Sensor Size Comparison: iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge vs Note 4

May 3, 2015

In this article I want to take a closer look the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung S6 Edge and Samsung Note 4 sensors. We’ll compare them all side by side in order to see what makes them produce such high image quality, which allowed them to conquer the top three spots in DxOMark Mobile rating (as of 5.3.2015).

Before we jump straight into talking about the difference in more details, let’s first take a look at the camera specs of each smartphone. By the way, I am comparing the main/rear camera, not the front camera, which has different specs.

iPhone 6 PlusGalaxy S6 EdgeGalaxy Note 4
Sensor8 megapixels
1/3.0-inch (4.89 x 3.67 mm)
BSI

4:3 aspect ratio
16 megapixels
Sony Exmor IMX240
1/2.6-inch (5.79 mm x 4.01 mm)
BSI

16:9 aspect ratio
16 megapixels
Sony Exmor IMX240 (used in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 variant) / ISOCELL
1/2.6-inch (5.79 mm x 4.01 mm)
BSI

16:9 aspect ratio
Max Image Resolution3264 x 2448 pixels5132 x 2988 pixels5132 x 2988 pixels
Pixel Size1.5 µm pixels1.12 µm pixels1.12 µm pixels
Lens29mm equivalent focal length
f/2.2 maximum aperture

Five-element lens
Hybrid IR filter
Sapphire crystal lens cover
28mm equivalent focal length
f/1.9 maximum aperture

Largan Precision Optics

Six-element lens (plastic)
28mm equivalent focal length
f/2.2 maximum aperture

Largan Precision Optics

Six-element lens (plastic)
Image StabilizatoinOptical (using a built-in gyroscope)Optical (Smart OIS)Optical (Dual Axis Gyroscope)
Video StabilizationYes (cinematic video stabilization)YesYes
AF SystemHybrid
phase-detection AF ("Focus Pixels") with contrast-detection AF
Hybrid
phase-detection AF ("Focus Pixels") with contrast-detection AF
Contrast-detection
FlashDual LED True Tone FlashLEDLED
Video1080p 60 fps / 30 fps
720p 120fps / 240fps (slow-mo)

+ Continuous AF in video (Taking advantage of the phase-detection pixels)

+ an option to apply slow-mo to portion of the video and output as a new or apply to a portion of an existing video.
2160p(4K) 30 fps
1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
2160p(4K) 30 fps
1080p 60fps
720p 120fps
IR white balance
detection
NoYesNo
HDRYesYes
- Real-time HDR
Yes
- Real-time HDR
Tracking AutofocusYes
Yes

(fast tracking auto-focus function)

As you can see from the above comparison table, the iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy Note 4 have some noticeable differences. Let’s take a look at the sensor sizes first.

1/3.0-inch vs 1/2.6-inch sensor size comparison

1/3.0-inch vs 1/2.6-inch sensor size comparison

As you can see from the above illustration, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Note 4, both have the same sensor size and their sensor is around 15% larger than the iPhone 6 Plus sensor. The things that we should carefully examine is the pixel size. We can see that the iPhone 6 Plus features a significantly larger pixels. The reason for this is that although the sensor is smaller in comparison to the S6 Edge and Note 4, it has fewer pixels on the surface. So on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, each pixel measured 1.5 microns, whether on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4, each light-sensitive pixel measures 1.12 microns.

Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 were able to outperform the iPhone 6 Plus on DxOMark tests. I looked a bit deeper, and you can see that the S6 Edge scored 84 in photo noise tests, better than the 75 of the Note 4 and 80 of the iPhone 6 Plus.

So although the iPhone 6 Plus has larger pixels, the S6 Edge sensor produced better looking images. The reason is probably due to more advanced sensor technology and maybe improved image processing that helped the S6 Edge to outperform the iPhone 6 Plus, although not by a large margin.



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  5. iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Camera Comparison
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