We've tested dozens upon dozens of smartphone cameras over the past several years, and Samsung's offerings have always been among the very best. The Galaxy S II, for example, was an excellent performer for its time, producing detailed images and even 1080p videos (which was a feature rarely seen on a smartphone in 2011). Then came the Galaxy S III with its improved BSI sensor, super-fast burst-shot features, and drastically reduced shutter lag. Keeping up with the trend, the Galaxy S4 made the jump to 13 megapixels of resolution, while its set of software features received a welcome expansion – modes allowed the user to remove moving objects from the frame, and slow-motion videos were also added.

Having all that in mind, it goes without saying that our hopes for the Samsung Galaxy S5 are set pretty high. Will its new, 16MP camera manage to tackle the fearsome competition, however? Well, that's what we're here to find out – it is camera comparison time again! We've chosen to pit Samsung's flagship against some of the best smartphones out there, including the HTC One (M8), the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple's iPhone 5s, the LG G2, the Google Nexus 5, and last but not least, the Sony Xperia Z1. Here's a quick look at what these phones' cameras have to offer:


Color representation can make or break a photo, which is why it is important to know which phone captures the most accurate colors. The bad news is that neither of these phones is flawless in that respect. However, some of them do a better job than others. The Samsung Galaxy S5, in particular, captures most scenes in great fidelity, especially when given lots of light to work with. Gloomy, cloudy scenes have a slightly more saturated tone to them, but we're not bothered by that at all. However, brightly-lit white objects, such as the petals on the daisies in our photo sample, may turn out too bright, presumably because the software is set to boost the contrast of the image up a notch. But overall, we're very pleased with the Galaxy S5's color reproduction.

As for Samsung's flagship from last year, colors in its photos are not bad at all. In fact, we have to admit that some of its shots look better and more accurate than those from the S5, at least color-wise, while the new flagship has the upper hand in other scenes.

The iPhone 5s has an opinion of its own as to how things should appear. Its photos are very pleasing to the eye with their lively colors, but they turn out a tad warmer than what we'd call neutral. Nevertheless, the iPhone's photos are still very pleasant to look at.

The LG G2 is a strange beast. Sometimes it takes photos with excellent color fidelity and gets closer to our reference photos than any other phone. In other scenes, however, it can't get its colors exactly right, or at least not from the first shot. For example, the sky in one of our photos turned out violet, then we immediately re-took the photo only to get a much more natural image. Similarly, the HTC One (M8) delivers mixed results, but its gets its job done well most of the time. We noticed that better results may be obtained if we tap on our subject before taking the photo in order to aid the camera in setting its exposure straight.

Next up we have the Sony Xperia Z1. Its photos look nice when looked at on their own, but a quick check with our reference shots makes it clear that the phone boosts the colors' intensity quite a bit. The Google Nexus 5 is last on the chart. Not that its photos are bad, but their colors are often overly warm.



1. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

Can you do a camera comparison if you have the Z2 already? And please PA, include a DSLR shot.

2. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Still don't understand why they still use Z1 or Z1 compact for comparison on PA

5. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Maybe they don't have the Z2 yet. But I think they should rather wait to get the Z2 than do first this and then an other one when Z2 comes

7. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

30. FaisalWibowo11

Posts: 166; Member since: Aug 12, 2013

For those of you who don't know how dxomark test smartphone cameras, I will tell you. Dxomark takes 500+ photos from real life conditions and studio shots then evaluating them one by one, tough job isn't it? Dxomark doesn't test cameraphones in full resolutions, they test them in 8MP equivalent values in order to make a fair playing ground for all cameraphones. So from that aspects, it is safe to say that dxomark is a really fair and unbiased. And calling them blind is downright preposterous and disrespectful if you ask me.. My personal opinion about phonearena: great site when it comes to smartphone news and user personalisations. But when it comes to review and comparisons.. Meh, it is biased, unprofessional, and inconsistent

43. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

+1. excellent comment.

55. limporgyuk

Posts: 376; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

Couldn't agree more

57. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

perfectly said.

76. TMach unregistered

Another plus 1 from me!

91. refillable

Posts: 1071; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

Please take a look again. When I saw the news that dxomark said the Z2 tops the chart, I was both surprised, and confused. Then without seeing anything but that news, I was positive that the Z2 would have a very nice camera. I blindly bash a guy that claims the S5 has the best android camera with the dxomark test. But, everything changed when I saw the review that dxomark posted. It's just very flopped! They didn't even show real comparative sample! They even put the iP 5S, which is far from the best shooter nowadays, at the 3rd Place! Below the Z2 and the Nokia 808. I don't know what's wrong with them, Probably the way they test DSLRs and MILCs is the same as they test phones. But I don't know... Please note I am not trying to bash dxomark or anything/anyone. I am just telling my honest opinion. I like seeing their tests of DSLRs and MILCs, but for phones, I think they still have a long way to go. I mean look at anandtech, a PC Hardware review site (although I prefer tomshardware for that), does some really nice camera tests on the S5. I really recommend reading that thoroughly if you want to see a proper camera test. The camera page is located at page 2.

103. drkuthan

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Sony must have paid lot for dxomark Real life results show that the 20mp camera is inferior and can not satisfy the expectations Same camera in the same body what were you expecting ? A miracle ? :)))))))))))))

104. true1984

Posts: 870; Member since: May 23, 2012

nope just an unbiased comparison

108. Darkhell

Posts: 33; Member since: Nov 03, 2013

How does testing a 16MP camera against an 8MP camera fair when you put the 16MP camera down to 8MP? What they do is really consistent and does give really good results but it takes away from normal use. These days it is harder to compare cameras on high end phones since they all do what they are suppose to very well and have unique features. Some phones have dedicated night modes and some use manual modes. On my Note 3 my auto low light setting makes capturing a little delayed but makes low light pictures look much better so taking pictures of children or other spontaneous moving situations having that on makes pictures pretty crappy and it is on by default.

112. docxx

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Not to forget to mention that the Z1 is in front on the S4 and the test was made by real professionals! Nothing we can do, Samsung's money are everywhere, even here.

45. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

I love that there is no Nokia. Otherwise Nokia will have down rank.

58. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

Only if these sites used the latest firmware and latest phones. theres always something wrong in these comparison.

98. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

PA deleted our comments! Why?? Anyway PA be consistent with your reviews. Check this out BE CONSISTENT!

99. preetmalhotra

Posts: 114; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

True Story!!!!!

50. CamaroSS

Posts: 173; Member since: Jul 24, 2012

Don't bother - read anandtech review to see how bad GS5 & GS4 lowlight shots are compared to z1, m8, 5s In typical PA style, GS5 got the highest rating at night shots. How ridiculous was that? Btw, where was the final combined score in the screen comparison test ? Wait, GS5 came out at the bottom there - right?

54. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

They rated for the usability for the realiability. It makes sense because on my old One (M7), some photos are very nice, but some are completely garbage. Not sure about M8 and S5. There are also some important criteria only like exporesure, white balance, low light color reproduction that make a nice photo, not only about the noise.

97. darkskoliro

Posts: 1092; Member since: May 07, 2012

Truth be told, I only come on this site for news now. Anandtech for reviews. His extensive knowledge on technology and his way of reviews are the only articles that really please me.

114. edditnyc

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 19, 2014

Low light performance on today's smartphones is such an asinine topic. Why? Go pick up your old point and shoot and shoot in the "low light" scenarios without a flash and jack up your ISO 2000/f2.2 like all these phones are doing. It's a terrible picture no matter how you spin it because photography relies on....LIGHT. Now try shooting the same picture with a sensor the fraction of that and see how it turns out. Face it, the "good" low light pictures from an iPhone/Lumia/m8 aren't great. Good is relative in these cases. The sensors on these phones are minuscule to that of a dSLR so I wish people would get off this subject. You want to shoot low light, get a dSLR and a tripod. If you want to shoot people in low light with a smartphone, turn on the flash. If anything it's flash photography that people should be vetting. Not how well one can shoot an underexposed shot at f2.2 with 1/3" sensor with the ISO jacked up to 2000.

72. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

htc one m8 where u aaaaaaat?

82. dontneedtoknow

Posts: 158; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

No matter how much z2 is better, average customer won't see z2. I hate it because I think better things should get a boost!

94. nightfury

Posts: 82; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

the pics in PA and gsmarena tools are so out of focus for sony and other devices, only sammy and iphone are good...whereas in anandtech dxomark show true pics ..there is soooooooooooo much diff why ??? dont tell me software change, because both sites have done reviews repeatedly... i conclude something is fishy...FISHYARENA ???

4. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Again this PA picture viewing tool/thing/whateveritis is so freaking slow...

22. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013


24. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

you can try this. click on "view as one page" and hover over one of the loading photos to make the red zooming icon appear. click on the icon to bring out a pop up that will show the photos individually. you can get faster loading this way.the photos are labeled so it won't be difficult to identify them.

83. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

addition: be sure to close the phonearena page that loads the multiple photos as soon as the pop up appears. you will find thumbnails to the left side of the pop up so you don't have to go back to the old presentation

6. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

I can don't understand why you guys never include the Lumia 1020 or even the 1520 in these camera comparisons?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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