Galaxy Note 5 / S6 Edge+ Low-light High ISO Performance

August 16, 2015

Harbor low-light night scene

Both the Note 5 and S6 edge+ have the same camera, and might come in two different sensor variants. The cameras utilizes the same hardware specs as the S6 edge, and if  judge it by DxOMark results, this is the best mobile phone camera we have to date. But what about the Note 5 and S6 edge+ low-light performance and high ISO performance, is it any good? what can we expect to be?

First of all, the high ISO performance and low-light performance are quite different terms. For example, a camera can have an average high ISO performance but excellent low-light performance compared to another camera. How can it be? well, if one camera has a faster aperture lens and optical image stabilization, it might give your better low-light pictures compared to a camera with a slower aperture, one without OIS but with a better sensor. In fact, most photographers prefer to shoot at the lowest high sensitivity possible to get a broader less image noise and an extended dynamic range. The low-light performance is also more a general terms to describe both the high ISO performance, flash and long exposure capability, etc.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ have the same rear camera as the Galaxy S6 Edge, and the S6 Edge rigorously has the same exact camera as the S6. Those cameras tested on DxOMark using the Sony IMX240 sensor, not the Samsung variant.

Although image processing can be improved via software, the hardware apparently remained unchanged. This means that ew can expect to see the same high ISO performance as in the S6 and S6 edge. The sample images of the Note 5 and S6 edge+ are stunning in daylight and in night shots. Compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, the Note 5 and S6 edge+ able to lit the scene in a much higher degree. You can check this photos from that shows a low-light sample of the same scene taken with the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S6. You can clearly see the advantage of the f/1.9 and stacked BSI sensor compared to the f/2.2 aperture and BSI sensor of the iPhone 6 Plus. The same results can be expected from the Galaxy Note5 and S6 Edge+ because it uses the same camera as the S6.

In my analysis, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge was shown slightly less noisy images at high ISO compared to the iPhone 6 Plus. Most of the tests done on the web usually test sharpness and luminosity and not comparing the noise characteristics. I did notice less chroma noise on the iPhone 6 Plus samples when taken with a flash. I assume that the iPhone 6 Plus Dual LED True Tone Flash does a better job illuminating close-up subjects indoors and it produces more natural results.

You can check the S6 edge sample images on, which will give you a very good assessment what to expect from the Note 5 and S6 edge+.  Up to ISO 250 images are relatively very clean. At ISO400 images have more noise but is more apparent in the shadow areas or in the sky if you shoot outdoors. You probably won’t even notice the noise (other than the sky) when looking at a scaled don low-resolution image.

I have to admit that I was very impressed when I saw the ISO 1000 sample.  You can clearly see how important is the image stabilization when shooting static subjects. That image was shot at 1/10 sec shutter speed, without the OIS it would have been blurry. I just can’t believe that this is ISO 1000 coming from such a small image sensor. Sensor technologies really help mobile phone cameras better and better each year. Again, you can expect the same great high ISO performance from the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+, as both are using the same sensor, OIS and lens optics.

It’s easy to see why the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge is a top performer and placed 1st on DxOMark mobile rating. If you are looking for a top performing mobile phone camera for low-light snaps, the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are among the best you’ll find right no. We might see even slight improvement due to image processing NR algorithm enhancement. A great phone with an amazing camera!

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