Samsung GS4 v. Apple iPhone 5 v. HTC One: Which phone takes the best photos?

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 30 Apr 2013

The two Android hardware makers that get the most attention, Samsung and HTC, decided to take different routes for the cameras in their 2013 flagship phones. Samsung decided to bump up the camera resolution in the GS4 to 13 megapixels compared with the 8 megapixels in the GS3. HTC on the other hand, they went from 8 megapixels in the One X to 4 megapixels in the One.

That’s not the whole story though, since HTC decided to increase the size of the pixels in their sensor, which improves low light performance. While I’m the topic of low light, HTC also decided to throw in optical image stabilization, something that Steve touched upon in an earlier article.

Now given that Android Beat is a brand new site, and because I’m in Finland, that makes getting review hardware hard. Not to fret though, there’s plenty of awesome publications who I’m more than happy to link to. One site that I particularly enjoy reading is Mobile-Review. Unfortunately, they publish everything in Russian, which means I have to shove their articles through Google Translate, so I miss the small details.

Luckily, their latest article comparing the cameras of various flagship devices doesn’t really need English to get the point across. The article stands out because it’s purely data driven. See, Mobile-Review decided to take a bunch of photos with a bunch of phones and let their readers decide which images they liked the most. All the EXIF data was scrubbed out, so people honestly had no idea which phone they were picking.

Their sample sizes were also quite large. One series of photos had over 8,000 votes, while the other photo sets had at least 5,000 data points to analyze.

The result? When it comes to shooting in sunlight, 37% of readers said the GS4’s camera was the best. That compares to 14% for the iPhone 5 and just 2% for the HTC One. Moving on to photos that were captured in what looks like a pub (read: bar), those figures change to 51% preferring the GS4, 6% preferring the iPhone 5, and just 3% preferring the HTC One. We see the same results for indoor shots: 66% like the GS4, 15% like the iPhone 5, and 3% like the One.

The real eye opener is the data from photos captured in low light. There the Nokia Lumia 920 wins with 36%, followed by the Galaxy S4 at 23%, and then finally the HTC One with only 5%.

Let me repeat myself, images were uploaded to Mobile-Review completely unlabeled, and people had a chance to vote on their favorite photos for roughly two weeks. At the end of the article, even Mobile-Review says they’re not going to publish any conclusions since the charts are enough.

I fully agree. And personally, I’m shocked, since I thought the iPhone 5 had the camera to beat. Turns out the GS4 is the new king of town, and that has me super excited to see what Apple does with the iPhone 5S, and what Sony plans on doing with project “Honami”.