Camera comparison: Sony Xperia Z vs Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920

Ladies and gents, it is time for another camera comparison between the top smartphones in existence. And without a doubt, all eyes are on the Sony Xperia Z, which is equipped with the company's new Exmor RS camera sensor. With 13 million pixels and perks like HDR video mode, Sony's top-of-the-line handset should be a great performer, but will it manage to beat the fierce competition?

Well, it won't be an easy battle. Today we're comparing the Sony Xperia Z with the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 920, all of which have proven their photographic capabilities. We're also throwing a 12MP point-and-shoot camera as a reference - the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS, which is now a model several years old.

For the purposes of this testing, all smartphones are set to their maximum resolutions for both images and video. We have to let them show their best after all. Also, we have not altered their settings for any of the test scenes. All smartphones are shooting in automatic mode. Shall we begin?


With its 13MP camera, the Sony Xperia Z can capture photos at higher resolution than what the other competitors are capable of. However, despite that advantage, the details in its photos are smudged and a weird purple tint is present around edges. The Nokia Lumia 920 produces equally disappointing results as the details in its photos are too soft for our taste. The Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 produce noticeably sharper, more detailed images, but the iPhone 5 captures even better photos, although it leads only by a hair.

Yeah, some digital noise is indeed present in the iPhone 5's photos, which isn't surprising considering the far-from-ideal lighting conditions. As a matter of fact, it was pretty gloomy when we took our outdoor sample shots. But the noise level is tolerable, just as it is on the images taken with the Galaxy S III and Note II. The Nokia Lumia 920 and Sony Xperia Z suppress noise through software algorithms, but the downside to it are the aforementioned muddy details seen in their photos.

1. iPhone 5
2. Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2
3. Nokia Lumia 920 and Sony Xperia Z



273. tonytonydavis

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 17, 2013

I don't know why everyone is getting so hype for. The only differences I can see with those pictures is brightness, but the quality of all the pictures is A1. I would be happy with any of those cameras. People are complaining about the tiniest little differences that aren't even visible by the human eye. So what difference does it make

264. afzalzainal

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

The purple haze appear because of the cover were smudge. Clean up the lens sensor and you can see the different. Just like dslr u will never get a good image if the glass cover for sensor are not clean or have finger smudge.

263. GMS85

Posts: 217; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Anyhow Sony always gon be on TOP! and everybody use Instagram nowadays! keep praising the plastic toy well done PA well done PA

259. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

for those who's whinning about z. A quote taken straight from PA comparison S III vs Z "Despite the buzz around the Xperia Z's 13MP camera and its Exmor RS sensor, we were a bit disappointed to find out that the camera is not quite up there with the best. For example, even though it's a 13MP camera, we found the details to be lacking compared to those in the Galaxy S III's images. On top of that, there's a noticeable purple shade in the Z's images, making things look somewhat unnatural." ...still, claiming that samsung phones take best photos or videos is a huge misunderstaning.

258. GMS85

Posts: 217; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Regardless I will be having my own review!!! Sony all the way MAKE.BELIEVE

256. Dijen

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 19, 2013

After Portico update Lumia 920 crushes every model in almost every catagory. It actually wins over Nokia 808 in some catagories. Here the real winner would have been 920 follewed by iPhone 5. Phone arena's reviews are never up to the mark. While theverge's reviews are the worst of all.

255. hellzonee

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 19, 2013

the thing is i cant decide which one is better until i zoom phtos. At first picture zoom to electric box. you can clearly read numbers(1131075) at iphone 5 and sony xperia z but samsung's so blurry. I dont understand why phonearena uses a Canon PowerShot SD780 IS which is one of the worst cameras on market. they can use a real DSLR camera. Everybody use instagram and photo quality is not important in that case. If you need a really good camera go and buy a real DSLR camera. I will buy htc m7 by the way :D HTC rulez

254. lubba

Posts: 1313; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Phagarena is smart. They putting out bs articles to insight flames in order to get hits on their website. Gizmodo is a reputable site. I would trust them more.

253. sbw44

Posts: 433; Member since: Dec 04, 2012

According to Gizmodo the 920 is the current best camera phone. So something sounds fishy! also does the 920 have the Portico Update? come on SamsungArena give us a answer! Go check out Gizmodo's Camera Comparison.

251. stylinred

Posts: 50; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

Is the 920 running the Portico Update? which has fixed the "soft" picture issue?

250. arslanalikhan

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 18, 2013

just check this 1 guys.... phone arena in this case only knows as iphnearena or samsungarena ;)

249. deadhead

Posts: 17; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

The difference between all of them is pretty small, and they are all way off the benchmark 808 smartphone. Shame Nokia has been sitting on that tech for almost a year now.. while the competition is trying to catch up...

248. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

the review from gsmarena has out.. this what they said : "The results are pretty good overall, although we wouldn't say it has a significant advantage over the best 8MP shooters from last year. Matching their performance is still a pretty good achievement, though." it's clear right that the xperia z camera somewhat pretty dissapointing.. so please sony fans stop blamming phonearena for being unfair... be mature sony fans accept the fact.. nobodies play dirty here..

236. pureviewuser

Posts: 501; Member since: Nov 11, 2012

The nokia 808 camera is superior to all

235. afzalzainal

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

PA trying to prove they also good in photo critics. Samsung come with f2.6 sony come with f2.4 of couse they will be a diff even its a same sensor.

233. lallolu

Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

why is Asus Padfone 2 and LG optimus G 13mp camera not tested. It seems that the sony 13mp is not betteer than these 2 cameras.

228. Levon

Posts: 35; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

ok dudes, iphone also runs sony sensor, so there is possibility that sony can fix camera in z via software update

227. kclgphilsbsa

Posts: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 2013

pipol go to gsmarena photo compare tool, xperia Z is now available for comparison, take it and the note2 in comparison... the colors of xperia Z are truly more saturated but the fine details are behind the levels of note2.. the details in note2 are more crisp, yeah XZ has smoother details but tends to washout the details.. use also the video compare tool, u'll realize that d video of Note 2 is far superior from the XZ..

226. hinincheng

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Just look at the top right hand corner of photo 7-12. Sony can clearly capture the numbers on the signpost and you can read them out clearly while others can't. How come Sony rank as the same with Nokia and beaten by Samsung at the level of details? I am very disappointed PA...

218. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

Hey PA, I would like to know if the Nokia Lumia 920 had the portico update installed?

216. romeo1

Posts: 825; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

the Z has the best details in my opinion even better than the 920. Did not compared the digital camera. But all of them are decent enough. It's just a lie to say the iphone wins over the others XD The gs3 and note 2 are even better (just a little bit) the 920 and Z are the best 2 and they put those on the bottom XD And for all the people bashing on the cameras of these 2 sammys because its Korean? it's from sony. the iphone camera also. They are all from the arc. And it is bs that the iphone camera was better than the S and T.

219. kclgphilsbsa

Posts: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 2013

camera lens=from sony but the story is not yet complete.. you cant make the best pictures if you dont know how to optimize the lens.. lens + software=camera

245. kclgphilsbsa

Posts: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 2013

207. soserone

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

blah blah blah, wt.f u guys agruying about?! Go with the one U like, and f#ck care the others, or u guys tell me that U buy one phone just to show ppl how cool u r?! F#ck the cameras, F#ck the reviews, go the store, shout out "shut up and take my money"

205. cyborg009

Posts: 119; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

Those are some s**tty comparison results.. I doubt sony phones camera would be such under performing .. anyways it will be available soon in retail stores here .. will review it then and see !!

203. gauravkrishna121

Posts: 6; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

iphone and samsung having Sony,this is the victory of Sony............

201. gauravkrishna121

Posts: 6; Member since: Aug 29, 2012

samsung photoes are whitish and others having good color photoes are brightest here which is not better.....who the hell this phonearena 2 judge phones camera....what they know about photography.....from naked eye each photoes are better......every other sites said nokia 920 camera is the best they have seen and phonearena put it on lowest rank.........this shows ur love for apple and samsung..........for e.g ..look the color of scarf in xperia Z and then see on S3...which one u like ........more z......S3 is just the brightest here ...............

217. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

you know why they put canon in this comparison?? because as a "real" digital camera they thought canon should be produce the most accurate results.. if you see those pictures coming from those phones , you can see that the s3 & the note2 has the closest result to what the canon does ( specially on daylight time ) while the other phones tends to produce much warmer picture ( specialy the lumia 920 if i could say ).. it's not about which one has a brighter picture or punchier color.. it's about the one whose produce the closest result to the canon i think..

200. papss unregistered

I find the term " butt hurt" to be funny from the group that it comes from tells me that they are fixated on getting in the butt.. Just a strange observation. Also what happened to this site? There are far more idiots than usual commenting. Maybe they are following the terrible bloggers that write on here?

209. chaoticrazor

Posts: 2347; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

samsung fans are extremely childish in general on here (they dont represent actual techy people there just kids) plus they throw out that term yet there the only ones actually ''butt hurt'' as they say. they class anyone pointing out anythin against samsung as ''butt hurt'' so yeah dont expect real discussion anymore this sites full of them.

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

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