HTC One M9 vs iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5, Nexus 6, Lumia 930 blind camera comparison: vote here

Voting is now closed.

The day is February 19, 2013. HTC's Jason MacKenzie steps up on stage at an official HTC event to announce the company's latest and greatest smartphone. The smartphone in question is the HTC One, now referred to as the HTC one M7. Back then, it blew our minds with its outstanding design and premium sound quality, among other goodies in its feature arsenal. What didn't quite impress us, however, was its UltraPixel camera. The latter came with the promise to blow the competition out of the water, but in actuality, it lagged behind the cameras on most other flagship devices. Little changed with the HTC One M8 which also relied on an UltraPixel snapper. 

Today, some 2 years later, we have our hands on the HTC One M9, which swaps the UltraPixel cam in favor of a more traditional, 20MP camera. The snapper features an aperture of F/2.2, 27.8-millimeter focal length, a dual-tone LED flash, and a sensor size of 1/2.4" – respectable configuration, but nothing extraordinary by today's standards. Still, it is our duty to put the One M9's camera through its paces and see how it compares to the cameras on other flagship devices. But before we present you with our verdict, let's have a blind camera comparison, shall we?

In case you aren't familiar with our blind camera comparisons, here's what you're about to find below. We've captured six scenes under identical conditions using the HTC One M9 and five highly-acclaimed smartphones. These are the iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Nokia Lumia 930, and the Google Nexus 6. All we ask from you is to vote for the images you find best. Easy, right?

To eliminate bias of all levels, however, we're not going to reveal which phone in particular was used for capturing each photo. On top of that, we've shuffled the images for each scene – in other words, chances are that Photo A in Scene 1 and Photo A in Scene 2 were not taken using the same device. Practically, you have no clues to help you tell which of the six phones was used for a given picture. 

With this disclaimer out of the way, let's move on to the actual photos. The winner of this blind camera comparison will be announced in a few days.

Scene 1

It was noon when we took this shot – a well-illuminated scene that any flagship smartphone's camera should have no troubles capturing in great fidelity. Sure enough, all phones did a good job at capturing this particular scene, but which image do you like best?

Scene 1: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo A)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo B)
Lumia 930 (Photo C)
HTC One M9 (Photo D)
Galaxy S5 (Photo E)
Nexus 6 (Photo F)

Scene 2

Oh, boy. This scene was captured at sunset, and obviously, some of the phones had a different opinion than others as to how colors should be balanced. Which photo looks best? We're letting you be the judge of that.

Scene 2: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy S5 (Photo A)
Nexus 6 (Photo B)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo C)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo D)
HTC One M9 (Photo E)
Lumia 930 (Photo F)

Scene 3

This comparison would be incomplete without a night scene. So, here it is. Clearly, some phones allowed a more generous amount of light into the frame. 

Scene 3: Which photo do you like best?

HTC One M9 (Photo A)
Lumia 930 (Photo B)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo C)
Galaxy S5 (Photo D)
Nexus 6 (Photo E)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo F)

Scene 4

This bunch of photos goes to show that PhoneArena's team knows no sleep. The images also demonstrate how well the six phones perform while shooting close-ups. 

Scene 4: Which photo do you like best?

Nexus 6 (Photo A)
HTC One M9 (Photo B)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo C)
Lumia 930 (Photo D)
Galaxy S5 (Photo E)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo F)

Scene 5

This is a scene captured in the dark from a distance of 5 feet, and obviously, all phones had their flash enabled. Some illuminated the frame better than others. There are also differences in how much details have been preserved.

Scene 5: Which photo do you like best?

Lumia 930 (Photo A)
Galaxy S5 (Photo B)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo C)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo D)
Nexus 6 (Photo E)
HTC One M9 (Photo F)

Scene 6

And lastly, a shot taken indoors, with some artificial lightning providing illumination. This scene is suitable for judging how well the cameras handle low-light scenes, how well they handle noise, and how sharp of an image they can produce with the light that's available.

Scene 6: Which photo do you like best?

Galaxy Note 4 (Photo A)
Lumia 930 (Photo B)
HTC One M9 (Photo C)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo D)
Galaxy S5 (Photo E)
Nexus 6 (Photo F)



1. Busyboy

Posts: 733; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

Excited to see the outcome. And kudos for including the Lumina 930!

8. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

The Note 4 is probably gonna win like it's 5th blind test now.. good job Sammy!!!!

34. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

It just might, though the 930 and 1020 have won more ;) I think Sammy did a great job with the Note 4, but i still prefer my 930. I find it odd that on this site my eyes cant tell to much of a difference, perhaps its the way the photos are posted and shared. But when i shoot my phone vs say the z3 or note 4, i can pick it out. Especially when you have the full 19mp file or the 38mp file (in case of hte 1020)

37. faptastic

Posts: 65; Member since: Aug 19, 2014

It depends a lot on if it's a Lumia 930 with Denim or without. The difference is absolutely staggering on mine and in my humble opinion the Denim update puts the 930 at the top again. The Note4 is nice when it's all bright and shiney outside, but in all other cases the 930 wins for me. I personally dislike the OIS from the Note4, it looks and feels less polished.

43. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

The phone is not called Chevrolet Lumina, you know..

52. guitarch94

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 24, 2015

Honestly these comparisons are flawed, how do we know which picture is the most accurate representation of the actual scene? We need to compare it to a DSLR image otherwise this comparison thing is just all up to personal preference.

2. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Finally a LUMIA!!!

41. faptastic

Posts: 65; Member since: Aug 19, 2014

Let's hope they used Rich Capture (which is on by default) and Denim... Otherwise it's just a shame to use it with over a year old software.

3. mariow2015

Posts: 49; Member since: Jan 08, 2014

Some of these were honestly just a toss-up. All good camera phones.

7. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

no way, even toddler can easily pick which picture is good and bad.

4. zig8100

Posts: 243; Member since: Dec 13, 2012

I guess PA wont give up until the Note 4 loses or the Iphone 6 wins.

18. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

the 6 will never win lol

5. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Before voting, PLEASE take the time to look at the photos below the main ones, and scroll through them to see detail. Since we don't have a DSLR to compare to, you need to zoom in. For example, in photo 1 the popular option B poorly handles the texture of the fence behind the Nissan Altima, whereas F handles it pretty well. Same with the shutters on the house. Don't jump to conclusions!!!

9. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

The Note 4 already beat the DSLR too!!!

15. samurai_techie

Posts: 22; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Don't be a fanboy. When it comes to camera on mobile phone, nothing is suitable than Lumia 920 if you wanna compare to a DSLR.

19. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

You mean 1020?

26. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

Thats your opinion, and thats fine... but am just saying what happened, how am I being a fanboy?

28. EcoCare

Posts: 444; Member since: Jul 30, 2014

The DSLR used the RAW setting previously. Have it to JPEG Fine and it will blow all the smartphones.

40. DareDevil01

Posts: 65; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

Wait, isn't RAW suppose to be better?

47. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Yes when you post process and not throw it through a simple conversion and upload so people can see. When you capture a jpeg on the camera, the software is taking what it sees, filters it, applys sharpness saturation vibrance etc. When you do RAW, it doesnt do any of that. It allows you to go into photoshop etc and apply all that to get the image you want. Which usually tends to lend to much much better shots when you save the picture. Enough that you can get results like this...

51. DareDevil01

Posts: 65; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

Pretty amazing! I wouldn't expect anything less from Nokias amazing glass and sensors. Shooting RAW bypasses the 'hit or miss' auto white balance

6. geusan

Posts: 137; Member since: Oct 19, 2014

darker or brighter

10. mrej201

Posts: 226; Member since: Feb 04, 2015

note 4 ftw

11. EoRdE6

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

Wish you could have included the S6 in this, it could probably outperform all with its improved Note cam

12. TyrionLannister unregistered

Either Note 4 or lumia 930.

13. Symon_Fleece

Posts: 351; Member since: May 30, 2014

Great comparison, finally, they included a lumia phone. Why s5?, should be s6. Seems the note 4 will gonna win again. What phone that has a blue tint in the pictures?

14. samurai_techie

Posts: 22; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

No doubt LUmia 930 will dominate.

16. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

yeah, ready for surprise.

32. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I dont know about dominate. When shooting myself, i can tell my 930 from my friends note 4, but on PA i have a harder time picking them out. I would think i voted for the note 4 a few times here. Two great cameras. We should have a photo shoot madness. Instead of a free for all pic fest like this, have a bracket style, phone vs phone, and the winner moves forward. Make the handsets known, the picture known to each handset and the full file available to download for personal review. Give a day to vote then move on with the bracket. I think that would be more fun than this type test.

17. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

what phone is giving off the terrible blue hue in photo 2. note will probably win, know........its a boss

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