The line between camera and phone continues to be blurred as cutting-edge devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and iPhone 4S continue to encroach on point-and-shoot camera territory.
One of Apple’s biggest selling points for the iPhone 4 and now the 4s, has been their camera technology. Android is much more soft-spoken about the topic, but thanks to the careful work of PC World’s reviewers, we can see that Android phones like the Galaxy S II are quietly proving to be the leader of the smartphone camera pack.
In PC World’s Smartphone Camera Battle, the iPhone 4S was pitted against multiple Android competitors in a head-to-head-to-head challenge in multiple image/video quality tests. Using a standardized setup with the same lighting, tripod positioning, and auto-mode settings, the following tests were performed:
1. One still-life scene with a mannequin, to rate flash exposure quality. This is the only test in which we used the phone’s flash.
2. One still-life scene with a color chart and delightful random objects, to rate exposure quality and color accuracy. We used daylight-balanced 6500k lights to light the set.
3. A target chart and printed text, to evaluate sharpness and distortion levels
Afterwards, printouts of each image were taken and examined by a panel of 5 judges, rating each image for color, exposure, sharpness and distortion. Before I go ahead and show you what the official panel thought of the devices, take a gander at the images/video for yourself, which one do you think is better?
Galaxy S II snapshots first followed by iPhone 4S
Here’s what PC World’s judgin panel thought:
Here are the video shots with audio accounting for a portion of the score as well:
Samsung Galaxy S II
Apple iPhone 4S
As you can see, in the still-image testing, both the T-Mobile MyTouch Slide 4G and the Galaxy S II slightly outperformed the iPhone 4S. In the video testing the Galaxy S II far outperformed every competitor in the “normal” recording mode with a superior score of 88, with the Nikon Coolpix coming in at a distant second with a score of 80.6. Granted the Galaxy S II didn’t fair quite as well in low light, but most meaningful and purposeful video tends to be shot in normal conditions.
For all intents and purposes, most people will be able to replace point-and-shoot cameras with their phones, and for the most part they will be more concerned with the still image quality/performance than the video recording capabilities. Overall the top 3 performers were the MyTouch, Galaxy S II and iPhone 4S–separated by a margin of just .7 points, all 3 are competitive with the dedicated Nikon Coolpix camera and are also full-blown smartphones.
Granted the rating system is a bit subjective but it looks like the Galaxy S II, which has been out for nearly half a year, has one of the best mobile phone cameras out there. The bottom line: if you were unsure about the Galaxy S II because of its picture quality, get out there and pick up your phone!