Phones with the fastest cameras in 2015


By now, you must have seen the various camera comparisons that show the differences in camera quality (if you haven't, here is the one we did when the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launched and another one we did upon the launch of the Galaxy S6), but there is one specific and very important metric that is not often in the limelight: camera speed.

After all, even the greatest camera is of no use if it's not fast enough to capture that moment you want to photograph (cough, Nokia Lumia 1020, cough).

That's why it's important to know not only the details around image quality, but also - the camera speed. In order to test this, we have developed our own simple testing method: we place the phone on a tripod, open the camera app and shoot a picture from the same distance, and we do this multiple times until we feel that we have a very accurate average speed for the camera of that particular gadget. Naturally, we've done this test for all the major phones released in 2015, so it's time to look at the results and see who's winning when it comes to being the fastest on the block. Take a look at the results right below, shown in seconds.

The time needed to start the camera app, focus, take a pic and save it.

sec Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s
1.7
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
1.6
Samsung Galaxy S6
2.2
Samsung Galaxy Note5
2.1
LG G4
2.7
HTC One M9
3.75
HTC One A9
3.1
LG V10
2.7
Sony Xperia Z5
3
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)
2
Motorola Moto G (2015)
3.4
Google Nexus 5X
2.8
Google Nexus 6P
2.2
Microsoft Lumia 950
3.5
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
2

One thing is immediately clear: the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are winning by a large margin: in fact, they are nearly twice as fast to capture an image than equally high-profile phones like the Sony Xperia Z5 and HTC One M9.

The second thing worth noting is that Samsung is trailing close behind: its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 are just a split second slower than Apple's offerings. What's interesting here, though, is that in real-life situations, we've found that capturing an image on a Samsung phone might be even faster than these results show (and faster than on an iPhone). Why? Simple: Quick Launch. The double-click shortcut to start the camera is extremely useful and easy to get accustomed to, so often times, you would be able to start the camera while pulling the phone out of your pocket, without even looking at the screen. This is an important advantage and one that the iPhone cannot fully match.

There are two other phones worth mentioning when it comes to camera speed. First, the Moto X Pure 2015 edition is the surprise in this test: a $400 phone, much cheaper than the competition, it manages to score excellent camera speeds that are above and beyond its class of devices. Second: the Nexus 6P. The universally praised 5.7" aluminum slab not only features an absolutely stunning camera with a super-large new Sony sensor, it is also zippy. Just like Samsung, the new Nexus line also supports a double-click shortcut (you double click the power/lock key) to start the camera without looking at the phone.

With all these results laid out neatly in the table above, it's clear to see the differences between the most important phones of 2015. Since we've been doing this exact test for more than a year, though, we can also look at the improvement that we've seen in camera speed over the years. Here is how much faster smartphone cameras have become in a wider historical perspective.

The time needed to start the camera app, focus, take a pic and save it.

sec Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s
1.7
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
1.6
Samsung Galaxy S6
2.2
Samsung Galaxy Note5
2.1
LG G4
2.7
Apple iPhone 6
1.9
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1.93
Apple iPhone 5s
3
Apple iPhone 5
2.7
Samsung Galaxy S5
2.5
Samsung Galaxy S4
3.4
Samsung Galaxy Note4
2.8
Samsung Galaxy Note3
2.7
LG G3
2.7
LG G2
4
Nokia Lumia 1020
10
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
2

Good news is that this benchmark shows that smartphone makers are making noticeable improvements even in this little aspect of the camera experience. Here's to hoping we jump one step further in camera speed in 2016!

Note: You can always refer to our dedicated PhoneArena Benchmarks page to see all of the benchmark results for all the phones that we have tested!

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