iPhone 4's Camera Capabilities Evaluated

At the iPhone 4's introduction at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple made significant mention of the device's capabilities, noting that while the device carries only 5 megapixels in comparison to the 8-megapixel cameras that are becoming standard on the latest smartphones, the new iPhone offers a great deal beyond simple pixel count that contributes to superior performance.

With iPhone 4 now on the market, and samples of Motorola's new Droid X, introduced on Wednesday, coming available, objective camera tests for both still and video imaging have become possible using the latest devices.

Macworld performed a series of tests comparing iPhone 4 with its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS, as well as the Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Galaxy and HZ35W, as well as basic Samsung and Sony point-and-shoot cameras. For video tests, the publication also threw in the Flip Video M2120. A series of images and videos was taken with the devices, and a blind evaluation of their quality was performed.

151916 macworld camera rankings
Macworld's camera quality rankings

In still image testing, the two point-and-shoot took top honors, with Apple's iPhone 4 right behind, leading the pack of smartphones, supporting Apple's claim that pure megapixel count is not a sufficient measure of image quality.

The iPhone 4 had, by a healthy margin, the best exposure and color scores of the entire bunch, beating out even the point-and-shoot cameras. It did run into trouble in the sharpness and distortion categories, performing much lower than the pocket cameras and similarly to the Droid.

For video quality, iPhone 4 topped all other smartphones, as well as the point-and-shoot camera, losing out only to the dedicated Flip Video camera.

While its image quality was impressive, it was the iPhone 4's video capabilities that really stole the show in our lab tests. Of the eight devices we rated for video, only the Flip Video M2120 scored higher. The Flip, which also records 720p, 30fps video, had just slightly better video quality than the iPhone 4, even in low-light.

Audio was a bit less impressive on iPhone 4, only matching the Droid X while the Samsung Galaxy took the top spot for smartphones behind the Flip camera.

Boy Genius Report has also performed a comparison of iPhone 4's HD video capabilities to those of Droid X, which both shoot in 720p. The report awarded top honors to Apple's iPhone 4, in part due to its superior framerate of 30 fps versus 24 fps for the Droid X.


Boy Genius Report's outdoor camera comparison

iPhone 4's use of the H.264 format also allowed it to achieve the better performance with file sizes less than half that of Droid X. Despite iPhone 4's overall victory, however, the study found that Droid X beat out iPhone 4 in both color accuracy and audio quality, somewhat disagreeing with Macworld's assessment on those aspects.


Boy Genius Report's indoor camera comparison

Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

Apple Logo Spotlight

Source: Apple to Announce New Products This Week

Sunday March 3, 2024 11:38 am PST by
Apple plans to announce new products with press releases on its website this week, a proven source familiar with the matter told MacRumors. While the products that Apple plans to announce have not been disclosed, there are rumors about new iPads, Macs, and accessories. It is unclear exactly what will be announced this week. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman today reiterated that Apple is planning new...
Apple Maps vs Google Maps Feature

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Which Is Better?

Friday March 1, 2024 7:10 am PST by
Apple Maps has been providing navigational guidance to Apple users for almost 13 and a half years now, and much has changed about the app in that time. However, according to data from Canalys, the overwhelming majority of iPhones in the U.S. still have Google Maps downloaded as an alternative to Apple Maps, which comes preinstalled on all iPhones. We want to hear from MacRumors readers. Which do...
Apple MacBook Air 2 up hero 240304

Apple Announces New MacBook Air Models With M3 Chip

Monday March 4, 2024 5:04 am PST by
Apple today announced new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air models with M3 chip, improved external display support, Wi-Fi 6E, and more. Apple says that the new MacBook Air is up to 60% faster than the M1 model and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air. With a faster and more efficient Neural Engine, Apple says that the MacBook Air continues to be "the best consumer laptop for...
iPad Air 12

Gurman: No Apple Event Planned for Upcoming iPads and Macs

Sunday March 3, 2024 5:09 am PST by
Apple does not plan to hold a traditional event to unveil new iPads and Macs, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Instead, he said Apple plans to announce the products on its website with a "series of online videos and marketing campaigns." If this plan is accurate, we can expect the new products to be announced with press releases on the Apple Newsroom website. Gurman expects Apple to...
apple tv plus banner

Apple TV+ Gains Over 50 Movies for a Limited Time

Friday March 1, 2024 6:29 am PST by
Apple TV+ today gained over 50 movies, adding to its back catalog of content for a limited time. The collection includes a large number of popular and classic titles. Subscribers can access the movies in a "Great Movies on Apple TV+" section in the Apple TV app. Some titles are also available in 3D. Movies in the collection include: 21 Jump Street 300 American Sniper Argo ...