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Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures)

Smartphones are often the only camera most people have with them -- and most of these smartphones will give you good results. See for yourself.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 42 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Seven phones used to capture five typical scenes

A few weeks ago, our list of the 10 best smartphones available at this time was posted. We took five from that list and a couple other new devices to capture five common scenes to compare camera performance.

Phones and scenes in shootout

The scenes include our cute dog Wendy, R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears, a living room shot with varying light, a candy dish in near complete lights-out conditions, and a front yard shot with sun and shade in the picture.

The phones used for this shootout include:

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • BlackBerry Passport
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
  • Huawei Ascend Mate 7
  • New 2014 Moto X
  • HTC One M8, Android version

All phones were used in auto mode for this shootout since that is typical of what most people actually do on a daily basis. You can get better shots by setting up your phone and your shot. I also had 16:9 for all but the iPhone 6 Plus — which doesn't have that option. A few at the end of the outside yard show both HDR on and off, if available.

Judging image quality is rather subjective since we all have different aspects that we prefer over others. My opinion may not match yours and that is expected when looking at images. All images in this gallery are unedited, except for resizing to 600 pixels wide to fit into our gallery format. 

 

To see all of the full size images I captured as a part of this shootout, feel free to visit my Flickr album.

Shootout summary

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Nokia Lumia 1520 look to be the two best across all shots. I can definitely see why my wife loves her Samsung Galaxy S5 though, as it performed very well too.

The BlackBerry Passport and Moto X both surprised me with some good shots while the Mate 7 was not as good as I expected.

I thought the HTC One M8 was a decent camera, but after comparing it in this shootout to the others it is clearly being outclassed by current smartphones. The UltraPixel adds in too much light in most situations.

Which shots were your favorites? Do you have a smartphone preference for capturing images?

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Apple iPhone 6 Plus: Wendy on the chair

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BlackBerry Passport: Wendy on the chair

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Samsung Galaxy S5: Wendy on the chair

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Nokia Lumia 1520: Wendy on the chair

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7: Wendy on the chair

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Moto X: Wendy on the chair

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HTC One M8: Wendy on the chair

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Apple iPhone 6 Plus: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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BlackBerry Passport: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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Galaxy S5: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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Lumia 1520: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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Ascend Mate 7: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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Moto X: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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HTC One M8: R2-D2 Mickey Mouse ears

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iPhone 6 Plus: Living room view

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BlackBerry Passport: Living room view

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Galaxy S5: Living room view

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Lumia 1520: Living room view

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Ascend Mate 7: Living room view

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Moto X: Living room view

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HTC One M8: Living room view

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iPhone 6 Plus: Dark room with candy dish

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BlackBerry Passport: Dark room with candy dish

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Galaxy S5: Dark room with candy dish

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Lumia 1520: Dark room with candy dish

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Ascend Mate 7: Dark room with candy dish

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Moto X: Dark room with candy dish

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HTC One M8: Dark room with candy dish

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iPhone 6 Plus: Outside yard, no HDR

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iPhone 6 Plus: Outside yard, auto HDR

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BlackBerry Passport: Outside yard, no HDR

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BlackBerry Passport: Outside yard, auto HDR

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Galaxy S5: Outside yard, no HDR

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Galaxy S5: Outside yard, auto HDR

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Lumia 1520: Outside yard, no HDR

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Ascend Mate 7: Outside yard, no HDR

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Ascend Mate 7: Outside yard, auto HDR

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Moto X: Outside yard, auto HDR

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Moto X: Outside yard, auto HDR

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HTC One M8: Outside yard, no HDR

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HTC One M8: Outside yard, auto HDR

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