iPhone 6+ versus Nokia Lumia 1020 and 1520

So I had another go at the iPhone 6, the Plus version even this time. Again, it was a colleague who could borrow me the device and I could actually use it for about an hour. First of all: this is a big device, way bigger than I expected it to be. How big is obvious when I lay it on top of the huge Nokia Lumia 1520 - you'll still be able to make out the yellow case, but I was surprised to see how much it's covered by the iPhone 6+. Nokia 1520 iPhone 6+ 640 x 360 Like I said, I had one hour to get some shots. You'll see the original scenes coming from the three devices: iPhone 6+ first, Lumia 1020 second and Lumia 1520 third, followed by the crops I got from the same scene in the same order.

In a previous comparison, I blew up some of the 5MP results I got from the Lumia 1520 and 1020, to about the 8MP size (3264 x 2448 pixels) you get from the iPhone 6. Since these 5MP shots from Nokia are oversampled from their original 20MP or even 38MP results, I've seen they can withstand such a treatment very well - and it's much easier to compare similar sizes. So that's what I did for all Nokia shots this time: I blew them up before I cropped them.

You'll find the originals shots on Flickr, as always. The shots were resized from their original formats though. Like I said, I didn't have much time, but I think I got an interesting diversity of five scenes in total. Most of them were captured in one of my favorite locations, the National Instituut for Video and Sound in Hilversum. Remember: the order is iPhone 6+, Nokia Lumia 1020, Nokia Lumia 1520. All settings are on auto. You'll see the shots and crops first, and to make you come to your own conclusions first, I'll save mine for last. Bridge iPhone 6+ Bridge Nokia Lumia 1020 Bridge Nokia Lumia 1520
I focused on the center of the shot (the bridge), so that's where I cropped these results. Again: I blew up the 5MP results from the Lumia's to roughly the same 8MP size I get from the iPhone 6. Bridge iPhone 6+ Bridge Nokia Lumia 1020 Bridge Nokia Lumia 1520 Next scene: inside the shop. Cards iPhone 6+ Cards Nokia Lumia 1020 Cards Nokia Lumia 1520 And the crops Cards iPhone 6+ Cards Nokia Lumia 1020 Cards Nokia Lumia 1520
Next up is the restaurant. I hardly ever capture scenes with people, but in this case it was just too interesting to compare. People iPhone 6+ People Nokia Lumia 1020 People Nokia Lumia 1520 The cropped results... People iPhone 6+ People Nokia Lumia 1020 People Nokia Lumia 1520
Now we get to the last two shots, captured in darker situations. First, a fire alarm in a parking garage. Fire alarm iPhone 6+ Fire alarm Nokia Lumia 1020 Fire Alarm Nokia Lumia 1520 The crops: Fire alarm iPhone 6+ Fire alarm Nokia Lumia 1020 Fire Alarm Nokia Lumia 1520
And finally, a shot captured in almost complete darkness - inside a server room at work with the lights off and the door closed, to test the capability of the flash on all devices. Remember only the Lumia 1020 has a Xenon flash, the Lumia 1520 and the iPhone 6 have LED. Flash iPhone 6+ Flash Nokia Lumia 1020 Flash Nokia Lumia 1520 The final crops Flash iPhone 6+ Flash Nokia Lumia 1020 Flash Nokia Lumia 1520
So although this is only based on a few shots, I think we've probably come to the same conclusions... The Nokia Lumia 1020 might still have some trouble with the white balance with all settings on auto (especially in the restaurant scene), but nothing beats its detail. Also - as expected - the Xenon flash proves to be way more powerful, but I have to add I'm surprised how much the iPhone 6+ was able to capture.

Mind you, the crops came from the results I blew up from 5MP to 8MP, and still, the original 8MP shots coming from the iPhone 6+ show more noise in every situation. I've read the 6+ version of the iPhone even has OIS (optical image stabilisation), but it's hard to tell what it actually does. Moreover, it must be software I guess, since the design is exactly as thin as the iPhone 6 - there simply seems to be no room for any hardware solution?

Update: I've just learned the 6+ in fact has hardware OIS. Apple writes on its website: "iPhone 6 Plus introduces optical image stabilization that works with the A8 chip, gyroscope, and M8 motion coprocessor to measure motion data and provide precise lens movement to compensate for hand shake in lower light. The fusing together of long- and short-exposure images also helps to reduce subject motion. This unique integration of hardware and software delivers beautiful low-light photos." Still not sure how effective it is though - would the lowlight results be worse without it?

Anyway, I'm always a bit surprised about the ease with which Apple writes about "introducing optical image stabilization" and "unique integration of hardware and software". It's not like it never existed before guys ;-) All original shots are here on Flickr. There is no doubt in my mind the millions of new iPhone 6 owners are perfectly happy with the results they get from their device. But something's got to give: you can't have such a thin device and still get the very best image quality. Physics always wins.