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

Introduction, Details, Color reproduction and Indoor shots


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.

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