Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge-6

There’s an age-old saying that the best camera is the one you have on you and most manufacturers seem to have gone back to focusing on their cameras. In the past, cameras were a playground with most OEMs banking on higher megapixel counts to sell their handsets to customers, but in recent years, we’ve seen the specs war move to processors and displays.

In the past year, we’ve now seen manufacturer refocus their efforts on their smartphone cameras in a bid to offer an experience that can rival the excellent images captured by the Apple iPhone. Yet with some focusing on megapixel counts, others using advanced sensors and some focusing on software optimisation, which smartphone has the best camera?

On a recent trip to Malta for the IFA 2015 GPC, we decided to put this to test and armed with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Huawei P8, Huawei Honor 6 Plus and HTC One M9, we decided to use the stunning backdrop of Malta for this camera shootout.

Unlike previous camera shootouts, we’ve decided to let YOU decide which handset wins this shootout. We’ve got eighteen scenes for you to choose from below and all four handsets captured the scene under the same conditions. From daylight to lowlight and crops to nighttime, there’s a collection of scenes designed to put the capabilities of each camera to the test. There may be slight differences with the crop and people walking through each image as Malta was open to all, but we’ve done our best to make this as fair a fight as possible.

What you need to know before casting your vote is that we’ve removed the EXIF data from each image and cropped them to make it near impossible to determine which handset captured each image.

With this in mind, we’re asking you to scroll through each of the galleries below and then vote in the poll under each scene for the handset you think took the best image. We’ll keep this open for 7 days and in a week’s time, we’ll tally up the votes and reveal the winner.

Scene 1

These first few scenes are from Valletta, the capital city of the small republic of Malta. This scene was shot upwards from the ground and the images then cropped to provide the same view of the Bank of Valletta building.

Scene 2

Captured at ground level, this scene features a still flag and it’s an interesting test of whether a smartphone camera can capture the flag colours and position while also capturing the rest of the scene around the flag.

Scene 3

This scene was mainly taken because it features the Wembley Store. Yes, a shop with the name of a town in North West London found in the capital city of Malta. Strange right?

Scene 4

In this scene, we can see a building with ancient Greek style columns and the interesting thing about this scene is that it tests whether the depth of field of each smartphone. Can it capture the detail of the tree in the foreground and also capture the building details and colours in the background?

Scene 5

The next scene takes us to an Bibliotheque – which houses written works dating back nearly 900 years – with a statue of Queen Elizabeth in front. The statue was a gift from ladies in Malta to the Queen of England and sits pride of place in the heart of the city.

Scene 6

From Queen Elizabeth to a square which houses parliamentary building. As you can see, the theme of Greek-style buildings is apparent throughout Malta and this scene proves an interesting test of just how much detail the smartphone camera can capture in such a wide-angle shot.

Scene 7

From outside, we move in and specifically, we move into the Manoel Theatre, which is rated as one of the top ten attractions to visit in the capital city. The ceiling has a stunning design and this image is a crop of the chandelier that takes pride of place.

Scene 8

One of the best things about Malta is that it’s an island surrounded by water everywhere and as such, there’s lot of water-based activities and sights. Here we’re at the edge of Valletta and are greeted by some stunning stone-based architecture that looks fantastic.

Scene 9

From Valletta to the complete outskirts of Malta and the scene of the IFA 2015 GPC Gala Dinner. Naturally, this provided an entirely different view of Malta so the smartphone shootout continues with this water feature.

Scene 10

The aim of this scene is to capture detail in the palace buildings which are located some distance away. We’ve kept the full scene instead of cropping in so you can see how much noise appears in each photo as you zoom in.

Scene 11

From wide-angle shots with lots of focal points to a single focus – this stunning building. Here we have an ancient building located high up in the mountains – which smartphone camera manages to capture the finer details?

Scene 12

The purpose of this scene is simple – can it capture the detail of the grass fields, the sky and the forestry in the background? A stunning view that many would like to capture so which is the best camera to capture this type of scene?

Scene 13

It wouldn’t quite be a smartphone camera shootout without some close up shots and as I was walking by this statue, I noticed this cockroach just poking out. This is a close-up shot that’s been further cropped and look out for the camera which manages to capture both the stone, the statue’s foot and the cockroach itself.

Scene 14

From close-up grossness to another look at buildings and this stunning building which was the scene for our Gala Dinner. Look out for the detail and colouring of the stone building and this scene is quite a good test for the colour reproduction on the handset.

Scene 15

In this scene, we’ve taken a portrait photo from afar and then zoomed in to feature this stylish outdoor area. As people were moving in front of the camera, the images may slightly differ but the concept is the same across all four. Look out for the detail on the stone, the dome above it and the red IFA boxes (you’ll definitely want to click on these pictures to see the full scene as below is just a thumbnail).

Scene 16

If you’re with us so far, good on you and you’ll be happy to know, we’re almost at the end! The penultimate gallery is the same area as above but a few hours later when it was lit up with the IFA red. This is a good test of how each smartphone camera is able to handle a mass of colour at night and the results are certainly quite interesting.

Scene 17

The last scene is one of my favourite – it’s the same as the scene above but around the side where we’ve got some steps lit up in red. In front of them is the IFA 2015 sign, which is not lit up at the moment but a few minutes later, was the main attraction in a stunning fireworks display. Look out for how each smartphone camera manages to capture the IFA 2015 text (you may need to zoom in a little) as there’s very little lighting.

Wrap up

And there you have it, a rather in-depth and interesting (at least I think so) blind camera shootout between the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Huawei P8, Huawei Honor 6 Plus (with the unique dual 8MP cameras which capture 13MP images) and the HTC One M9.

Which do you think won? Be sure to cast your vote in the poll and let us know which device you think is the best in the comments below! We’ll reveal the overall winner in a weeks’ time so stay tuned!