iPhone 6 Plus Camera vs Galaxy Note 4 Camera

October 6, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 camera side by side comparison

In this article I want to talk about the differences between the IPhone 6 Plus camera and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera. Both the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are two phablets featuring 5.5-inch and 5.7-inch displays respectively. I won’t talk about the entire spec differences, but rather give those who want to know more about their camera capabilities, a better insight. If the camera is an important feature that you intend to use intensively, this camera comparison can certainly solve your dilemmas. This is an initial opinion about the rear camera of both phones based on sample images and the official specs.

Also worth mentioning that this comparison is related to the rear-facing camera, the main camera of each device, not the front camera. OK, let’s get started!

Before we start talking about the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus camera cons and pros, let’s first take a look at their camera specs.

iPhone 6 PlusGalaxy Note 4
Lens29mm (equivalent)
F2.2 maximum aperture

Optical image stabilization
31mm (equivalent)
F2.2 maximum aperture

Smart OIS (Optical image stabilization)
1/3.0" (4.89x3.67 mm)

1.5µ pixel size
1/2.6-inch (5.09x3.81 mm)

ISOCELL technology

1.12µ pixel size
FlashDual LED Flash (True Tone Flash)Dual LED Flash
Max. Video ResolutionFull HD / 60, 30 fps
Ultra HD / 30 fps
(4K, 2160p)

Looking at the camera specs of both the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus, we can see that there are a few differences here. First of all, the iPhone 6 Plus has a slightly wider angle than the Note 4. The difference is not big, but it certainly helps to get slightly more area of the scene appear in your image, which is better for landscapes and interiors, where a wider angle can be a better fit.

Apple has chosen to stay with 8MP resolution, whether the Galaxy Note 4 doubles that resolution. This leads to the Galaxy Note 4 having smaller pixels, regardless of its larger sensor. The larger sensor helps to minimize the impact of the pixel density/pixel size on the image quality, so you can enjoy much higher resolution images with relatively very good image quality.

Speaking about image quality, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 utilizes ISOCELL sensor technology that significantly improved image quality by using barriers between adjacent pixels. This reduces crosstalk by around 30%. Each pixel can now hold 30% more electrons,  The higher Full Well Capacity also reduces charge leakage to neighbor pixels, because it the charge reaches to its max limit, it can cause leaking that can lead to blown highlight areas in the image. It’s true that as the pixel pitch (microns) is larger, the electrons that can be stored per pixel is higher. This is why we usually see cameras with larger sensors, ones that have larger pixels have better signal-to-noise ratio and also a higher dynamic range.

The use of these new technologies and improving upon current technologies helped Samsung get an edge over most of its competitors. Early Samsung Galaxy Note 4 sample images shot at ISO 100, ISO 200 and ISO 4000 on xda-developers.com, shows us a glimpse of the Note 4 rear camera capabilities.  The ISO100 image of the Eland Cruise shot at 1/8 sec shutter speed is nothing but astonishing. The f/2.2 aperture and the optical image stabilization helps produce a well exposed image and a shutter speed that without an OIS would have turned blurry, far from being sharp as in that image.

The HDR function of the Note 4 helps open up the shadow/dark areas and reveal more details, but that’s comes in the price of higher image noise.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rear camera produces 5312×2988 pixel images at the default full resolution, equals to 15.87MP to be exact (16MP if you round it up to the closest integer). Going over the EXIF we can see that the images shot with the 31mm equivalent focal length, which as I said, it’s not as wide as the iPhone 6 Plus rear camera. We can see that some images taken at ISO100 at night where there is very little light turned up quite dark, although shot at 1/8 sec shutter speed.  So In the Eland Cruise photo, you can see that the light supplied by the lighting of the sign can the bulbs on the fence, including the light reflected from the water — all helped to get a good exposed image. Flash won’t help here obviously because the subject is too far away. This just shows us that there is a limitation of what the Note 4 can do in low-light, but overall the lower light performance is very good indeed.

When inspecting the Note 4 ISO 4 sample image it looked very sharp, but I did notice noise in the mid-tones, but I only saw that when viewed at 100% scaled photo. The detail of the Note 4 in low ISO samples are excellent, but there is certainly a visible distortion. So I guess that the resolution comes at the price of more noise, but the sensor copped with it very well. There aren’t any sample images at bright daylight in that series, but I assume that the details are better and noise is less prominent when shooting in bright daylight. Don’t forget to check us that link for the Note 4 full resolution sample images on that sample image page.

We’ve already seen the iPhone 6 Plus capturing the first position in DxOMark Mobile tests, but keep in mind that as of the time of writing this article, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera hasn’t been tested yet.

In daylight, the iPhone 6 Plus takes superb images, sharp with beautiful vibrant colors and great contrast, but that can be said on the Note 4 images as well. The iPhone 6 Plus low-light performance is about the same as the iPhone 5S plus, but in my observation, the low-light performance of the 5S seems to be better on the iPhone 6 Plus. You can check out this image shot by techrader shot with the iPhone 6 back camera at f/2.2 without flash at full resolution (3264×2449 pixels) and at ISO1250, and WOW, relatively very little amount of image noise.

This is still not a strictly side by side comparison test, but I assume that difference in pixel size certainly has an impact on the low-light performance of both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 cameras, with the iPhone 6 Plus being better in low-light overall. Of course, this is just an early assumption based on a few sample images.

The Note 4 also features 4K video recording, a video recording resolution that is two times higher than Full HD. This of course produces much bigger video files, but if you have a 4K HDTV, you’ll certainly gonna be blown away by the image quality and the details in the video.

Here’s a Galaxy Note 4 4K video sample, take a look..

now for one shot outdoors..

I don’t know about you, but the image quality is just amazing.  Look at all those tiny details, even if you view it on a 1080p display you can admire the video quality, and it will look better when watched on a 4K display. The light metering works amazingly accurate, the colors are saturated yet natural and the details, oh the details.   A brilliant capture that shows the Note 4 video capability both outdoors and indoors. A 4K pocket camcorder, just wow! and the stabilization works very well too.

Now for a iPhone 6 Plus sample video made by JuanBagnell YouTube user..

The defocused background effect isn’t the strongest part of the Note 4 and also the iPhone 6 Plus as both have relatively very small sensors. To get a prominent defocused background you’ll have to get very closed to the subject to get a good separation between the subject and the background. The Bokeh quality is good thought, looking very smooth.

The iPhone 6 Plus can shoot at 720p 240 frames per second slow-motion videos, which is a cool feature to have (it’s demonstrated in the above video).

Note doubt that The Note 4 rear camera does an excellent job overall. You’ll enjoy very high resolution photos, very good low-light performance and superb 4K videos. The iPhone 6 Plus might be the one to beat this year when it comes to image quality and in my observation it seems better than the Note 4 at high ISO. The Note 4 camera isn’t revolutionary, but neither the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple did add an optical image stabilization to the 6 Plus version, which is nice. That said, I am eager to see how the Note 4 score on DxOMark, and I’m sure that whatever device you choose to buy, you’ll enjoy high quality photos, whether shot in daylight or night time, and the video quality of both is amazing, although I personally eager to have 4K in my pocket myself.

What’s your opinion, which camera you prefer?

Also check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 Plus size comparison here.

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