Best smartphone cameras compared: Sony Xperia Z5 vs iPhone 6s vs Galaxy Note 5
Contrary to what some might believe, we do actually read what our readers say in the comments. We do find value in your feedback, you know, and we take it into account when pondering ways of improving our content. Seriously. Yes, even when you bash us IN ALL CAPS for things like, let's say, not including the Sony Xperia Z5 in our previous smartphone camera comparison. And we're sorry about it. But you know what, this time we'll let the Sony Xperia Z5 show us what it is made of. Indeed, Sony's flagship smartphone is the star of this camera comparison, and if its camera is as good at Sony claims, it should prove a worthy competitor to the iPhone 6s and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Let's see if that's the case.
Before we comment on any of the photo samples we took with these three phones, let us take a look at their camera specs:
Okay, it is clear that the Sony Xperia Z5's camera is not one to be underestimated. It has the largest sensor and the higher resolution among the bunch, which might translate to good detail reproduction, and its shortest focal length predicts very wide viewing angles. But on the downside, the Xperia Z5's camera has the smallest pixels, which could translate to more digital noise, and the lack of optical image stabilization could hurt the phone's low light performance.
But that's all theory, folks. Let us proceed by examining some real-life photos taken with all three phones under conditions as identical as possible.
Scene 1: Green and Gold
We took this shot on a weekend afternoon, when the sun's rays were barely making it through the thick layer of clouds in the sky. Right from the start, we're seeing some color inaccuracies here and there. The iPhone 6s has added a dose of warmth to its image, as it tends to do in scenes like this, while the Note 5 and Sony Xperia Z5 gets close to reality with their color reproduction.
As far as details go, we want to say that the extra megapixels are giving the Xperia Z5 an advantage over its competitors, but we're not entirely sure about it. Some areas of the image do look clearer, especially when compared to the iPhone's image. Other areas are just a blurry mess, presumably due to heavy noise filtering. But as a whole, the Z5's photo is of above-average quality.
We mentioned that the Z5 has the widest field of view, and that's clear to see from its photos. However, distortion near the corners and edges of its image is easily visible.
Scene 2: Baba's Boat
The Xperia Z5's wide-angle lens came in handy when snapping this shot, as it allowed us to fit the whole ship (it is actually a fancy restaurant) in the frame. The phone's weak spot, however, appears to be detail. The lack thereof, to be more specific. Details in the shadows are missing if we compare the Z5's photo against those shot with its competitors. And the image from Sony's phone looks a tad colder overall, with slightly blueish colors.
The iPhone 6s has done a good job as far as exposure goes – light and dark areas have been balanced pretty well. Colors, however, are a bit off. There's a yellowish tint across the entire image, which spoils an otherwise faithful shot. Overall, the image from the Galaxy Note 5 is the one that looks best to us, with most faithful color and detail reproduction.
Scene 3: The Lonely Lighthouse
Is it just us, or is the Sony Xperia Z5 struggling in dynamic scenes? Not that its photo is bad or anything, but the light nuances that are supposed to be visible in the sky are pretty much gone. The Galaxy Note 5 is not doing a great job at it either, or at least not in this particular scene. The iPhone 6s, on the other hand, has managed to preserve the shades of grey and blue in the sky pretty well, and that without underexposing the shadows.
In terms of details, the Xperia Z5 delivers mixed results – some areas of the image look nice and sharp, but blur can be seen in others, especially near the corners. Details in the images from the iPhone 6s and Note 5 look great overall, although the latter's tendency to add quite a bit of sharpness to the image is easily visible.