Wednesday 20th August 2014,

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Samsung Galaxy S3 vs. iPhone 4S: Photo Shoot – Quality Comparison

By Amelia Hunter

Gone are the days when we used our phones for making calls only; now a good smartphone can easily replace an organizer, a PC, a game console and even a digital camera. The newest smartphones (especially those made by Samsung, Apple and Nokia) are armed with rather powerful cameras that can take good-quality pics and shoot clear videos, and some of them can beat the photo and video quality of pocket digital cameras.

I’ve always been satisfied with the image quality of all smartphones I’ve ever owned – even the cheap Samsung Galaxy Ace could take rather good pics under the right lighting. And now I got the chance to test the camera of the Galaxy S3, which is Samsung’s current flagship and one of the best phones on the market. How does it stand against the old yet still famous iPhone 4S?

Everything started a few days ago when a friend of mine visited me with his new Samsung Galaxy S3. I played with it, took some photos of it – and with it. Then I remembered about my old iPhone 4S (finding it on a distant shelve was a real challenge), and we decided to compare the photo quality of both smartphones – the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 4S.

Both smartphones come with 8MP cameras and the same features including auto-focus, digital zoom, LED flash, image stabilization and others. However, I was surprised to find out that the quality of the photos they take is rather different.

Below you’ll find the photos we took during out test. We used the default camera apps on both smartphones and took many similar pictures to be able to choose the best ones for this article. The images are scaled down to fit the screen, but you can see the original ones (untouched by Photoshop or any other photo editing program) by clicking on the scaled versions.

The first photos were taken indoor:

Samsung Galaxy S3, indoors, without flash

iPhone 4S, indoors, without flash

As we can see from the images above, the Samsung Galaxy S3 shoots a bit darker pics (and the colors are a bit altered, too), while the one taken by the Apple iPhone 4S looks brighter. And though the SGS3 pic may seem to be sharper, the iPhone 4S pic is actually more detailed (look at the original size image and you’ll even see a clear fingerprint on the cup — the same fingerprint is blurred on Samsung’s photo).

SGS3, indoors, with flash

iPhone 4S, indoors, with flash

The same thing we can notice on the photos taken with flashlight — Galaxy S3′s photo seems to be good and detailed at first sight, but when you see iPhone’s version, you understand it’s much more detailed and better overall.

However, the iPhone’s luck ended when we tried to take some pictures in complete darkness, using the flashlight:

SGS3, 100% darkness

iPhone 4S, 100% darkness

No matter how hard we tried, the iPhone 4S couldn’t focus in the dark, and all the images came out like the one above — blurry and completely out of focus, while the Galaxy S3 did great in complete darkness and took quite adequate photos, all very detailed and clear.

Then we went out for a small walk and took some outdoor pics:

SGS3 outdoors

iPhone 4S outdoors

Well, no matter how strange this may be, the old iPhone 4S obviously takes better pics under the right lightning than the newer and the more advanced Samsung Galaxy S3. But just like in case of 100% darkness, Apple’s device can’t perform well against direct sunlight:

SGS3 against direct sunlight

iPhone 4S against direct sunlight

So… what do we have here? Judging by the pictures above, I can say that the Apple iPhone 4S takes better photos both indoors and outdoors, but only when the lighting is good enough. In extreme situations (like in the dark or against sunlight) we didn’t manage to take even a single good photo with it. The Samsung Galaxy S3, on the other hand, takes a bit worse pics (though they are very good actually — you won’t ever think they’re bad if you don’t compare them with even better ones), but in extreme conditions you can be sure it’ll take rather clear photos, at least much better than the iPhone 4S.

Later we’ll try to compare the video quality of both phones.

User Profile

Amelia Hunter has worked as a journalist for about 4 years and covered tech-related news for a number of newspapers and magazines both paper and online. Not so long ago she decided to start her own online magazine together with a friend, and here’s what came out of it. Other than writing about the latest technologies, Amelia loves reading, fencing and playing PC games. Her favorite manufacturer is Samsung and her favorite movie is “Mr. Nobody”. She also thinks that “Der Golem” by Gustav Meyrink is one of the best books in the world, and “The Witcher 1,2” and “Dragon Age 1,2” are among the best games ever.

User Name: Amelia Hunter
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