Sony Xperia X vs iPhone 6s: which has the better camera?

If in 1876 someone told Mr Alexander G. Bell that the telephones of the future would also take photographs, he would have probably laughed at their silly prediction. Yet here we are, 140 years later – everyone and their grandma now owns a phone with a camera. In fact, smartphones have long surpassed point-and-shoot cameras in popularity. That's likely why our smartphone camera comparisons draw the attention of so many of our readers and tend to spark heated discussions in the comments.

Today's camera comparison isn't likely to be any different. The star of the show is the Sony Xperia X – the company's latest leading phone. One of its key highlights is the 23MP main camera with super-fast autofocus, object tracking capabilities, and extra-wide field of view. Sounds great on paper, but its opponent, the iPhone 6s, is not one to be underestimated. Its 12MP camera is loved by millions of users for its ability to take great photos with ease, without the need to mess around with settings. 

Here's an overview of what these two phones have to offer in terms of camera specs:

Camera Specs
Sony Xperia XApple iPhone 6s
Resolution and
aspect ratio
23MP @ 4:3
5520 x 4140 pixels
12MP @ 4:3
4032 x 3024 pixels
Sensor and
pixel size
1.12 μm
1.22 μm
Focal length
and aperture
24 mm
29 mm
Focus and
Phase detection AF
Object tracking
Optical stabilization
Phase detection AF
Digital stabilization

It should be noted that while Xperia X boasts a 23MP camera sensor, we've taken the photos at 8MP of resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. This is the default shooting mode set on the device and the one most people are likely to use. Also, the slide-over galleries used below contain cropped-scaled down photos for easier general comparison. The original, full-resolution photos can be found in a gallery at the very bottom of this article. With all of this cleared up, let us comment on some photos.

Scene 1: Before the storm

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

Someone got really wet soon after they took these photos, but the view of the storm cloud stampede was worth the discomfort. Anyway, right from the start, it becomes clear that the two cameras may have a strikingly different way of "seeing" things. The Sony Xperia X has gone for a colder tone, which is actually fitting for this particular scene, while the iPhone leans on the warmer side, as it tends to do. Overall, the Xperia's image gets closer to reality, while the iPhone's photo appears a tad forced and artificial in tone. As far as detail quality goes, both cameras have captured plenty of it, allowing us to zoom in and explore the images from up close. 

Winner in Scene 1: Sony Xperia X

Scene 2: The flower shop

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

While it was pouring cats and dogs outside, we took shelter at a nearby store, and this flower stand made a great subject for our testing. At a glance, both photos look more than presentable, although we can't help leaning in favor of the iPhone's. Some of the highlights in the Sony Xperia X's photo are overblown, and detail isn't resolved as well. The latter is easily visible upon zooming in on the flowers. Overall, the difference in quality between the two images is slight, but we have to give this round to the iPhone.

Winner in Scene 2: iPhone 6s

Scene 3: Roses in the rain

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

Okay, we'll admit: we find great joy in taking photographs of pretty flowers. Here's another pair, this time taken from close-up range. We're glad to say that we have nothing to complain about, as both cameras have captured the image in great detail – zooming in for a closer look at the tiny droplets is a pleasure. Color accuracy is also spot-on, and we don't mind the slight boost in saturation visible in the iPhone's image. Furthermore, neither of the two cameras had troubles fixing the focus on the subject even though the breeze was rocking the rose back and forth.

Winner in Scene 3: Tie

The gallery below contains all of the photos used in this comparison – uncompressed, in their original resolution. On PCs, use double-click to zoom and the fullscreen option to get a closer look at the images.

Related phones

Xperia X
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 650, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2620 mAh(14h 3G talk time)
iPhone 6s
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Apple A9 APL0898, Dual-core, 1840 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1715 mAh(14h 3G talk time)



1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I think overall the iphone has the better camera. Keep it stupidly simple.

3. aegislash

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

No one would expect you, of all people, to think otherwise.

23. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

"It should be noted that while Xperia X boasts a 23MP camera sensor, we've taken the photos at 8MP of resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio." Why did Phonearena leave the Sony take 8mp photos, especially when it has a 23mp shooter? If someone is seriously going to try and take good pictures, then why would you leave the camera in 8mp. Shame on you phonearena. So what is the resolution of the iPhone photos that you used? Why didn't you ment that?

29. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

They did the same with Xperia Z5 and call it bad. Its a fact that Sony does much better when shooting on full resolution.

33. Ninetysix

Posts: 2964; Member since: Oct 08, 2012 "A particularly interesting part of the Xperia Z5 camera is the picture size, with Sony stating that the camera is a 23MP sensor but enabling the 8MP oversampling mode by default. Why did Sony do this? Simply put, the Xperia Z5 software isn’t optimised for the full 23MP mode. Instead, Sony have optimised it to take the ‘best’ images in the 8MP mode."

36. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

NinetySix in 23 mp mode its beat the crap out of the iphone 6S easily just scale them to 12 mpix so its same size and compare everything on the sony is superior. sure picture are bigger but everything is also better!

39. Ninetysix

Posts: 2964; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Thank you marorun. Please send your complaint to the androidauthority author.

44. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

No thanks as i said some website are biased. Androidauthority toward Samsung. Phone arena toward Iphone and to a lesser extend Samsung. Its life i guess. Just wanted to prove the point thats in 23 mpix its overall better.

62. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

money matters

51. PhoneFixer unregistered

All marketi g

56. Andrewtst

Posts: 696; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Never, Sony is bad since Xperia Z. I test Z5 in full resolution and seen so many sample, it is bad. Sony had no idea how to fine tune the camera software at all.

50. PhoneFixer unregistered

He did it on purpose..

10. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah right.. be happy because your favorite phone win a battle with some random mid-ranger in a contest that judged by iPhonearena, Congrats...

25. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Huawei mate 8 is also a good camera for the price. It's like a mid-priced lg 4 with bigger battery life.

26. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The processor looks mid range on paper because of its SD 650 name. However it's faster than a SD 808 Processor, it's GPU is even faster than the 808.

28. refillable

Posts: 1071; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

LOL. Just quit being an idiotic prick.

35. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

my Sony Z1 take better picture than this... Just put it in manual mode. No setting to change as Sony manual mode all option have an auto toggle so when you put them all in auto its will be like any other phone in auto. what manual mode change is resolution so the phone use the full potential of the sensor. My 8 mpix picture made in auto on my Z1 looked bad too but when using manual with all option in auto its still one of the best in fact its even better than S7 or G5 in many situation ( just a lots slower obviously so when its moving subject in high speed its cant focus as good ) but a good steady shot like most of those would given better result than both new sony handset in full auto ( 8 mpix ) and iphone 6S. Scale it to 12 mpix and compare.. Sony picture is cleaner , collor better , detail as well. but they tested it in the 23 mpix mode so basically manual but with all option on auto. I have no clue why they put this 8 mpix superior auto mode on sony device this alone give them a bad name because biased tech review website wont switch it to manual ( they will say ppl dont use manual well on sony phone everyone with a brain will put it in manual mode as all option you can change have an auto option! ) so end result is a great camera thats can easily beat the iphone end up as been worst.


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Well, using the picture compare tools on both phonearena and gsmarena, the Z5 generation take better photos than the X series. And what's with all the exaggeration in how some cameras are supposedly so much better than others? I put the S7, G5, and the Z5 on the tool and examined all three. They each showed better results than the others in different pictures and even in different parts of the same picture! Most of these cams are great. Stop arguing, people.

45. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

agreed. My point was only thats in the 8 mpix mode all Sony phone take crappy picture and by putting it in 23 mpix its take great pictures. Each have advantage and disadvantage but lets agree.. iphone 6S is not in thats class of device anymore its get beaten by every single one. PS: thanks for checking the link :)

2. dubaiboy78

Posts: 446; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Since this is iphonearena. My bet is 6s.

4. mimicryXD

Posts: 175; Member since: Apr 03, 2015

the photos taken in iphone 6s a bit warmer and the xperia x a bit bluish but i think xperia has a good photos overall

5. thegeneral7010

Posts: 437; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

I go to Sonys photoscuz they are much brighter.


Posts: 411; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Honestly Apple is just better which is sad because they use Sony camera. Only one can stand up to an apple and that's a Window. A window with the sun shinning through melting the apple. #windows 10 mobile one phone any display continuum drops mic.

31. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What's really sad is the intelligence of some people. Phonearena left the Xperia X in 8mp mode to take photos with a 23mp camera. So what resolution were the iPhone images taken at? Read carefully instead of making assumptions. You of all people should understand the meaning of assume.

37. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

go look at this and scale both to 12 mpix so its same size. Sony X beat the crap out of the iphone. They left it in 8mpix wich is a big mistake but i am sure its was done on purpose...

7. aegislash

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

They're both petty meh. Xperia's got too much blue and iPhone has too much yellow.

8. aegislash

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

*pretty Phonearena why is there no edit button on the mobile site yet

20. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Saw the xperia uncompressed files in my desktop. Got small blue tints but passable for me. I'm not feeling iphone's samples, shots are too warm for me.

38. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Also even those uncompressed files are 8mpix where the camera sensor is 23 mpix..

12. Hama22

Posts: 60; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

I think that the camera of the Xperia is decent enough for the X considering the price(it'll even get much cheaper in a couple of months just wait) but the problem is that unfortunately the X Performance has the exact same camera.

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