Galaxy Note 4 dominates our blind camera comparison, beats a Canon DSLR and the iPhone 6 Plus

So, which one's better at taking photos – a modern DSLR camera, an iPhone 6 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy Note 4? That's the question we wanted to answer with our recent blind camera comparison, and you might be surprised by the results we're about to share. Long story short, votes are greatly in favor of Samsung's phablet. The Galaxy Note 4 took first place in five out of six scenes, thus solidifying its name as one of the best cameraphones in existence. As for the camera we threw in the race, a Canon EOS 650D, it lagged quite a bit behind the Note 4 and Apple's finest.

Now, you're probably wondering how a quality DSLR lost to a couple of smartphone cameras. The answer, in our opinion, has a lot to do with what people perceive as a good-looking image. The iPhone, for example, usually produces colors that are warmer than they actually look – colors are somewhat inaccurate, but very eye-pleasing. In the meantime, the Galaxy Note 4 adds a hint of sharpness to its images, thus making details more pronounced. As for the DSLR camera, we had it set to automatic settings while shooting. Its RAW images were exported as JPEG by adding as little processing as possible, which produced faithful, yet not-so-catchy photos. 

So at the end of the day, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 a better camera than a DSLR? Well, that depends on your priorities and on how you look at these two devices. The latter's RAW images look soft and uninspiring as they are, but can be made to look as good, if not better than the Note's – all it takes is a few minutes of simple editing. The Galaxy Note 4, on the other hand, as well as the iPhone 6 Plus, take care of all the post-processing for you – you get a pleasing picture with as little effort as possible. And we don't even have to mention that they fit in a pocket, unlike a DSLR. 

Are you surprised by the results from our blind camera comparison? Or were you expecting to see a smartphone collecting more votes than a DSLR? Let us know in the comments!

Scene 1 - indoors

Scene 1: Which photo do you like best?

Canon EOS 650D (Photo A)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo B)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo C)

Scene 2 - outdoors

Scene 2: Which photo do you like best?

iPhone 6 Plus (Photo D)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo E)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo F)

Scene 3 - close-up

Scene 3: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo G)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo H)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo I)

Scene 4 - outdoors

Scene 4: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo J)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo K)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo L)

Scene 5 - outdoors

Scene 5: Which photo do you like best?

Canon EOS 650D (Photo M)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo N)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo O)

Scene 6 - night

Scene 6: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo P)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo Q)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo R)

Related phones

Galaxy Note 4
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)
iPhone 6 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2915 mAh(24h 3G talk time)



1. ilovephablets

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Samsung all the way

28. lalalaman

Posts: 638; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

Tbh, this was so obvious, this comparison is done by looking at Megapixel of the camera, obviously more will win, plus iPhone had no chance... Canon eos is old compared to note and obviously it had less pixels(dslr pics depend on quality than pixels, pics are good if u have a good lens to attached).... But still I don't understand why canon lost in night pics Ps,I love note 4, it's the best phone in the market right now

35. Kumar123 unregistered

This comparison just showed us that you can't take Blind comparison seriously, this is for fan. We had our fun in this comparison now it's time to move on.

64. ingloryon

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 11, 2015

People... read the fking article "The latter's RAW images look soft and uninspiring as they are, but can be made to look as good, if not better than the Note's – all it takes is a few minutes of simple editing."

76. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

with the note 4 u dont need any time man this is for normal user if somebody wants to take photos professionall this person would buy a dslr.. but overall the note 4 is one of the best if not the best camera phone out there

171. whoami_amiu

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 22, 2013

Buddy, no offense intended - I dont see how the depth of field (which is quite blur in the Canon, and a little lesser blur in the i6) can be brought to the same quality of the N4 even after post processing! TBH :-)

111. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Are you mad because the results aren't too your liking?

211. torch4x4

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 31, 2014

agree I don't think the Note 4 beats any modern DSLR, however photos from modern smartphones (including Samsung, iPhones, Lumias, etc.) can do a good job but depends on the users, if we compare the pictures uploaded to flickr with each different model, I like more the others than the ones taken from the Note 4 users, check those galleries for me the best pictures on those galleries are taken with the Canon, also I like more the ones taken with the Lumia than the Note 4 but I heard that "Owning a better camera doesn't make you a better photographer", probably we don't need to carry a DSLR to get good pictures if we know how to do that. Personally I like the photos from my Note 4 more than any other without changing any settings on the camera, but also I have a Lumia Icon that is better to play with settings, a GoPro for action pictures and a Mirrorless with interchangeable lens, I can get very good and very bad pics with any of them...

38. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Hahaha! Samsung fans rejoice their battle with just a 3 year old entry-level DSLR. How about a rematch using Nikon D810 or a Canon EOS 70D?

45. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No one expects a smartphone camera to best a good DSLR. The point of the article is that the Note 4 clearly beat the iPhone 6 plus (for the third straight time), even in the night photo.

49. SamsungEU

Posts: 147; Member since: Dec 29, 2014

calm down ,your arse must be sore

51. Kumar123 unregistered

Even the lastest gen smartphone camera tech is still not there to beat 3 year old entry-level DSLR camera. Like i said this comparison is for fun, nothing else. People with least knowledge with camera knows that. Having said that it's truly is amazing how far smartphone camera tech has come. Looking forward to two lens tech in the future gen smartphone.

210. faizan-sharif

Posts: 98; Member since: Jun 26, 2013

man its clearly a paid article, so just move on, skip it :)

59. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

You've taken simply matter way seriously. Can you put any dslr inside your pocket? C'mon even iPhone camera are pretty decent even if it lost in camera comparison. Unless you expecting much for what you paid.

66. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I didn't see you complaining about what DSLR they were using when they did the test, but now when the result came in an absolute favor for the Note 4 you started nagging and complaining?? typical iCryBaby

69. GalaxyS5

Posts: 430; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

haha! how about using the crap phone you use. haha!

97. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I believe there were three contenders in this comparison and you left out one of them just to slam Samsung? How would the results have changed if the DSLR was removed from the test? Not a damn thing. The directive is prove that in a pinch, the Galaxy is a formidable back up for those that didn't have their DSLRs handy. John B

101. RodStiffington

Posts: 32; Member since: Feb 20, 2014

Why would you compare a $3000 DSLR (without lens) to a $700 smartphone?

115. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Why not. Here is why I can answer It easily. Because people think that because something costs more it must be better. Example? Pen And Teller did a skit about bottled water. They went to a fancy restaurant and put tap water into different bottles. People looked at the bottle and thought they were drinking what it said, and they even said yes this tastes like blah blah blah. Only to be taken later to the back and see he was filling the bottles with tap water. People expect that since a DSLR and the iPhone both cost more than the Note 4, they expect everything on them to do better. Facts in the past, the present and in the future will always show this fact - Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you don't. It's not better because it costs more, it only costs more when it breaks. I am not surprised that a DSLR failed. I went to a gathering where the professional photographer took photos with a Canon and I used my Note 4, but with customized settings. I took roughly 25 pictures and when I offload them to my friends computer, he took most of them over the ones the pro took and he gave me money even though I didn't ask for any. I simply took them at 16MP and I changed the ISO and a few other things. They all came out minty clean, had very good color saturation (no bleeding, no red eye, no washed out colors) and tone. Oh and I also had the HDR on. Now, The Note 4 isn't going to beat every DSLR obviously, especially with expensive lens. But what it does show is, for a device that cost $700 it can put more expensive devices to shame. After all, there are cars that don't cost 6 figures, that can get from 0-60 faster than many exotics.

119. RodStiffington

Posts: 32; Member since: Feb 20, 2014

Hi. The Canon EOS 650D retails for about $700, similar to both smartphones in this comparison article. Probabily why PA choose that DSLR. A Nikon D810 (see #38 above) retails for about $3000. Hence reply #101.

188. hazydave

Posts: 12; Member since: Nov 18, 2014

That was a $500 DSLR... a 600D, not a 5D. Still, it does seem a combination of processing sugar on the side of the smartphones, combined with a bit of operator error. It wold have made a more interesting test, given the raw images, to have both the flat shots and a sevond set, adjusted as any serious photographer would.

107. T-rex unregistered

u can't be serious

206. gadget_lover

Posts: 35; Member since: Jun 30, 2009

its better than being defeated by it!!!

85. engineer-1701d unregistered

tbh we all thought it was the dslr dont change the point that we all got taken for a happy surprise if the gs6 is supposed to be better than the note 4 camera then why ever buy a dslr.

128. Penny

Posts: 1871; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

No, we all didn't, and this is starting to annoy me. I said it during the original vote and I'll say it again, PhoneArena does not know how to operate a real camera. The dSLR shots were so out of focus in the areas that PA decided to magnify that most readers here mistook it for low quality and lack of sharpness. The only thing PA did right here is correctly judging that their readers know NOTHING about photography. I am truly annoyed with how poorly PA operates a dSLR, not to mention how tech illiterate PA readers in general are.

227. blakkpanter

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 07, 2012

Exactly. I've been trying to explain this to ppl for so long now...

156. FriendlyFoe09

Posts: 82; Member since: Jan 09, 2012

This is a dumb comparison. Anyone who uses a DSLR and shoots on auto is just a poser. The software on the smartphone camera apps all use some image processing to make the image better to compensate for their tiny lenses and sensors. They program the app to make the image look great on the screens. DSLRs are designed to shoot images closest to what it sees even on auto. That's why "real" photographers use them, that's why you hear photographers talk about getting the right lighting. That's why they have courses in photography so you can understand light which is essentially what photography is "Capturing light". Photographers wait for the right lighting conditions or they create the conditions. If they are still not happy with it they do some post processing on their computers. If shot in manual and with a person who knows how to use the camera and with preparation you can get way better results with the DSLR. If you don't use the DSLR properly you can get worse results than a smart phone camera from 3 years ago. But for most people who just want to take pictures this isn't the case so they would be better of with a smartphone camera or a small point in shoot with superb auto settings. I just laugh at people who hang cameras off their necks with giant lenses and giant flashes when its daytime and they are only taking photos of themselves in front of statues.

57. Gulliver

Posts: 49; Member since: Sep 18, 2013

Bear in mind this DSLR is most probably with junk optic and the result you see. If you have proper optic may be other story.

77. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Proper optics and manual editing, yes. But let's not forget that the majority of DSLR users buy: A) entry level DSLR's like the one used B) stick to the kitlens used C) use out of camera jpegs (even worse than RAW, let alone fully processed RAW) So in a way, this is a valid comparison to the most common DSLR users out there (in more serious forums often referred to as "hockey moms").

99. tntwit

Posts: 86; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

The typical entry level DSLR user doesn't even know what RAW is, so why use it for this comparison then? You can shoot RAW + JPEG, so I would like to see the JPEG straight out of the camera. The whole idea of RAW is so that you can fully process them as you like, so minimally processing as the article states seems to put the Canon at a disadvantage. Also, that is the the 18-55 or 18-135 kit lens that is normally packaged with the Canon. It actually looks like a Tamron 3rd party lens, which are not impressive from my experience. Also of note, is that DSLR have a larger sensor and a comparatively narrow depth of field if not adjusted. This will make parts of the image soft, which is often desirable, such as portraits where the background is blurred out to emphasize the subject. Depth of field can be adjusted, but the Auto setting generally opens the lens wide which gives shallow depth of field. Most important, these comparisons continue to focus on static subjects. Put a flash on the DSLR and take photos of subjects that move and the results will be different. Anyone who ever tried to take pictures of their kids indoors with a cell phone would know it doesn't work well unless you ask them to sit as still as possible. I can take pictures indoors of my kids jumping in mid air with DSLR and get sharp images and capture them at the moment that I want. Cell phones are not there yet.

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