Best Camera phone 2014: The Final Comparative

Best Camera phone

It’s been years since the craze of megapixels in cameras broke out, not to say that, since the beginning of digital photography, manufacturers (rather marketing departments) and users have been obsessed by the number of pixels (or photocells sensitive to light) that have the sensor of a determined camera.

And not without reason that in the early days of photography, as we know it today, the resolution is so low that little could be done at the time of printing photos if one wanted to obtain a high density of points. However, currently any compact camera has a pretty decent resolution that can make small prints at 300 DPI.

And when it seemed that everything had already passed and that, finally, manufacturers, experts and users were clear that megapixels weren’t the only thing that mattered, again we return to trip over the same stone, this time in the mobile telephone market.

The camera has become one of the key components and a deciding factor when choosing a smartphone. It is usually the first thing that many people look at when buying a mobile phone and it can make a particular mobile phone model a success or a complete failure.

Compact, Reflex, or Mobile Phone?

Smartphones are suggested as substitutes for traditional cameras and although the debate is served (compact, reflex, or mobile phone?), there is no doubt that in terms of connectivity and social functions, the phones are the best as manufacturers endeavor to expand the camera specifications with Wi-Fi, NFC, Android…

I’m not saying they are not desirable and notable options in a dedicated camera, but the truth is that, needing a Wi-Fi network or a mobile hotspot to share content socially, has little to do with the smartphones. And yes, there are cameras with wireless connectivity, though I do not quite have it clear and I think they are moving with functionality and compact photographic camera specifications.

And at this juncture in which one does not know if you travel with the SLR, the small compact carrier or choose to take pictures with mobile phone. Manufacturers strive to appeal with advertisements specifications and performance in their latest models: if the terminal with highest resolution works best in low light conditions, or the fastest burst mode with slow motion, which is even splash resistant submersible… You do not know which one to choose!

Which smartphone Has the Best Camera?

Given the above, we have thrown caution to the head and we have decided to compare smartphones by each manufacturer (and some earlier model of one of the marks) with a single purpose: to carry out laboratory tests to compare results and to find out for sure which mobile phone has the best camera.

The models analyzed are the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S by Apple, the Nokia Lumia 1020; the HTC One M8 the Samsung Galaxy S5 and finally the latest models from Sony, the new Sony Xperia Z2. If we are missing a model we hope to add it in the study soon.

We will not get into software functionalities easily expandable with apps or show what works best in certain circumstances. We will simply analyze how each deals with different tests.

Before beginning we must add a final note. Each of the terminals has been analyzed with a particular version of an operating system/ROM system and, in some cases, it may have been updated post-test to correct any detected problem or even improve various functions including the camera.

Outside the lab all pay phones in more than worthy and few can blame them when you consider that, at bottom, are mobile phones.

Without further ado, let the models be compared from all possible angles so we can determine which is camera phone is the best.

1. Specifications

A level specifications can be found sensor sizes ranging from 1/3"on the iPhone 5s to 1/1.5" in the new Lumia 1020, the largest of all. The latter is also one of the highest pixel density so that, although it has higher resolutions, the sensitive area per pixel is lower compared to other models.

The focus is fixed in all cases (between 26 mm and 31 mm) and the overall brightness of acceptable lenses, with values ​​between f2 and f2 4.

Speaking of resolution, there are models with HTC UltraPíxeles that comply with 4.1 Mpix and others like the Lumia 1020, which boasts reaching 41 Mpix and stays at 38.25 Mpix when shooting in 4:3 format.

Hre we list these five smartphones detail specs, hoping it’s helpful for you to choose:

  iPhone 5s Lumia 1020 Samsung Galaxy S5 HTC One M8 Sony Xperia Z2
  iPhone 5s Lumia 1020 Samsung Galaxy S5 HTC One M8 Sony Xperia Z2
Type and size of sensor

CMOS 1/3"

BSI sensor 1/1.5"

Isocell sensor 1/2.6"

BSI sensor 1/3" Exmor RS sensor 1/2.3"
Effective resolution 7,99 MPíx 38,25 Megapixel 16 Megapixel 4.1-megapixel 20.7-megapixel

Dual LED flash

LED flash LED flash Dual LED flash LED flash
Focal (35mm equivalent)

30 mm

26 mm

31 mm 28mm 27mm
Aperture f2.0 f2,2 f/2.2 f2.0 f/2.0
Maximum sensitivity ISO 2.500 ISO 4.000 ISO 2000 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
Front-facing camera 1.2-megapixel 1.2-megapixel 2.1 megapixels 5-megapixel 2.2-megapixel
Other Key Specs
Display 4-inch multitouch display 4.5 inches
5.1-inch FHD Super AMOLED 5.0 inches Super LCD3 5.2 inches IPS LCD
Resolution 1136×640 768 x 1280 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Chipset Apple A7 Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801 Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801
Processor Dual-core 1.3 GHz Cyclone Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait

Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400

Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400

PowerVR G6430

Adreno 225 Adreno 330 Adreno 330 Adreno 330
Storage 16/32/64 GB 32/64 GB 16/32 GB,
microSD: up to 128 GB
16/32 GB,
microSD: up to 128 GB
16 GB
microSD: up to 128 GB
Ram 1 GB 2 GB 2 GB 2 GB 3 GB

Non-removable 1570 mAh

Non-removable 2000 mAh

Removable 2800mAh Non-removable Li-Po 2600 mAh

Non-removable 3200 mAh

Working time (3G)

Standby time: 250hrs, Talk time: 10hrs

Standby time: 384hrs, Talk time: 13hrs 20 min

Standby time: 390hrs, Talk time: 21hrs

Standby time: 496 hrs,
Talk time: 20hrs

Standby time: 740 hrs,
Talk time:
19 hrs

NFC No Yes Yes Yes Yes
OS IOS 7 Windows Phone 8 Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat) Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat) Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat)
Buy on Amazon User Reviews on Amazon User Reviews on Amazon User Reviews on Amazon User Reviews on Amazon User Reviews on Amazon


Sample images comparison:

Making a 100% comparison of this type is nearly impossible. All these smartphones have different sensors, optics and resolution, but we have tried as far as possible taking photos under the same conditions for all. We took the photos in automatic mode which is used by most people and with the same intensity of light, without additional effects or additional activated features, like night mode for night shots. Here is the result.

General Daytime Scene:

Samsung Galaxy S5:

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: The differences in these daylight photos are small, maybe one or two among the photos, but they are noticeable. The HTC One M8 shows a bad white balance, while the Xperia Z2 shows some slightly saturated colors, giving a somewhat artificial feel to the image. The iPhone 5s captures too much light in this shoot. The two cameras that are the most balanced are from the Galaxy S5 and the Lumia 1020, although the latter achieves greater white balance and sharpness.

Winner: Lumia 1020. (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

General Daytime Scene, mixing light and shadows

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: The photos from the Galaxy S5 have a good white balance, sharpness and exposure. In comparison, we see how the HTC M8 and the Xperia Z2 has a maladjusted white balance, with lighter colors than the real ones. The Lumia 1020 is almost perfect but has slightly saturated colors, especially in the green color, which doesn’t show in the Galaxy S5. The photo from the iPhone 5s does not have adequate dynamic range.

Winner: Galaxy S5 (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Daytime macros

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: This is a good photo to check the color fidelity and saturation. The Galaxy S5 achieves a great balance of colors compared to HTC M8 and the Xperia Z2 again. On the M8, the red foreground appears dull and on the Xperia Z2 very exposed. The sharpness of the Lumia 1020 is perfect, but again saturates the colors. The white balance and sharpness in the iPhone 5s are not the best.

Winner: Galaxy S5 (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Interior scene, side light

Samsung Galaxy S5
HTC One M8
HTC One M8
Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: In this photo shoot there was an important light coming in from the window on the left. The white balance from daytime photos in the Galaxy S5 is not quite right, too dark and with yellow/orange tones. The HTC One M8 and the Z2 are on the opposite sides. In both the image sharpness from the window area is not adequate. The Lumia 1020 achieves the best balance in color and sharpness, especially in the area of the spotlight.

Winnder: Lumia 1020. (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Zoom test

In this test we will add to the original photo and just below the same scene with 100% zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: if you look at the image with zoom at the maximum, we see that the differences are quite clear in sharpness. The Galaxy S5 does a good job, better than the HTC One M8 (with more noise and worse white balance) and the Xperia Z2 (which shows a worse definition in maximum zoom). The best image is from the Lumia 1020, in definition, exposure and color balance. The iPhone 5s isn’t bad, but not up to the standards of the Lumia 1020 or Galaxy S5 on this front.

Winner: Lumia 1020 (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Night scene with Spotlight

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: This is a complete photo shot at night, but with a pilot light in the foreground. It is clear that all but the Lumia 1020 are more exposed, showing an incorrect white balance: the color of the building is too dull and the spotlight is too white. The only shortcoming of the 1020 is that it slightly saturates the color, but it is the most balanced picture on all parameters.

Winner: Lumia 1020 (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Nighttime Macro

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: This is probably the most complex of all the photos: at night with a spotlight at a great distance. The Galaxy S5 sensor fails to capture enough light to get a decent picture, while the HTC One goes to the opposite side, with an over exposed image. The Z2 does a great job, but fails to properly focus the foreground. The top two are the iPhone 5s and Lumia 1020, although the 5s has a worse color balance.

Winner: Lumia 1020 (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

Night Scene

Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC One M8

Sony Xperia Z2

Nokia Lumia 1020

iPhone 5s

Conclusion: Another difficult photo to take – at night, with an illuminated main object, but with moving cars often in the foreground. The difficulty here is to get exposure and correct white balance in auto mode. For the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, the images are too exposed and clear. The Lumia 1020 this time does not adequately capture the colors and image of the iPhone 5s even though it is slightly off. The HTC One M8 achieves a better balance between light, color and sharpness.

Winner: HTC One M8. (Price and user Reviews on Amazon)

4. Conclusions

The main conclusion of this test, above all, is that we have five smartphones with a high quality camera. The iPhone 5s is probably the one left behind, but it is also the oldest. If Apple wants to come out of this list in 2014, it will have to strive a lot with the iPhone 6 camera to have a high quality camera.

The Lumia 1020 was presented in 2013, but remains for now the best smartphone for photography, with 5 of the 8 tests offering the best result. The Galaxy S5 is in second place. The Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One M8 make good pictures, but not as high quality as the Galaxy S5 or Lumia 1020 in many situations. They do not disappoint at all, but they have to aspire to be the best high-end smartphone: the competition is brutal

Source: Gizmod

16 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. mixu Karjalaiska says:

    Lumia 1020 Is only have deacent flash.Xenon +Led.

  2. Veka says:

    Nice comparsion!

    Like to point out that chart is missing one point why I bought Lumia 1020 back in 2013.
    It has a dual flash LED and XENON not just one LED! Well then an engineer from Nokia who
    was a part of designing that “monster camera” told me to force phone to not use flash.
    Low light pictures look nicer if you have steady enough hand to cope with exposure time.

    Are you planning to test iPhone6 as some calim it is the best camera in phone now?

  3. Tayo Victor says:

    Wow…nice one buh I think u were bias in some judgments..buh anyways, thumbs up.

  4. Ken says:

    This is helpful, but one of my criteria is shutter response time. I,like many people, take more pictures of people (kids, family gatherings, etc) and capturing moments as the happen us very important. I haven’t found a single review or spec sheet that even mentions response time. Please consider including that in your next reviews.

    • Jaymond says:

      I agree. Response time is most important for those of us with kids. That’s auto-focus time and accuracy with moving subjects and shot to shot time. Because I am a parent the camera is the most important feature of my smartphone and thus I keep coming back to the iPhone though I prefer Android OS. I love loved the new Moto X but the focus was frequently off. I hoped the Droid Turbo Would save me but the jump to 21mp from 13mp just Slowed the camera down to the point of being unusable IMHO.

  5. ahmed munawar says:

    nice job, but i think u should add nokia lumia 1520 (21 megapixels) in this comparison, although it was nice

  6. richard says:

    I am an American living in the Philippines. I have been trying to buy a Nokia 1020 for months. The only ones I can find are second hand used ones or online sales with questionable sellers and no warranty. No store in Manila has one. Why are they so hard to find? Where can a get one from a reputable dealer with warranty?


  7. arjun says:

    It would be good to add LG G3 and MotoX/Droid to the list. Or perhaps the new Moto series once released. We should see some comparison of Clearpixel vs. Ultrapixel vs megapixels. The laser focus of LG G3 should be tested here.

  8. pete says:

    what about huawei ascend p7? I’d like to see how it compares. it’s got a 13 mpix camera, so I think it’d be an interesting comparison, especially with the iphone and samsung galaxy s5.

    Let’s not forget about the galaxy s4 zoom or samsung galaxy k zoom.

  9. Richard says:

    Makes a refreshing change for someone to not say that iPhone is the best. Nice to read a good honest and well written review.

  10. shadee says:

    for me iphone 5s is the best!! very natural!

  11. gj says:

    Hi! great review. can you please give us your comparision for front camera photo output among those mobile units aside their megapixel computation? i was so amazed how lumia overwhelms other popular units. thanks!

  12. Raducan Ionut says:

    Hello! Please tell me with what camera firmware, baseband firmware and android version did you make the analysis – I’m talking about Samsung Galaxy S4. Thank you in advance! Best regards!

  13. EP says:

    Well, it looks like the HTC One did pretty well here if things like lack of noise, lack of distortion, responsive shutter, lack of vignetting, and good white balance are the measure. Not sure how you get the s4 is better. Certainly it is faster with flash (flash pics suck)and can get a few more fps, but neither of those are the measure of a good camera. The resolution is where HTC is behind, but of course with only 4mp, and yet, the photo of resolution shows it is sharper, albiet less lines per cm.

  14. nadeem riffat says:

    Great work! Full marks!

  15. sami says:

    samsung s4 zoom c101 is the best,

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