Samsung Galaxy S II vs LG Optimus 2X vs Nokia N8 vs Apple iPhone 4: Camera comparison

Samsung Galaxy S II vs LG Optimus 2X vs Nokia N8 vs Apple iPhone 4: Camera comparison
The smartphone universe became ripe again for camera comparisons, especially with the introduction of handsets, capable of recording Full HD 1080p video. That is why we took a few of the most popular high-end smartphones that are on the shelves, and staged a shootout.

We got the Samsung Galaxy S II, the LG Optimus 2X, the Nokia N8, and the Apple iPhone 4. Two of those are capable of Full HD 1080p video recording, so we are only pitting them against each other in that department. In all fairness, these are still cell phone cameras, so, with maybe the exception of the big sensor on the Nokia N8, we didn't expect wonders from the snaps.

We've reached the stage, however, where you can leave your point-and-shoot at home for casual photos with a piece of mind, and just use your high-end smartphone, which you are lugging around anyway. So let's try to determine which of these cameras does what well. All phones were on Auto settings, no HDR was used, we only switched on the Macro mode for close-ups, where we had it.


Each of the phones captures plenty of detail in the frame, and it's hard to pick, since none of the cameras missed any major bit. At first look, the Samsung Galaxy S II has the upper hand, producing sharp photos with distinctive details out of the box.

The Nokia N8, however, captures the same extensive amount of detail, but since it bets on unaltered looks by default, the image appears slightly softer than on the Samsung Galaxy S II. The iPhone 4 also showed very good, almost equal results, and, alternatively, the LG Optimus 2X captures plenty of detail, but the lack of contrast makes the picture appear washed out.

1. Samsung Galaxy S II and Nokia N8
2. Apple iPhone 4
3. LG Optimus 2X

Color reproduction

Colors from the Nokia N8 came out being the most natural-looking. We have more saturation from the Samsung Galaxy S II, which makes its photos more appealing at first look, but unfortunately, looking at it closer, it becomes clear they are slightly colder than in reality. The ones with the LG Optimus 2X are both quite cold, and on the bland, undersaturated side.  Finally, the iPhone 4 flips to the other side, producing contrasty, jolly, highly saturated images, which can be good and bad, depending on the situation.

We'd pick here the Nokia N8 for its natural looks, and the Samsung Galaxy S II, whose pictures, while slightly colder than reality, are a close enough shot.

1. Nokia N8
2. Samsung Galaxy S II and Apple iPhone 4
3. LG Optimus 2X

Exposure and dynamic range

Nokia N8 gets it right most of the time when there is a bright distraction in the frame, or a lot of sky. It also doesn't over- or underexpose, and you can clearly see the close gradients in the cloud and sky coloring. The Samsung Galaxy S II also does pretty well with exposure measurements and dynamic range.

The iPhone 4 sometimes overexposes bright objects, depending on where you focus at, so you have to be careful which spot to touch on the screen if there is such area in the frame. The LG Optimus 2X performs decently, with no drastic misexposed spots. We didn't turn on the HDR function on the iPhone 4, in order to keep the playing field leveled.

1. Nokia N8
2. Samsung Galaxy S II
3. LG Optimus 2X
4. Apple iPhone 4



1. ap unregistered

Where is the Xperia Arc in this?? U guys had to include the iPhone but you couldn't include the Arc which easily has the best Droid snapper till date!!! This is one of the worst mixed up article I've read recently....

13. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Guys remember this is iPhoneArena. If the iPhone 4 was to take a picture & a turd came out of the lens they still would say the iPhone 4 has a good camera. My wife had a iPhone 4 & all her girlfriends had or have iPhone 4 & all unanimously say the iPhone 4 camera is such crap. They are 10 real world women not kids who hate how their children appear & how many cute candid shots of their children were ruined by the horrible iPhone 4 camera. Again this is real world usage not iPhoneArena propaganda! The N8, could never lose to the iPhone 4, the tech behind that camera is great, look it up (Google it) the iPhone 4’s cheap camera can’t even compare. You are right about the Xperia Arc everyone & their mothers are raving about that camera, every other website I read says it's a super camera. iPhoneArena you dropped the ball on that one also! Why can’t there ever be a unbiased article when it comes to the iPhone 4 in, opps I am sorry!

41. Kath unregistered

I absolutely don't agree with you. (and I'm no Apple fan at all) But because two of my colleagues have an iPhone and I have a Samsung Galaxy S, I decided to buy a iPhone 4, just to compare. Anyway,they both have their strengths and weaknesses but the camera on the iPhone really does a very good job! I use the 'Pro Camera' app to improve things the standard camera app doesn't offer: Spot metering. That's what the Galaxy S does offer out-of-the-box and I use it most of the time ;) But after nearly a year of using my Galaxy S, I'll be switching to the SGS II in a couple of days :)

60. comnut unregistered

Kath: you revealed WHY you think the camera is good... you have enhanced it, unlike most using the basic one, that is why they think its awful.. finding an app is not so easy to them... YES N8 is a great camera, but I prefer a phone with a 'quick pics' camera, not a good camera with a not so great phone & OS attached... The N8 can be enhanced right up to super SLR compact quality with an app, but the battery life pictures stored are drastically reduced....

44. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

Because the Arc would've made the iPhone 4 look like the turd that it really is.

27. ryq unregistered

Same here. Arc should have been included in this comprariosn.

75. Mike unregistered

ok i just checked out a few vids on the camera comparison on the arc and the iphone and i gotta say....... your full of crap man.. sorry but u need to research better on the stuff your talking about.. 1. first off it has the worst camcorder capabilities and can even keep up with the iphone 4 2. i dont own an iphone 4 but the real lose is in the shadows...cmon is that a real argument how often are you going to compare a pros and cons to a phone thats sony. which is made by s**t compared to Apple. thats like saying xbox is better than PS3 will never happen

2. Sinple unregistered

I wanted to say this its quite fair until it says n 8 shutter is a flaw. N 8 has a button on the screen where 1 touch, it will auto do the focus ing which do not lose to other phone in term of user interface

46. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

If iPhoneArena was too stupid to figure this out, then that just blows the credibility of their comparison out of the water. Turns out they don't know jack about mobile devices and are just the viral marketing arm of Apple, Inc.

3. Meha unregistered

Very biased comparison... Didn't even make sense on the first place to compare phones like N8 with other 5 and 8MP. Didn't even mention the settings at which photos were taken, N8 has lots of operational modes and other phones must also have. Phonearena! looks like you are only focused on increasing the number of posts these days to get the attention... Need to build some quality as well.

26. koutrelakos

Posts: 30; Member since: Mar 17, 2010

why doesn't it make sense to compare a 12 MP to an 8 or a 5? If you understood how it worked, and not just that 12 > 8 > 5, then you'd realize that you don't make much sense yourself..

31. Dark4o90

Posts: 205; Member since: Feb 20, 2011

comparing the quality not the resolution

4. Eingild

Posts: 203; Member since: Apr 19, 2011

Maybe these shots were taken on a standard point and shoot settings. N8 has natural feel to it while GS2 were a little bit off due to lack in contrast and iPhone 4 looks over saturated which might be a good deal for some people who are not really into natural colors and such. 2X's shots look rubbish and don't deserve attention at all.

5. ogbeni unregistered

I see that no matter how you do it, the iphone gets good praise for it's simplicity. Why don't we talk about usabily and functionality in one shot that way you will see that the most function will get better usage than just point and shoot.

45. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

How does iPhoneArena define "simplicity"? I have an Android phone with a camera shortcut on my desktop. It takes just 1 tap to get into the camera app and another tap to shoot the picture. How the hell does the iPhone get such fanboy praise when it does the EXACT SAME THING!!?

55. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

It's what you say exactly, iPhoneArena is "just the viral marketing arm of Apple, Inc." No one could have said it better. "I have an Android phone with a camera shortcut on my desktop. It takes just 1 tap to get into the camera app and another tap to shoot the picture", I have been doing the same for years now. "Simplicity" should not make the iPhone 4 great when all the phones do the same thing. It's a wash. Why should the iPhone 4 get bonus points for "Simplicity" only? All the phones in this comparison, (or lack there off) should get the same judgment in the "Simplicity" aspect of this obviously biased comparison!

6. Eingild

Posts: 203; Member since: Apr 19, 2011

WTF? I just noticed. iPhone 4 got 2nd in video shots. I'm not a hater but dude, N8 uses wide angle lenses which capture a lot of detail compared to any other video cameras (even dedicated digital video cam). Clearly, PA don't have any idea what they're talking about. If you want professional performance comparisons, google it. Don't bother reading this article which I regretfully did.

7. Meha unregistered

That was my point :) PA looks more of a "News Getter" not Analysts.

8. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

Nokia N8, still imaging champion, and you can argue the best 720p recording phone on the market. I'll be keeping mine around long after I dump Nokia for an Android phone.

9. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

8mp vs 5mp again? there many phones with 8mp you could compare and would be more appreciated but adding this 5mp iPhone to the competition is not even fun, they again I wonder whats your intention with doing this?

11. armstrong4 unregistered

It is not the size that matters, even my nokia n82 will beat some of the phones. Mine has for example a real flash.

15. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

the problem is that we already seen iPhone compete with others using 8mp camera now why add it again? and again and again? its not that I now there are many new 5mp-8mp camera phones why aren't they included here? whats the standard to make these comparison? what a phone has to to to be here? because it doest seem to be remarks

10. armstrong4 unregistered

Question, why is the filesize so small on Nokia N8. Seems like you have turned on compression on the pictures? The filesize in the pictures is more than half what it should be. The size should be the biggest because it has 12Mpixel. Second, like always, do not put the video on youtube because it will be jerky when playing it, let us download the file and play it on VLC.

14. calamazoo unregistered

My Nokia N8 always produces shots between 1.5 and 2.5 MB, while I've seen photos from the galaxy S or the Optimus 2X vary bet. 3MP and 4.5, you have to use smth. like Camera Pro to lower the compression level, it's 5 bucks...

47. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

Well, they had to rig the tests and handicap the phone so it wouldn't look too much better than the iPhone. Good job catching this and calling out their BS, now, iPhoneArena....we await your response to rigging the tests!

12. AssafK unregistered

Please put the ARC inside? Where does it stand? Thanks!!!!

16. andro unregistered

Steve Jobs won't like seeing the iPhone being in 4th so often,expect to be sued phonearena!!! His will rally his ifanboys in anger!

17. calamazoo unregistered

hehe, true that, andro :-) why didn't Nokia make the N8 record with 30fps is beyond me, it could have been second in video. I hacked mine to do 30 fps and continuous focus, but the 680MHz chipset is definitely struggling with that... if I overclock, then battery suffers, you just can't win here :-)

18. bluechrism unregistered

OK, Added up the scores and here are the results based on rankings given - i.e 1=1 point, 4=4 points and if 2 are tied, they both get whatever rank it is. So lowest points = best. Nokia N8 = 13 (5 first places - Detail, color, exposure, indoor, night) Samsung Galaxy SII = 14 (3fp - detail, macro, video) IPhone 4 = 19 (2 fp - macro, ease of use) LG Optimus X2 = 24 (came 2nd twice - once joint 2nd on indoor, and second behind a joint first on macro, was never top) If you add it up where joint pushes values down for the next place - i.e if 2 devices are joint first, the next would get 3 points and the last 4 (instead of 2 & 3 above) Nokia N8 = 14 Samsung Galaxy SII = 14 IPhone 4 = 21 LG Optimus X2 = 27 So N8 and Galaxy SII are the clear winners here.

19. calamazoo unregistered

Thanks bluechrism, that's about right, it's clear from the images also :-)

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