Our camera shootout: iPhone 7 vs. Galaxy S7 vs. Xperia XZ vs. LG G5

GSMArena team, 17 October 2016.

Final words

The ultimate four-way camera shootout has come to an end. A few of our findings we could have predicted from the get-go, others somewhat surprised us, but we can summarize the way we prefaced - not a single cameraphone out there is perfect, but a couple come close.

Camera shootout

The G5 emerged victorious in a lot of the tests (and a popular favorite in our blind vote), with a strong performance particularly in daylight - in both the photos and video department. If you're looking for a travel camera to accompany you on your outdoor trips, the G5 may very well be the one to get. Excellent detail, low noise, punchy colors (perhaps a touch oversaturated), and let's not forget the 16:9 aspect ratio - ideal for landscapes and for viewing the photos fullscreen on all sorts of digital screens. Even better - the second, wide-angle camera captures a whole lot more in one frame and can replace a dedicated action cam - of course, only in those cases where the action isn't too extreme.

In low light, we'd have to hand it to the Galaxy S7. Its primary camera captures the cleanest photos in the dark, and when available light just can't cut it, its flash joins in and helps a lot, without ruining colors. Even its front-facing camera manages to keep the most detail when light levels drop.

In our tests these two were often neck and neck at the top, mind you, and just because one of them snatched the prize in a particular category, doesn't necessarily mean that the other isn't the overall better option for your specific set of priorities. There are even departments where we couldn't pick one over the other - HDR, for example.

LG G5 Samsung Galaxy S7
LG G5 Samsung Galaxy S7

The iPhone feels like a bit of a letdown this year, with unimpressive performance in two areas, where we used to rave about its output with previous generations. HDR tuning on the iPhone 7 leaves us perplexed every time we look at the images it produces - how is the overall darker exposure meant to pass for HDR with shadows often becoming even darker? And why are the colors in panoramas so washed out this year? Not to mention we can't quite see the clever tonal tricks that used to provide the crazy dynamic range those pano shots were known for?

The iPhone 7 does have its moments, though, it's got the widest dynamic range of the cameraphones that we're testing and it particularly shines in video recording. It may not have the most neutral white balance of them all, but it renders the scene in the most natural way, it has good levels of detail, and, well, it simply has the best video stabilization in business.

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7

As for the Xperia XZ, if there's one thing we're truly thrilled about, it's the front-facing camera. Most of the times. When the light is good, there's hardly a selfie shooter that can rival the images it produces.

We don't mean to say that the Xperia XZ is a one hit wonder, but it's just not as universally excellent all-round photography tool as the G5 and S7 are and it can occasionally trip here and there - especially in low light regardless which of the two cameras you use.

Sony Xperia XZ
Sony Xperia XZ

So it turns out that more than 6 months after their release, the LG G5 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 remain the top choices when it comes to cameraphones. The fall crop of smartphones may not seem like a particularly exciting bunch, but the two Google Pixel smartphones seem willing (and capable) to make you reconsider. We just can't wait to put them through their paces.