Blind cameraphone comparison 2 (Results)

Blind cameraphone comparison 2 (Results)
When judging camera quality on smartphones you have to face the cold facts – the pictures. Over the course of the past week we gave you  this very pictorial raw material from four smartphones, but we've stripped down brand names and revealing details about a picture – everything that could distract you from judging anything else but the pure quality of the images. It was a challenge that would pin-point the best camera among four top smartphones, each available on a major US carrier. But we should also mention that the participating phones are not necessarily the best cameraphones out there – they rather give a rough concept of current high-end carrier offers. So now that you've cast your votes, we've summarized the results and are ready with the final verdict. 

So with no further ado, we present you the four smartphone participants in our test: the Apple iPhone 4 (appearing as Device 1 in the outdoor test and  D indoors), Sprint's Google Nexus S 4G (dubbed 2 and C), Verizon's HTC ThunderBolt (known as 3 and B) and the T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide (4 and  A). We've also used the Canon PowerShot A590 for reference, an 8-megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera released in 2008.

Outdoor test results:

The first question we asked was about outdoor performance – with plenty of August sunlight and colorful landscapes, the phones should have shown their best game. We've split the images in two categories – in the first one they were all downsized to a common web format, while in the second one we took 100% crops to better illustrate their ability to catch fine details. 

One handset grabbed the crown in both our outdoor tests – Sprint's Google Nexus S 4G with its 5-megapixel camera stood out. The iPhone 4 ranked second, trailing by around 7 to 8%.

But what about the LTE-equipped HTC ThunderBolt and the other HTC-made T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide, the latter claiming to be the “most advanced camera of any smartphone”? They were nearly tied at the bottom with the ThunderBolt overcoming in the detail poll, while the myTouch 4G Slide finished slightly ahead in the first round. Interestingly, both the myTouch 4G Slide and the ThunderBolt come with 8-megapixel cameras, a higher resolution than the 5 megapixels on the iPhone and Nexus S 4G, and a great illustration that pixels don't matter that much.

Indoor test results:

The second set of images we gave you was shot indoors – after all, a lot of the interesting stuff in life happens behind four walls. And our test proved this – our kind model cat grew laser eyes for your entertainment. But the test also gave a good idea about how well exposed you can expect images to turn out in very limited light as well as how realistic would be the colors.

So do we have a clear winner here? This time the myTouch 4G Slide with its backside-illuminated  sensor allowing it to catch more light won by a landslide in both our downsized images and 100% crops. With plenty of details and warm colors, it managed to steer away from the red-eye (or robot eye if you wish) problem. The HTC ThunderBolt finished a distant runner-up.

But there wasn't only a winner – we'd dare to sum up the vote and say that there are two big losers for indoor shots – the iPhone and the Google Nexus S 4G transforming both our models into scary laser eyed versions of themselves. And those are the exact two devices which you liked best for outdoor shots!


It was Sprint's Google Nexus S 4G which impressed you most  outdoors and we have to give it credit for that, but we should also admit that for outdoor performance the race was close. The same Nexus S 4G couldn't win your heart in the second test, though, where the T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide shined. 

Finally, this test makes it clear that cameras in smartphones tend to perform differently under different conditions. While some handsets performed great outdoors, they failed in low-lit scenes, so it seems like a good idea to take this into account that when picking a cameraphone. Moreover, outdoors the 5-megapixel shooters in our test ranked better than the 8-megapixel ones, so bottomline is that the spec sheet doesn't necessarily always tell the whole story. But after all, whether you agree with the results or not, it's up to you to draw conclusions from this blind comparison and hopefully get the perfect phone for your needs next time. 



1. fanaticgadget unregistered


8. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I don't get why keeps using the iPhone 4 on all its tests? It's like they are testing every other phone to the iPhone 4. Where is the Nokia N8 in all these comparisons. Why is it that the iPhone 4 keeps going up against every phone out there? Is this really an objective test or is it an iPhone 4 test?

14. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Because its the most popular phone in the world with a great camera.

17. Junglejoe unregistered

becuz to punch the fanboys in the stomach.. and sometimes to jerk the fanboys off

21. Pete11261 unregistered

Because the iPhone 4 is one of the most popular phones. What part of that so you not understand?

24. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

P.S. I prefer android. I'm not an apple fanboy. I know thats why i got thumbed down.

28. and1one66 unregistered

Nokia N8-00 is a special type of camera phone. Since it can compete with high-end DSLRs, do you think this smaller-size sensor phones can compete with N8-00? I don't think so. This tests shows only who's phone is the best even they have smaller sensor.

35. sudharshan

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

sorry and1one66 the 28th com-mentor but I think n8 is only good enough to compete with low end and middle class DSLR cameras as it can only record 720p plus it is not 16mp . It is only 12mp which makes it to compete only with middle class DSLRs . But anyways I agree with your point.

30. Rasumusu

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

So everyone out there can see that all other phones pwned it!

34. Ecko50100

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 07, 2010

If you didn't read the first test (i think it was the first test run they did), they stated that they were only doing phones from the 4 major carriers in the US, and the N8 is definitely not on any of them.

2. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Wow! Never knew the myTouch had such a good camera.

3. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

thats the new mytouch 4g Slide. It just launched. Its built to be able to snap a pic from the lock screen in like 3 seconds flat. Its pretty nice. HTC's weak spot has always been the camera quality so the outdoor settings aren't a surprise. Indoor wasnt too surprising since 3 of the 4 have a flash on the camera (only the nexusS doesnt). What did surprise me is how low the iphone4 got in the lowlight tests. After months of review after review saying how frikkin awesome the camera was, it failed miserably when put to a blind test. It also got beat by a samsung 5mpx camera in both tests, so that whole "iphone4 is the best 5mpx camera" line is debunked as well. Go sammy! :)

5. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

I disagree, I think the iPhone 4's camera is so advanced and awesome that it turned that cat into some sort of super villian with laser eyes.

7. Uzzelien

Posts: 131; Member since: Feb 22, 2011

I had to like this because it's like sharks with freakin lasers on their freakin head.

9. chris23

Posts: 39; Member since: Jul 16, 2010

The Nexus S does have a flash on the camera

15. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

doh.. your right.. i was thinking of my vibrant/galaxyS.. :) whats worse than sharks with laser beams? flying sharks man!! yea.. flying sharks that hunt down your lion pride and eat them!! yea, you didnt see that coming did ya!? ya didnt think it would go in that direction!

4. WirelessCon

Posts: 311; Member since: May 11, 2010

Considering that almost all the voters do not have calibrated computer screens, this matter of opinion is definitely only opinion, man. I would've liked to have seen the Galaxy S II, Samsung Infuse, iPhone 3GS, and maybe even a Blackberry or two in competition.

6. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

What does a calibrated computer screen have to do with pixelation and red (or laser) eyes?

10. Penny

Posts: 1869; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

A calibrated screen has to do with color accuracy, in which case you are right, it doesn't greatly impact pixelation or red-eye problems. However, having a monitor with an IPS panel (usually the monitors people bother to calibrate) makes a significant difference in a photo comparison. It is better for color accuracy, uniform backlighting, [usually] brightness, details in dark areas, etc.

16. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

yea.. if you needed to see minute color details.. most of those photographs were easily discernable with even the worst equipment. There was a fairly large spread among the phones. Wireless, the point of the article was for 1 phone for each carrier that is currently out. The infuse carries the same camera as the nexus/galaxy. The software might be slightly different though since it uses samsungs custom instead of google stock like the Nexus.

11. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

I'm disappointed that the Nokia N8 was again omitted in this comparison.

18. Junglejoe unregistered

i think the N8 is has no competition out there.. we all know its the most powerful cam .. but would be great to appreciate it at least from time to time

12. JayRaj

Posts: 54; Member since: Oct 31, 2010

I thought these guys would have included an AT&T and a Verizon iPhone 4 in the test! lol!

13. Penny

Posts: 1869; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

Lol shhh, don't want to give them any ideas.

19. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

Don't forget the white iPhone. :) Maybe compare the black and white iPhone with the 4 different colours of the Nokia N8.

20. Tmachaveli

Posts: 425; Member since: Apr 01, 2011

iphone sucks thank u just had to get that out for today lol

22. dblue45

Posts: 77; Member since: Aug 26, 2009

I'd love to see a test of HTC Sensation vs Samsung Galaxy S II vs Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc vs Motorola Droid X2/ Droid 3 :D Nevertheless this again was a great test! Thanks Phonearena :) Looking Forward to more of such tests :)

23. rex0422

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

Dude, why is iPhone 4 on the list EVERY TIME? Are the folks in PhoneArena biased? Anyways, I still don't think iPhone 4 is the best in outdoor tests. I think myTouch 4G Slide is the best cameraphone ever.

27. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

The iPhone is on the list every time because it is one of the most well known smartphones in the world. If I walk into a room and ask if anyone can name my phone (a Desire Z), I think very few if any people can. If I do the same with an iPhone, many people will be able to name it. The other thing is if you say your phone takes better pictures than an HTC Desire Z, most people would not really take much notice. Say that your phone takes better pictures than an iPhone and people will take notice. I don't think that it is biased to include the iPhone in the comparison as Phonearena's audience would be interested in how the iPhone did.

25. JayRaj

Posts: 54; Member since: Oct 31, 2010

I'm guessing the 4 phones for the next blind test. 1. AT&T iPhone 4 (black) 2. Verizon iPhone 4 (black) 3. AT&T iPhone 4 (white) 4. Verizon iPhone 4 (white) Lol! XD

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