iPhone 4S vs Droid Bionic vs Galaxy S II vs Amaze 4G: camera comparison

Increasingly, we're becoming less reliant on using our point and shoot cameras, for the simple reason that our smartphones have become our best companion. In the last few months alone, we've been seeing quite a few smartphones packing even better sensors and lens to capture the moment perfectly.

With another summer behind us, we take a look at four top-notch camera centric smartphones, which include the iPhone 4S, HTC Amaze 4G, Motorola DROID BIONIC, and the Samsung Galaxy S II (T-Mobile), to see which one is able to produce the best-looking photos out of the bunch. Simultaneously snapping the same photos with each handset, we're naturally able to better dissect the quality that each is able to provide us – so let's take a peek shall we?

For reference, we've included images from a stand alone camera – the Panasonic FZ40 – in automatic mode.


After meticulously combing over several different shots, we have to say that thecameras of the iPhone 4S and the Amaze 4G are able to capture the sharpest looking details. For things further away in the background in some of our landscape shots, such as the chimney in the photos below, we can see that the individual bricks that make up the chimney are defined more clearly with them. Moreover, they have the best details in lower lightning conditions. The Amaze 4G's images are rather over sharpen, which we don't really like though. The Galaxy SII is on the softer side and is a step behind the best two. It has great detail, but once the light is not perfect, it has its weak moments. DROID BIONIC has decent detail as well, but it often has too much digital noise in its images, making it the worse in this aspect.

Color reproduction:

Naturally, when it comes to color reproduction, the eye dictates what is perceived to be the most preferable tones. However, when our eyes are attracted to such vibrant colors produced by saturated displays, such as Super AMOLED plus, we sometimes forget about how realistic colors should be paramount.

Let's take a look at the image of the flowers, which has some great natural tones. The Amaze 4G immediately captures the attention, as the flowers look too good to be true – and indeed - that is the case. The Amaze's colors are consistently oversaturated, which is wrong although eye-catchy. Still, we like it because it has correct color reproduction in most of the images – blue is blue, not purple, green is green and so on. The iPhone 4S is more on the neutral side: still its colors are slightly oversaturated and on the warmer side. The Galaxy SII photos on the other hand look as if they have a yellowish filter cast on them. While the image with the flowers from the Galaxy S II looks good, this yellowish tone can be seen in most other samples made with the phone. The DROID BIONIC's color reproduction is balanced most of the time, but it is on the darker side.

Indoor shots:

Generally, handsets typically fare better with outdoor shots, but when it comes to showing their true potential, it's undoubtedly found with photos taken indoors – especially in low lighting situations. In such situations, it is harder to keep the details high, while maintaining a well exposed and color-accurate photo.

As we know, the iPhone 4S and HTC Amaze 4G feature backside illumination, which should enable them to take in more light than others. Not only do they retain some distinguished details, but they also offer enhanced overall clarity with the shots.

 Looking at the shots of the tiles on the wall, which are somewhat lit up by a faint incandescent ball, we find that color production remains deep in tone – whereas the Samsung Galaxy S II and Motorola DROID BIONIC tend to have a slightly washed out appearance. With the latter, there's a bluish tint that casts the overall shot, which in turn produces the most unrealistic colors.

Meanwhile, when we look at the low lighting shot of the stuffed animals, there is some evidence of faint noise levels with the Motorola DROID BIONIC and Samsung Galaxy S II. Yet, it's not terribly recognizable, however, the photos don't quite look as sharp when you compare them to the iPhone 4S and HTC Amaze 4G. Excelling highly in the areas of detail, exposure, and color reproduction, there's no arguing that the backside illumination on the two handsets are equipped to handle low lighting conditions.

In situations when the flash is required, it seems as though the LED flash on the Samsung Galaxy S II works well in a variety of distances. Whether it's 3 feet, 5 feet, or 7 feet away, the Samsung Galaxy S II manages to cast some balance lighting to the scenery – without distorting or over-exposing them. Very similar in performance, the iPhone 4S comes close, but its potency at 7 feet away isn't as nearly great. As for the remaining two smartphones, their results are plagued by difficulty in properly adjusting their focus level, resulting in blurry, unusable shots.



1. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

HTC Amaze FTW! and iPhone 4S.

8. tacohunter

Posts: 408; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

Indeed. I could't even see what was on that little button picture of the droid and galaxy. A bit akward. +1 btw

32. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

the bionic is the worse, lol

34. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Yay! HTC has fixed the screen and camera issue. Now only battery life remains!

35. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

You're right but they can't really perfect in one smartphone for some reason. Rezound = Amazing display but 1600mAh battery isn't good enough. Amaze 4G = Great camera but battery life and display performance isn't good enough. Vivid = 1080p at 60Fps! But 4.5" display with qHD resolution isn't good enough especially after announcing the Rezound.

42. nameless1521

Posts: 17; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

That's a thing i don't like about HTC. They don't put whole features in the one phone, but release a phone every fortnight and end up not updating some of their phones to ICS. Great sales tactic, but not so please for users.

57. Sackboy117

Posts: 178; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

the sales thing makes sense, but apple puts all their best technology in their 1 phone and still makes good sales. i think if HTC did that, they would have a beast superphone

51. bigdawg23

Posts: 467; Member since: May 25, 2011

The Vivid has better battery life than the SGS2. I had the SGS2 from AT&T and swapped it for the Vivid. Touchwiz or its email client didn't like my works exchange very well. As you get bigger screens, say good by to battery life unless they plug a 1950mah one in it like the original Atrix.

2. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Not that it makes a difference here, but why is the exynos sgs2 never used in these comparisons?

4. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

What difference will it make?

17. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Its the better model of the two. In this comparision, nothing. but don't you want to always compare the best version?

28. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

You do realize they use the same camera sensor in both. The only difference is screen size, processor and design.

53. gyphon34

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

AS you know there is 2 version processor of Galaxy S2, the snapdragon and the exynos. "You do realize they use the same camera sensor in both. The only difference is screen size, processor and design." Seems like you have been into tmobile snapdragon forum for a while, there have been finding that snapdragon's processor isnt calibrated as perfect as its sibling as the color and camera functions goes.

3. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Crop photos made by bionic and S II look shi&&y. 1080p for now is useless. I'd rather have really good 720p than this pseudo 1080p.

5. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

In the Amaze 4G review, the reviewer said that photo and video capture isn't one of it's strong points. How come it's in level with the iPhone 4S now?

9. GalaxySIIguy

Posts: 6; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Because phonearena and every other website out there falls over each other to compliment Apple's golden child. Unless it has the Apple logo on the back then it's complete crap. (Sarcasm)

11. tacohunter

Posts: 408; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

You must be mad cause the galaxy has not the best camara review. Idk either why they compare almost every phone with iPhone. I think the reason is that apple said at it's keynote. That they made significent improvements to the camera. PA, just wanna test it. What's wrong with that? And it's a tie between amaze and 4s.

13. GalaxySIIguy

Posts: 6; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Not angry one bit. I love my galaxy S and I know it's faults. But I also know how biased tech sites are towards the iPhone 4S. For a phone that made minor improvements at best over 15 months, I don't feel it deserves the mountains of praise that it gets.

14. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

How does that even make any sense? Muhannad asked why the Amaze 4G camera review was so bad before and now all of a sudden its great and on par with the iPhone 4S. If this and every other website was falling over each other to compliment the iPhone (like you just said they are) then the Amaze 4G review would have gotten worse, not better. The iPhone 4 had a great camera, and the 4S has an even better one. I don't see where there's any room for argument or discontent.

20. tacohunter

Posts: 408; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

minor improvements? doesn't deserve the mountains of praise that it gets? These reviews are made by people who know how to make a review. You know nothing about iphone at all if you say minor improvements. You are saying and alot of fandroids that every site praised everything that apple makes. Pls stop commenting on how bad iphone, wp, etc is. It's just a review, I'm sure they'll have their reasons to "praise" it.

45. donato

Posts: 22; Member since: Nov 28, 2010

You don't feel that it's deserves all the praise it gets but everyone else does. That is why apple sells the most makes the most money and has the most superior products. More people buy apple more people own apple that is why they praise it the most. If you don't like it then don't read a open phone site, go to a droid site were people go when they are upset that apple gets all the praise it deserves.

6. Eingild

Posts: 203; Member since: Apr 19, 2011

Is it me or the iPhone 4s has a lot of purple infringing going on there?

7. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Each reviewer has its own taste.

10. yougotkilled1

Posts: 167; Member since: Apr 27, 2011

Xperia arc please =P

12. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

..to answer the last line of the review - it's already there. The Nokia N8 :p But really, it will be Sony's Xperia Nozomi

27. parthpatels007

Posts: 54; Member since: May 27, 2011

:) N8 rocks with it's huge sensor

36. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Don't be so sure. Arc was expected to be amazingly good in phot department ...but it's not. Still...it's one of the best photo phone around in android camp. King is one. N8. And I'm wondering why PA doesn't mention about it. I know that Symbian is not popular and most of users think it's dead, but in camera department he is still a KING. However, PA disregard his existence.

15. Habib

Posts: 114; Member since: Feb 26, 2011

whaaat? HTC AMAZE just killed all the other 3!!! how is that a tie?

18. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

actually, from what I see the amaze was third place

33. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

stop smoking

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