Camera Comparison: Galaxy Note 5 / S6 Edge+ vs LG G4, iPhone 6 Plus, Moto X Style

August 15, 2015

Smartphones and beach landscape

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ cameras and see how they stack up against the competition and what was change since the previous models. Both the Note5 and S6 Edge+ were announced at the same day on August 13 2015. As of the time of writing, the Samsung S6 Edge and Note 4 has conquered the top placement on DxOMark mobile rating respectively; so did Samsung improved the cameras to make it even better? Let’s take a look.

Note 5 / S6 Edge+ Specs

Before we start talking about the differences, let’ first take a look at the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ (Edge Plus) primary camera specifications and see how they stack up against the Moto X Style, S6 Edge (previous model), iPhone 6 Plus and LG G4. Keep in mind that the Note 5 and edge+ have the same rear and front facing cameras. The main difference between the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5 are the dimensions, display (the edge+ has a Dual edge screen) and the functionality of the device. They have both the same battery, Android 5.1 OS, connectivity, RAM, SoC, GPU and built-in storage options.

Primary camera specs comparison

Note 5 / S6 edge+Moto X Style
(XT1575)
Galaxy S6 edge
(older model)
iPhone 6 PlusLG G4
Sensor Type
/ Size
1/2.6-inch

Sony IMX240 Exmor RS or Samsung S5K2P2 ISOCELL
(depends on the factory the phone was made)
1/2.4-inch

Sony Exmor RS IMX230
1/2.6-inch

Sony Exmor IMX240 Ecmor RS
1/3.0-inch

Sony Exmor RS ISX014
1/2.6-inch

Sony Exmor RS IMX234

("Color Spectrum Sensor")
Sensor TechnologyStacked Sensor
Backside-illuminated (BSI)
Stacked Sensor
Backside-illuminated (BSI)
Stacked Sensor
Backside-illuminated (BSI)
Backside-illuminated (BSI)Stacked Sensor
Backside-illuminated (BSI)
Pixel Size1.12 microns1.1 microns1.12 microns1.5 microns1.12 microns
Sensor Effective
Resolution
16 Megapixels21 Megapixels16 Megapixels8 Megapixels16 Megapixels
Autofocus Systemimage plane
phase detection AF (PDAF)
192 AF point image plane
phase detection AF (PDAF)
image plane
phase detection AF (PDAF)
image plane
phase detection AF (PDAF)
Laser Autofocus
HDR ImagingYesYes
(for 4K videos and stills)
YesYes
(for videos and stills)
Yes
Lens 4.30mm (none-equivalent)
28mm equivalent

f/1.9 aperture

- Largan Precision Optics
- Six-element lens (plastic)
4.7 mm (none-equivalent)
~27mm equivalent

f/2.0 aperture
4.30mm (none-equivalent)
28mm equivalent

f/1.9 aperture

- Largan Precision Optics
- Six-element lens (plastic)
4.15mm (none-equivalent)
29mm equivalent

f/2.2 aperture

- Five-element lens
- Hybrid IR filter
- Sapphire crystal lens cover
4.42mm (none-equivalent)
29mm equilvanet

f/1.8 aperture

- Five-element lens (plastic)
- Sapphire Crystal Glass cover
Maximum Image
Size
5312 x 2988 (16:9)
3984 x 2988 (4:3)
5,344 × 4,0085312 x 2988 (16:9)
3984 x 2988 (4:3)
3264 x 2448 (4:3)5312 x 2988 (16:9)
3984 x 2988 (4:3)
Optical Image
Stabilization
Optical (Smart OIS)

Dual Axis Gyroscope
NoOptical (Smart OIS)

Dual Axis Gyroscope
Optical (using a built-in gyroscope)Optical (OIS 2.0

- Tri-axis OIS
- ~3EV stops compensation
- 0.7 correction angle
- 2° compensation angle
Digital StabilizationYesYesYesYes (cinematic video stabilization)Yes
FlashSingle LED

- 4rd generation
- 3 meters range
Dual Color Correlated Temperature (CCT) flashSingle LED

- 4rd generation
- 3 meters range
Dual LED True Tone FlashSingle LED

- 4rd generation
- 4 meters range
ISO40 - 160050 - 200040 - 160032 - 200050- 2700
Face DetectionYesYesYesYesYes
AF Range6cm - ∞?6cm - ∞6cm - ∞7cm - ∞
Maximum Video
Resolution
2160p (Ultra HD)
3840 x 2160 pixels

- 30 FPS
- 48.3 Mbps video bit rate
2160p (Ultra HD)
3840 x 2160 pixels

- 30 FPS
- 48.3 Mbps video bit rate
2160p (Ultra HD)
3840 x 2160 pixels

- 30 FPS
- 48.3 Mbps video bit rate

1080p60 (Full HD)2160p (Ultra HD)
3840 x 2160 pixels

- 30 FPS
- 30.3 Mbps video bit rate
Slow Motion Video720p 120fps720p 120fps720p 120fps720p 240fps
720p 120fps
720p 240fps
720p 120fps
Raw Shooting
Mode
YesNoYesNoYes

Secondary (selfie) camera specs comparison

Note 5 / S6 edge+Moto X Style
(XT1575) / Pure Edition
Galaxy S6 edge
(older model)
iPhone 6 PlusLG G4
Sensor Type
/ Size
Samsung S5K4E6
1/4" (3.20x2.40 mm)
?Samsung S5K4E6
1/4" (3.20x2.40 mm)
1/6" (2.40x1.80 mm)Toshiba T4KA3
1/4" (3.20x2.40 mm)
Sensor Technologyback-illuminated CMOSback-illuminated CMOSback-illuminated CMOSback-illuminated CMOSback-illuminated CMOS
Pixel Size~1.34 µm pitch?~1.34 µm pitch~1.88 µm pitch1.12 µm pitch
Sensor Effective
Resolution
5MP5MP5MP1.2MP8MP
Lens 22mm (equivalent)
f/1.9 aperture

4-element lens (plastic)
f/2.0 aperture22mm (equivalent)
f/1.9 aperture

4-element lens (plastic)
31mm (equivalent)
f/2.2 aperture

5-element lens (plastic)
2.60mm (none equivalent)
~28mm (equivalent*)
f/2.0 aperture

* based on 14.14 crop factor of the 1/4" sensor or the lens focal length by the full frame sensor diagonal: 4.42 X 43.2 / 6.828)
ISO50-1250?50-125032-200050-2250
Maximum Video
Resolution
1440p (QHD)
30 FPS

25.2 Mbps bitrate
1080p
30 FPS
1440p (QHD)
30 FPS

25.2 Mbps bitrate
720p
30 FPS

10.9 Mbps bitrate
1080p
30 FPS

17.4 Mbps

As you can see from the above specs comparison table,  the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+ have the same camera specs, and those are similar to the Galaxy S6 Edge for both front and rear cameras. The only difference that I’ve seen is that Note 5 / Edge+ and according to tomshardware.com, is that you can get either the Sony RS IMX240 or the Samsung S5K2P2 ISOCELL sensor depends on the factory that the phone was manufactured in.

Note 5 / edge+ vs LG G4

S6 Edge Plus vs LG G4 cameras side by side

I personally was expecting for an updated camera, but I’m sure many people we’ll still be pleased with it; after all, it’s the same camera that tops DxOMark mobile rating.  The rear-facing camera has the same resolution, sensor size and pixel size as the LG G4. The main difference beteen them is that the Note 5 / edge+ uses phase-detection autofocus system and not Laser Autofocus system as the LG G4, it has a slightly wider lens but it’s 0.156 stops slower (1.11x times less light).

Both the LG G4 and Note 5/Edge+ have an optical image stabilization. The LG G4 OIS compensates for 3-axis, whether the Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy Edge Plus OIS compensates for two axis. The LG G4 has broader ISO range, smaller AF detection range and can shoot in RAW. The RAW mode makes the camera output the image as a DNG file. This is the none-processed image data from the sensor. This file has to be processed either in the phone or in RAW editing software to produce a full-color image.  RAW files have the camera settings in the metadata, but none of them are applied in a destructive way to the image. In JPEG files, once the settings (e.g. white balance, saturation, sharpness, effects, etc.) have been applied, you can change it back, those image pixel modifications are permanent. In RAW files you can change those on the fly and revert the changes without affecting the original image. This allows for more precise control over the image processing pipeline. RAW files are considerably larger in size compared to JPEG, because they carry more color data in an uncompressed image format.

1.12 micron vs 1.5 micron pixel size comparison

1.12 micron vs 1.5 micron pixel size comparison (relative size)

The Noe 5 and Edge+ front (selfie) camera has lower resolution, and because both have the same sensor size, the Note 5 and Edge+ sensor pixel size is larger. This allows both them to capture better images under low-light conditions in most part. The LG G4 lens is narrower and slightly slower than the Note5/Edge+ front camera as well.

I personally prefer the Note5/Edge Plus phase-detection AF system, because it has a better effective range than the laser  AF of the LG G4 and I like the large pixels on the front camera; which means you can take better selfies under more restricted lighting conditions.

Note 5 / Edge+ vs iPhone 6 Plus

S6 Edge and iPhone 6 Plus rear facing cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ certainly have their differences.  Both the iPhone 6 Plus and Note 5/S6 Edge+ primary cameras have an optical image stabilization, phase-detection AF system, BUT, the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ have the advantage ith a Stacked Sensor technology, higher resolution, almost half a stop (0.423 stops) faster lens (1.341x times more light), 4K video recording and RAW shooting mode. The iPhone 6+ sensor has considerably larger pixel due to its lower pixel density, but as we’ve seen in many reviews, the Stacked Sensor was able to produce better high ISO results compared to a none stacked sensor with larger slightly larger pixels.

You can check this outdoor  comparison image done by tomshardware.com which shows the differences in low-light performance between the LG G4, Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 Plus. You can see that both the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 outperform the iPhone 6 Plus. The main reason for this is the LG G4 faster aperture size, which is half-stop faster, allowing 1.5x times more light.  The faster aperture helps to compensate for the smaller pixels, so the sensor can receive more light. This also promote better low-light images, because a lower ISO will (in auto mode) or can (in manual mode) be used.

Looking at the front camera, the Note 5 / S6 Edge+ and iPhone 6 Plus both have the same sensor size, but the iPhone 6+ has significantly lower resolution, and therefore larger pixels.  This can help the iPhone 6 Plus to perform better in low-light, and between us, not everyone needs a 5MP selfie images, most of those images will probably be shared on Facebook or Twitter in a down-scaled resolution. The Note 5 however can take higher-quality videos, has a much wider field of view and a faster-aperture lens. All in all, I found the Note 5/S6 Edge+ front camera to be better overall.

Note 5 / S6 Edge+ vs Moto X Style

S6 edge and Moto X Style phone cameras side by side

The Motorola Moto X Style (Pure Edition) surprised many people as it took the 3rd place in DxOMark rating a day after it was launched.  The Moto X Style has excellent specs for both its rear and front camera as you can see from the specs. It has the highest resolution among the four, it features phase-detection AF, 4K video recording, HDR (also video HRD), fast f/2.0 lens, the latest stacked sensor from Sony. The front camera is very fast at f/2.0 and can shoot full HD videos as well.

The Moto X style is a real contender for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus as far the image quality is concerned.  Both have a high-resolution sensor,  phase-detection AF and fast aperture lenses. The Moto X Style however has 5MP more resolution, slightly wider FOV, slightly slower aperture and Dual CCT flash BUT it lacks RAW shooting mode and an optical image stabilization. I was quite disappointed to see such great camera specs without an OIS. An OIS can significantly improve the low-light performance. This theoretically, should give the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ and edge over the Moto X Style in low-light.

Conclusion

In this article we’ve seen how the Samsung Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ cameras stacks up against the competition in terms of its hardware components.  We can expect the edge+ and Note5 to show about the same results from both phones and probably the same results compared to the previous Edge model. Many phone reviewers and DxOMark has shown us that the S6 edge and Note 4 have among the best cameras you can find on any smartphone.

Those to high-end smartphones bring high-end camera features, including phase-detect AF, OIS, 4K video recording, great low-light  and video recording performance. The front camera ill give you gorgeous selfies and both phones are equipped with Samsung’s latest camera UI software that further improved the user experience.

So which one you prefer? Are you satisfied with the S6 Edge+ and Note 5 camera versus the competition? — please share your opinion in the comment section below and thanks for reading.

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