DxOMark is an expert in the business when it comes to photography and picture performance, and the company is usually listened to when it weighs in on the best smartphone cameras in the world. With Apple’s iPhone 6s/6s Plus announcement last month, DxOMark has now gotten its hands on the iPhone 6s, to size it up against the Android “heavy hitters”: the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Sony Xperia Z5, the Google-Huawei Nexus 6P, LG G4, and the Motorola Moto X Style.
In the end, all of the five Android rivals beat the iPhone 6s in camera performance. Motorola’s Moto X Style slightly edged the iPhone 6s with a score of 83, as did the LG G4 (83), followed by the Huawei-Google Nexus 6P (84), Samsung’s Galaxy S6 edge (86), and the Sony Xperia Z5 (87). The Galaxy S6 edge dominated the top spot until the Xperia Z5 took the top spot by just 1 point. Google said in its Nexus 6P announcement that its smartphone took better photos than the iPhone, and Google wasn’t deceiving: the Nexus 6P outranked the iPhone 6s in the top smartphone cameras. Kudos to Google for finally creating a camera experience that outmans its rival!
DxOMark went on to say that the iPhone 6s performs well in decent lighting conditions but has “underexposure” when in low light situations. In videography, the iPhone 6s scored an “80” but DxOMark found it lacking when compared to its Seoul rival, the Galaxy S6 edge: “the iPhone 6s achieved a mobile video score of 80 points mirroring the score of the iPhone 6, and behind that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, which is better at keeping the noise in check while maintaining good texture preservation. The Samsung also achieved slightly better results for autofocus and exposure and contrast.”
The LG G4 has an f/1.8 camera aperture, the best of the list (smaller numbers being better in letting in more light), beating out Samsung’s f/1.9 camera aperture in the Galaxy S6 edge, but Samsung’s dominance in smartphone cameras shows there’s more to a great smartphone camera than just megapixels or camera aperture. It all comes down to software and image processing, areas in which Samsung has dominated LG for some time now. The Sony Xperia Z5 is the top dog in the contest, and a large part of Sony’s success can be seen in the fact that all the top Android companies that outranked Apple’s iPhone 6s in the DxOMark study all use Sony Exmor camera chips for their respective devices (including Samsung, despite its flirtation with its own ISOCELL cameras).
The iPhone 6s has a 12MP sensor for its back camera this year, as opposed to the 8MP sensor for the back camera in the last few iterations of the iPhone. While Apple’s iPhone 6s has indeed been beaten by its Android rivals, a sign of a new era, it also shows that perhaps Apple has decided to hold back the best of its photography experience until the iPhone 7. After all, while the iPhone 6s is one of the biggest iterations yet from Cupertino, it’s just an iteration: “s” phones usually leave customers feeling as though Apple’s holding out and creating pent-up frustrations that will be solved in the next iPhone model. The iPhone 4S featured the intelligent voice assistant Siri, but the iPhone 5 featured 4G LTE and a 4-inch screen (as opposed to the 3.5-inch screen of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S).
Some may find this unbelievable, but Android’s camera dominance inaugurates a new era: one in which Android makers don’t force consumers to compromise when it comes to a great camera experience. That hasn’t been the case in recent years according to experts, but 2015 is proving to have been one of the most revolutionary years in the smartphone space. If you’re buying an iPhone 6s, you’ll get the best experience Apple’s ever implemented into a smartphone, but it’s not necessarily the case that you’re getting the best experience overall anymore. Not even close.