Camera comparison: Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S III vs HTC One X vs Nokia Lumia 900

After pitting four of the biggest stars in the smartphone world right now against one another in our web browsing and display comparisons, we’re once again taking the quartet on yet another worthwhile comparison to proclaim the best of the best in the camera-taking department. At the center of all the commotion, is none other than newest member of the crew, the Apple iPhone 5, which so happens to be armed with an 8-megapixel iSight camera that features an improved backside illuminated sensor and an F2.4 aperture lens. Certainly, it proved its worth in an array of shooting situations during our review of the handset, but this time, we’re delving deeper to meticulously compare its results against some its formidable competitors.

As for the devices taking aim to show their worth over Apple’s pride and joy, we have the Samsung Galaxy S III with its 8-megapixel camera with an F2.6 lens, the HTC One X outfitted with an 8-megapixel camera with F2.0 lens, and the Nokia Lumia 900’s 8-megapixel snapper with F2.2 lens. Although they all share the same megapixel count, we all know by now that it doesn’t carry much weight in terms of overall quality, but rather, there are numerous factors that are needed to come together to deliver the best shots. Without further wait folks, let’s check out how they stack up against one another!


Surprisingly enough, we have to admit that all four handsets deliver the goods in the detail department, as they’re all capable of showing enough fine details throughout the shots – and without much degradation between foreground and background subjects. However, the HTC One X seems to have just a bit of over-sharpening with its shots, which simply results in a allowing a little more substance to stand out with its details. Aside from that, it’s actually almost indiscernible to the naked eye to tell which of the four is the best as we look at the overall pictures. Therefore, it’s the HTC One X nudging out a slight finish, while the others seemingly come up in a three-way tie for second.

Color Reproduction:

Naturally, it’s one thing to look at the images on their respective displays, but it’s totally another thing as we preview them all on a computer’s display – and with that, we’re better able to compare and contrast their color reproductions. Now this is where it becomes interesting, mainly because the results are all over the spectrum, especially more when various lighting conditions affect their white balance.

Specifically, the iPhone 5 is able to adapt to a range of situations, as it’s able to produce colors that are natural in tone for the most part – albeit, it can sometimes casts colors that are warmer. Likewise, the Samsung Galaxy S III plays nicely as well by coughing up colors that are intimately close to the iPhone 5, but it’s more natural than anything else. Meanwhile, the HTC One X’s colors might look very appealing due to its noticeably warmer color tones, which usually has a yellowish hue to its shots. And unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 900 stutters in its performance, since it has a tough time trying to adjust its white balance. In fact, colors are extremely dull with its tones.



1. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Again..... why not wait for the 920, thn do the comparison -_-"

22. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

It's the only thing the 5 can win before the 920's camera comes out to trounce everything in its path. That said, what version of the 900 was being used? And did it have the camera software up to date (that is, with the "Camera Extras" Nokia update installed)? I noticed quite a significant difference after updating to Tango and having the software up to date. While it may not have changed the rankings, the 900 could have held its own better, presuming the test phone wasn't up to date.

37. darkkjedii

Posts: 31769; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Excuses excuses excuses lol

52. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

No, just wanting a level playing field. As I said, the Lumia would still likely wind up in 4th, but not as easily.

129. amir1975

Posts: 22; Member since: Aug 18, 2012

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||​|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| B I A S E D ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||​|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Another Biased Article about iPhone 5, there is no mention and either tests about situations which makes "Purple Halo" defect in iPhone 5's photos and make them really incomparable with rivals. sad to say that new iPhone is a faulty product. But they have to sell their flawed phone to Naive customers, no way just exaggeration.

136. darkkjedii

Posts: 31769; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Thank u

155. meowcenary

Posts: 187; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

So lens flare(s) are bad and a flaw of my devices? Shooting with a dslr, point and shoot, and HTC Radar 4g I get it from time to time, though not a Jimmy Hendrix type purple haze. If that is the case, maybe I should file a class action against Nikon, Canon, and HTC with what you are saying?

178. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

There seems to be no discussion of why this Purple Haze may be more prominent on the iPhone 5. Some have argued the refractive properties of the Saffire protective glass may be the culprit. Others have mentioned a particular lens coating may be the issue. What about the distance between the optics and the protective lens? This is a very thin phone. Any shrowding from direct sunlight would be minimal with such a thin device because the lens group is not set as far back in the camera body. Note that some companies are selling little rubber rings to shrowd the lens unit (for over 20 dollars a pop!). I don't know if any or all of these elements are contributers, but the effect is well noted at this time. Maybe this is just one downside to having an ultra thin phone?

160. KFear

Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Man. That is a good camera on the iphone. Still happy with the S3's lens however

161. KFear

Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

I'm an Android fan all the way...but your comment is terrible. At our sales location we haven't been able to duplicate the purple halo defect. We've been some customer's photos that might have it, but it's not so easy to tell as the light condition has to be just right. It REALLY hasn't been so much of an issue for the iphone. I think the pictures from the iphone in this article did look best, for the most part. you just have to look at the photos. you are borderline trolling

179. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

Probably difficult to duplicate the effect inside a mall.

69. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Let's get real here...920 is not out yet, so let's leave that out of the question. I'm really not sure if John is comparing the cameras or the phones! He got the top-notch from Apple, HTC, Samsung but a mid-notch from Nokia. Why not 820? Everyone below has asked and i am asking it too. Everyone knows Lumia 900 won't stand a chance among the other 3. I'm not saying it's a bad camera-phone, but it's not the best from Nokia, camera wise. Again, an unfair comparison. I guess he don't want to see iPhone fall...sorry John, you made me say this.

88. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Sorry, i meant 808... John, try that for the love of mango, banana, cherry and coconut.

158. deathyyy

Posts: 101; Member since: Dec 20, 2011

How many people are going to go buy a new 808 right now though? The 900 is definitely Nokia's "flagship" device.

169. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Do you see any comparison for flagship devices here?? Or who's going to buy what? PA is comparing the cameras here the article, or atleast read the headline before you place a comment on a comment.

182. deathyyy

Posts: 101; Member since: Dec 20, 2011

Uh, yes I do, as each of these phones is each manufacturer's flagship device. Maybe you should work on your reading comprehension skills.

93. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

"this article also shows a lack of journalistic integrity to deliberately avoid investigating a known issue and ignoring it completely." iphonearena.

113. maier9900

Posts: 272; Member since: Dec 17, 2011

oh man... !

187. maier9900

Posts: 272; Member since: Dec 17, 2011

Every since the iphone 4s came out with a wonderful camera on its back, no other phone beats it to date (i don't care what u say). And now the iphone 5 came out with the same 8mp camera as the iphone 4s (if u didn't know) with the only change being on the outside on the back of the phone. They changed the outside glass on the back with some sapphire crystal kind of thing. But other than that is the same camera as in the iphone 4s and still nobody can compete with it. It's been over a year...

25. MeoCao unregistered

Do GS3, One X and 920 have "Purple Glare feature" like iPhone 5? I guess not so iPhone 5 wins as it has at least 1 more feature than the rest LOL.

39. BillyG

Posts: 305; Member since: Sep 24, 2012

try to pic against the sun with your GS3, One X and 920 (later), i bet they get that glare too, tried with my canon camera, i got those glare too even though its not that purple.

41. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

It is admited by Apple that there is such problem like a "Purple Haze". "iPhone: Camera image effects"

46. BillyG

Posts: 305; Member since: Sep 24, 2012

yup, it clearly stated : Most small cameras, including those in EVERY generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. and people just notice it in iPhone 5.., imagine that..

49. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

"tried with my canon camera, i got those glare too even though its not that purple." And thats part of the point. Someone posted a site that compared the iPhone 4S to the 5, and anyone could clearly see the same was purple on the 4S, but it wasnt that purple on the 4S. But....Night Shots in this article clearly show the purple issue on the iPhone 5 vs the other phones in the 2nd n 3rd row of shots. Didnt even need the sun. The other phones had the same result as my RAZR.....white or yellow halo, not purple.

54. No_Nonsense unregistered

Glares are normal but a purplish one isn't.

59. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Two different devices in the same conditions! "Apple iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3 (Camera Test)" Download link for original pictures and video examples you can find in the description. As I have stated in my comment #19, I think that iPhone 5 shots relatively good pictures just "Purple Halo" effect ruin everything.

67. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Looking at that YouTube clip, starting at the 2: 56 mark, shows the iPhone 5 with purple halo issue while the GS3 doesnt have it.. Same lighting and shooting conditions. At some point....ppl will just have to accept is what it is. I dont think the purple halo ruins, but it can be seen in certain instances.

71. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Check download link in the description, you will find original photos and videos, check photo with roof window, light through roof window is also "purpled" while Samsung Galaxy III photo doesn't have it.

90. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

exactly. its pure apple fanboyism by PA.

26. dr_fajardo12

Posts: 134; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

when 920 comes out in november phonearena will make a camera comparision. the 900 is the nokia flagship right now, so need to be against it. but still a little biased this comparision, where's the 808?, we need to see how well the iphone 5 is against the best cameraphone on the market wheres sony's phones?, the note 2? etc..

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