iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: Camera Comparison


Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 Camera

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 or Apple’s iPhone 6? Fanboy allegiances aside, there will be lots of people making that decision over the next year. Among the primary questions people ask when trying to pick their next smartphone, “which has a better camera?” is among the top. In this comparison we put the devices head-to-head, taking nearly identical pictures with each device across a range of environments, and hopefully helping you understand what to expect.

Our photographic evidence is below, but here are the main takeaways:

  • Galaxy S5 takes some amazing pics, but has a tendency to produce some washed out photos
  • iPhone 6 photos are solid and more consistent, but pictures sometimes lack detail
  • The above visuals carry over to video as well
  • Galaxy S5 has superior audio playback in videos
  • Galaxy S5 is better in lowlight
  • Galaxy S5 has superior zoom
  • Advantages in lowlight/zoom/audio make the Galaxy S5 more versatile
  • iPhone 6 selfie cam is superior
  • Both cameras are really good but not great… travelers will still want a point and shoot alternative or DSLR (of which I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Camera).

In the below sets of photos, the first picture is always from the Galaxy S5 and the second is always from the iPhone 6.

Picture comparisons

Taken on a blaringly bright day with light and shadow weaving in and out of trees and buildings, we see one of the Galaxy S5’s flaws right off the bat: sometimes it does too much, super saturating colors and creating contrast where it’s unnecessary, washing out the picture in the process. Notice the bottom picture (the iPhone) maintains the blue sky.

ColorfulHouses-GS5 ColorfulHouses-iPhone

But zooming in, you’ll find the S5 picture more crisp while the iPhone picture is fuzzy. The colors in the S5 photo are bright and fun while the iPhone picture appears dull. The flip side of that argument: the S5 photos can seem artificial while the iPhone photos more natural.

ColorfulHouses-Zoom This is a recurring theme with all Samsung devices, including their TVs, purposefully exaggerating colors to create the most beautiful experience possible. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it misses the mark.

I walked over to the Fells Point pier to snap some more outside pics, these of the Under Armour building across the harbor.

FellsUnderArmour-GS5 FellsUnderArmour-iPhone

The iPhone again presents more accurate blues, but zooming into the Under Armour building, notice the S5’s 16MP camera is able to capture greater detail.


It’s possible that, from the above pictures, you prefer the iPhone versions. That’s an understandable (matter of preference), but don’t think that Samsung is altering the saturation, brightness, and contrast needlessly. In many cases it helps create a much better scene, such as this nearby picture (see Under Armour in the background?) where the foreground is illuminated, making it much more interesting.

Pier-GS5 Pier-iPhone

That affect is hit or miss, sometimes improving colors and lighting, other times washing them out or making them seem artificial. For example below, I prefer the nice and vibrant Galaxy S5 beer picture yet prefer the iPhone’s picture of the field itself, maintaining those deep, natural greens in the grass.

OriolesBeer-GS5 OriolesBeer-iPhone OriolesGame-S5 OriolesGame-iPhone6

My gallery on both phones are filled with these situations: I like some photos on one phone and some photos from the other. It’s very hit or miss and which phone you generally accept as “better” for pictures is a matter of preference. However, some specific camera characteristics have clear cut winners.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

One place where the Galaxy S5 camera clearly wins: zooming. With a 16MP camera compared to the iPhone 6’s 8MP camera, users can put the full image on their computer, crop a small portion, and the photo will still be plenty large to use for online purposes.

That’s exactly what you saw with he Under Armour images above… but what about using the zoom on the camera itself, before you take the picture? Check out this picture of the Natty Boh guy from the rooftops, taken without any zoom (note these were accidentally taken at different times of the day, hence the difference in lighting):

NattyBohFar-GS5 NattyBohFar-iPhone

Now let’s see what happens if we use the phone itself to zoom.

NattyBohZoom-GS5 NattyBohZoom-iPhone

And now, from the zoomed picture, let’s crop that cute little guy’s face.

NattyBohZoomCrop-GS5 NattyBohZoomCrop-iPhone

Not even close… the Galaxy S5 runs away with it.


If there’s one place that the iPhone 6 runs away with a camera category, it’s selfies. Despite only having a 1.2MP shooter compared to the 2.1MP on the Galaxy S5, it consistently produced better images from its front facing “FaceTime HD” camera. Here’s me and my sister pretending to be tough (and another friend selfie bombing with his duckface).

OriolesMeanFace-GS5 OriolesMeanFace-iPhone

Colors are much richer and the textures are more human. Given that 99% of the time the front cam will be used to capture a person’s face… it seems Apple may have optimized accordingly. Keep in mind that this camera will mostly be used for social media, messaging, and live video chat, having a resolution over 1280 x 720 isn’t too important- that works just fine.

Macro and More

Some of my favorite pictures are closeups of random objects, whether that be food, flowers or something else. Both phones performed incredibly well with macro pictures, and although the noticeable difference between the final photos remains, this category was too close to call. Once again, mostly a matter of preference. In the interest of time and bandwidth, I’ll include a handful of other comparison photos, and we’ll move along.

Video Comparison

Analyzing the videos we find the same themes prevalent from the photo comparisons. Namely, the iPhone’s colors appear more natural at the ballpark but in low light – in the music venue – the video is grainy and struggles to capture a good picture. The visual winner may be a tossup, but from an audio standpoint the Galaxy S5 absolutely crushes the iPhone in playback.

The Galaxy S5 sound is full with a clear and booming bass while the iPhone playback lays flat. Both videos were shakier than I’d hope, but that may be as much my fault as the camera’s, considering the musical nature of both videos. That being said, I specifically remember trying to hold quite still at the ballpark while recording.

The first set of videos are from a bar called Waterfront in Fells Point. Live music all the time and some good food, too. The second set are from the Orioles game at Camden Yards during the “Fan of the Game” selection. This hilarious guy did the same exact cheer at every idle moment of the game, even during YMCA he was poking the program into the air, exactly like so. I never did find out what was on the front of that program, but I’m not sure I want to know… I’d rather preserve the legend.

The video comparison would be close but the S5 audio sounds so far superior to the iPhone that it’s rendered a no-brainer.

The Shocking Part

Over the course of several days, when taking these pictures, I showed friends and family some of the pictures I’d taken along the way. Almost everyone – including me – was shocked at how clearly Samsung’s Galaxy S5 dominated the iPhone in photo taking. It wasn’t even close. Runaway victory. Laughable.

Then I put them on the computer… and that outlook changed. Samsung is known for having the brightest and most vibrant displays on the planet. When reviewing the photos, we weren’t admiring the quality of the photos… we were admiring the quality of the Galaxy S5 screen. We just didn’t know it.

Once putting both photos on a neutral device and equal playing field, just the opposite seemed to occur: the iPhone 6 edged the S5 in many cases because of deeper colors with more contrast. I was absolutely shocked, because I was fully prepared to write this article about the S5 demolishing the iPhone 6 camera… but that’s not the case.

On the other hand, this says a lot about the Galaxy S5 display. Simply put: it’s amazing. But that’s another story. The Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 take different approaches to handling less-than-optimal lighting conditions and neither is perfect. There is no clear cut winner

The Verdict

As is the case with many flagship smartphone comparisons, you could easily make the argument for either the Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 6 as having the better camera. There are some clear differences, advantages, and flaws of each, but all things considered the Galaxy S5 has more points in it’s favor.

The iPhone 6 does take more consistently well colored photos, but the advantage is marginal. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 is superior in low light, crushes with zoom, and is exponentially better at capturing rich audio. Unless your heart is determined to have the better selfie at every waking moment, I’d recommend the Galaxy S5 as the better smartphone camera for its versatility and feature set… but the iPhone 6 isn’t far behind.

These are still two of the best smartphone cameras on the market, but serious photo lovers who anticipate wanting a great camera for trips and personal projects will still want to buy a dedicated point and shoot camera or DSLR.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. You’re from Baltimore, Love the Orioles, enjoy ‘Boh and drive a Jeep!?
    Best. Review. Ever!!
    GO O’s!!!

    1. What in the name of sanity are you yammering about? Most of your comment reads like a schizophrenic’s manifesto.

      1. Coffee hon, Coffee.

        1. Take your coffee and pour it into the orifice located nearest to your rear end.

      2. It’s quite clear, actually.

        Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

        1. That expression is so clichéd it gave me a cartoon anvil in the head.

          1. I love you! :)

  2. Is it me or do the iPhone pics looked a bit soft and washed out? A little grainy at times too.. maybe that’s the MP thing though.

    1. No! I am seeing the exact same thing. Especially in the first few pictures. I am a little confused now. It was left up to “preference” but S5 was a clear winner to me.

  3. Orioles suck. But I was just at fells point the other day. Saw some spoken word and hit sound garden up.

    1. Hahaha Stupid Orioles…. Oh wait I am a Rockies fan. Never mind

    2. Yeah we suck. I mean grabbing the AL East Division and continuing to stomp the Yankees is nothing compared to your team right? /s

      1. Do you know what team I like?

        1. You like the Orioles!!

          1. Troll.

  4. Here’s a much more important comparison between Apple and Samsung that is more relevant to everyday use (aka will your phone break just by putting it in your pocket)


    1. Don’t you see, the bending isn’t an issue, it’s a feature! The iPhone is trying to assimilate to your body, thus becoming a part of you! It’s remarkable!

      1. LOL, After the bending issue, “Apple” will change the brand name to Banana and rename the iPhone lineup as iBend.

        1. HAH! They already ‘iBend’ with their extreme loyalty to Apple.

  5. Thank you for that comparison. I cannot wait for the Note 4 / iPhone 6 Plus comparison!

    1. Neither can we! In less than a month…

      1. Off topic, I would love to see the new Moto X (2014) comparison.

        1. Don’t tell anyone… but I think our Moto X review is going up… today :)

  6. Overall, it seems to me the S5 camera is the best. However, iPhone 6 camera is much better than I thought. The iPhone 6 has outperformed the S5 in some pictures. I guess the Note 4 camera could be even better as it employs a Sony Exmor sensor.

    1. If the Note 4 Camera is the same as the S5’s with OIS, it will be a winner for sure. I normally stay away from phablets, but that alone might push me over the edge.

  7. Maybe if you bent the iphone a little bit it would take better low light photos, If you bent it a lot it might be easier to grip.

    1. That’s a great question! If you squeeze the iPhone 6+ hard enough, will it give you ‘grippies’ on the side of the phone?

    2. The iPhone 6 is a metamorphic phone. With pressure and heat, it turns into the LG curve.

  8. iPhone’s normally have decent cameras, nothing surprising about this article as we were at least expecting it to be on par.

    Maybe make a similar comparison and compare the iPhone 6 camera to HTC One M8 so we can all have a good laugh, mostly iPhone users would be laughing of course.

  9. Go O’s :D

  10. At least iCrazy people don’t say, you are comparing 6 months old iPhone with newest phone. Now its other way around.

  11. The first few picture comparisons don’t seem equal. For example, while the pier/dock ones were taken in the same spot, the regular zoomed photos seems completely at different ends. The wood blocks seem extremely blurry on the gs5 shot. Was the picture uploaded incorrectly?

    I’ve attached what I’m seeing:

    Same with the one with the cars, although not as noticeable.

    Hopefully it was just an upload error and not the fact that the two phones were focusing on different things. Otherwise, is the comparison completely fair?

    1. probably, but the iphone does a great job on focusing, that pixel crap works

  12. Your sister. I would.

  13. Great comparison… Love the unbiased review. Oh and btw your sister is hott!! Lol

  14. Was HDR on with the S5 shots? Some of those outdoor shots look they might’ve had it on? It’s so fast it’s easy to forget it’s on.

    So far I’ve found the 6 to be as your review stated in photo quality. However, it seems to accomplish the pictures easier. Sometimes with the S5 I have to take a couple of shots b/c the focus will be off or it will be blurry – especially indoors. The 6 has blown away the S5 for me indoors so far, even with some movement – crisp, minimal noise, good exposure, etc. Outdoors the S5 wins mainly b/c of resolution, but the 6 is still more consistently easy and accurate while the S5 takes some occasional finagling. Just my experience so far…

  15. Thanks for this comparison. The phone cameras are a big factor for me. I’d like to see a comparison with the Sony Z3.

  16. DXO labs, the premier testing site for cameras and lenses rates the iphone 6 plus the best overall cell phone camera http://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-6-models-set-gold-standard-in-photo-video-quality-tests/
    I noticed the same thing you did about the S5. People went crazy over the pics when displayed on the phone, but on the computer (with calibrated monitor) they were disappointing. S5 and Iphone 6 are both excellent cameras. The “average” phone user will be happy with either. Pixel peepers will have differing opinions.

    1. Good to know – they had given the S5 that rating prior to the 6/+’s release.

  17. “When reviewing the photos, we weren’t admiring the quality of the photos… we were admiring the quality of the Galaxy S5 screen”

    That was a little bit confusing…
    So, why on my laptop’s screen, the Samsung’s photos are still better than the iPhone’s?

    1. Same here on my desktop. Blow up these pics. S5 is the winner without a doubt to me.

    2. Well thats your opinion. But like the article stated its hit or miss, in some occassions one does better than the other. I give the iPhone the nod on video though, its less choppy, but mic is better on the Samsung. After using the 6 Plus for a day or two, the iPhone is very consistent though in auto mode.

  18. What this shows me is that any difference is marginal at best, certainly not “jumping ship” across ecosystems. I can’t help but feel the iPhone 6 has been a bit of a disappointment, they appear to have been playing catchup and not a lot else.

    1. LOL! I use to think I would see what the hype was all about if they got a bigger screen but what they are offering with the 6+ is not working for me. 1080p? Been there and done that.

      1. You wouldn’t want to get the 6+ anyway. It’s structural integrity compared to it’s smaller counterpart is marginal at best.

        1. consumer reports shows it takes only 70lbs to bend the iphone 6, and 90 pounds for the iphone6+

          1. I personally don’t trust Consumer Reports but that is interesting to know. I can’t say anything from personal experience, but I’d assume the 6 would be more robust than the 6+ simply due to the components being closer together and therefore more dense. I could very easily be wrong though, but I’m not going to destroy perfectly good hardware to find out, whether I like Android better or not.

  19. Just came from BGR, so my brain is having a hard time adjusting to an unbiased comparison.

  20. Damn HTC and their 4MP Ultrapixel. Just a few more MP and it would be up against the iPhone 6 and clearly win.. **PUN** Ha

  21. Hands down the best camera comparison ARTICLE I have ever read on the internet since 1999.

    Covered every aspect of both cameras, embedded video, detailed observations, covered selfie, multiple camera shots compared.

    great job..this is damn near perfect…Phandroid needs more like these…

    1. Did you really expect camera articles in 1999 to cover selfies? Are you psychic? o_O

  22. Can you compare the IPhone 6 camera to the LG G3 camera? I appreciate that.

  23. It’d be great if you could label each photo with the phone type. It would be much easier to follow. Thank you!

    1. If the photos never get labeled, you can tell which is which by examining the width of the photos. The GS5 photos have a widescreen aspect ratio and the iP6 photos have an aspect ratio similar to a regular photo.

      1. Ah, got it.. Thank you!

        1. Anytime, always happy to help.

  24. What about the slomo mode on iPhone 6? Did you try it out? Does the S5 have anything comparable? Thanks

    1. Galaxy s5 also has slow motion video but at 120fps. Other than that it has photosphere, virtual tour, dualcamera and the amazing gif feature . There are tons of apps available in the appstore which let you shoot slow motion video. So there’s nothing new or special in slow mo mode.
      Bottom line:
      Both cameras are perfect. Iphone for speed and s5 for 16 mp resolution.

      1. Cool, thanks for the info.

    2. Galaxy S5 also has 240 fps slow motion using the 1/8 setting. Just search S5 240 fps in youtube.

  25. S5’s crappy camera won? the iphone must have the worst camera ever

    1. Your an idiot.

      1. You’re*

        1. don’t care, doesn’t change the fact he’s an idiot

          1. but it does change the fact that you are also an idiot

          2. No, it just means I’m guilty of posting in a rush and not giving a rats ass. What’s you’re excuse?

  26. I am surprised to see these pictures comparasion. Industry/media recognized Photographers who took similar pictures for compassion have iphone 6 pictures way better than LG G3, Galaxy S5, HTC M8.

  27. I think the addition of the awesome voice commands makes the use of rear camera dead simple on the S5. Why use the inferior front camera. My daughter who is 2 takes her own selfie by saying “shoot”

  28. No 240 FPS slow motion or 60 FPS video? Hmm, I wonder why?

  29. Both are equally good(as in most phones) when there’s plenty of light and to me there’s no point pixel peeping with the small screens that we use to view the pictures with.
    However from what I’ve seen, under low light situations the S5 does not perform that well. To me, that capability is the number one priority in judging a smartphone camera, because lets face it, they’re still very poor at it compared to DSLR or micro four thirds.

  30. Good start. I think evaluating images on another screen is best as thats what others would see. I’d love to know how shots of people in low light and shots of people with flash compare as that’s a really common subject. In my experience as an S4 user as a pro photographer I find blown out highlights to be worse than slightly underexposed (iphone). It’s easier to brighten up details in Snapseed than try and recover blown highlights.

    Lastly would love to see 6plus comparisons too!

    Double lastly, good to see the S5 doesn’t distort the crap out of any audio louder than a normal speaking voice. My S4 would have sounded like an angry blender at that bar venue.

  31. Wow, your sister is a fox

  32. Even though the iphone has an all togeter bet camera especially on these pictures, you can see that they have been taken a slightly differnt angles but just enough to make the iPhone camera look worse than it is,
    I know the iPhone is still the winner but this is actually an unfair test to try to give the s5 an advantage, it might not see much but I can tell you on camera tests for it to be fair you need static conditions,
    Tut tut fandroid!

  33. I found this review to be great because 1. Baltimore (Bmore Like us) 2. Orioles 3. Beer

  34. Marry your sister, I would………

  35. Your sister makes my 6+ bend

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