Home / Features / The results are in: Stuff readers have chosen the best smartphone camera in the world

The results are in: Stuff readers have chosen the best smartphone camera in the world

iPhone or S6? M9 or G4? We asked you to choose, and you voted in your thousands

We like to think of ourselves as experts in most things but that doesn’t mean we don’t listen to what our readers say too. 

We recently put five of the best smartphones through their paces to see which one takes the best photos and as part of that test we thought it’d be interesting to also get your views. So we gave you all the chance to vote in a blind test featuring the Apple iPhone 6iPhone 6 PlusSamsung Galaxy S6HTC One M9 and LG G4.

You jumped at the chance, voting in your thousands across the seven categories in the test. 

We’ve now tallied up all the votes and want to present them to you before we reveal our own verdict. Scroll down to see the full breakdown, and stay tuned for our own opinion in the next few days. 

(NB You can view 100% versions of each image by clicking the gear icon in the top right of each picture)

ROUND 1: AT THE ZOO

Note: We cropped all the pics to be the same 4:3 aspect ratio and tried to frame them similarly for easy comparison, but didn’t otherwise edit them in any way.

Winner: LG G4

LG came out on top in this round, but only just, with the iPhone 6 almost matching its number of votes.

The G4’s effort is nicely exposed and also digs up more details in the dark areas than its rivals, while retaining sharp details. This could be due to its f/1.8 aperture, which is able to capture more light per shot.

The M9 is (un)comfortably in last place, and it’s easy to see why. The whole shot looks blurry in comparison, with nowhere near as much detail as its rivals.

ROUND 2: AT THE ZOO 100% CROP

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6

The S6 and G4 are clearly both ahead of the pack here, and that’s reflected in the results.

The S6 ultimately came out ahead of its rival, thanks to the level of detail on offer. While the G4’s attempt is just as sharp, it’s over-exposed and muddles up the finer details such as the strands of white fur.

Both iPhones suffer from noticeably bad noise and loss of detail when cropped in. That’s hardly surprising given that they have 8MP sensors while the G4 and S6 have 16 and 13MP sensors respectively.

The bigger shock is that the M9 also did so poorly, bearing in mind that it has a 20MP sensor. There’s detail to be found in the M9’s shot but the image didn’t go down well with most voters and we can see why.

ROUND 3: MACRO FLOWER

Winner: Apple iPhone 6

This was the closest round in terms of votes, and with good reason: each shot is decent, with little to separate them at first glance.

Overall the iPhone 6 won the most votes, and we think that might be the result of the extra contrast it offers in this shot – the scene appears to pop just that tiny bit more.

The M9’s offering, while darker, does show up a tad more detail in the flower itself, and it finished in second place.

ROUND 4: LOW-LIGHT

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6

Both iPhones and the M9 come bottom once again, outclassed by the S6 and G4’s ability to expose the scene correctly and bring up more details in the process.

For us, the G4 and S6 shots are hard to split, but among voters the S6 just edged it. The Samsung’s image appears to be slightly sharper – compare the bass drum in the G4 and S6 shot and you’ll see the difference in clarity – and the S6’s colours are also slightly more saturated.

ROUND 5: TOURIST TRAIL

Winner: Apple iPhone 6 Plus

All five shots in this round are clear, thanks to the bright outdoor lighting conditions, but it was the iPhone 6 Plus which ended up scoring the most votes.

For us, the Samsung S6 and the LG G4 actually appear to have the most accurate colours overall, but the iPhone 6 Plus’ slightly increased saturation seemingly won it the extra votes. Maybe you lot favour slightly punchier colours? One thing we can agree on is that the M9’s colour reproduction is far too skewed towards the unnaturally yellow end of the spectrum.

ROUND 6: HDR

Winner: HTC One M9

After getting a bit of a kicking in most of the other rounds, the M9 came out an easy winner here. It’s clearly got the most aggressive HDR mode, exposing the leaves to a far greater level than any of the other handsets. If we’re being criticial then there is a clear halo surrounding the outer leaves which, combined with the greyish sky, result in an almost alien feel, but it’s definitely the most detailed shot

The S6 and G4 are closely matched in second and third, but neither really rival the HTC.

ROUND 7: DETAIL

(NB The photos in this round have been cropped to show the (almost) exact same scene, rather than all being cropped to 100%)

Winner: LG G4

The LG G4 trounced the competition in this category, winning a massive 71% of the votes, and it’s easy to see why.

It matches the S6’s sharpness while also exposing the picture beautifully, bringing out the details in the shadows without overdoing it.

The iPhones and the M9 once again suffer from noise issues, with the M9 shot appearing particularly blurry.

Overall results

While each individual round can tell us interesting things about each smartphone’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s also good to get an overview of the whole test.

We did that by assigning five points for the top device in each round, all the way down to one point for last place – and it seems that the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 were your overall favourites by a considerable margin.

While the iPhones squeezed out ahead in a few rounds, they, like the M9, suffered in low light conditions and when detail was focused on. The M9’s inaccurate colour reproduction and lack of detail netted it the lowest score, though it did do well in the HDR and macro rounds.

If the camera is top on your priority list, however, then the Galaxy S6 or G4 appear to be the best all-round choices. Or at least they do as far as you’re concerned. For our own in-depth findings, you’ll have to wait another few days.