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Smartphone camera comparison: you choose the winner (Results)

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Smartphone camera comparison: you choose the winner (Results)
Judging the quality of the camera on a smartphone is no easy task – you got to step in our shoes over the course of last two weeks when we gave you outdoor and indoor blind tests of three high-end smartphones and a digital camera, and finally the results are in. You already know the terms of the polls – we stripped down all data about the images to get rid of bias and judge solely the quality. The devices we chose aren't necessarily the best cameraphones out there, but our goal here was to give you an impression about the photo capture quality on some of the most popular ones.

We picked some of the hottest phones out there: the Samsung Galaxy S II (appearing as Device 4 in the outdoor test and Device A indoors), the iPhone 4 (dubbed Device 2 and Device D), and the HTC Sensation (known as Device 1 and Device B). The digital camera we used was the Canon PowerShot SD870 IS (Device 3 and Device C), an 8.0-megapixel point-and-shooter released in 2007.

Galaxy S II
iPhone 4
Sensation
PowerShot SD870 IS

Galaxy S II

iPhone 4

Sensation

PowerShot SD870 IS



Outdoor test results:

Overall picture quality test
100% crop detail test

Overall picture quality test

100% crop detail test



The first question we wanted to answer was: “Can a contemporary high-end smartphone perform on par with a common point-and-shoot camera?” The results give a negative answer – the digicam swiped competition away in outdoor tests, but the advantage was most obvious indoors with artificial light or nearly no light at all. We'd like to give props to our user emmarbee who was the only one who managed to approximate the used devices in the first test.

With that said, though, there are three smartphones left fighting for the second spot. In our outdoor test, you ranked the iPhone 4 first among them with a combined total of 1975 votes. The HTC Sensation was a close runner-up, while the Samsung Galaxy S II ended up last.

You can check out the images from our outdoor test again here.


Indoor test results:

Overall picture quality test
100% crop detail test

Overall picture quality test

100% crop detail test



When it comes to our indoor blind test, things looked very differently. An unanimous decision pin-pointed the digital camera as the best performer again, but this time nearly equally eloquent was the people's vote against the iPhone 4. The handset failed to capture adequate images in some of the cases with colors looking unnatural when the LED flash fired. Although the HTC Sensation easily grabbed the second place here, there was a close fight in the strictly detail-centric department, where it managed to slightly edge the Galaxy S II.

With a nearly forensic fever, jiezel91 rationalized about the devices we've used in the second test and deserved a special mention for the way they reached the conclusion that device C is a digital camera. This is just one example of your brilliant analysis, and we were particularly happy with your comments, so we extend our humble thanks to all of you who chimed in the discussion.

You can check out the images from our indoor test again here.

Conclusion:

So, it turns out most of you did find the iPhone 4 a better cameraphone compared to Android powerhouses such as the Galaxy S II and Sensation in the daylight test. Not once have there been negative comments with regards to how the iPhone performs, but it has now come out on top of this comparison, thanks to your votes.

We give credit where it's due. That's why we should note the excellence demonstrated by the Sensation when it comes to shots taken in low-lit, indoor conditions. HTC's offering proved that it's a much better solution for such scenarios, compared to the iPhone 4 and Galaxy S II. Actually, if we have to average all the results from the outdoor and indoor tests, it appears that the HTC Sensation performs best from all three phones, being a relatively close runner-up outdoors, and an undisputed leader indoors.

Finally, it has become clear from your votes that even one of the hottest smartphones out there are still pretty far from being as capable as dedicated point-and-shoots are. We can compromise to an extent of course, that's why some of us are already willing to leave their cameras at home, but if we have to judge pure quality, it's evident that cell phone manufacturers still have a long road ahead of them.

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