I am fortunate enough to own two smartphones: an Apple iPhone 4S and an Android-based Samsung Galaxy SII. I have previously owned other models on both the iOS and Android platforms. I used to prefer Android phones for their functionality and multimedia capabilities — until the iPhone 4 launched in June 2010. The iPhone 4 user interface was simply easier to use, and the 5-megapixel camera took better quality pictures than my Android phones. The release of the 8-megapixel iPhone 4S in October 2011 then put iOS way ahead of most Android devices in terms of usability and multimedia. The Samsung Galaxy SII, which launched in the U.S. in September 2011, was considered to be a contender to the iPhone 4S by many pundits in the industry. [Update: the Galaxy SIII has officially launched and offers an 8-megapixel camera.]
I agree that the iPhone 4S and Galaxy SII are quite comparable. I enjoy both devices but admittedly, I still find myself preferring the iPhone 4S for many uses, most notably for the camera. While the cameras on both devices capture 8-megapixel 3263×2448 photos, I’ve always perceived that the iPhone 4S camera takes better pictures. To put this perception to the test, I took similar photos on both smartphones and compared the results — see below.
The Galaxy SII photo at the top more accurately captures the brightness of the early afternoon. It’s not a good time to take outdoor pictures. But the iPhone photo on the bottom slightly mutes the lighting and thus improves the coloring in the photo. Winner: iPhone 4S
This is an afternoon shot of my nephew in the shade. The Galaxy SII photo at the top is sharper with more natural coloring. The iPhone 4S photo at the bottom is a bit washed out. Winner: Galaxy SII
Both of these photos are distance shots. The Galaxy SII photo at the top captures the rich colors in both the foreground and background trees. The focal point on both cameras was the cluster of green trees in the background. The iPhone photo on the bottom doesn’t quite capture the rich colors of the trees, which are blurry and not as vivid green as in the Galaxy SII photo. But the iPhone does improve the lighting of the foreground such that you can better see the detail on the hill. Winner: Galaxy SII
This shot was taken from the same distance as the shot above — only I zoomed in on the red trees. The iPhone 4S has greater zooming ability with the 5X optical zoom but clearly that is not a good thing. The iPhone photo on the bottom is a bit blurry and the lighting is off. The Galaxy SII with a 4X digital zoom captures a sharper image. Winner: Galaxy SII
This is a close-up shot. The Android photo on top is sharper and color-richer. The iPhone 4S photo on the bottom is decent, but not quite as nice. Winner: Galaxy SII
These are self-portraits. The Galaxy SII wins hands down with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The iPhone’s mere 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera produces a lower-quality photo. Winner: Galaxy SII
The focal point for this shot was the yellow leaf atop green bushy vines in the afternoon shade. In the Galaxy SII photo on top, the yellow leaf is completely washed out. The green vines are pleasantly hued, but I actually prefer the darker-colored vines from the iPhone 4S photo on the bottom. Most notably, the yellow leaf in the iPhone 4S photo is more distinct than in the Galaxy SII photo. Winner: iPhone 4S
This photo of my toes convinces me that the Galaxy SII is good at accurately portraying color, light, and detail. However, these are benefits that may not always produce flattering results — especially when it comes to skin tone. The Galaxy SII on top is sharp and clear, but I actually think the iPhone 4S photo on the bottom captures the color of my skin in a ore flattering way. Flaws like lines and dry skin are muted in the iPhone 4S photo. Winner: iPhone 4S
This shot was taken indoors at night with the flash enabled. The Galaxy SII photo on top is far superior than the iPhone 4S photo on the bottom. The flash is nicely balanced on the Galaxy SII in contrast to the iPhone 4S flash, which washes out my nephew’s adorable sleeping face. Winner: Galaxy SII
This is another shot taken indoors at night with the flash enabled. Like in the above photo of my passed-out nephew, the Galaxy SII photo on the top more accurately captures the colors, details, and texture of the painting. The iPhone 4S photo on the bottom is overly bright, as though the flash needs to be turned down a few notches. Winner: Galaxy SII
- iPhone 4S: 3 wins
- Galaxy SII: 7 wins
According to my side-by-side photo comparisons, the Samsung Galaxy SII takes superior pictures! I am surprised. I’ll start snapping more photos on the Galaxy SII.