Updated: iPhone 5s has the best camera on top devices

January 23th, 2014

Note: This report is now updated with new results from Lumia 1020 containing the Black update.

We compared the cameras of different manufacturers' flagship models by measuring camera speed and quality in Sofica Imaging Lab. The phone models measured were Apple iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4 (I9505), LG G2, Nokia Lumia 1020, and Sony Xperia Z1. Measurements were done using one illumination environment; 1000 lux (overcast day).

iPhone 5s got the best result by combining speed and quality even if Galaxy S4 and LG G2 were very close. The result was contradictory because iPhone 5s has the fastest camera but the poorest quality and Lumia 1020 had opposite statistics: best in quality but poorest camera speed. The main reasons of the iPhone’s weak quality were small sensor size, which affected to the sharpness score and some Apple specific color adjustments, which caused low color scoring.

Overall scoring of devices looks like following. The bigger the bar, the better the result.

TOP-5 Chart

By continuing to analyze results, Galaxy S4 had the best image quality but LG G2 was nearly as good. Lumia 1020 had the best quality scores but was clearly the slowest device; huge sensor size requires a lot of processing time.

iPhone 5s was significantly faster in taking five images in a row than any other device. One clear reason for this is that the burst functionality is always activated in iPhone 5s. In other devices the burst has to be activated via proprietary API which was not available when this benchmarking was done.

SNR values of Sony Xperia Z1 were significantly smaller than other devices. As well as the Visual Noise was bigger in Z1. Probably the huge pixel amount with small pixel size caused more noise to the device.

Following chart summarizes the speed and quality measurements for each device. The higher the score, the better the result.

TOP-5 Chart comparison

Finally, here are some characteristics of each measured device:

  • iPhone 5s images look very natural; there was no artificial sharpness or visual denoising in the picture.
  • Galaxy S4 had a lot of artificial sharpness and denoising in the images. The peak values of MTF curves were clearly the biggest. Also the SNR value was the biggest among measured devices.
  • LG G2 was on third place in the speed and second in the quality score. There was a good balance between speed and quality features.
  • Even if Lumia 1020 had the best sharpness, it was not as good as one may expect. Moreover, the corner sharpness was poor. There were huge difference between center and corners.
  • Xperia Z1 had good color accuracy but the sharpness was the weakest of the measured devices. Even if the center sharpness was good, the corners were exceptional poor.

Read the full benchmark report here (PDF) or contact us if you are interested in more details about these devices or detailed benchmark reports of other devices. You are also welcome to give your opinion and feedback on our review to contact@sofica.fi.

Sofica Team