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

Top Stories

tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
tracking disabled ios 14 5

Analytics Suggest 96% of Users Leave App Tracking Disabled in iOS 14.5

Friday May 7, 2021 1:51 am PDT by
An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5. According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of iPhone users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
snapchat dark mode

Snapchat Rolls Out Dark Mode on iOS

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:17 am PDT by
Nearly two years following the release of iOS and iPadOS 13, which included native, built-in, and systemwide dark mode, Snapchat, one of the world's most prominent social media networks, has finally rolled out a dark mode theme for iOS users. Snapchat began testing a dark mode theme of its app design late last year with a small group of iOS users. Now, Snapchat says that as of this week, it...
netflix sign up

Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases

Wednesday May 5, 2021 11:03 am PDT by
As the Epic Games v. Apple trial progresses into its third day, Apple's internal documents and communications with various companies are continuing to surface, giving us some insight into the dealings that Apple has had around the App Store. Back in December 2018, Netflix stopped offering in-app subscription options for new or resubscribing members and instead began requiring them to sign up ...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Begins Transition to Randomized Serial Numbers With Purple iPhone 12

Wednesday May 5, 2021 9:17 am PDT by
MacRumors previously reported about Apple's plan to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021, and this transition has now started with the new purple iPhone 12 model in multiple countries. With assistance from Aaron Zollo, host of the YouTube channel ZolloTech, we can confirm that the purple iPhone 12 released last month has a new 10-character serial...
airtag 1

AirTag Anti-Stalking Measures 'Just Aren't Sufficient' Says Washington Post Report

Wednesday May 5, 2021 6:03 pm PDT by
The safeguards that Apple built into AirTags to prevent them from being used to track someone "just aren't sufficient," The Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler said today in a report investigating how AirTags can be used for covert stalking. Fowler planted an AirTag on himself and teamed up with a colleague to be pretend stalked, and he came to the conclusion that the AirTags are a "new means...
iphone 13 pro max dummy notch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Dummy Model Depicts Smaller Notch

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 13 models are expected to feature a slimmed down notch, marking the first major change to the TrueDepth camera system since it was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X. We're still months away from the launch of the iPhone 13, but Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy managed to get an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy model that represents what we can expect from the new 2021 device. Dummy...
iPad Pro July Shipping

12.9-Inch iPad Pro Now Delivers as Late as Mid-July

Wednesday May 5, 2021 7:10 am PDT by
While the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is set to launch in the second half of May, orders placed today are estimated for delivery as late as mid-July on Apple's online store in the United States — some two months later. The new 11-inch iPad Pro is faring better so far, with some configurations available for delivery in the last week of May. The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a Liquid Retina XDR ...