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 18:00

76. TMach (Posts: 454; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

Another plus 1 from me!

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 23:04

91. refillable (Posts: 1046; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

Please take a look again. When I saw the news that dxomark said the Z2 tops the chart, I was both surprised, and confused. Then without seeing anything but that news, I was positive that the Z2 would have a very nice camera. I blindly bash a guy that claims the S5 has the best android camera with the dxomark test.

But, everything changed when I saw the review that dxomark posted. It's just very flopped! They didn't even show real comparative sample! They even put the iP 5S, which is far from the best shooter nowadays, at the 3rd Place! Below the Z2 and the Nokia 808.

I don't know what's wrong with them, Probably the way they test DSLRs and MILCs is the same as they test phones. But I don't know...

Please note I am not trying to bash dxomark or anything/anyone. I am just telling my honest opinion. I like seeing their tests of DSLRs and MILCs, but for phones, I think they still have a long way to go. I mean look at anandtech, a PC Hardware review site (although I prefer tomshardware for that), does some really nice camera tests on the S5.


I really recommend reading that thoroughly if you want to see a proper camera test. The camera page is located at page 2.

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 12:43

103. drkuthan (Posts: 42; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)

Sony must have paid lot for dxomark
Real life results show that the 20mp camera is inferior and can not satisfy the expectations
Same camera in the same body what were you expecting ?
A miracle ? :)))))))))))))

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 13:53

104. true1984 (Posts: 823; Member since: 23 May 2012)

nope just an unbiased comparison

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 22:10

108. Darkhell (Posts: 33; Member since: 03 Nov 2013)

How does testing a 16MP camera against an 8MP camera fair when you put the 16MP camera down to 8MP?

What they do is really consistent and does give really good results but it takes away from normal use.

These days it is harder to compare cameras on high end phones since they all do what they are suppose to very well and have unique features. Some phones have dedicated night modes and some use manual modes. On my Note 3 my auto low light setting makes capturing a little delayed but makes low light pictures look much better so taking pictures of children or other spontaneous moving situations having that on makes pictures pretty crappy and it is on by default.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 10:02

112. docxx (Posts: 63; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)

Not to forget to mention that the Z1 is in front on the S4 and the test was made by real professionals!

Nothing we can do, Samsung's money are everywhere, even here.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:32 6

45. akki20892 (Posts: 3901; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

I love that there is no Nokia. Otherwise Nokia will have down rank.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 12:26 2

58. james004 (Posts: 486; Member since: 15 May 2013)

Only if these sites used the latest firmware and latest phones.
theres always something wrong in these comparison.

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 02:23 3

98. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

PA deleted our comments! Why?? Anyway PA be consistent with your reviews. Check this out http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Camera-comparison-Sony-Xperia-Z1-Compact-vs-Xperia-Z1-LG-G2-iPhone-5s-Samsung-Galaxy-S4-HTC-One_id3561


posted on 15 Apr 2014, 03:30

99. preetmalhotra (Posts: 109; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)

True Story!!!!!

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:41 7

50. CamaroSS (Posts: 173; Member since: 24 Jul 2012)

Don't bother - read anandtech review to see how bad GS5 & GS4 lowlight shots are compared to z1, m8, 5s


In typical PA style, GS5 got the highest rating at night shots. How ridiculous was that?

Btw, where was the final combined score in the screen comparison test ? Wait, GS5 came out at the bottom there - right?

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 12:03 1

54. hung2900 (Posts: 956; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)

They rated for the usability for the realiability. It makes sense because on my old One (M7), some photos are very nice, but some are completely garbage. Not sure about M8 and S5.

There are also some important criteria only like exporesure, white balance, low light color reproduction that make a nice photo, not only about the noise.

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 01:58 1

97. darkskoliro (Posts: 1076; Member since: 07 May 2012)

Truth be told, I only come on this site for news now. Anandtech for reviews. His extensive knowledge on technology and his way of reviews are the only articles that really please me.

posted on 19 Apr 2014, 22:58

114. edditnyc (Posts: 4; Member since: 19 Apr 2014)

Low light performance on today's smartphones is such an asinine topic. Why? Go pick up your old point and shoot and shoot in the "low light" scenarios without a flash and jack up your ISO 2000/f2.2 like all these phones are doing. It's a terrible picture no matter how you spin it because photography relies on....LIGHT. Now try shooting the same picture with a sensor the fraction of that and see how it turns out.

Face it, the "good" low light pictures from an iPhone/Lumia/m8 aren't great. Good is relative in these cases. The sensors on these phones are minuscule to that of a dSLR so I wish people would get off this subject. You want to shoot low light, get a dSLR and a tripod. If you want to shoot people in low light with a smartphone, turn on the flash. If anything it's flash photography that people should be vetting. Not how well one can shoot an underexposed shot at f2.2 with 1/3" sensor with the ISO jacked up to 2000.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 16:31

72. doejon (Posts: 398; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)

htc one m8 where u aaaaaaat?

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 19:22 1

82. dontneedtoknow (Posts: 158; Member since: 17 Feb 2014)

No matter how much z2 is better, average customer won't see z2. I hate it because I think better things should get a boost!

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 00:19 2

94. nightfury (Posts: 71; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)

the pics in PA and gsmarena tools are so out of focus for sony and other devices, only sammy and iphone are good...whereas in anandtech dxomark show true pics ..there is soooooooooooo much diff why ??? dont tell me software change, because both sites have done reviews repeatedly...
i conclude something is fishy...FISHYARENA ???

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:34 11

4. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

Again this PA picture viewing tool/thing/whateveritis is so freaking slow...

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:03 1

22. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:05 1

24. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)

you can try this. click on "view as one page" and hover over one of the loading photos to make the red zooming icon appear. click on the icon to bring out a pop up that will show the photos individually. you can get faster loading this way.the photos are labeled so it won't be difficult to identify them.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 19:48

83. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)

be sure to close the phonearena page that loads the multiple photos as soon as the pop up appears. you will find thumbnails to the left side of the pop up so you don't have to go back to the old presentation

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:35 1

6. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2071; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)

I can don't understand why you guys never include the Lumia 1020 or even the 1520 in these camera comparisons?

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:38 4

9. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1214; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)

same, but i have a feeling lumia 1020 will win most of the categories besides video.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:45 1

51. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3689; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)

And also it sucks in camspeed. I tried it its extremely slow shot to shot. The reason? That snapdragon S4 plus dual core and adreno 225 doesnt has support for camera res above 21mp. Where snapdragon 800 has support upto 55mp.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 22:43

89. refillable (Posts: 1046; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

1520/930 doesn't have slow camspeeds.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:19 2

28. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Because this comparison is between phones and not giant brick cameras with a phone attached as an afterthought,

Anyone can make a great camera if you have this huge circular wart to work with and brick body that you can fit a desktop PC into if you really wanted to.

Same reason the GS4 zoom isn't in this comparison. The parameters are not the same. Same reason you don't compare DSLR's with mirror less cameras all that often.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:03 3

40. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 1413; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)

1520 isnt a cameraphone like 1020 and it kicks most of android camera asses, look at blind camera poll they did. Its weird they never include lumia 925 or the 1520 who are smartphones/phablets. Maybe cause of clueless people like you,

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 18:04

79. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

The 925 and 1520 are still much larger than they should be to fit in extra camera technology. Those are facts like it or not.

This is for normal sized phones. Although, to be fair, I am not sure if the HTC One and Z1 qualify either, they are HUGE as well.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 22:41

87. refillable (Posts: 1046; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

And So what? The 925/930 are still comfortable to hold. Comparing the RX100 to the S5 would be stupid, but 235/930 to the S5 isn't at all. Get the facts right please.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:32 2

44. papss (unregistered)

Did you come up with that yourself taters? So smart you are..

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 18:06

81. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Yes I did. The truth hurts doesn't it?

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 11:01 2

39. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 1413; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)

Because in blind test 1520 kicked all other androids and iphones asses. They dont want that to happen in their tests so they NEVER include them ;) I guess MS isnt paying them any money.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 18:02 3

77. TMach (Posts: 454; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


Click on the link above for a professional review!

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:37 14

8. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1214; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)

waiting for the trolls and haters calling PA bias because Samsung is on top, but when it's there brand that's on top, they jump for joy.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:45 7

15. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

*their, not there.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 22:42 2

88. refillable (Posts: 1046; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

Well I question this review because there is something that is wrong, not because Samsung is on the top.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:39 5

10. Diego! (Posts: 573; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

Where are the Lumias??? Oh yeah, they will sweep their competition that's why they are not here.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:41 3

35. tech2 (Posts: 3451; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)

Or maybe they wanted to make a 'smartphone' camera comparison and not a 'camera-phone' comparison

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 03:58 1

100. Pedro0x (Posts: 271; Member since: 19 Oct 2012)

You are kidding me, right? Lumias do not have the best cameras (not counting lumia 1020). The only reason why lumias always win in these camera comparisons is because there are so many blind nokia fanboys here.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:40 13

11. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)

Samsung To Rule Them All.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:42 1

12. UglyFrank (Posts: 1649; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Nexus 5 has OIS, 1/3.2 sensor and F/2.4 aperture

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:05

23. gustavoace (Posts: 180; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)


posted on 14 Apr 2014, 15:19 1

69. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 2887; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)

Was wondering about that too, still weird PA got that wrong, they even did a comparison between N4 and N5 concerning OIS

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:44 4

13. rantao333 (Posts: 322; Member since: 21 May 2013)

wat?phonearena camera review?? 

too much subjective evaluation

btw, anandtech/ dpreview is wat a pro should go for

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:46 3

17. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1163; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)

and gsmarena

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 22:32 1

86. jeff1434325 (Posts: 97; Member since: 07 Aug 2012)

..yeah, there review is a lot more detailed.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:46 5

16. dexter_jdr (Posts: 1163; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)

ok this understands everything. PA IS TROLLING US
no camera comparison is acceptable without a NOKIA DEVICE. lumia 930 maybe????

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:49 4

19. Oğuzhan_77 (Posts: 89; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)

where are nokia's cam phones?

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 09:58 5

20. shahulvm (Posts: 124; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)

Do you guys ever do a honest review?

Where is Xperia Z2, Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 and a DSLR to compare.

Better comparison would have been LG G2, Samsung S5, HTC One M8, Xperia Z2, Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, Iphone 5S and a DSLR

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:02 15

21. skyline88 (Posts: 458; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)

HTC One M8, hahahahahahahaha!!!

The BEST JOKE of the Year by HTC, again and again!!

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:15 5

26. antonioli (Posts: 200; Member since: 08 Sep 2013)

Terrible comparison as always.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 10:16 1

27. jckc92 (Posts: 29; Member since: 28 Nov 2012)

Just do the newer Nokia phone, "Icon" to show what all the new flagship camera's can do. We all know the 1020 is still camera king but just do the newer flagships!!! Was curious how the Nokia Icon would rank with the rest.....

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