Smartphone Camera Shootout

April 29, 2015

We pit the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9’s cameras to see which one is the best.

Smartphone cameras have gotten better over the last few years. Optics and software also helped in making these smartphones one of the top cameras for everyone, sometimes rendering standalone cameras as obsolete. This year we saw top of the line specifications from Apple, HTC and Samsung – and with their current flagships already available, we want to see how their cameras will be perform side-by-side and in various conditions.

Specifications

Before we proceed let us check out the camera capabilities for each model starting with the Apple iPhone 6. This smartphone still retains thd same 8 megapixel camera, but has upgraded its internals to provide phase detection autofocus along with a dual-LED flash, a 1.5-micron pixels and ƒ/2.2 aperture plus digital image stabilization (the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization).

For the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung has bumped up the megapixel count to 16 megapixels, and now offers optical image stabilization along with a wider ƒ/1.9 aperture. The wide aperture allows for better low light images to be taken by the smartphone.

Lastly for the HTC One M9, they have changed the UltraPixel camera found on the M7 and M9 and replaced it with a new 20.7 megapixel camera. It features a dual LED flash along with a ƒ/2.2 aperture like the iPhone 6.

All these specifications make these smartphones very capable shooters – in the next following pages, we shall take a look at how these smartphones perform in different conditions.


Daylight Shots

Apple iPhone 6

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Apple iPhone 6

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Apple iPhone 6 (100% crop)

HTC One M9 (100% crop)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (100% crop)

While all daylight shots look okay, quality is certainly more present on the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Both managed show a decent sharpness and color accuracy – but once we look at the actual size of the images it is evident that the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge’s images offer more clarity.


Macro Shots

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Apple iPhone 6

All three smartphone managed to offer decent detail when it comes to close-ups, with subtle focusing on the subject and tiny bit of blur in the background. Good images from all three but if we had to choose, the Samsung Galaxy S6 again gets a point for overall quality.


Night Shots

Apple iPhone 6

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Night shots is where we get to see how each smartphone really performs. On the Apple iPhone 6, details are sharp and quality is pretty much spot on and light is present on where it is actually needed.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 shines in low light conditions probably because of its larger aperture. The increased brightness on the image didn’t hit the overall picture – and it ranks up there as one of the best images from a smartphone taken in low light.

Unfortunately for the HTC One M9, it performed worse than what we expected. Despite offering a brighter image, there was too much noise along with a flares coming from the lights. Not a pretty sight.


Selfies

Apple iPhone 6

HTC One M9

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

These cameras also feature new front facing cameras. The Apple iPhone 6 has a new FaceTime camera, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge as a new wide lens front facing camera and the HTC One M9’s front facing camera is the same Ultrapixel camera found on the M7 and M8. While the HTC One M9 looks okay, the image ended up being too soft to our liking. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge’s camera again takes the cake here.


Conclusion

It was the HTC One M9’s camera that somehow disappointed us the most, considering that it has the highest megapixel count among the three used in this comparison. While the Apple iPhone 6’s camera get high points, it is ultimately the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge’s camera that stands out. Detail and quality is spot on, and add to that the excellent low light performance, Samsung has proven it still has the capability to challenge companies like Apple in offering the best imaging feature on a smartphone.

Do you agree with the comparisons? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

by Victor
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff.