Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Sony Xperia Z3, LG G3, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3


Rememeber the last time you used one of those basic, point-and-shoot cameras? It must have been a while if you own a phone with a good camera on it. That's the case for millions of folks and it comes as no surprise – most modern high-end smartphones take quality photos, as our numerous camera tests and comparisons have shown.

Today we bring you another of our camera comparisons, and the star of the show is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It is a phone with plenty of potential as far as photography is concerned – with a 16MP snapper and optical image stabilization, it impressed us greatly when we took it through the review hurdles. Our readers favored it as well in a recent blind camera comparison. Now, however, will it stand its ground in a full-on camera comparison against 6 other heavyweights?

We've chosen to compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 against some of its biggest rivals, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. We've also invited the Sony Xperia Z3 and the LG G3 to the party. In addition, we feel obliged to put Samsung's own Galaxy S5 and last year's Galaxy Note 3 in the ring as well. Here's what all these phones have to offer in terms of specs.


As we know from experience, Samsung's recent phones have this general tendency of producing images with a colder color tone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, however, is rather different. Color accuracy in its images is spot-on, with colors being neither warm, nor cold. Also, the sky's shade of blue, which is usually hard for a smartphone camera to represent faithfully, is reproduced very close to its real-life hue. As far as saturation goes, colors are vivid, but not overblown.

Hardly a surprise, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus perform well in this category. Like the case is with the Note 4, colors in their images are lively and eye-pleasing, but never too saturated. We're noticing a slightly warm tone in them – it is more pronounced in some scenes, but barely noticeable in others – but we're okay with that slight imbalance.

Photos from the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 exhibit a slightly cold-ish tone, but this is only noticeable in some of the photos that we took. Color saturation is slightly boosted, giving the images a more lively look.

Similarly, a colder tone is noticeable in the LG G3's images, but it tends to be a bit more pronounced. Whether you'll notice it or not depends on the kind of scene. Either way, it isn't likely to bother you, unless you're very picky about image quality.

The Sony Xperia Z3 has a somewhat different approach to color reproduction. Colors in its photos are neutral to washed out, and we find them lacking in saturation. There's a coldness to them as well.



1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2279; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

No Lumias? Oh, right. No professionals allowed. Hats off to Note 4.

2. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Give it a rest already.

100. Damo579

Posts: 266; Member since: May 18, 2013

Sorry PapaSmurf but they should include a Lumia in these comparisons. If not the 1020 then the 1520.

118. GalaxyS5

Posts: 430; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

lol. they're dead. no one buys these. over 70% of the lumia sales comes from the low end, then count the midrange .. what remains for the high end? and your profile picture? wow lol you're so 2005

132. NFSHesham

Posts: 297; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

Nope they aren't

19. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Well the Note 4 is the overall champ. I don't get how it scored so low in night shots but whatever. I think it can take better night shots than those. Also is it me or did the S5 come back with a vengeance from the last camera comparison? Now we need the Nexus 6 in this comparison.

32. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

37. Awalker

Posts: 1982; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

PA can only go by the pictures they took. Who knows what someone else did?

48. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

Who knows what PA did?

50. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Reason is crappy superior auto function. I use Google Camera on the Z3 and it takes almost as good as the lumia phones... almost. Also no app or phone beats Google Camera panorama. I use Camera FV-5 for pro shots (high shutterspeed, metering, bracketing etc) and google camera for regular and pro shots

56. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Sample pictures with Google Camera if anyone is interested Note that I focused on the big building in the center

108. bobox

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 03, 2014

To: bur60 you post 2 photos of z3 comact color tone is purplish and reddish that is the feature of sony z serial

51. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Going by that video the Sony Xperia Z3 is way better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. But in Phonearena tests the Sony Xperia Z3 performs consistently worse than the competition. Am I missing something here? :S

70. sherkhan

Posts: 35; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

its because PA is using Auto Mode In Xperia Z3...One can easily say it bcz of the aspect ratio of photos took by Z3 i.e. 16:9 bcz Z3 takes pictures in 4:3 in Manual Mode .. Sony Xperia Z3 is a professional camera phone just like 1020 ...just like DSLR's take average quality pics in Auto Mode same is the case with Z3

88. proto

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

No offense, but: 1. but no camera on any phone is professional. 2. if you have to tweak settings in difficult manner to archieve great result... something is wrong. 3. Everyone will use superior auto on Xperia bcs most people will get worse results when they will try their own settings. IT is hard to set things right in different enviroment every time... and it takes time.

72. sherkhan

Posts: 35; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

PA is just biased towards Samsung ... Sony Xperia Z3 is capable of capturing DSLR Quality Pictures on Manual Mode... PA Just need to hire some Good Photographers who know how to manually Set the Camera instead of just capturing on Auto Mode

135. nopoint

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 02, 2014

Absolutely correct. As a professional photographer (magazine / journalism, fine art, etc), using the z3 in iauto which downsamples the photo into 8mp is a true injustice to what it can do. The term for what is being done is "binning " which combines pixels together to produce a single pixel. This will obviously decrease image quality. The z3 has a significantly larger sensor than any of the others. It is almost comical to compare this review to that of an actual photography site like dpreview or benchmarking done on DxO. Please, if you are incapable of evaluating a camera, don't assume that you can evaluate a camera phone. Thanks, -Mark

89. Lememurilo

Posts: 50; Member since: Oct 13, 2014

This video is a lie on youtube there are several other videos on the Note 4 humbles Z3, Accept, Note 4 is way better than crap Z3.

96. pitzy

Posts: 42; Member since: May 15, 2014

by the time that video is uploaded the note IV wasn't even released! the uploader used photos in the name of the note IV. is ridiculous how is trying to show that the z3 has a better camera but here it ended in last place..

41. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

I thought Note 4's night photos are way nicer. The problem is the metering, easily can be fixed with EV. PA intended to show how "good" iPhones are with strong source of light in low light. However, iPhone always makes the night photo darker to keep the detail. In other scene it's just ugly.

113. slimafool513

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

The low light sensitivity in most samsung phones lags and is some times slow to capture pics due to the samsung software that's used in the camera app. So they always score samsung devices lower in low light or night shots.

110. Industriality

Posts: 131; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

I think they are comparing recent flagships, not old phones. Lumia remains the best I think, but N4 really kicks ass.

119. GalaxyS5

Posts: 430; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

what is a lumia? never seen any .. why?

3. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

PA, logic in color accuracy: iPhone 6: 'We're noticing a slightly warm tone in them – it is more pronounced in some scenes' Galaxy S5: 'Photos from the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 exhibit a slightly cold-ish tone, but this is only noticeable in some of the photos that we took' So iPhone is warmer and GS5 is colder yet somehow Galaxy S5 scores a point less then iphone 6. Also, if you ask any photographer he would take colder tones rather then warmer tones. Therefore, not surprisingly iPhone 6 performs better then GS5 in your overall score. Those scoring patterns are completely screwed up.

105. marlowe10011

Posts: 16; Member since: Aug 23, 2014

You are absolutely correct man i can't understand how their criticisms are.

4. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Note 4 and 6 Plus reign supreme. Lol at Z3 final score and Panorama score.

7. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

imagine 6 plus has 16 mp camera..

13. KingDingaLing

Posts: 324; Member since: Oct 11, 2013

Wish they would've bumped it up a little, but still takes stellar pics.

64. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

why imagine? when we know it very well that, thats not gonna happen

93. the_matchless

Posts: 64; Member since: Apr 01, 2012

Good One

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