Smartphone Camera Shootout: iPhone 5 vs Lumia 928 vs Galaxy S IV

Personal photos are a unique look into someone's life and the experiences they have come across. When it comes to capturing those moments, consumers have a wide variety of choices from DSLRs to point and shoot cameras, smartphones and even tablets. For most of us, the camera we have most often is the one attached to your cell phone.

We have taken three of the top smartphones, the iPhone 5, Lumia 928 and Samsung's Galaxy S IV and took a few shots with each for comparison  All of the phones are the Verizon model (CDMA) and of course, are the U.S. variant of the phone (this is critical for the Galaxy S IV as Samsung ships a slightly different model in the U.S. as compared to the rest of the world).

We took multiple shots with each phone in several locations to test close up shots, color reproduction, scenic photos and low-light images to test the sensors in a variety of settings. Each shot with the camera on the automatic (or equivalent) setting. 


Galaxy S IV


iPhone 5


Lumia 928


iPhone 5 / Lumia 928 / Galaxy S IV

The flower image above shows that the iPhone 5 and the S IV both have over-saturated the photo, with the yellow becoming a bit too bright. The Lumia 928 was the closest to actual color reproduction of the flower with a blue tint to the photo when compared to the others.


Galaxy S IV


iPhone 5


Lumia 928


iPhone 5 / Lumia 928 / Galaxy S IV

In these images, the Lumia 928 once again showed better color reproduction with the grass being far more green when compared to the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S IV. It appears that the iPhone 5 and the S IV are typically on the warm side while the Lumia 928 continues to be a tad cool.


Galaxy S IV


iPhone 5


Lumia 928


iPhone 5 / Lumia 928 / Galaxy S IV

In this image test, the Galaxy S IV produced the image that had the best color reproduction with the Lumia 928 being too warm and the iPhone 5 being too washed out. 


Galaxy S IV


iPhone 5


Lumia 928


iPhone 5 / Lumia 928 / Galaxy S IV

This one is a bit of a toss-up, the Lumia 928 and iPhone 5 show better definition in the clouds than the S IV, but it's a marginal difference with no clear winner in the batch. 


Galaxy S IV


iPhone 5



Lumia 928


iPhone5 / Lumia 928 / Galaxy S IV

In the low-light test, the Lumia 928 clearly wins with with the best definition/clarity and the Galaxy S IV and the iPhone 5 being equal in their respective photos. This shouldn't come as a major surprise as the Lumia line of phones are known for their low-light capabilities.

Conclusion

Following the above tests, it became clear that the Lumia 928 is the best all-around smartphone camera of the group with the Galaxy S IV coming in second and the iPhone 5 coming in last. That's not a major surprise for the iPhone 5, given it is the oldest of the group.

In terms of ease of use, all the phones had fast shutter speeds, but the Galaxy S IV was a bit harder to use as it does not have a dedicated camera button like the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928.

So, of the top three devices we tested, if you are buying a phone and a camera is your top priority, the Lumia 928 is the phone for you.

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52 Comments

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Wam7 said,
For those wanting a 'proper' review, see here. Also includes HTC One.
http://connect.dpreview.com/po...cone-vs-iphone5-vs-lumia920
That was a very good find. That review is spot on o what I said about the above. Except they actually liked the iPhone 5 shots, which I did not. To be the iPhone shots aren't sharp and actually they all look fuzzy in detail. It looks like the lens was dirty as it does above.

The GS4 took the best shots as far as detail and sharpeness. They kept saying over exposed and saturated in color. In those shots I disagree. The color detail was simply sharper which makes the color appear saturated.

When a camera sees color, it has to try to reproduce what it sees. Unlike your eyes which can automatically adjust to tones, cameras simply can't. You have to manually do it. The blue sky simply looks bluer, not because of saturation; but because of its color map.

I wish the GS3 was in that review because the GS3, GN2 and the iPhone 4S and 5 all use the exact same sensor, yet the GS3 tends to take a better picture along with the GN2.

But nice find!

Makes me laugh really... Who gives a damn what a photographer says. Camera phones are just that... Camera's made cheap and slammed into phones. For people who know zero and care zero about details such as light balance, aperture width, exposure etc. I am not surprised to see Samsung fans saying they prefer the less 'real' look of the Samsung shots. That's just biased, but another reason we shouldn't care too much. But for the record.... Every single photo in this article was badly shot and 10 times worse than even my quick snaps.

Spirit Dave said,
Makes me laugh really... Who gives a damn what a photographer says. Camera phones are just that... Camera's made cheap and slammed into phones. For people who know zero and care zero about details such as light balance, aperture width, exposure etc. I am not surprised to see Samsung fans saying they prefer the less 'real' look of the Samsung shots. That's just biased, but another reason we shouldn't care too much. But for the record.... Every single photo in this article was badly shot and 10 times worse than even my quick snaps.
I for one am not a Samsung fan, even though for the past 2 years I have only bought Galaxy products after spending 3 years buying iOS based products.

But you did hit one nail on the head. People who don't consider light balance, exposure...etc. That is actually why I now prefer the Galaxy devices and the sensors because at tleast you get to change those options.

As I stated above, yes in several of the cases the 928 did show a more natural tone in color. However if you move your eyes away from the lens and compare the shot you took vs what you can see with your eyes, and you will be all the cameras are off in color tones.

The GS4 cam simply made the shot more sharp. Yes the colors tones were off. But the average person isn't going to care as you said. Its not bias. I am not biased to smartphone shooters. I have a Nikon D5200 for when I want to take professional level shots. And even when I compare similar shots I have taken with it compared to those above, the GS4 came closer do to the fact the picture was clear, sharp and vivid. Yes I even stated the GS4 oversaturated some of the colors. But to an average person, it will simply look better for other reasons. A fanny camera shouldn't take dull pictures. You eyes looking at those same settings in real life wont be dull. They will be sharp and vivid providing you have good eyes.

Also, I have a right to like what I like based on how I like it.
I agree every photo in this review was bad. But IMO, the GS4 wasn;t the worse. The GS4 is the best, the iPhone was the worse and the 928 was in the middle.

Spirit Dave said,
But for the record.... Every single photo in this article was badly shot and 10 times worse than even my quick snaps.

Umm, what did you expect from this site? If you want a better analysis and an unbiased opinion there are much better sites for that in my opinion.

For the record, I do agree with you 100%. The reviewer really doesn't know how to do a review or take pictures that are comparable. I mean the first example was absolutely horrible. Although I give him credit for not waiting till the end of June using the GS4 (Google Edition) to make his "comparison" shots.

In the article, this was said: In terms of ease of use, all the phones had fast shutter speeds, but the Galaxy S IV was a bit harder to use as it does not have a dedicated camera button like the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928.

Ehm, if you actually had been using the camera on the Galaxy S4 more than just 5 seconds, you would find out that you can use the volume button as a camera button in the camera settings.

Here is a picture to prove it: http://www.digitaltrends.com/w...3/04/s4-camera-settings.jpg

Take a look at the picture to the right there. You will find an option called 'Volume Key'. Press that and choose 'The camera key'. And voila.

Exynos said,
In the article, this was said: In terms of ease of use, all the phones had fast shutter speeds, but the Galaxy S IV was a bit harder to use as it does not have a dedicated camera button like the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928.

Ehm, if you actually had been using the camera on the Galaxy S4 more than just 5 seconds, you would find out that you can use the volume button as a camera button in the camera settings.

Here is a picture to prove it: http://www.digitaltrends.com/w...3/04/s4-camera-settings.jpg

Take a look at the picture to the right there. You will find an option called 'Volume Key'. Press that and choose 'The camera key'. And voila.


That option has been avail for Android since ICS as far as I can remember.
A typical iPhone users won't know this because, the iPhone has very limited camera settings. I mean something as simple as panoramic shots has been avail since at leats Gingerbread and Apple just did it recently.

I hate the iPhone camera, not because of its quality, but because it is too simplified. No features, no capabilities. Oh wait,. The acemar is actually capable of doing exactly what it can on my Note II as they are the same. But because Apple locks them all out of the software or simply doesn't include them is what I hate most. That is why after having 2 models I will never go back.

iFans are shockingly simpletons who don't believe in choice and capability.

Even though the 928 has a nice camera, for everyday shooters they really won't care much. I also don't think it is a significant enough plus to consider it over the other 2 devices. Sales have shown that.

Having one awesome feature but lacking in everything else for a device of this caliper is pretty sad. If I want to take awesome pictures, I would never expect a phone to be that option. I would buy a real camera. Not a phone pretending to be one.

Lumia 928 is sold out at Radioshack due to overwhelming demand. It's #1 rated phone at Verizon right now with 4.9/5.0 rating and 97% recommending it. I don't think you have used one yet. Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5's photos at night don't even come close. There are HAAC microphones on Lumia 928 that will blow away those other two phones at audio recording and don't forget the Optical Image Stabilization that Lumia 928 has.
http://wmpoweruser.com/radiosh...e-nokia-lumia-928-sold-out/

I am not going to claim to be a professional photographer. However even though I agree with some of what you said, the pictures speak for themselves.

IMO, the GS4 took the best shots and here is why I say. YOU as a photographer looks for more natural color vs saturation which makes the color vivid. Hmmm! Most photo studios I have gone too and compared the actual color of the item vs how the camera saw it, even with very fancy cameras they don't reproduce the actual color very well.

In the case of the above, the GS4 pictures looked better because they were more clear. The brightness of the yellow is due to the fcat you made no adjustment to the camera before you took it. The camera gives you an option to lower the vivid nature of the software to over compensate the color.

IMO though, the color is not to bright, it just more vivid and clear do to the camera simply being better. Look at the 928 pic of the flowers. The leaves look dull and don't even look green at all. A close up shot of most plants, the green doesn't look dull like that. The camera lens being colored also messes up the shot. The GS4 sharpness was a bit high, but it looks way better than the other 2.

In the grass shot I agree, the 928 took a more real looking photo as far as color. But look how much the green changed from the close up vs the open field. At least the iPhone and GS4 retained their color even if it was off a bit. It doesn't really look green, but more darker. They were consistent while the 928 was not.


In the next shot with leaves with mulch? Mulch is a very reddish brown or dark brown color usually. However the 928 make sit look red with hardly any brown. In the GS4 shot it actually looks brown. Again the GS4 took a much clearer picture. Again though and adjustment top sharpness would have made it perfect.

Next, the trees. I agree 100% on that one.

And lastly, yes the 928 did better in low light.

I would love to see you use these phones to take a picture of an object in a completely dark room with NO LIGHT and just use the flash and see which device takes the best picture.

maybe try calibrating your monitor because the lumia is better. go around and read all the reviews,the lumia is better. you're not even a photographer,and photographers conclude, the lumia is better.

vcfan said,
maybe try calibrating your monitor because the lumia is better. go around and read all the reviews,the lumia is better. you're not even a photographer,and photographers conclude, the lumia is better.
Why? I am using a full 1920x1080p monitor and the photos look exactly how it looks on my phone which has a lower resolution at 1280x720. Calibrating the color isn't going to change the physical nature of the photo except in color deception...not perception.

Check you eyes. In all of the pictures, the iPhone pictures were cloudy looking as if the lens was dirty. The Lumia adds a shade to the color because its lens has a hue on it. While the only camera that took sharp and clear pics in all the shots was the GS4.

Its your monitor that needs calibrating. Might want to visit an optometrist too.

I have the Galaxy Note II. It has the exact same camera and sensor as the IPhone 4S and 5. The 5's camera is simply thinner, but is otrherwise identical to the one on the 4S. When I take pics at 1280x720 which is my devices native resolutions or higher, they are NEVER cloudy like the ones he took with the iPhone above.

To me that shows a lack of knowledge. Unlike the iPhone, at least Samsung includes more camera settings similar to what you find on expensive DSLR shooters which Apple doesn't include. Even though more people just point and shoot, like this reviewer did, there are people like me who preset their camera or at least know what settinsg to change to get a better picture.

The sensor in the GS3, GN2 are identical and the one in the GS4 is similar just with higher MP rating. If you lover the sharpness, change the setting for white balance which actually lowers the level of saturation used on the shot and turn on outdoor visibility, the picture will be near perfect and still be 100% clear, the colors wont be off or as saturated.

Taking a camera and just pointing it and shooting and saying this device is better is simply misleading in my opinion.

stop being in denial. you are not right and the majority are not wrong. just because you use that product doesn't make it the best. its a fact the lumia camera is better.

vcfan said,
stop being in denial. you are not right and the majority are not wrong. just because you use that product doesn't make it the best. its a fact the lumia camera is better.

Maybe you should take a look at this review then.
http://connect.dpreview.com/po...cone-vs-iphone5-vs-lumia920

Clearly no one is better and each have their strengths/weaknesses I still opt for a dedicated camera in most cases as camera phones pale in comparison.

Was the Low-Light setting enabled on the S4? Because , at least with the S3, when I enable Low-Light, I get images like the Lumina.

Im guessing they're all left at default. The lumia also has a night mode, and in past experiences with mine, you can get it to be ridiculously bright.

Here's a photo I took in Rome with my 920 with night conditions. My girlfriend at the time had her iPhone 5 on her and she couldn't get anywhere close to the light levels. This was at around 10:30pm.
https://skydrive.live.com/redi...id=F9B6B02F31B64EA6!612

Not much difference until you get to low light. Lumia 928 really is so far ahead in this regard. Low light performance is very important too, it isn't like it won at something that can be fixed in post processing. You have to expose a photo to have anything to work with.

I was just thinking this, you can turn the volume key into a camera button. Does just as good a job as a dedicated camera button.

With the SIV, you can slide to unlock directly into the camera app. This is about the same as pressing the camera button on 928 to unlock directly into the camera app.

KibosJ said,
I was just thinking this, you can turn the volume key into a camera button. Does just as good a job as a dedicated camera button.

No it's not. A dedicated camera button has two stages. The first to focus the image, the second to shoot the photo.

Lumia 928 and Lumia 925 does have Amber Update and I think its PR 2 firmware rather than Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update. So Amber Update is more Nokia own firmware level enhancement as compare to Microsoft update.

Zlip792 said,
Lumia 928 and Lumia 925 does have Amber Update and I think its PR 2 firmware rather than Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update. So Amber Update is more Nokia own firmware level enhancement as compare to Microsoft update.

928 doesn't have amber update.

Looking at all the pictures, I like the pictures from S4, I maybe biased as I have an S3 and am looking to upgrade to S4. But I can say one thing, the pictures from S4 look alot better, if not close to real world.

Blueclub said,
Looking at all the pictures, I like the pictures from S4, I maybe biased as I have an S3 and am looking to upgrade to S4. But I can say one thing, the pictures from S4 look alot better, if not close to real world.

Kinda. Looking at the pic of the leaf, i like the colors better with the S4. But if you look at the mulch on the ground, the color on the Nokia is closer. So even tho I like the color of the leaf better in the S4, the Nokia is closer to what it actually looks like. Probably wouldnt of noticed this if I didnt lay 100 bags of that mulch last weekend.

Blueclub said,
Looking at all the pictures, I like the pictures from S4, I maybe biased as I have an S3 and am looking to upgrade to S4. But I can say one thing, the pictures from S4 look alot better, if not close to real world.

I'm not sure if something is wrong with your eyes, but the Lumia pics look more real, they're not bathed in a yellowish tint

Blueclub said,
Looking at all the pictures, I like the pictures from S4, I maybe biased as I have an S3 and am looking to upgrade to S4. But I can say one thing, the pictures from S4 look alot better, if not close to real world.

I agree with you. I make it clear that I own an S4 and am not being biased, but the pictures taken with the S4 above look much better than the rest.

as a Photographer, the Quality outcome of S4 has more clarity, the Quality is impressive, the Iphone is just aweful.. not even to real life.. Lumia is awww..not soo good.. the only Advantage the Lumia has is the Dark or night shoot, thats the impressive part. but bottom line is, S4 is perfect in clarity and for Quality.

ctrl_alt_delete said,
I'm not sure if something is wrong with your eyes, but the Lumia pics look more real, they're not bathed in a yellowish tint

Mine's are working right, how about yours? Read what I said once again, let me quote...

"But I can say one thing, the pictures from S4 look alot better, if not close to real world."

I have an HTC one and I just came from a Lumia 920. I would have to say, the Lumia did take better pictures than it.

I don't care that much about the camera. But, it definitely would not have one this series of pictures.

techbeck said,
Why not the HTC One as well?

Every comparison I've seen has the Lumia 92x beating the HTC One. I've even seen cheap Lumias like the 710 producing better pics.