Smartphone Photography Comparison: Apple iPhone 4S, HTC One S, One X, Droid Incredible 4G LTE & Samsung Galaxy S III

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It’s no surprise smartphones are slowly killing off the compact digital camera, simply because they’re always in our pockets. Combine pretty good hardware, wireless connectivity, and you’ve got the perfect storm to wipe out compact cameras. These two technologies birthed Instagram, a highly addictive App that can only exist because of the phone camera and an on-the-go cellular connection. The App, which is now available on Apple and Android devices, claims 5 million uploads a day. Facebook, on the other hand, claims 300 million photo uploads a day, though not all are mobile uploads. Facebook even bet one billion dollars on the importance of mobile photography by buying Instagram this past April.

We can admit that we’ve used our mobile phone to shoot a number of photos for recent stories–all of the photos from our recent PROJECT visit were shot with the iPhone 4S–and we spent a weekend in Miami with the HTC One X shooting most of the photos with the device. With an arsenal of recent high-end smartphones, we thought it would be fun to do a camera comparison. We shot fifteen sets of photos with five of our favorite phones: Apple iPhone 4S, HTC One S, One X, Droid Incredible and Samsung Galaxy S III. If you are in the market for a new phone and photography is important, see if we can help you decide.

PHONE CAMERA SPECS

Apple iPhone 4S

8 Megapixel Sensor

f/2.4 equivalent aperture

6mm lens, 35mm equivalent

5 lens elements

1080p video

Video Image Stabilization

Temporal Noise Reduction

Full details

HTC One S

8-megapixel camera

f/2.0 aperture

28mm lens

1080p video

Dedicated imaging chip

Capture a photo in the midst of recording HD video

Continuous shooting mode captures multiple snapshots

Auto flash smartly determined by distance from your subject

Video stabilization feature removes annoying, shaky motion

High quality slow motion video capture and playback

Full details

HTC One X

8 megapixels

f/2.0 aperture

28mm lens

1080p video

Dedicated imaging chip

Capture a photo in the midst of recording HD video

Continuous shooting mode captures multiple snapshots

Auto flash smartly determined by distance from your subject

Video stabilization feature removes annoying, shaky motion

High quality slow motion video capture and playback

Full details

HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

8-megapixel camera

with a backside-illuminated sensor

f/2.2 aperture

28mm lens

BSI (back-illuminated sensor/backside illumination)

1080p HD video capture

Full details

Samsung Galaxy S III

8-megapixel camera

f/2.6 aperture

Face, smile and blink detection

Image stabilization

1080p HD video capture

Full details



In day light, each will offer amazing results.

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In this set, we shot this sculpture with full on sunshine.

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Edit: This is a HTC One S photo.

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This set of photos can be challenging, the photo is taken in a medium lit restaurant with compact fluorescent lamps. Here you’ll start to see the slight deterioration from camera to camera due to the dim lighting conditions.

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Another daylight set, results are pretty amazing.

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This set of photos is one of the most challenging for the cameras, they were shot a very dimly lit restaurant. Here the cameras with the lower aperture captured the winning shots.

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In this set, the subject has a slight back light problem, all the cameras performed pretty well.

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Here the winner is the photo with the most natural skin color indoors with a variety of lamps.

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Outdoors on a cloudy day, best skin color takes home the prize.

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Outdoors, sunlight and bright flowers, hard to judge, but all pretty good.

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A cloudy set, any camera will result in a dull set of photos.

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Also shot in cloudy conditions but colors are not too bad.

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