The best photographic smartphone: comparison of the most high-end mobile phones

Today's best camera smartphones are again before a comparison in Xataka. It is just the confrontation that we had to do with the first great wave of franchise terminals of the main brands in the market after comparing the best and worst of each and analyzing how their front-facing cameras performed.

In this photographic comparison, it has been the turn of the main camera, which really makes a difference and is becoming more key every day when choosing a new high-end phone. How have the main cameras of the best smartphones on the market evolved? Do dual camera systems work? Which makes the best night photos? We tell you below.

These are the cameras of the best photographic smartphones today

Among the cameras of the best smartphones of the year from the main manufacturers we have found since last year a tendency to forget about the increase in sensor resolution, something that we are happy to see. The best cameras go more down the path of getting more light into their sensors either through a larger aperture or by the sensor size itself. But let's not forget that there are many factors that affect the final result.

As the main novelty in the technical sheets of the best phones this year we have the arrival of a first wave of dual camera solutions. As we already anticipated in a direct photographic confrontation between them, only the Huawei one aims to improve the light that its sensor can collect. The LG G5 smartphone has a more creative idea.

Let us now review the photographic credentials of the main sensors of these terminals. For the comparison we have chosen the reference models of the main manufacturers: LG G5, Huawei P9, iPhone 6s Plus, HTC 10, Lumia 950 XL, Sony Xperia X and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

iPhone 6s Plus Huawei P9 Galaxy S7 Edge Sony Xperia X LG G5 Lumia 950 XL HTC 10 Sensor resolution 12 MP 12 + 12 MP 12 MP 23 MP 16 + 8 MP 20 MP 12 MP Sensor size 1/3 -- 1/2,5” 1/2,3” -- 1/2,4” -- Focal Dist 28 mm 27 mm 26 mm 24 mm 28 mm 26 mm 26 mm Opening f / 2.2 f / 2.2 f / 1.7 f / 2.0 f / 1.8 f / 1.9 f / 1.8 Optical stabilization Yes Not Yes Not Yes Yes Yes Focus Hybrid Hybrid (laser) Hybrid Hybrid Hybrid (laser) Hybrid Hybrid (laser)

Complementing this tab we have to comment that, in addition to the bets for double cameras, there is a marked character in the choice of Sony, determined to have more megapixels in order to get more detail in their day shots, while Samsung or LG are This year they have mainly focused on improving the performance of their sensors when light is scarce.

The focus systems are all the same after the arrival last year of hybrid methods that combined contrast with phase detection. The laser assistant that premiered the LG G5 also comes this year to other models such as the HTC 10, one of the most innovative features.

Other details such as the so-called "live photos" are presented on the iPhone as a differential element, but it is not the only manufacturer to implement such a system. The Lumia or the Galaxy S7 Edge have something similar.

If last year it was already difficult to choose a smartphone that stood out above the others, this 2016 is even more complex. None gives the best in everything and each one has moments of brilliance that we have to value according to what we seek in mobile photography

Regarding the conditions in which we take the photos, unless otherwise indicated, we opted for the automatic mode with the maximum resolution of the sensor of each camera and in its native format. Furthermore, all smartphones and phablets are updated to the most current and official version of their operating system.

In some scenes we have used a tripod with a specific adapter for smartphones, and in others we have opted for freehand shooting to check camera performance in more real situations that affect the consumer. In all cases, the conditions of each shot are the same for all smartphones in the comparison.

The options and possibilities of each camera

In addition to the technical specifications, the interface, shooting speed or focus are arguments that each camera has for or against it. With the exception of Apple's iPhone, manufacturers have taken seriously to offer manual controls through interfaces that are easy to use but without giving up its full potential.

This aspect seems less accurate to us, as long as we seek to get the most out of a camera, in the case of iPhone and Sony, which have lagged behind the competition, especially the Apple model, for which, if you want a minimum control over the camera, you have to resort to third-party applications.

Apple's argument about not complicating the user's life when taking the photo can no longer be purchased. There are examples such as that of Huawei, Samsung or LG where without giving up a point-and-shoot mode, we can find with a single touch on the screen a whole range of possibilities and manual controls. Let's review what each of the comparative contenders lets us do at the control level:

The Samsung model allows you to take images in RAW or jpg, not both at the same time, and in addition to shooting modes or effects, we can control light measurement, focus, compensate exposure, shutter speed, balance white and includes an object tracking mode to always keep a certain subject in focus.

In the case of the Sony interface, although it has improved in speed and layout, it is less intuitive than that of rivals when choosing to change values, but we like being able to slide on the screen to quickly change modes. At the control level there is no option to store the images in RAW, it only allows us to control the measurement, sensitivity or white balance.

In the Xperia X Sony releases a motion prediction system to focus on moving objects that works but does not make a difference for now, while at the shooting and recovery level it is the slowest acting.

The LG G5 has the most complete interface of all. With three display modes, the most comprehensive is incredible. We can take photos in RAW and jpg at the same time, have information of the manual values ​​on screen as well as a histogram. Regarding manual controls. ISO, focus, exposure, or shutter speed.

The king of automatic mode, which is not so much anymore, maintains its idea of ​​a fire button and little else. To highlight ** the Live Photos mode to have a few seconds that tell us something of the story behind each photo ** we take. We can activate or deactivate it directly.

The Huawei P9 leaves us the most visually appealing interface (Pro mode is accessed only by sliding from above the shutter button, very direct and intuitive) without losing any functionality. To highlight its mode to take photos only in black and white taking advantage of the fact that it has an exclusive sensor. The manual controls it allows are metering, ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, WB, and focus.

A curious mix is ​​that provided by HTC. At the control level, we can take RAW photos as well as control the focus, shutter speed, ISO, WB and exposure.

Finally we have the Lumia 950 XL, a terminal that leaves control of WB, focus, ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation directly and tactile, and the possibility of storing in RAW and jpg formats at the same time. What was the reference interface for manual control is no longer.

Photographic comparison of smartphone cameras 2016

But let's go now to what interests us about the photographic comparison: the behavior of each smartphone in certain circumstances. The first is a classic one that helps us review the level of detail that each camera can achieve thanks to the resolution of its sensor, as well as color management or white balance.

Here we must not forget that it is always an extra that we can take the photos in RAW since a good part of the errors that we detect can be corrected very easily.

Lumia 950 XL

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Sony Xperia X

Taking into account the real scene, we see how iPhone, LG, Huawei or Sony maintain a fairly accurate level of color fidelity, with a more accurate white balance in the case of the Lumia and especially the LG G5. On the opposite side is Samsung.

If we stick to the level of detail that each terminal achieves, the Lumia 950 XL and the LG G5, along with the Xperia X, are the ones that give us more quality in the shot, but in general the differences are very small given the circumstances of takes it.

At the foreground level, and using the automatic mode again trying to get closer without losing focus, we are already starting to see more differences. In the next flower scene, if we focus on the petals we can see from the outset that the HTC 10 "ink" the predominant white of the same yellow, something that slightly also does the Sony model. The Galaxy S7 Edge does just the opposite and we lose some of the range at the edges of the petals.

The ones that best reflect the reality of the scene before us when taking the photo are the LG G5, Lumia 950 XL and the iPhone 6s Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Lumia 950 XL

Sony Xperia X

If we now look for a more general scene, by day, with intense but controlled light, and without applying HDR mode in any case, we check again that except for details such as the loss of sharpness of the Sony model on the right edge of its image, equality at the level of exposure or color reproduction is the general trend.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Lumia 950 XL

Sony Xperia X

However, in my point of view the LG G5 shines again over the others along with the Galaxy S7 Edge or the Lumia 950 XL, although both are exceeded by the LG or HTC model when we value the processing of the details with the next cut to 100%. But the differences are very small, we insist.

If we are now looking for a situation in which HDR has work to do due to the brightly lit areas and others in the shade, we continue to see details that make a difference.

Globally, the trio formed by the LG G5, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Lumia 950 XL are the ones that take some advantage over the others in the overall calculation.

The trio that seems to stand out from the competition again is the one formed by the LG G5, the Galaxy S7 Edge and the Lumia 950 XL. In their cases it seems to me that they are the ones that give us the most information and detail in both the overexposed and underexposed parts, both better recovered with the HDR mode (if they had it).

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Lumia 950 XL

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Sony Xperia X

Many of the differences that we are finding in the day photos are in some cases just details that will even be better in some models or others depending on your perception or what you want in a high-end terminal that you are going to use. Except when compared, it is quite difficult to see substantial differences when we face the shots separately.

But night comes and we start to see more movement and differences. The first comparison is a general scene where you can appreciate the ability to capture light globally, the processing of details and areas with strong points of light. In all cases, the lens was properly cleaned before each shot to avoid inconsistencies in the points of light due to this situation.

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Lumia 950 XL

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Sony Xperia X

Observing these scenes, both LG G5 and Galaxy S7 Edge or Lumia 950 XL, again, are the ones who seem to have gotten a sensor capable of obtaining more light without losing control. On the contrary, the iPhone 6s Plus leaves us with one of the least illuminated scenes, but in return it balances very well illuminated and dark areas, the same as the Lumia 950 XL (the most complete of all in this scene, in my opinion) and less measure the Huawei P9.

If we go to an already classic scene in our comparison and where the light is controlled but is secondary and very reduced, we will be able to look at the noise and process to reduce the noise that each of the terminals executes.

HTC 10

Huawei P9

iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5

Lumia 950 XL

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Sony Xperia X

As you can see in the 100% cut of an area where we carry out the main focus, HTC, Samsung and LG are the ones that best save the furniture in terms of detail, noise and processing, with Sony and iPhone being the worst unemployed when they leave us. focus on clipping.

How we use the mobile phone in the photographic section can already determine which terminal to choose. In this comparison, the main objective has been to know how far the sensors perform and the main camera as a whole is both general day and night scenes. And until we get close to the details, equality is quite important.

Globally, the LG G5, Lumia 950 XL and Galaxy S7 Edge have shown that today they offer the best cameras whether your preference is fast photography or to control different sections of photography both day and night. It is in low light when they stand out the most, although we must not take our eyes off the good step forward given by HTC, the security of the iPhone 6s Plus or the different possibilities of models such as the Xperia X or the Huawei P9.

And now it's your turn, what do you think is the model that, globally, offers the best camera on the market today?

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