Samsung and Apple are seeing great responses from the entire tech community towards their latest flagship smartphones, the iPhone 6S and Galaxy S6. Both these smartphones are made up of top-notch hardware and feature the latest each company has to offer. As focus shifts to camera performance due to the intense interest people have in smartphone photography and the opportunity that these handsets offer to them, we decided it would be nice to do a quick comparison between the iPhone 6S camera and the Galaxy S6 camera. We’ve gathered sample photos, benchmark results, user experiences and reviews and managed to get a comprehensive picture of which smartphone is the better when it comes to cameras.
Although usually a comparison between the iPhone 6S camera and Galaxy S6 camera would result in a winner, this time around, we should already tell you that they are at a tie. Both Apple and Samsung managed to release the best smartphone camera on the market and that says a lot about how far along technology has come. If up until now, Apple was leading with its iSight cameras in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung did its best with the Galaxy S6 and its siblings (S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus and Note 5) and people are loving it.
The Galaxy S6 camera on the rear is made up of a 16 MP Sony IMX240 (the same one from the Note 4) primary sensor that can take photos with a resolution of 2988*5312, equipped with optical image stabilization, autofocus and LED flash. The difference between the Note 4 camera and the Galaxy S6 camera is that the lens behind the sensor is an f/1.9 aperture one, which is better than the one in the phablet from last year. The camera can shoot 4K video with ease and it also features geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, auto HDR and of course, panorama.
Optical image stabilization is a very important feature in the Galaxy S6 camera that makes the user experience all the more pleasant. Stabilization not only helps with moving subjects and shaky hands, but it also helps stabilize photos and videos taken in less than ideal lighting conditions. Samsung put a lot of importance into getting good shots regardless of shooting conditions and we can honestly say the Galaxy S6 camera is the best we’ve worked with so far.
Much like with the Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy S6 camera offers up an easy to use user experience with enough manual controls for the average Joe. Although there is a Pro mode for advanced controls and settings such as manual focus, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, presets, color adjustments in the form of presets, color adjustments that you can adjust manually to boost shadows, add highlights, contrast and modify saturation, temperature and tint, the main idea behind the Galaxy S6 camera is to make it easy to use for anyone.
On automatic settings, the Galaxy S6 camera can take great photos as the company put considerable effort into post-processing software, as well as great hardware and autofocus features. While 4K recording will on occasion heat up the phone, if used for too long at a time, the overheating situation is nowhere near as bad as it was on the Sony Xperia Z3+, for example. The Galaxy S6 maintains its room temperature pretty well while shooting, which is an advantage.
At the same time, Auto mode also makes use of the newly introduced Auto HDR feature of the Galaxy S6 camera. This allows the camera to take HDR photos without you having to select the option. The auto night mode in the app also comes in handy, as it’s great for reducing grain and noise in dark lighting conditions.
One of the features that hasn’t reached its full potential is tracking autofocus. The Galaxy S6 camera can track objects that you select and keep focus on them, but unfortunately the feature can’t be used in 4K recording. It works rather well in 1080p recording, so that’s another bonus point.
Software features are key in having a good camera experience with Samsung’s flagship. You can double tap the Home button from anywhere within the user interface of the phone to activate quick launch for the camera app. The UI of the camera is intuitive and simple, having almost all settings right there on the viewfinder, making the setup of the shot rather easy to accomplish.
Samsung added in selective autofocus, which will condition the camera to shoot two photos, one with near focus and one with far focus. You can then choose which photo you would like to keep. Moreover, the camera of the handset is quite well engineered for macro photography, having the ability to create soft focus without user interference.
Those of you familiar with flagships from China might be familiar with the new way Samsung designed Virtual shot. Virtual shot is essentially a 3D photo which you can accomplish by panning the phone around the subjective you wish to capture. That results in a 3D photo that while not that shareable, is rather fun to watch and play with.
Panorama mode is quite neat, as the Galaxy S6 camera can save photos in 3200p resolution height if creating a panorama in portrait mode and about 1800p if you’re holding the phone horizontally. Getting a straight shot with no morphing is going to be a challenge at first, but once users get the hang of it, panoramas should be a breeze to create.
Panorama, HDR and Virtual Shot are also available for the 5 MP front camera of the Galaxy S6 which is a very neat set of features. With the front camera, you can now create 3D selfies, panoramas of your new hairdo or whatever else, as long as you’re content with the 4:3 aspect ratio that the front cam comes with. The rear camera of the S6 features a 16:9 aspect ratio, preferred by most.
The front camera of the Galaxy S6 also features a Wide selfie mode that will help with the aspect ratio. This works because the camera will stitch photos together in order to make them look better on wider screens. Although this small feature isn’t that important, it can make all the difference for users.
The Galaxy S6 camera performance is exemplary, to be completely honest. There’s no more exaggeration when it comes to automatic white balance as the handset handles any shooting conditions rather well. At the same time, color saturation, noise reduction and sharpness are at optimal levels, something Samsung hasn’t nailed in a while now.
Overall, the Galaxy S6 camera is extraordinary. Regardless of other features and quirks of the handset, the camera experience is by far the best one for the company. Although the Galaxy Note 4 can still measure up quite nicely to the S6, the Galaxy S6 camera takes the upper hand with all the new features, the better post-processing software, the larger aperture and the fast response of the app. Pro mode is a very important part of the entire camera experience and can be decisive for those looking for a very good portable shooting experience that’s almost as good as DSLR photos. Naturally, DSLR will always be superior, but Samsung came really close with the Galaxy S6 camera this time, so props.
Moving on to the iPhone 6S, first things we gotta say is that we were equally impressed. The Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6S camera are very similar when it comes to results, even though specs and features are not the same. If on paper the iPhone 6S camera seems inferior to that of the Galaxy S6, that’s certainly not the case for real-life user experiences. Although the iPhone 6S has just as many quirks and features in other parts of the UI, the camera experience is top notch and will be hard to beat in the future.
First off, the iPhone 6S camera is comprised of a 12 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture lens behind. It’s the first time in 4 years that Apple made a significant change to the iPhone camera, and we must say, it was long overdue and well worth it. The improved sensor and post processing make photography fast and easy, and that’s what users are looking for.
Although the Galaxy S6′ aperture is more fitting, the iPhone 6S lets in just as much light to its lens to make photos seem like they were taken by a professional. The larger aperture does occasionally put white balance off in photos, but it happens rarely enough for it to be a negligible flaw in the system.
The 12 MP iPhone 6S camera comes with phase detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash and it can shoot photos with a 4032*3024 resolution, which is slightly below the resolution that the Galaxy S6 camera maxes out at. Still, in sample shots the difference between the two is barely noticeable, reinforcing that Apple’s iSight sensor are in fact superior to others found on the market, even Samsung’s. Regardless, that doesn’t impact the way in which the S6 is perceived right now.
The camera also features 4K video shooting, which is a bit more cumbersome on the iPhone 6S seeing as it lacks optical image stabilization. Apple is very good at software though, which means that even though there’s no hardware stabilization happening, photos and videos still manage to stay sharp, crips and noise-less. Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 8 MP image recording, touch focus, face detection, smile detection, panorama, HDR panorama and HDR are also features made available in the camera app of the phone.
Apple added Live Photos to its portfolio of shootings modes in the iPhone 6S camera, and people are loving it. Although Live photos have been part of Android users’ lives for the past year or so, Apple picked it up and iOS fans can now shoot photos that are actually videos: the camera shoots a 1.5 second video on either side of the moment that you press the shutter, thus creating animated photos.
Live photos on the iPhone 6S camera are much better than the live photos that Android smartphone manufacturers tend to offer. HTC has this features and has had it for the past three years, but Apple seems to have refined the entire process, resulting in crips, shareable animations that kids and adults will love creating. It’s all about the fun of it when it comes to smartphone cameras, because they’re not at a professional level. They will be in a couple of years, though, I’m convinced.
The problem with Live Photos created with the iPhone 6S camera is compatibility. At the moment, the video files (yes, they’re video files) measure about 4 MB and are compatible with Mac OS X El Capitan and Force-enabled Apple gadgets, such as the MacBook Pro 2015, MacBook 12 and iPhone 6S. The rest of the devices will just have to make due without getting a glance at these animations, for now.
The iPhone 6S camera loses a couple of points in the face of the Galaxy S6 camera because of its user interface. Although Apple’s UI is pretty easy to use and neat, it would have been nice to see it changed up a bit with the launch of the new phone. Still, the UI offers enough manual controls to make for a rather organized shooting experience.
In the UI, you can tap to focus, which will also allow adjusting exposure through a slider, which you can then lock in place alongside focus settings. There are much less manual settings made available compared to the Galaxy S6, so the iPhone 6S camera UI is definitely made for quick and hassle-free photography. That can be a benefit or a minus, depending on your own skills.
The iPhone 6S camera is quite capable and offers up features like auto HDR, as well as the ability to activate Burst mode with a long-press of the shutter button. Slow-mo and time lapse are the key features of video recording, but there’s not much else the user interface permits fiddling with.
Compared to the Galaxy S6 camera, the iPhone 6S shooter does make for overexposed shots on occasion if automatic exposure is on, and post-processing might be a bit too noticeable in low-light conditions. Although low-light photography has been improved compared to previous iPhones, the quality of the iPhone 6S shots is not on par with the Galaxy S6 camera. Regardless, bad shots are still hard to get on the handset, and that’s says a lot about the level at which the software has arrived to.
What alleviates the exposure and manual control issues as well as occasional post-processing blunders is color and contrast. The iPhone 6S camera has great color accuracy in any shooting conditions and contrast turns out on fleek every time, which is an important bonus. HDR is wonderful on the phone, so good in fact that HDR photos look better than they do taken with the Galaxy S6 camera.
Another advantage that the iPhone 6S camera has over the Galaxy S6 camera is the panorama modes. Apple’s device can take 60 MP panorama shots with absolutely great stitching and HDR. 180 degree photos never looked better and thanks to that, we’re seeing more and more panoramas being created and shared on social media, and they loo absolutely stunning.
4K recording has finally become a feature Apple fans can make use of with the iPhone 6S. The handset handles 4K recording rather well, but audio is mono and it’s not as crisp and clear as it is on the Galaxy S6. The lac of optical image stabilization is evident, unfortunately, but the videos that users have created so far turned out rather well.
The front camera of the iPhone 6S measures 5 MP and has an interesting feature that’s like a software flash which will turn the display bright white when taking a selfie to create the illusion of an actual flash going off. That’s an interesting and useful feature that’s been added alongside HDR, face detection and panorama.
Overall, the iPhone 6S camera and Galaxy S6 camera are huge improvements compared to last year’s flagship models from both companies. No matter which of these phones you choose, media that you create will be the best in the bussiness of smartphone photography and recording. Although the iPhone 6S camera is not as good or as feature-filled as the Galaxy S6 camera, it still holds a lot of importance to Apple fans as it adds features they haven’t had the chance of using ever before on an iPhone. If I were to choose, I’d go for the Galaxy S6 camera, because of the Pro mode. Which would you choose: easy shooting with the iPhone 6S or sophisticated shot setups with the Galaxy S6?