Apple iPhone 6 camera beats Galaxy, Xperia, Lumia in more ways than one, says DxO


posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 4:18 PM EDT


DxOMark, the French camera testing and image analysis firm, just released their findings for the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cameras. It seems effusive reviews like this one may be onto something: DxO concluded that the new iOS devices handily beat all competitors, including Samsung's Galaxy S5, Sony's Xperia Z3 and Nokia's 808 Pureview and Lumia 1020. 

The two iPhones earned the highest scores to date on DxOMark's Mobile device score at 82 points, snagging the top spots from the Galaxy Xperia Z3, which had tied at 79 points.

While the Samsung Galaxy S5's sensor features 16 megapixels, and the Sony Xperia Z3 sensor a whopping 20.7 megapixels, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus maintain a significantly lower 8 megapixel resolution in each of their cameras, the same as in the iPhone 5S. Instead of cramming more pixels onto a tiny sensor, Apple added some notable improvements to the camera, such as on-chip phase detect and optical image stabilization (for the iPhone 6 Plus only). Apple even claims to have included dedicated image processing algorithms in the new A8 processor. While we're dubious of such generic and unverifiable claims, some of DxO's results bear out this claim. 

According to DxOMark, the new iPhones' still image performance is very good, with attractive color rendering and great detail preservation indoors and out. DxO also praised the iPhone 6 flash, which provided stable white balance and good color rendering. While the camera's noise algorithm did a great job in general, the iPhone 6 (and iPhone 6 only) did have more visible luminance noise in low light conditions. 

The addition of "focus pixels," as Apple cleverly termed them, provides significantly faster autofocus for both stills and video over the iPhone 5S. While we're generally skeptical of generic claims of "advanced algorithms," the iPhone 6's video autofocus seems to bear out these claims: as DxO observed "[Video] autofocus is very fast, accurate and repeatable. Best ever tested by DxOMark Mobile team, at the time of testing." 

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus provided better color rendering than the Samsung Galaxy S5, while the Galaxy S5 rendered finer detail thanks to its higher-resolution sensor. And despite both cameras featuring on-chip phase detect, the new iPhones' autofocus proved to be much faster and more consistent.

If you're a serious smartphone photographer, Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus look to be the clear winner… at least for now. Head over to DxOMark's results for all the details, charts and sample images, as well as some of the downsides to the new iPhone cameras.