You know what the cheese said when taking a photo of its friends?
Say 'people'!

Okay, there will be no more cheesy anecdotes ahead in this article. Although you have to admit that this one was a... gouda joke. What you'll see plenty of, on the other hand, is photos shot with the new iPhone 7. Yup, Apple's new phone is the star of today's camera comparison, and it will be competing against some serious opponents. 

In this camera race, the iPhone 7 will be running alongside the Galaxy S7 edge and the LG G5, both of which are known for their powerful cameras. We've also decided to include the Sony Xperia XZ, which is having the privilege to be featured in a camera comparison of ours for the first time. And no less importantly, we're throwing in the iPhone 6s as well. You know, because we're curious to see how much the iPhone's camera quality has improved since last year. 

On paper, here's what these five smartphones have to offer:

Camera Specs
iPhone 7iPhone 6sGalaxy
S7 edge
LG G5Xperia XZ
Resolution,
aspect ratio
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
16MP@16:9
5312x2988px
23MP@4:3
5520x4140px
Sensor and
pixel size
1/3"
1.22μm
1/3"
1.22μm
1/2.5"
1.4μm
1/2.6"
1.12μm
1/2.3"
1.12μm
Focal length
and aperture
28mm
F1.8
29mm
F2.2
26mm
F1.7
28mm
F1.8
24mm
F2.0
Focus and
stabilization
PDAF
OIS
PDAF
No OIS
Dual-pixel AF
Object track
OIS
Laser AF
OIS
Laser AF
Object track
No OIS

Looking at specs alone, it is clear that the Sony Xperia XZ has the shortest focal length, meaning that it has the widest viewing angles. Also, it has the megapixel advantage, with 23 million pixels at its disposal. However, it is a well-known fact that megapixels aren't enough to make a great camera. The Galaxy S7 edge, for instance, has the largest pixel size and widest aperture – both properties allowing it to perform pretty well in low light.

Speaking of specs, it is worth noting that the aperture on the iPhone 7 camera is much wider compared to the one on the iPhone 6s. Adding OIS to the formula means that the new iPhone should perform much better at night compared to its predecessor. Or at least that's the theory. Now let's look at some photos.

The photos in the galleries have been scaled down to a resolution of about 2MP to make them load faster. Full-resolution images are available at the end of the article.   

Scene 1: The Mansion



Last week we hosted a blind camera comparison. For those who don't know how that ended up, the Galaxy S7 edge spun circles around the iPhones and the LG G5, collecting over twice as many votes as its rivals. Clearly, people really like what Samsung's cameras produce, and the reason must lie in the vivid presentation of the shots. For instance, the image here, shot with the S7 edge, looks bright and lively, hence it draws attention from afar. 

We're also pleased with the photos out of the iPhone 7 and the LG G5. They're not as vivid as the image from the S7 edge, but they represent the shades of green more naturally. As for the images out of the iPhone 6s and Xperia XZ, they could use a boost in exposure, especially in the shadowy areas. 
 
Scene 1: score
Galaxy S7 edge8.5
iPhone 78.0
LG G58.0
Sony Xperia XZ6.0
iPhone 6s5.0


Scene 2: a colorful close-up



The Galaxy S7 edge's camera may be good, but it is in no way perfect. Here's an example where it failed to set the correct white balance, thus delivering an unnaturally greenish image. The same flaw appears to be affecting the Xperia XZ as well, albeit to a lesser extent. In contrast, the iPhones and the LG G5 deliver better photos, with colors that get closer to real life. The yellows and greens appear more natural in their images, closely representing what our eyes could see when taking the shot.

Scene 2: score
iPhone 78.0
iPhone 6s8.0
LG G57.0
Sony Xperia XZ6.5
Galaxy S7 edge5.0


Scene 3: Crossing the bridge



This is one of the scenes where the LG G5's camera truly shines. First of all, its image is clear and detailed. If you zoom in for a closer look, you'll see no serious traces of digital noise. There's no aggressive sharpening either. Secondly, the camera has retained the natural look of the colors in the frame, without leaning towards the cold or warm side of the spectrum. Overall, the image looks splendid!

Looking at other phones' photos, we can't deny that the Galaxy S7 edge's image is captivating. That's the case for the reasons we stated in Scene 1 – a hint of sharpness and a dash of color boost have helped to produce a vivid photograph. 

On the topic of detail, we see that the Sony Xperia XZ has captured enough of it, but the noise throughout the frame spoils the joy of zooming in and exploring the image from up close. Seeing that much noise is odd. This kind of distortion is usually associated wit packing tiny pixels on a smallish sensor. However, the G5's pixels are of identical size, yet its photo is anything but noisy. Also, the XZ shot the photo at ISO64, which isn't a high sensitivity setting at all. (In digital cameras, higher sensitivity leads to more digital noise, and vice versa.)

As for the iPhones, we see that the iPhone 7 has captured a slightly brighter photo, while the iPhone 6s has gone for a bit gloomier look. Both images look okay, but don't have the same appeal as the ones out of the G5 or S7 edge.

Scene 3: score
LG G58.5
Galaxy S7 edge7.5
iPhone 76.5
iPhone 6s6.5
Sony Xperia XZ6.5

Related phones

iPhone 7
  • Display 4.7 inches 1334 x 750 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A10 Fusion 2GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1960 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
iPhone 6s
  • Display 4.7 inches 1334 x 750 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 5 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A9 APL0898 2GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1715 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
Galaxy S7 edge
  • Display 5.5 inches 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 5 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 4GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3600 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo Samsung TouchWiz UI
G5
  • Display 5.3 inches 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP (Dual camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 4GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo LG UX UI
Xperia XZ
  • Display 5.2 inches 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP (Single camera) 13 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 3GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2900 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo

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