There is no denying that the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact's camera is among the better one's we've had the chance to try recently. With over 20MP at its disposal, it takes great photos and videos at the tap of a button, and one doesn't have to be a photography guru in order to use it effectively. It does fall short of being the ultimate camera in existence, but given the right circumstances, it should be capable of outperforming the cameras on many of today's flagships. If photography is your thing and you're in need of a reliable snapper, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact won't disappoint.

As for the Sony Xperia Z1, we're not surprised to see that its photos are at least as good as those produced by its smaller sibling. Both have the very same camera outfitted on them after all. In some cases, the Z1's camera might produce slightly better results than the Z1 Compact, but the difference in quality between both phones' photos is negligible.

The remaining part of our conclusion section shouldn't bring much in terms of surprises. As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S4 scored well in our comparison, proving that its camera is not to be underestimated. Even though the smartphone has been around for almost a year now, its 13MP camera should meet the needs and quality standards of both amateur and experienced photographers.

Same can be said about the iPhone 5s, which proves that a camera doesn't need a two-digit megapixel count in order to wow us with the photos and videos it produces. And if that's not enough to love about it, Apple's smartphone has to be the simplest and fastest to use, allowing photographers of all ages to snap excellent photos with minimal effort.

The LG G2 is a strange creature. Its 13MP camera excels in most scenes, then somehow manages to mess up others. Thankfully, the latter phenomenon does not occur often. Overall, the phone is well capable of capturing excellent photos and videos given enough light.

In last place we have the HTC One, whose results demonstrate that the company's Ultrapixel brand has to be either abandoned, or dramatically improved. Of course, the smartphone is perfectly suitable for snapping casual photos, but a high-end smartphone should be able to do way better than this.

Disclaimer: The overall 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 Overall 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 as well, since we consider it a separate thing from photo-taking. We've done this in order to end up with an Overall rating that is representative of a camera's performance in those areas, which we think are most important to users.

Software versions of the smartphone units used in the comparison:

Sony Xperia Z1 compact: Android 4.3, Build 14.2.A.1.114
Sony Xperia Z1: Android 4.2.2, Build 14.1.G.2.257
LG G2: Android 4.2.2, SW version D80210e-EUR-XX
HTC One: Android 4.3, Software 3.63.707.3
Samsung Galaxy S4: Android 4.2.2, Build JDQ39.I9505XXUAMDM
iPhone 5s: iOS 7.0.4 (11B554a)



1. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

I can't understand why you still use One although it has a poor camera. But overall, Sony and apple did a great job.

3. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

It's a flagship despite it's horrible camera... Oh yes, and I miss the Note 3.

8. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Yep, I know but Xperia Z was a flagship as well which performed even better than One, but it was excluded from all camera comparisons from the beginning. Of course now that Z1 and Compact are here its has no place but, you know what I mean.

11. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

the Xperia Z is excluded because the Z1 is already out, you cant do a comparison where there is both the GS3 and the GS4...

14. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Your answer is in the very comment that you answered. Of course if you have read it, there would be no need to answer you once more.

4. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

I think G2 and S4 deserve a mention too! They have some stunning shots especially the S4 even though it is one of the earlier flagship of 2013!

7. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea, it will be a year old in 3 months and is pretty much better than the other newer cameras in several areas.

41. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

xperia z1 has 20.7mp, while G2 has 13mp at night LG G2 BEAT THEM ALL! G2 can records FHD@ 60fps. LG has really done a Great job! its a big improvement for LG!

45. DerryAhmad

Posts: 296; Member since: May 05, 2012

Yep.. I have the S4 and I'm pleasantly surprised on how good its camera is, especially in taking night photos.

53. Snoobab

Posts: 175; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Yea and the N8 too. It's over 3 years old but still blows nearly every other smartphone camera out of the water. Super impressive!!

37. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

and the winner is 1020 :D you know we dont need samples to prove that

43. DerryAhmad

Posts: 296; Member since: May 05, 2012

Yeah.. I'm not sure why they included a much more inferior One Camera in this test. And where's Nokia? The 1020 is definitely a class of its own, but at least they could've included the Lumia 1520 in this test.

51. Hlorri

Posts: 40; Member since: May 07, 2008

I have two phones: - A Nokia 808 PureView, which despite its outdated OS and limited app selecion remains the reigning king of smartphone cameras -- at least for stills. Photos are completely noise free, and with higher optical and digital resolution (34 or 38MP) than any other phone out there... and ironically also quicker to shoot than the runner-up (the Lumia 1020)... I normally shoot at 16:9 radio, 8MP resolution, which gives slightly more than 2x lossless zoom... - A HTC One, which overall is a very nice phone, but which nowadays does pretty poorly in reviews like this one (lack of both optical and digital resolution is the main culprit). So.. there shouldn't be a question of which phone takes the better pictures, should there? If in doubt, just use the various photo comparison tools out there (e.g.,, ...), you'll quickly see the 808 dwarf anything else out there, let alone the One! BUT, here's the rub. For most day-to-day casual occasions, I end up taking better photos with the One than with the 808! And I suspect, better than I would with ANY other smartphone out there, including the Z1! I should clarify what I mean first. I won't claim that the One is able to produce the same IQ and noise-free detail for a nature shot or other still photo... then again, for that type of scene you really need a DSLR anyway. I also don't claim that it has the same level of manual controls, for instance to produce a long-exposure photo. Instead, the One is best in class when it comes to one particular aspect, which I think is THE most important attribute for the type of casual photography that you'd normally use your smartphone for: Blur! (That is, the absence of blur). First, it has a f/2.0 aperture, i.e. a "faster" lens than all other smartphones out there. This allows for shorter exposure times, so moving people and objects are frozen in time quicker. Only the Z1 has as wide an aperture -- and even so, after comparing EXIF data from various HTC One vz. Z1 side-by-side photographs online, the One routinely produces shorter exposure times. In my own comparisons, HTC One's exposure times average about 5/8 those of my Nokia 808 PureView (f/2.4 aperture), which in turn STILL are faster than those of, say, the Nokia Lumia 1020. Second, I do end up taking a lot of photos indoors, where high pixel resolution has next to no meaning (scenes are usually too dark to avoid noise and grains at the pixel level), but where the HTC One's UltraPixels really DO help. Third, and this is perhaps where the HTC One has the biggest advantage: Its "Zoe" mode. Especially when snapping photos of kids in play, it is often very difficult to capture the ideal moment. With Zoe, you get 30 frames within a 3 second interval, which often has helped me capture moments that would otherwise be lost due to blur or to missing the precise frame. Those things are of course not reflected in side-by-side comparisons like these.

2. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

I wonder why does the same camera produce seemingly worse pictures... Hope they'll fix it with 4.4.2.

17. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

It is probably software differences... The Z1 and Z1 Compact might be in different firmware versions on the Sony side... This test is missing Macro shots, and HDR comparisson. Those are as important as Panoramic shots...

5. bucky

Posts: 3795; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Seems like a fair comparison. I had the s4 for a few weeks and I it was a great camera. Now with the 5s, it's much better in low light and mixed light but lacks the zoom in detail of the s4

49. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Bro,can I ask why did you change your S4 for an iPhone 5s? Didnt make sense to me..

6. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Sony you really need to update the Z1 Compact! It's simply UNACCEPTABLE that a phone with same camera and everything as the Z1 still produces much worse pictures! And PA, you should make your blind comparisons this big, because you usually put just a few pictures in them. It makes it hard to decide.

9. strikercho

Posts: 156; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Good job in comparing. I'm surprised by Sony. Finally nice cameras. I won't ask why Lumia 1020 is not included, though. :)))

10. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

I think now that every one agrees that Z1 is the best android camera phone, we must have a deep comparison between Z1, 5S and 1020.

20. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Well... here I give you a shallow comparisson: 1020: Best details, best camera features, best night shots, best low light. Z1: Best color reproduction, best macro (8cm minimum focal distance vs 14cm on the 1020) 5s: Best Panoramic pictures

24. adecvat

Posts: 658; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

"best camera features" No, where is HDR or burst?

25. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

S4 takes way better Panoramic pictures. Just saying.

31. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I know Papa, but I was just comparing what emadshiny asked... @adecvat, you are correct, I should have place Z1 as best camera features... but what I meant, is Camera settings... EV, Metering, WB, Focus... etc Sorry for the confusion...

44. DerryAhmad

Posts: 296; Member since: May 05, 2012

I'm not surprised they didn't include Lumia 1020. But why omitting the Lumia 1520? It's has almost the same camera specs as the Z1 and Z1 Compact - making it more comparable than the 1020.

12. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

S4 was running 4.2.2 when the 4.3 was pushed around the globe already... Why?

13. PootisMan

Posts: 266; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

No Nexus 5

15. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1250; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Yeah surprised to see the Htc One and S4 here over the Nexus 5 as the two formers are about to be replaced by new models.

16. Lauticol

Posts: 404; Member since: Jun 25, 2011

HTC One got the lower grades, but in the blind comparison it scored better than the S4 and even the Z1 Compact.

28. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

The last blind comparison was just a mess. Everyone chose the iPhone due to the color of the bench.

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