iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S4 Camera Shootout: You Be the Judge

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iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S4 Shootout Graphic - Both Phones with an emphasis on their camera lenses

You know Apple takes the camera inside the iPhone 5 seriously when it airs a commercial boasting that “more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.” But are you using the best camera? The iPhone’s biggest nemesis by far is the new Samsung Galaxy S4, whose camera offers a higher resolution of 13 megapixels. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 uses an 8-MP sensor. But resolution isn’t everything. 

MORE: Best Phones 2013

To gauge which flagship smartphone takes better pictures, we want you to judge the photo quality of the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 side by side. There’s just one catch. We’re not going to tell you which device took which photo, and the order of the phones might very well switch from one image comparison to the next.

Editors' Note: The polls are now closed. See why readers chose the iPhone 5 over the Galaxy S4.

As you’ll see, we took multiple photos of different subjects in all sorts of lighting conditions. We snapped a group shot of colleagues on the roof of our New York City building, a fountain in Bryant Park, a motorcycle, a painting (in near darkness) and more. To keep things as fair as possible we used Auto mode in all cases.

Once we’ve heard from enough of you we’ll reveal which phone is which, leading up to our big overall face-off between the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5. Now cast your vote!

Photo Set 1: Fountain


 [polldaddy poll="7094746"]

Photo Set 2: Rooftop Group Shot 


 [polldaddy poll="7094792"]

Photo Set 3: Flowers


 [polldaddy poll="7094805"]

Photo Set 4: Grover and Friends


[polldaddy poll="7094816"]

Photo Set 5: Bryant Park 

Set_5_Park_iPhone5 Set_5_Park_S4

 [polldaddy poll="7094826"]

Photo Set 6: Mailbox 


 [polldaddy poll="7094839"]

Photos Set 7: Indoors Low Light

Set_7_LowLightIndoor_S4 Set_7_LowLightIndoor_iPhone [polldaddy poll="7094844"]

Photos Set 8: Indoors Flash 


 [polldaddy poll="7094847"]

Photo Set 9: Motorcycle

Set_9_Mctorcycle_iPhone5 Set_9_Mctorcycle_S4 [polldaddy poll="7094896"] 

Photo Set 10: Potted Plant


 [polldaddy poll="7094907"]

Photo Set 11: Flags



 [polldaddy poll="7094941"]

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Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • Lix Says:

    Glad to stumble on this, with the result already out. I'm deciding between phones. Thanks.

  • PhoneSearcher Says:

    You guys should use MORE ads on the pictures. Wait! You don't need pictures, just use ads!
    Well... adblock eanbled!

  • matta Says:

    there is no consistency in the pictures, I mean if a camera is bad it should be bad in all pictures. I think it is more due to user than the camera.

  • Rasmus B Says:

    Holy smokes! I was just about to "downgrade" my iphone 4s to a galaxy s4 when i saw this mess. This literally makes me wait for the next gen smart phones. The camera really makes 70% of the decision for me... I mean, who would want a phone with the sensor of the s4??? It looks like heck loads of compulsary photoshop work ahead for those poor folks.. Bad exposure, white levels.. Jeez. Shame on samsung!!!

  • Charles Rachor Says:

    just to point out that i've read in reviews of iPhone cameras (not just the 5), that Apple tends to over saturate the colors; so if you were there in person, the colors wouldn't look as "good" as the iPhone makes it look. i agree that aesthetics are important and Apple probably decided on that because people like the pictures that way, but for a more true-to-life representation, maybe the s4 wins on a couple of the pictures...just my .02 cents.

  • Nate Says:

    For future reference, it would've been great to see low-light comparisons including people. I love the 5, but it tends to wash out and over-expose faces (or other light items) in flash-based shots unfortunately... about the only fault I've seen in it.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    The phone that took each photo is now available inside the poll results so the results should be easier to follow. Thanks

  • samuel Karanja Says:

    That's confusing. But if the iPhone can trade punches with the S4 in the optics department and still win, then i assume the next iPhone should comfortably take down the S4.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    Here you go:

    Photo Set 1 - Fountain (Crop that shows fountain)
    Phone A = Samsung Galaxy S4
    Phone B = Apple iPhone 5

    Photo Set 2 - Rooftop Group Shot
    Phone A = iPhone 5
    Phone B = Samsung Galaxy S4

    Photo Set 3 - Pink Flowers (100%)
    Phone A = Samsung Galaxy S4
    Phone B = Apple iPhone 5

    Photo Set 4 - Grover
    Phone A = iPhone 5
    Phone B = Samsung Galaxy S4

    Photo Set 5 - Park
    Phone A = Apple iPhone 5
    Phone B = Samsung Galaxy S4

    Photo Set 6 - Mailbox
    Phone A = Samsung Galaxy S4
    Phone B = Apple iPhone 5

    Photo Set 7 - Indoor Low-Light (No Flash)
    Phone A = Samsung Galaxy S4
    Phone B = iPhone 5

    Photo Set 8 - Indoor Low-Light (Flash)
    Phone A = Samsung Galaxy S4
    Phone B = iPhone 5

    Photo Set 9 - Motorcycle
    Phone A = Apple iPhone 5
    Phone B = Samsung Galaxy S4

    Photo Set 10 - Potted Plant
    Phone A = Galaxy S
    Phone B = iPhone 5

    Photo Set 11 - Flags
    Phone A = Apple iPhone 5
    Phone B = Samsung Galaxy S4

  • Michelle Says:

    It's great that we now know which phone was voted better.... but now we dont know which phone corresponds to which picture... at least for sure

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    The polls are now closed and you can see which phones are which. We will follow up shortly with a summary of the results. The Galaxy S4 won a few of the battles but the iPhone 5 looks to be the overall winner based on your votes.

  • Sean Says:

    Which is which?

  • eki fernanda Says:

    eh kontol babi dasr jable mana hasilnya

  • Toni Says:

    I think that the question is somewhat confusingly which one I like better rather than which photo in and of itself is better. The other has much warmer colours, a fact that can be easily adjusted most likely even within the phone, which makes them more pleasant, yet they seem to lose quite a bit of nuances in colours when doing so. On part of the pictures this becomes apparent yet I still prefer the more colourful picture.

  • Tom Says:

    Why there is no Nokia Lumia products tested as well such as Lumia 920 tested? Or the new 928..

  • Samuela khan Says:

    I can't believe I spent 5 min of my life doing this hope it was worth it lol .

  • Veli Pekka Nousiainen Says:

    if these two were the only possible choices
    I'm looking for a phablet and Apple doesn't have one

  • Jenny Rademan Says:

    Please keep me posted of the results, finding it difficult to choose between the two phones. I do have an iPad and love it but Samsung seems to offer more than iPhone....yet iPhone newer goes out of fashion..

  • samuel Karanja Says:

    Phone A is definitely the Samsung Galaxy s4. If you compare the photos from the article 'Htc one vs S4',those of the S4 are similar to those of Phone A. I really like the dark outdoor colours. It makes the photo look 'real'. Phone B's outdoor photos have too much 'light'(don't know how else to put it).

  • zayroo Says:

    Can you send me the results as soon as possible, please.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    In all cases we used Auto mode. You make a good point but we wanted to use auto mode throughout for consistency. Those interested in seeing auto mode and night mode vs auto on iPhone 5 we can publish a separate set of results.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    Thank you for all the comments. We will close the voting by 9 AM tomorrow morning and will reveal which phone is which.

  • StewB Says:

    Seems that some commenters here can't stand the idea of an impartial survey. The article doesn't say whether the S4 or iPhone 5 are assigned the same letters for each set of photos.

  • Jose Says:

    iphone 5 for sure no doubt.

  • Moki Says:

    I'm pretty sure the Nokia Lumia 928 could beat the pants off of both these phones in terms of low light picture quality and video OIS . . .

  • Martin722 Says:

    What is to prevent them from using the iphone for "A" and the S4 for "B" in one set and then switching them in the next? Your logic is flawed. I think this is a very fair way of comparing the two phones. Awesome job! I should let everyone speculate on which phone I use but I won't. I've been a Samsung fan since my first one which was an S3. My work phone is an iphone so I am famiiar with both OS. I prefer Android but to each his own. I suggest you all buy what you want instead of feeling the need to bash anyone that uses one that you don't like. A 24 or 48 hour period to allow a broad range of unbiased voting is only fair. Nice job Mark!

  • amit Says:

    under photo set 7, im assuming phone a is samsung. was this image taken on auto mode or night/low light mode? on another site i saw that the s4 has a low light mode and the output seems to be much better than iphone with this on. ideally for the correct comparison this mode should be used for indoor low light comparison

  • Brian Says:

    Riley, because the list is in a "double blind" configuration, we need to know which phone is "Phone A" and "Phone B" for each set of images, because the quality and color saturation changes from A to B between sets, indicating that the order of which phone is which has been changed.

    And if you read the original post, it states "...and the order of the phones might very well switch from one image comparison to the next."

  • Riley Says:

    Hey guys if you really want to know, phone A is clearly the galaxy because it is known for having an awful low light sensor. So for all those wondering.... Phone A=galaxy s4, and Phone B= iphone 5

  • hasoon Says:

    Can you send me the results as soon as possible, please.

  • As It Is Says:

    This is so lame. Don't expect people to come back days later for the results. Just give us the results after we vote. We do you a favor by voting, thereby increasing your "engagement" numbers, so you owe us a timely answer as to which phone is which. Lame, lame, lame. It's too bad, because this was a very well-conceived and well-executed demonstration of the major decision factor for many people in choosing between the two phones. I would have tweeted and shared this article, if you had simply given the answer at the end. Instead, I now dislike you and your site because you deprived me of the info I needed when I needed it. My advice to you is don't pull this stunt again, unless you are trying on purpose to piss people off.

  • doddy tjarma Says:

    Could you send me the best photo voting result between Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5.


  • samuel Karanja Says:

    Phone A seems to to be the better choice when its the outdoors and Phone B seems to be the better choice indoors. Phone A takes it for me.

  • Ravi Says:

    Can you send me the results as soon as possible, please.

  • Osman Emurli Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Could you please send me the information of wich phone belongs to which photo to my mail adress? I'm going to buy my new phone today and camera plays a huge factor. That would be great!

    Thank you

  • murtaza Says:

    i think phone A is better because the colours are bit darker but in indoor low light i would go for phone B

  • Ashok Says:

    Mike, go with Apple iPhone since:
    1) Product reliability
    2) Resale value
    3) Samsung products are great for the 1st year or 2 after that it loses its performance

  • Ramesh Says:

    Could you please send me the results ASAP.

  • Ilham Says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you and i think it is the best comparison between both phone i've ever made. Appreciate if you could give an answer as soon as possible as i need to give a surprise for my daughter birthday. thank you Sir

  • Corbarlin Says:


    I have the Galaxy S4 on hold and must pick up by Sunday if I decide on that one over the iPhone. Can you please email me the results so I can make my decision before then? I would really appreciate it. Thank you. :)

  • Rodney Says:

    Seriously, worst website ever. I just worked for free. I want my five minutes back, inrespectable laptopmag.com shame on you. Think we are slaves? I would not waste my eye to do the work you don't want. Waiting for apologies...

  • Brian Says:

    Good Evening,

    Is it possible to be emailed the results of this page right now? I am looking to switch to a new phone this weekend and I have narrowed it down to these two. If the iPhone5 is a clear winner in the camera as well, it makes the decision that much easier. Thank you.

  • Nate Says:

    Mark - I'm in the same boat as Mike - Mother's day gift. I hit you up via G+ if it's at all possible to find out...


  • Phil T Says:

    The low light (7) is incredibly poor on both devices. A is extremely noisey while B is not even in focus.

  • mehdi Says:

    you have no reference picture.i dont know which color is natural .you must have one picture(from professional camera).then we can compare with.

  • Mitch Says:

    In every case one of the photos has much better color and contrast. The photos of the motorcycle in Set 9 were very similar and I relied on the clarity of the Toyota symbol of the car in the background.

    Set 1: B
    Set 2: A
    Set 3: B
    Set 4: B
    Set 5: A
    Set 6: B
    Set 7: B
    Set 8: A
    Set 9: B
    Set 10: A
    Set 11: B

  • mohi Says:

    The clarity one is sure Iphone5

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    Mike, I don't want to spoil the results but you can feel free to drop me a line. I think your wife will certainly love the S4's camera features. Both take great photos.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    Thanks for your notes. We were trying to avoid any pro Apple or Samsung bias for the voting. We'll let everyone know Monday morning.

  • arasu Says:

    please which one is Phone A and which is phone B, ????????????

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