Comparing 11 smartcams by Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony, Oppo and Huawei

Last weekend has been quite interesting. I brought a few test devices on a family visit, and two family members appeared to own some very useful gear as well. I'm not sure if this has ever been done before, but in this test I will compare the results coming from no less than 11 (!) smartphones. I just hope you like bricks! :-)

We've been discussing corner sharpness recently, and I wanted to get a subject that would give me equal visual information in just about every part of the shot. Hence a brick wall seemed like a great idea to me. Also, I wanted to avoid the usual confusion about different phocal length, so I positioned myself in such a way to get more or less the exact same 16:9 shot.

The phones you will see in this test are: the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 930, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, S5 and K Zoom, the LG Flex and G3, the Sony Xperia Z2, Oppo Find 7a and Huawei Ascend P7. Quite a gathering, isn't it? Resolutions are quite diverse, but this is a collection of current high-end smartphones of six different companies all bragging in one way or another about their cameras nevertheless - I think it's worth the time to see what they are actually capable of :-) I'll only share the shot itself once, as captured with the Nokia 808 PureView (8MP) Brick Wall - Nokia 808 Pureview 8MP That's all. Pretty boring shot in fact, right? But it gives us quite a lot of information... Let me add that it was clouded outside. Very clouded even, but as always, it's likely there will be very small variations in the amount of light, but I'm quite sure the differences are negligable. I made at least four shots with each device and picked the best (there weren't too much difference anyway).

I will share the results more or less ordered by the amount of MP used, "zooming in" so to say. You will always see the name of the devices used above the crops. Also, I tried to order the shots in quality, so you won't need to be scrolling up and down too much.

First I'll share crops from the center of each shot. The first two are from the 5MP results. First the one coming from the Nokia Lumia 930, showing a darker result as we've seen in previous comparisons. Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 930 5MP
Second is the Lumia 1020 with a much brighter image but I'd say comparable details. Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP
Difference in colour is striking though. Next size is the 8.3MP shot from the Sony Xperia Z2. Brick Wall - Sony Xperia Z2 8.3MP
which I will compare with the 8MP shot coming from the Nokia 808 PureView I already shared above Brick Wall - Nokia 808 Pureview 8MP
Again, a striking difference in colour... It's quite remarkable to see that already at this resolution, the Sony gives a"softer" image, and the colours appear to be way less prominent. In fact, it shows the same "greyness" as the Lumia 930 has shown above.

Next up are a four crops slightly below 10MP. First, the 9.6MP result coming from the Galaxy Note 3, giving me the worst result even with it's best shot. Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy Note 3 9.6MP
And 9.7MP coming from first the Huawei Ascend P7 Brick Wall - Huawei Ascend P7 9.7MP
It appears to be much better already, comparable with what I got from the Oppo Find 7a, again with 9.7MP in 16:9 Brick Wall - Oppo Find 7a 9.7MP
Next up is the LG Flex, which appears to give a lot more detail and way better colours, too... Brick Wall - LG Flex 9.7MP
And the LG G3, which shows the same amount of detail but still a bit brighter - and more accurate - colours Brick Wall - LG G3 9.7MP b
I already wrote the Samsung Note 3 performs worst in this example, followed by Huawei and Oppo. From both LG results I prefer the crop coming from the G3.

Now we're getting at the "around 15MP" resolutions. First the Samsung Galaxy S5, which actually uses 15.9MP in 16:9, but appears to use a lot of oversharpening Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy S5 15.9MP
The Sony Xperia Z2 gives you 15.5MP in manual mode (in 16:9), but it's a bit messy result in fact. Brick Wall - Sony Xperia Z2 15.5MP
Compare that to the pretty clean crop coming from the Nokia Lumia 930 with its high resolution result at 16MP Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 930 16MP
And finally the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom at 15.1MP Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy K Zoom 15.1MP
Yes, in this case I think the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom gives me the best result. Most surprising to me is to see the artificial way of sharpening of the Galaxy S5. The Xperia Z2 still doesn't live up to its expectations. And I'm not overwhelmed by the Lumia 930, mostly because its colours are so dull.

Last part of this section: the bigs guns. First the "composed" shot from the Oppo Find 7a, combining four shots to a 37.4MP shot (in 16:9). I've shown in previous posts (a few months ago) it doesn't lead to any impressive result and it's the same in this case. Brick Wall - Oppo Find 7a 37.4MP
More interesting is once again the classic battle between the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Nokia 808 PureView - and I'll share them in that order as well, since I think the latter wins, again. Nokia Lumia 1020 Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 1020 34MP
Nokia 808 PureView Brick Wall - Nokia 808 PureView 34MP
Once again, differences are marginal, but the Nokia 808 PureView does show a bit more detail. In both cases I think it's amazing what these sensors are capable of - please remember where this shot came from: you're looking at just a few of over four hundred bricks!

So far, the most disappionting result comes from Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, and I have to admit I'm not too thrilled about the amount of oversharpening in the S5 either. Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom does a pretty good job here though. Sony's Xperia Z2 still doesn't live up to what its marketeers want peope to believe. LG has doing a very good job with both devices, Oppo was doing just slightly better than Huawei I'd say.

Ready for more bricks? I already explained I chose this scene and make the shots as similar as I could to check the corner sharpness. To compare, I chose the far left top corner of these shots. They are all on Flickr (link below), so if you really want to know you can check all sides yourself (I figured it would be too much for even the most avid fan to share shots from all corners here. Again, I'll order them by amount MegaPixel used in the original shot and their quality.

First Nokia Lumia 930 Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 930 5MP
and the Nokia Lumia 1020 Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP
No doubt the 1020 is better, but overall, I see a pretty sharp picture from both devices. The Lumia 930 just seems to give me a more hazy result (and yes, I cleaned all lenses before shooting).
Next, two crops from "around 8MP" shots from the Sony Xperia Z2 Brick Wall - Sony Xperia Z2 8.3MP
And the Nokia 808 PureView, giving a sharper image as expected. Brick Wall - Nokia 808 Pureview 8MP
Now the results from five 9.7MP shooters. Oppo Find 7a first, with a pretty vague result... Brick Wall - Oppo Find 7a 9.7MP
Next is the Galaxy Note 3, with noticable oversharpening, but at least more detail! Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy Note 3 9.6MP
Quite some oversharpening in the LG Flex as well Brick Wall - LG Flex 9.7MP
The Huawei Ascend P7 performs a bit better, although it really is on the soft side Brick Wall - Huawei Ascend P7 9.7MP
And again the best result in this category comes from LG's G3. A clean, overall sharp image - even in the left-hand to corner! - not to much over saturation and not too soft either. Brick Wall - LG G3 9.7MP
Now let's turn to the "around 15MP" shooters again. As you might have expected after previous posts, the K Zoom is seriously  underperforming... Ouch. Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy K Zoom 15.1MP
This really makes you want (new) glasses, doesn't it? After this, it can only get better - and it does, even coming from Samsung Galaxy S5. Not much though, still over-sharpened, but better definition and detail. Brick Wall - Samsung Galaxy S5 15.9MP
Sony Xperia Z2 is doing only slightly better on manual, and the colours are a bit of a disappointment again Brick Wall - Sony Xperia Z2 15.5MP
The Nokia Lumia 930 wins in this category, although it isn't very convincing either I have to say. It's a pretty close call and I'd understand it if some would prefer the Xperia's result in this case. Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 930 16MPAgain, the last category is that of the cameras that will give you the highest pixel count. As expected, the winner of the worst result in this category goes to the Oppo Find 7a's composed shot. This function really proves to be nothing more than a useless gimmick I'm afraid. Brick Wall - Oppo Find 7a 37.4MP
Check out the next two shots to compare how bad this acutally is... It's Nokia PureView vs Nokia PureView once again... Nokia Lumia 1020 Brick Wall - Nokia Lumia 1020 34MP
Once again surpassed by the old Nokia 808 PureView Brick Wall - Nokia 808 PureView 34MP
I have to admit I didn't manage to get the exact same shot, but it will have to do for now - I'm sure you can live with the results I've shared in this post. The Nokia 808 PureView winning the gold medal won't come as a surprise to anyone I guess.

The Lumia 1020 still is a very good runner up, but the amount of detail and definition even a full resolution 808 PureView shot can come up with will never cease to amaze me. As for the other phones: in the "around 15MP" category, the Lumia 930 still appears to give a bit darker result - colours are comparable with those coming from the Xperia Z2, wich lacks quality in sharpness. But like I wrote, it's a close call.

Samsung's Galaxy S5 is using too much oversharpening. Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom is performing okay in general but suddenly turns into a disaster when it comes to corner sharpness. That's okay if you go for detailed shots (close-ups, portraits) but it's not at all okay for landscapes. Keep in mind I didn't use any of its zoom capacity here, but it will essentially be the same story (sharp in the middle, unsharp at the edges).

In the "around 10MP" category the LG G3 is a clear winner, followed by its older (and bigger) colleague LG Flex. Oppo's Find 7a gives an acceptable result, except for its corner sharpness. Most surprising is the performance of the Huawei Ascend P7 in this case. The Galaxy Note 3 is a great smartphone, but far from a great smartphone camera. Sony's Xperia Z2 in 8MP isn't bad, it isn't very impressive either.

It's no surprise the 808 PureView performs better at 8MP, like it's no surprise the Lumia 1020 gives a much better 5MP result compared to the Lumia 930 with its much smaller sensor. Apart from everything we already knew or could have guessed, I think that apart from PureView's supremacy (especially with the 808 and 1020) it's interesting to conclude the LG G3 shows the most consistent results - seriously better than Samsung is showing with all three devices in fact (since the K Zoom looses a lot of points in corner performance).

One more thing
Now there's "one more thing" here. I've blown-up all shots to (just about) the same size of the Nokia 808 PureView's full resolution (34MP). Next, I made 640x640 crops of the same left-hand top corner. It will give you some more surprising results, but I guess no-one loves bricks enough to see all those crops in this post.

So I uploaded all those results on OneDrive if you really want to see what that leads to. The crops are in a seperate folder. If you're looking forward to make more crops (or blow-ups) yourself, you're more than welcome too, all original shots are in a dedicated album on the SmartCamClub Flickr page - but you knew that already, didn't you? Just like you know I'm looking forward to your reaction below :-)

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