Samsung very publicly shamed the iPhone 6's low light performance at Galaxy Unpacked during MWC 2015. On stage, the Korean manufacturer showcased the all-new and very impressive Galaxy S6 camera alongside laughable shots from the iPhone 6 Plus. Here's the real Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera comparison, along with a surprise revelation from the LG G Flex 2.
Let me set the stage: at Samsung's media demo booth they had a little box set up with a small scene inside. On one side was a small hole through which you point your camera to see just how well it can pick up objects and detail in extremely low light environments.
The idea is simple: the Galaxy S6 will pick up the scene so well compared to your paltry pedestrian smartphone that you'll be utterly floored and immediately start saving your pennies to pre-order an S6 and cast your existing phone off a cliff. So let's see just how well other phones managed to pick up the scene inside the box.
Of the many phones I took to the demo booth with me that day, the iPhone 6 and the LG G Flex 2 were the ones I wanted to see side-by-side with the Galaxy S6. The iPhone 6 because it was the benchmark, and the G Flex 2 because, as you may recall, it has the same camera hardware as the LG G3 but with improved software and the results I've seen so far have been outstanding. Those comparison shots are at the bottom of this story, but let's start with the iPhone 6 first.
Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera comparison: low light
First things first: the iPhone 6 has a camera resolution of 8 MP (3,265 x 2,448 pixels) at a 4:3 aspect ratio. The Galaxy S6 has a 16 MP (5,312 x 2,988 pixels) camera shooting at 16:9. So the shot you see above from the iPhone 6 has been zoomed a little and cropped to show the same section as the Galaxy S6 photo at the same on-screen size.
While this may seem unfair (all images lose detail as you zoom in), there isn't really a fair way to compare an 8 MP and 16 MP photo so they are the same physical size on screen. You can see the untouched originals on my Google+ page in any case.
As you can see, the Galaxy S6 is clearly much better than the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 admittedly still does an admirable job and is certainly much better than many other phones out there, but the S6 is far and away the superior low light shooter. Chalk one up for Samsung.
In fact, the Galaxy S6 low light shots are so good they could rival some DSLR's, with good contrast, great color and and very detailed shadows. As we zoom in you can see how well the Galaxy S6 handles the bright patches too. There's a little noise in the darker areas, but again, the results are truly exceptional. Keep in mind though, that we're having to zoom much more on the iPhone 6 shots to show the same area.
Galaxy S6 vs LG G Flex 2 camera comparison: low light
When the attendant in the demo booth first asked me to pull out a phone I grabbed the G Flex 2, my primary phone for the show. I took one shot and couldn't see much difference between it and the S6. The attendant balked and wanted to take another shot. Again we couldn't see much on-screen difference (remember that the G Flex 2 has a Full HD display compared to the Galaxy S6's QHD screen).
The attendant then scuttled off to grab a different unit; she was obviously quite used to being the clear victor. We took a third and final shot and had to agree that the the LG G Flex 2 is an extremely good low light camera as well.
Again, the Galaxy S6 was shooting at 16 MP at 16:9 (5,312 x 2,988 pixels) in auto mode without HDR mode or any filters or whatnot. The LG G Flex 2 shot is 13 MP (4,128 x 3,096 pixels) at 4:3, also on auto with no HDR, filters or editing. Like the iPhone 6, we've had to zoom in a little more on the G Flex 2 image to show the same area.
On first glance the two shots are quite indistinguishable. If you look at the noise in the black parts of the shot you can see that the Galaxy S6 has less noise (or grain) visible, but you could get almost identical results simply by pushing the contrast ever so slightly in editing software. The S6 is the better native result, but only by about 5 percent (whereas it's 15-20 percent better than the iPhone 6, in my estimation).
When we zoom in more you can see that the Galaxy S6 has a different colored orange as well. This same orange color also appears in the iPhone 6 result. Without being able to check with the naked eye I can't say which is more true to life, but it is worth noting the G Flex 2 produces a deeper orange color.
Zooming in even further we see more details of note. Looking at the highlights, for example, on the text on the fuel tank, you can see the Galaxy S6 handles the reflection of the light source better than the G Flex 2 (but only by a little) and that on the forks of the bike you can see a softer gradient of shadow on the S6 photo than the more blown out result from the LG camera.
All in all, it's easy to say the Galaxy S6 has the best camera on any smartphone anywhere (I sadly didn't have a Nokia Lumia with me). This is a truly remarkable feat that should be applauded. An honest test shows the S6 is the superior camera to the iPhone 6.
On the other hand, LG made no grand claims about the G Flex 2 camera when it was presented, whereas its results are just as impressive when compared side by side with the iPhone 6. LG simply said it had improved the software. What all this ends up telling you is that the S6 has the best camera on Android but the G Flex 2 isn't far behind it.
What do you think of these results?