Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Apple iPhone 6
The 16-megapixel OIS camera on the Galaxy S6 is a great performer in daylight and sports an impressive 4K video recording capability, but the iPhone 6 does a bit better in low light.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is equipped with a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front, selfie cam, while the Apple iPhone 6 comes with an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.2-megapixel selfie shooter.
Both cameras protrude slightly (more so on the S6), and this is explained by the larger-than-average size of the camera module, as well as the very thin profile of the phones. The S6 main camera uses the Sony IMX240 sensor. It’s a large, 1/2.6” sensor, but the high megapixel count results in a small size of around 1.1micron for the pixels. The iPhone 6, in comparison, features a smaller, 1/3" sensor but opts for a more conservative 8-megapixel resolution, which results in fairly large, 1.5micron pixels that should theoretically be an advantage for low-light shooting.
Samsung has done a remarkable job with the camera app that now starts up in less than a second. A new double-click shortcut on the home screen also allows you to quickly start up the app from anywhere. The iPhone 6’s camera app is also quick to start but not as fast as the one on the S6. Samsung has also shred the fat off the camera interface leaving the essential options clearly visible and getting rid of the tedious long menus and submenus in favor for clearly labeled buttons. This makes it much easier to make your way around the countless modes and options on the S6. As rich as the camera app is, its new manual mode still does not support control over shutter speeds. On the other hand, the iPhone 6’s camera app is traditionally simplistic and user friendly. You can manually tweak exposure, but pretty much all other manual controls - including shutter speed - are available via third party apps like ProCamera 8.
With all this in mind, let’s get to the main question: image quality. Right out of the box it’s clear that the Galaxy S6 captures great-looking images with especially strong performance in bright sunlight. Problem is, the Galaxy S6 faces one of the best cameraphones on the market, the iPhone 6, which captures similarly great images. Colors in images on the iPhone look richer, a bit overblown to be realistic, but overall images have a livelier, more dynamic appearance than the S6 images. However, due to its higher resolution, the Galaxy S6 manages to capture a higher level of detail, compared to the iPhone 6's 8MP shooter.
Turning over to low light conditions, noise and color inaccuracies start to creep into the images from both devices. It's often a hit-or-miss affair, with the Galaxy S6 faring better in some scenes, and the iPhone 6 coming out on top in other. The Galaxy S6 still dominates in the details department, though blurriness in some photos causes it to sometimes lose to its adversary in that very department.
The single LED flash on the S6 is sufficiently powerful to light up the central part of an image without being too harsh, but it does introduce a slight cold color cast to images, while the iPhone 6’s dual LED flash can be a bit too harsh from up close, but it preserves colors in a much more natural way.
The front camera on the Galaxy S6 is a big step forward: selfies turn out very good, with a lot of detail, and it’s neat that you can tap on the heart rate sensor with a finger as a quick shortcut for selfies. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, features very low-res images that don’t look nearly as good.
In terms of video, we are genuinely impressed with the quality of the Galaxy S6 recordings: with super-detailed 4K video capture at 30 fps, with optical image stabilization and a seriously impressive super-quick auto-focusing, the S6 captures absolutely stunning footage. It can also record in 1080p at 60 fps for lovers of those high frame rates that make everything look kind of flowing very smoothly on the screen. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, is capable of recording only in 1080p (at either 60fps or 30fps), and while it also has super-fast auto-focusing, it lacks the optical stabilization and recordings are often noticeably shaky.