Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) vs Galaxy A5 (2016) vs Apple iPhone 6s: quick camera comparison

Samsung's new, 2016 Galaxy A series have arrived and we have the Galaxy A7 (2016 edition) and Galaxy A5 (2016) undergoing our testing. We were particularly curious to see how good are their cameras and to get a better idea, we compare them against each other and against the popular Apple iPhone 6s for reference.

The Galaxy A7 (2016) and Galaxy A5 (2016) are shockingly similar: both have the same stylish design, just differing slightly in terms of size as the A7 is the larger, 5.5" phone, while the A5 has a 5.2" display. 

In terms of camera specs, the two are also identical: both have a 13-megapixel main camera with the same firmware version, the same, wide f/1.9 lens, both have optical image stabilization (OIS), and even the selfie cameras are the same, 5-megapixel sensors.

We were particularly curious to see if this similarity results in equally similar photos and how they compare against one of the best camera phones on the market, the iPhone 6s.

General impressions

After shooting for a few days in various conditions with both new Galaxies, there is one key conclusion: the Galaxy A7 (2016) and Galaxy A5 (2016) have identical cameras. We could not find any meaningful difference in image quality between the two among all of our videos and images, so we'll just conclude that the A7 (2016) and A5 (2016) use one and the same camera.

And it's a pretty fast and good camera. The Quick Launch shortcut (double click the home screen) to launch the camera works wonders for those impromptu moments. The camera menu is the same as in the Galaxy S6 and Note 5: with no fluff and convenient separate buttons for video and image capture, as well as a comfortably placed in the bottom button to switch between the front and rear cameras.

Quick image quality comparison

#1: Mermaids

The first image we look at is a statue of two mermaids in the park. The Samsung Galaxy A5/A7 does not capture a bad image per se, but it looks a bit washed out and bland. The highlights are also blown out of proportion. The Apple iPhone 6s, in comparison, captures a much more dynamic image that is more interesting to look at. It preserves the highlights better, while the whole image is a bit darker. It's also interesting that the iPhone goes all the way down to ISO 25, while the Galaxy shoots at ISO 80.

#2: Copernicus

The second image is of another statue, this time of Nicolaus Copernicus, on a natural background with the sky also coming in the frame. The Galaxy captures a very good looking image with natural colors that are close to the ones in reality. The iPhone goes for the more impactful image: colors are more saturated than they were in real-life, but while not completely realistic, the image looks more punchy and the blue sky looks gorgeous, while that nice blue color is nowhere to be seen on the Galaxy.

#3: Closeup on a tungsten lamp

We wanted to share this closeup because the lamp looked so mesmerizing in real life. At the near pitch black conditions of this club, the Galaxy has a hard time focusing on it and gets the colors grossly wrong (we shot this particular image at 16:9 aspect ratio, it was the default setting for the phone). The iPhone, on the other hand, focused quickly and captured a stunning image with a lot of detail, but most importantly - it preserved those colors as we saw them there.

#4: At the bar

Another challenging scene was the bar. Even though the Galaxy seemed to be in focus, on a big screen it's obvious that it missed the focus here. The iPhone captures a sharper, more pleasing image. That's particularly interesting because the Galaxy has optical stabilization, while the iPhone does not, yet the iPhone was able to shoot at ISO 640 and a neat 1/17 shutter speed, while the Galaxy picked ISO 1250 at shutter speed of just 1/8 second, which was a disaster in terms of blurring.

#5: Let me take a selfie

Finally, the inevitable selfie. There is one very clear difference between the two and it's not the resolution: it's the field of view. The Galaxy captures much wider selfies, so that you can easily fit your friends for that perfect shot, but when you are taking a selfie of just yourself (duh!), then you can't quite fit the frame unless you shoot from very up close. The iPhone has a narrower field of view that is better fit for pictures of your self, but it's hard to fit more people. The colors are also different: the Galaxy has a more natural color expression, while the iPhone has clearly oversaturated colors. You pick your favorite.

Quick video quality comparison

When it comes to video recording, the Galaxy A7 (2016) and A5 (2016) can only capture 1080p video at 30fps, while the iPhone 6s is capable of recording in 4K.

That's a huge difference: the 4K iPhone video results in much sharper looking footage than the Galaxies, and it's something that you notice even when viewing the videos on a 1080p display.

Our initial impressions are that the iPhone has much wider dynamics and is able to deal much more effectively with challenging conditions. When the sun shines in front of the camera, the iPhone camera does not overblow the highlights and manages to deliver balanced footage, while the Galaxy is a good, but not excellent performer: it does get occasionally tricked and washes out highlights, or cannot preserve detail in the shadows to a huge extent.

Take a look at the camera samples from the Galaxy A7 (2016), Galaxy A5 (2016) and the Apple iPhone 6s right below, and stay tuned for our full review, where we will be able to give you our final conclusion on the camera quality.



1. TyrionLannister unregistered

Another pointless comparison of comparing a midrange phone to a high-end one. Clearly these phones weren't meant to compete with iPhone 6S. These phones will drop to below 350$ in a month or two and we will see how stupid this comparison will look then. That being said, these phones seem to have pretty bad snappers. I guess Note 4 or S5 grade camera module will be pretty cheap by now. They should have ditched the fancy OIS and high-aperture lens and should have focused on core optics like sensors and lens quality.

2. xocomaox

Posts: 201; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

Add to it the fact that it does not help to leave out a baseline photo taken with a professional camera.

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7569; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

This is so dumb. How about showing us an iPhone at half price. Does Apple make a device like that? No, of course not. But even the iPhone 6/6s should be much cheaper. Especially since Apple only puts a HD 1334x750 display on their device. Yet the A7 and A5 come with a Full HD display 1920x1080 at half the price of an iPhone 6/6s. What a joke. No wonder why Apples sales went flat.

23. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Apple just had their best quarter yet with 74 million iPhones sold and Apple sales are flat? LOL you're terrible at trolling.

33. phonearenarocks

Posts: 607; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

Would have been very interesting to see if S6/Note 5 pictures are also included just for reference.

13. Guaire

Posts: 893; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Not pointless at all. It shows the gap between tiers for better or worse. Midrange is a loosy term using for too wide range of devices. As long as it hasn't been using as a way to bashing significantly cheaper one it might be useful for some people out there considering saving some money. Likewise Chinese flagships vs premium midrange, Chinese flagships vs flagships from well known brands might be useful too. Not to mention comparison with previous generation flagships. Though it might be pointless for the people ready to spend $650+ for a phone.

14. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I agree. But the specs of the iPhone make it a mid-ranger. I am wondering what settings changes did they make? I am asking because the iPhone typically doesn't take over-saturated pictures like Samsung typically does. Also the first 2 images looked fine from the Galaxy phones as the colors in both were more natural. The iPhone make the dirt look like dark grey/black when dirt is typically brownish in color. The picture with the bulb was crappy for both. as usual, when the iPhone sees light in a photo, it exaggerates how bright it actually is with terrible white balance settings by default. It appears the light wasn't bright enough to get the photo and the iPhone make the photo unrealistically bright. They both sucked at that one and neither is better than the other. To the tester/writer. If 2 phones take a crappy photo, stop trying to make it seem the phone you like took a better photo. A crappy photo is crappy period. The light bulb shot was s**t on both cameras. The bar shot. The iPhone shot is to dark but sharper. The galaxy shot was more natural looking but appeared less sharp. Sharper isn't better vs more natural. I mean that is how you guys bias-ly rate the S/Note vs the iPhone...right? I mean the S and Note take sharper over-saturated photos and it is painted as con with Samsung, but here you are admitting and showing the iPhone doing exactly the same and yet you're saying it better. Again open hypocrisy by PA! BUSTED YET AGAIN! Selfie. Assuming you're from another country, it looks liek your skin is naturally void of color. The iPhone makes you look like you are wearing yellow makeup to give yourself skin tone, while the Galaxy makes you look like one of the 4 horsemen who rides the pale horse who;s rider is paler than that. The galaxy appears to be more color accurate, but again sacrifices sharpness. Are you even letting the camera focus? How long does it take to focus? Is it slow? Because the iPhones' focus isnt all that fast. My Note 5 focuses faster than either iPhone and so does the S6 which I can prove in a video on a stick where the iPhone takes about a couple blinks longer to focus. Also you mention shutter and ISO. Did you alter setting on either phone? Also as Tyrion said, you've comparing two phones that honestly both have crappy 12MP cameras. The difference is, Samsung has never put a crappy camera in the S or Note. They save those for the phones like you have now, while Apple did this model of the iPhone. I call this one a draw. The issue is in pure honesty and I like Samsung over Apple any day. But all the phones took crappy pictures. Even Samsung's typical over-saturated photos on the S/Note don't look ugly and dark. Sorry but all 3 suck equally. yet you tried to claim the iPhone did better. Look at the bar shot. Yes the photo is sharper, but as close as you are, you cant read nothing on the bottles. The Galaxy was blurry, same results. LAME!

34. Clars123

Posts: 1079; Member since: Mar 16, 2015

Jesus mahn!!!! Chill!!!!!!

17. AlikMalix unregistered

It proves a valid point, because haters keep comparing iPhones as a midrange because "specs" - when in fact it's results are high-end when compared to a rannge of phones either with speed, real world use, battery, or cameras. Apple just knows how to utilize hardware better because it has the ability to built its own software I lie android manufacturers who have to rely on third party software and work from there. Basically here's an iPhone that you claim is mid range - and here are mid range and they're not the same.

29. TyrionLannister unregistered

iPhone is anything but a midrange product. All components used in it are high-grade and usually class-leading.

30. uzimafioso

Posts: 469; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

Except external speakers or displays (what you see and hear). For that go for an X Pure. I wish HTC doesn't ditch BoomSound speakers.

27. Predator-X

Posts: 44; Member since: Jan 07, 2016

Parena Jesus christ AGAIN why u have to stick that boring iphone everywhere in s battles? Why? Why? Why? Stop being such COWARD site.. it ia so obvious you only promoting apple and you look pathetic and naive only.!

28. Predator-X

Posts: 44; Member since: Jan 07, 2016

They do it on purpose to show for stupid ppl that iphone wins so they will buy rather that these speculative articles where they never endlessly sticking iphone everywhere is just to black other android phones make them crap This is nothing just instituting, missguiding and missleading articles for the sake off ape (apple) Parena is highly paid for articles such this

32. phonearenarocks

Posts: 607; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

Leaves us a question if A9 is using the same camera ---- the price might be really close to that of iPhone(atleast in USA, it might be much less in other countries) ---- this quality of pictures might not be good enough.

4. TBomb

Posts: 1660; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Samsung had a bright blue feel about it. Apple had a dark yellow feel about it.

6. Adimane01

Posts: 20; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

Don't know but night shots of A7 and A5 looks impressive in front of iphone and even the Selfies have wider FoV. Day light photos are quite over exposed. It can be understood from the sky color and don't know how the lamp looked like in dark so can't give the opinion

9. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Obviously iphone will look better, I could say that even without having the phones. We shall see during a proper shootout with that upcoming 12MP goliath

10. wando77

Posts: 1168; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

Seen as the galaxy s6 ready takes better snaps than the iPhone 6s I think we already know the answer

11. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Sorry this is just crap, this needed to go up next iPhone 6 or iPhone 5s as they are the lower priced iPhones

12. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2275; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

The iPhone reproduces warmer and less washed out photos compared to Samsung.

15. senseiJ

Posts: 172; Member since: May 02, 2015

Wouldn't it be better when you guys compare the photos taken by a5/a7 and s6/n5 ? So we'd see the difference between samsungs mid range and flagship phones.

16. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

So it looks like Samsung went for a more natural look with this sensor, and ended up taking photos like how iPhone have always taken photos...with a color-wash cycle. But in the first 2 photos, at least on the Samsung, the greens and blues looked more natural vs the over-saturated Samsung typical color balnce we now see being mimic'd in the iPhone. Am curious as to how he made the iPhone camera take a photo this way because it isnt even close too iPhone-normal. For the Galaxies, for cameras that have a 1.9 aperture lens, this seems like very crappy photos. Could this mean that a higher aperture on a larger sensor is a bad idea? I mean the S/Note cameras are also 1.9, have OIS and are only 3MP better. Unless this is a really lame sensor from Sony. Even the Galaxy S4 took better pictures than this 3 years ago. I want to know if the guy changed the settings on the Galaxy, because you can't change them on the iPhone last time I checked.

24. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

Nice observation Tech, i'm bit confused as seeing how many reviews keep saying 6S camera is natural & S6/Note 5 tend to be overly-saturated. It's obvious Samsung produce more natural image now, gone their typical color balance cuz they are more like older iPhones (which to be honest i didn't like). In this comparison i'd say the 6S produce more pleasing image, good dynamic range, and a bit more contrast.

19. dimas

Posts: 3418; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

I'd pick the a5's front selfie, if not for the wrong color on tungsten lamp, I'd say a5 camera is much better. Other than that, it's good to see samsung's midrange phones are getting much better and more fit to their asking price. Waiting for a3 2016 review.

22. iLovesarcasm

Posts: 589; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

I like A5 and A7, but I think I should buy Note 5.

25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

showdown between midranger :D

31. SkyfallWalker

Posts: 73; Member since: Jan 28, 2016

They all did a fantastic job

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