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Results are in - the best smartphone camera is..

Which smartphone rules all? Here's the results of the shootout featuring the Galaxy S7, Huawei P9, LG G5, HTC 10, Nexus 6P, iPhone 6S Plus and Lumia 950 XL.
By
May 3, 2016

Cameras are undoubtedly one of the most features on a smartphone at the moment but with so many similar-yet-different approaches to smartphone cameras, it can be difficult to pick the winner. Should you have more megapixels or larger pixels? Do you need Optical Image Stabilisation? Is a single camera better than a dual camera?

With so many questions to answer, we conducted one of the largest camera shootouts ever, featuring the seven best smartphones on the market. For just over a week, you all voted for which handset you thought took the best photos and now – over 100,000 votes later – it’s time to reveal which smartphone you’ve voted as the best smartphone camera of 2016!

[related_videos title=”These phones in review:” align=”center” type=”custom” videos=”651620,679646,688453,684693,686764,684690″]

Before we reveal the results and the winner, let’s hand it over to Edgar Cervantes – our Head of Imaging & Photography who knows a thing or two about smartphone cameras – to take you through each gallery.

For each of the galleries, images are in this order: Phone A (Lumia 950 XL), Phone B (Galaxy S7 Edge), Phone C (HTC 10), Phone D (Huawei P9), Phone E (iPhone 6S Plus), Phone F (LG G5), Phone G (Nexus 6P).

When calculating the winner, we ranked each smartphone from 1st to 7th per gallery (based on the number of votes in that gallery) and awarded them points (7 points for 1st, 6 points for second etc). The overall winner is the smartphone with the most votes in total.


Gallery 1

Our expert: It is in pictures like this one where you see the biggest difference in camera quality between multiple devices, as there is much going on in the image and there are plenty of factors to consider. I did notice devices like the Microsot Lumia 950 XL and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge tend to take pictures that are more on the warmer side.

As for which phone offered the better image, most of you picked the iPhone 6S Plus. Meanwhile, I happen to be more of a fan of the LG G5’s image. It is pretty crisp, seems to show more detail than the others and colors also seem more accurate. If you are a fan of those vibrant, deep colors, you may want to go with Nexus 6P. By the way, the Huawei P9 definitely needs to do better here. The image is underexposed and it seems blurrier than the others. There is no excuse when you are taking a picture like this, in broad daylight.


Gallery 2

Our expert: Once again, the iPhone 6S Plus seems to have taken the best picture, according to our readers. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Lumia 950XL seems to have taken the most vibrant colors, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge did better capturing more realistic hues. The Galaxy S7 Edge’s camera also did great getting rid of motion blur and keeping things crisp.


Gallery 3

Our expert: It is in images like these when we really test a camera’s potential when it comes to dynamic range. These have the sun in the frame, meaning there is a chance everything else in the image will become a silhouette. And for the most part it did, but a couple phones managed to grab more detail from everything in the foreground. These would be the LG G5 and the Nexus 6P, but I am leaning more towards the LG G5.


Gallery 4

Our expert: The iPhone 6S Plus definitely provided a better view of the little details in the frame. You seem to be able to notice much more crispness and edges in the bark, and even the building in the back looks cleaner. Furthermore, the sky is not too saturated, but vibrant enough to keep it both realistic and aesthetically pleasing.

Gallery 5

Our expert: The LG G5 once again proves that it can handle images very well. While others failed to expose shadows well, or blew out the highlights a bit, the LG G5 manages to keep a good balance, as well as a clear view of the whole statue. I do wish the sky was a little more blue, but that is just the backdrop. The colors also seem a bit warmer than they should be, but at least the image is clear and crisp.

Gallery 6

Our expert: This one is a bit tricky, because you don’t only have to consider how good the photo is. As with everything in photography, a good image largely depends on what is going on in the frame. This one needs an emphasis on that shadow of the giant ferris wheel, and i can understand why most of you picked the iPhone 6S Plus. Not only is the image clear, crisp and vibrant, but the contrast is good enough that it shows the shadow of the wheel much clearer.

Gallery 7

Our expert: This one is a bit harder to judge, because three phones managed to come out on top – the iPhone 6S Plus, LG G5 and Nexus 6P. But I will have to give it to the LG G5, simply because it was able to handle harsh shadows better. The iPhone 6S Plus and Nexus 6P offer more striking shots, but the LG G5 picks up the dark areas better, offering more detail in the shot. It is a bit warmer than it should be, though. If we are talking about preferences, I would go for the Nexus 6P, because i don’t mind high contrast, and that image is super sharp, detailed and striking.

Gallery 8

Our expert: While most of you picked the Galaxy S7 Edge’s selfie photo, I like the Nexus 6P’s better. However, I can understand why you went that route: look at their faces, they are smooth and pretty, but I have looked in the mirror and my skin doesn’t look like that. I feel like the Nexus 6P offers the most details in my face, as well as a more realistic appearance. But hey, making skin smoother is not a sin, and some people love that effect! I will say the Nexus 6P’s picture is a bit underexposed, though. In terms of light, which is important, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge definitely wins here.

Gallery 9

Our expert: This one has important elements to consider when judging photos. You want the details in the London Eye, but you also want a pretty sky. I feel the best shot was taken from the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The details on the metal are superior, a well as the white balance. And while the Nexus 6P shows the clouds and sky a little better, the S7 Edge didn’t do a bad job. Plus, remember the subject is the one that matters.

Gallery 10

Our expert: The LG G5 is the clear winner here. It shows great detail in both the London Eye and the sky. Even the buildings in the background show more information than the other images. The image is crisp and colors seem to be more accurate here.

Gallery 11

Our expert: The real fight here is between the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the LG G5. There are pros and cons to each. Samsung’s shot is more crisp and shows more detail in the shadows. On the other hand, the LG G5 handles the colors better. The Galaxy S7 Edge image seems to overdo the purple tint.

Gallery 12

Our expert: While the Galaxy S7 Edge’s photo is great and shows more detail in the shadows, the LG G5 is a better overall photo. The white balance is great, sharpness is more on point and details are more pronounced. Take a look at the small shapes in the statue and the buildings in the back.

Gallery 13

Our expert: The LG G5 has a better exposed picture, with all the shadows being more lit and a clearer sky that almost looks like it’s day time. The only problem is it’s not really daytime, so it’s not a very accurate portrayal of reality. This is why I would say the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a better image. Not to mention that there is more information in the details, and even the building in the back is sharper, as well as having a better representation of color.

Gallery 14

Our expert: I like the Nexus 6P’s color representation better, but the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge does make for a better image in this case. It seems like this will be the winning phone when it comes to low-light photos. I suppose those 1.4-micron pixels in the sensor do their job well. Regardless, the buildings in the back look crisper, the sky is more detailed and dynamic range is great (given the conditions).

Gallery 15

Our expert: Once again, the LG G5 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge are at it as the top 2 contenders. The only issue is that the LG G5’s image is significantly more noisy than Samsung’s, which also shows more details in the shadows.

Gallery 16

Our expert: The best photo seems to come from the LG G5. It doesn’t blow out the highlights in the signs and shows much more detail in the dark areas. Noise is reasonable, given the low light conditions. Most devices seem to struggle with handling the highlights in these scenes.

Head over to the last page to find out which smartphone wins this shootout and has been voted the best smartphone camera at the moment!

The winner is…

As we mentioned on the first page, we received over 100,000 votes across the 16 different galleries but with 50 percent of votes cast in the first four galleries, we wanted to ensure a fair reflection of which smartphone is actually the most reliable. After all, a smartphone might win a daylight shootout but may not be the best when it comes to lowlight and overall, one of the other devices may prove to be the best all-round smartphone camera.

With this in mind, we decided to treat each gallery individually before totalling up the results to find the overall winner. For each gallery, the devices were ranked from 1st to 7th in order of the number of votes they received; then 1st place was given 7 points, 2nd place was given 6 points and so on, down to 1 point for the smartphone in 7th place. The overall winner is the smartphone that received the most total points across all the galleries.

So which smartphone won? Let’s find out – here’s the final results:

PhoneTotal VotesNumber of finishes in:Total PointsFinal Position
Phone

Total Votes

Number of finishes in:
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
Total Points

Final Position

PhoneTotal VotesNumber of finishes in:Total PointsFinal Position

Phone
LG G5 (F)
Total Votes
23763
Number of finishes in:
6
5
2
1
1
1
0
Total Points
91
Final Position
1st
Phone
Galaxy S7 Edge (B)
Total Votes
23990
Number of finishes in:
6
3
1
2
4
0
0
Total Points
85
Final Position
2nd
Phone
iPhone 6S Plus (E)
Total Votes
28803
Number of finishes in:
4
2
5
4
1
0
0
Total Points
84
Final Position
3rd
Phone
Nexus 6P (G)
Total Votes
12602
Number of finishes in:
0
1
4
5
3
2
1
Total Points
60
Final Position
4th
Phone
Lumia 950 XL (A)
Total Votes
15487
Number of finishes in:
0
4
2
3
2
2
3
Total Points
59
Final Position
5th
Phone
Huawei P9 (D)
Total Votes
7606
Number of finishes in:
0
0
1
1
2
8
4
Total Points
35
Final Position
6th
Phone
HTC 10 (C)
Total Votes
8174
Number of finishes in:
0
1
1
0
3
3
8
Total Points
34
Final Position
7th

There you have it, the top three (from 1st to 3rd) are:

iPhone 6S Plus

If there’s one thing we can take away from this shootout however, it is that, whichever smartphone you buy, you should be able to take pretty good photos. Sure, some devices are better than others but overall, these seven smartphones definitely sport the best cameras available on mobile phones today.

Which smartphone did you vote for, and which do you think should have won? What did you think of our expert’s findings? Let us know your views in the comments below guys and be sure to share this post so your friends and family can also discover which smartphone camera is really the best on the market.