Are the Galaxy S6/S6 edge really that great at low light shots? Samsung test setup seems inconclusive

Are the Galaxy S6/S6 edge really that great at low light shots? Samsung test setup seems inconclusive
During its Unpacked event that took place yesterday, Samsung made sure to stress just how proud it is of the Galaxy S6's and Galaxy S6 edge's cameras in terms of low light photography. Clips and images from their sensors were directly compared with identical stills taken with the likes of the iPhone 6 Plus, the idea being simple enough -- the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are the best you can do as far as low light performance is concerned. Or so we were supposed to think.

Why is Samsung so confident? Well, to start off, the duo of new Galaxy flagships both have extremely wide, f/1.9 lens. All things being equal, the smaller the f  number the more light the sensor can take in at any given time (and the more depth photos lose). That's hardly all there is to it, of course, as software camera algorithms also play an essential part.

So are Samsung's claims legit? To find out, we used a test setup put together by Samsung itself -- a box with a miniature composition within and two holes just big enough for a smartphone camera to peek in and take a snap. As you can image, the scene on the inside is covered in near complete darkness and we were asked not to use the flash. To really make the S6 sweat, we used the HTC One M8 due to it being among the most capable low light shooters, courtesy of its very large, 2-micron pixels. We tried all it has at its disposal, too -- night mode, HDR (we were asked), and auto, so that you have the opportunity to contrast and compare. A single, pre-determined sample is far from sufficient to really call this just yet, but it certainly seems like Samsung's new hard-hitters will perform well in future tests.

Related phones

Galaxy S6
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2550 mAh(23h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S6 edge
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2600 mAh(26h talk time)



1. MythBusters

Posts: 20; Member since: Sep 05, 2014

shots from htc looks great !!

3. -Shadow-

Posts: 95; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

the night mode looks great, the other two no.

8. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I really like the night mode from HTC. The color just seems more conformable to look at. But now I have to decide to go with M9 or S6 for this year's upgrade...

11. Ashoaib

Posts: 3276; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

But in the article it is written that they brought m8 for comparison. How come they brough m8 and the pictures came out from m9? Thats a magic

14. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Oh yeah... wow now i'm confused lol

24. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Sorry, folks, my bad. It's the HTC One M8, not the One M9. You can't physically put the M9 and the Galaxy S6/S6 edge next to each other, since all three are chained to demo desks at their respective manufacturer's booths.

26. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Do you know if you're testing the final build version of the S6?

28. willytbk

Posts: 252; Member since: Aug 15, 2012

if they dare enough to provide a box with a hole for you to test, they might be confident enough with that build version. but well, future software update might produce better photos. remember that whaever the company claims that their camera is the best, those are only marketings. you need to test it by yourself or from friends that really own that device.

30. cheetah2k

Posts: 2223; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Probably not the final build, but it looks to me like they forgot to clean the S6 lens before taking pics.. Oh well, just more junk ads from phonenarea

22. SayMobile

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

are u nuts! the shots are over exposed , lights blown out, the detailing is horrible and the colours are way too inaccurate . Do you know anything about great shots. The M8 had one disgusting camera.

23. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

1st check the EXIF data of all HTC photos. They are from M8, not M9 as mentioned here. Also it's obvious beacuse all HTC photos are 4MP, which was the resolution of M8. And HTC's HDR mode means overexposing each photo like +2 EV. One thing people need to understand, low light photo doesn't mean over exposing a photo and making it seem more 'visible'.

2. frankg

Posts: 173; Member since: May 14, 2014

The HTC Night mode looks better....Samsung is doing itself a disservice with this.

19. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

LOL....HTC is producing incredibly oversaturated colours in night mode ! It may look nice but its inaccurate. Just look at the colour of the floor in HTC's shot. Also the light above the bike is so powerful in HTC but its toned down in GS6 to let the other lights come in the sensor.

20. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

.....which means HDR is better implemented in GS6. Since we don't have reference shots here can the author clarify which phone is representing more accurate colours ?

21. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Samsung isn't doing anyone any favors with this. In one pair the HTC is slightly more saturated and seems a little weak with regard to dynamic range. In the other pair Sammy and HTC seem to suffer. Ultimately, this test tells me nothing - framing is inconsistent such that it's hard to tell which phone does a better job of metering and exposure.

4. Exempt1 unregistered

The HTC night modes aren't as good as the S6 though. The blacks are all flat, and the motorcycle is the wrong shade, details are non existent.... etc. BUT. The HTC's shots are amazing, too :D Except the last two... They pretty bad....

5. d_myke

Posts: 15; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

Samsung absolutely killed it with these phones. My only concern is battery life. Can't wait for the reviews.

6. dirtydirty00

Posts: 428; Member since: Jan 21, 2011

i have an HTC... but how can one say that the HTC photos are better here? compare the night mode with the htc photos... if u compare the detail of the lamp post in the night mode s6 photo the others dont compare

7. elite3d

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

So did you use m8 or m9?

12. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012


16. ChowMein

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 01, 2015

It says "Low-light shots fro the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M8" then says it's M9 on individual images

9. kerginaldo17 unregistered

HTC takes better pics, no doubt.

10. kerginaldo17 unregistered

The main component of a good camera is the quality of lenses.Good sensor, large aperture and more do not help much if the lens has no quality.

13. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

s6 hdr mode looks better than hdr on m9 but the night on htc m9 is great. wonder why they didn't take a night mode shot with the s6. not enough samples to tell which is the best camera in this test. #PAfail

15. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

ambient light is the key, this test seems off, one light source, doesn't really tell you how great the phone is or isn't about being able to see natural ambient light at night. Will see when consumers get it.

17. Muayyad

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

I wonder how the m9 fairs with m8 in low light.

18. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Nokia 1020 that shot ;)

25. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2262; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

#2 pic htc one m8 is better.

27. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The HTC picks were way over-saturated. What Samsung photos use to be. The whote light looks like a light in a movie scene while the S6 the white looks like a glow from headlights from a car in a distance. Its not to bright. The color on the bikr look tone down for the Samsung, but consodering how your eye would see it, teh Samsung photos look for real. When you see shiny objects in the dark with low light, they don't bright unless a light is directly shining on them. It should look somewhat dark. The HTC took a brighter picture, the Smasung one is more accurate by a longshot

29. peacekeeper05

Posts: 33; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

As usual shots from the HTC One m8 looks overexposed and colors are all over the place. The s6 finally has better lowlight shots. It has less noise and the colors are very convincing.

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