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



Right from the start of this camera comparison, we were confident that the Galaxy Note 4 was not going to disappoint. Our expectations were correct, as it turned out. Samsung's phablet and its remarkable 16MP camera got the highest final score, and it is a well-deserved result, in our opinion. Samsung has done a great job at fine-tuning its 16MP sensor, which debuted in the Galaxy S5, to achieve even better image quality with the Note 4, with finer details and more accurate colors. Plus, having optical image stabilization makes a difference, especially when shooting video. The only area where we'd like to see further improvement is night-time photography.

Camera comparison: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Sony Xperia Z3, LG G3, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3
Close behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rank the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, standing in third and second place respectively. Apple's greatest phones yet serve as proof that you don't need a two-digit megapixel figure to take awesome photos. You just need a well-made camera with easy-to-use software. Sure, the iPhones' images can't match the detail produced by the Note 4's camera, but they score big points in lower-light photography. Also, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can be relied on when shooting at night or for taking videos.

As for the Samsung Galaxy S5, it is a force to be reckoned with. Sure, it couldn't outrun the aforementioned high-ends, but it delivered commendable results most of the time. Its low light and night photos, however, leave room for improvement.

Then there's the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – a phone that performed well in our comparison despite being a year old. Under favorable conditions, it barely lags behind its competitors. In low-light environments, however, the gap behind it and newer handsets becomes more obvious.

The LG G3 did't do bad, but its score put it in the unenviable sixth place. It is a “Jack of all trades, master of none” kind of device, as it gets the job done in any environment, but fails to excel in any of them. Still, it snaps pretty decent night photos, and its LED flash is a reliable one.

Lastly, there's the Sony Xperia Z3. Its supposedly great camera turned out to be not so great against other leading phones, with poorer details, duller colors, and mediocre low-light performance. Is the phone's automatic mode to blame? We're not exactly sure, but whatever is holding Sony's cameraphone back, we hope to see it dealt with in the near future.

The final score for each phone represents its average rating, but note that we're only taking into account the Details, Color representation and Indoor categories in the final score. We're factoring all the others (such as Night and Panorama) out, since those represent situations where users are less likely to take images in. Video recording isn't included either, since we consider it a separate thing from photo taking. We've done this in order to end up with a final rating that is representative of a camera's performance in those areas which we think are most important to users.

Software versions of the units used in the comparison:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Android 4.4.4, Build KTU84P, N910FXXU1ANJ4
iPhone 6: iOS 8.0.2, 12A405
iPhone 6 Plus: iOS 8.0.2, 12A405
Sony Xperia Z3: Android 4.4.4, Build 23.0.A.2.93
LG G3: Android 4.4.2, Build KVT49L.A1401987978
Samsung Galaxy s5: Android 4.4.2, Build KOT49H.G900FXXU1ANG2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Android 4.3, Build JSS15J.N9005XXUBMI7


  • Options

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:07 24

1. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 2226; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:11 19

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Give it a rest already.

posted on 17 Oct 2014, 21:39

100. Damo579 (Posts: 242; Member since: 18 May 2013)

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

posted on 02 Nov 2014, 09:50 1

118. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 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

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 22:00

132. NFSHesham (Posts: 283; Member since: 04 Feb 2014)

Nope they aren't

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:29 4

19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 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.

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 10:18 6

32. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

PA is this serious? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMrybYOm8Sg

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 10:37 2

37. Awalker (Posts: 1689; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 10:51 7

48. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

Who knows what PA did?

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 11:01

50. bur60 (Posts: 878; Member since: 07 Jul 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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 11:30 2

56. bur60 (Posts: 878; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)

Sample pictures with Google Camera if anyone is interested


Note that I focused on the big building in the center

posted on 19 Oct 2014, 22:44

108. bobox (Posts: 6; Member since: 03 Jun 2014)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 11:04 4

51. Reality_Check (Posts: 277; Member since: 15 Aug 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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 13:46 5

70. sherkhan (Posts: 34; Member since: 02 Oct 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

posted on 17 Oct 2014, 05:41 2

88. proto (Posts: 59; Member since: 12 Sep 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.

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 13:48 4

72. sherkhan (Posts: 34; Member since: 02 Oct 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

posted on 02 Dec 2014, 15:18 3

135. nopoint (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Dec 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.

posted on 17 Oct 2014, 07:02 4

89. Lememurilo (Posts: 30; Member since: 13 Oct 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.

posted on 17 Oct 2014, 11:37

96. pitzy (Posts: 42; Member since: 15 May 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..

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 10:43 4

41. hung2900 (Posts: 965; Member since: 02 Mar 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.

posted on 29 Oct 2014, 10:25

113. slimafool513 (Posts: 4; Member since: 25 Aug 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.

posted on 24 Oct 2014, 00:43

110. Industriality (Posts: 131; Member since: 08 Sep 2014)

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

posted on 02 Nov 2014, 09:50 1

119. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:13 25

3. tech2 (Posts: 3487; Member since: 26 Oct 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.

posted on 18 Oct 2014, 23:43

105. marlowe10011 (Posts: 16; Member since: 23 Aug 2014)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:13 9

4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:16 2

7. nohatenofanboy (banned) (Posts: 515; Member since: 15 Jul 2014)

imagine 6 plus has 16 mp camera..

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 09:25 2

13. KingDingaLing (Posts: 324; Member since: 11 Oct 2013)

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

posted on 16 Oct 2014, 12:30 3

64. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

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

posted on 17 Oct 2014, 11:22

93. the_matchless (Posts: 64; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)

Good One

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