Flagship Camera Shootout: Galaxy S7 vs LG G5 vs HTC 10

Do any take the cake, or are they all winners?

I think that we can all agree that the smartphone cameras among the top-end are all great. These days, one can argue that the differences are minute and camera quality is less of a fighting point. Let’s put that notion to the test by comparing 2016’s flagship refreshes – the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, and HTC 10.

All these cameras pack competitive specs:

  • Galaxy S7: 12MP, f/1.7, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel Phase-Detection Auto-Focus, OIS
  • LG G5 (primary camera): 16MP, f/1.8, 1.12µm, Laser Auto-Focus, OIS (3-axis)
  • HTC 10: 12MP, f/1.8, UltraPixel 1.55µm, Laser Auto-Focus, OIS

Each have their own approach to improve the smartphone camera experience. Samsung developed a super fast Dual Pixel auto-focusing system, LG tacked on a considerably wide-angled (135 deg.) secondary camera, and HTC brought back its large-pixel UltraPixel technology (now with a reasonable amount of megapixels).

All the images in the comparison were shot in Auto mode. Each set is organized as Galaxy S7 first, LG G5 middle, and HTC 10 last. I give my own opinions but you be the judge.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

City

I have two different locations going on here – the first three are a sunny day in my town and the last two are a cloudy day in downtown Seattle.

S7_G5_10_Set1

The S7 and G5 are pretty darn close in this set. The latter is a tad brighter (compare the shadows). The 10‘s image is also bright, but not as sharp. Also, if you compare the building and sidewalk, the 10‘s reproduction is slightly yellowy.

S7_G5_10_Set3

I see a similar trend here as far as coloring. I much prefer the S7 in this set. You see some blur on the foliage on the G5 shot and the 10 blows out the sky and the white building in the back. Bear in mind that this was a sunny day and the HDR may have kicked in.

S7_G5_10_Set2

All the cameras react differently in this case. All the green skews the G5’s coloring. The 10‘s image looks slightly overblown. I again prefer the S7’s result here.

S7_G5_10_Set4

When we switch to a cloudy day, the G5 and 10 start to look very similar. Color and contrast are about the same, but the G5 is slightly sharper. Compared to the S7, the buildings straight ahead look more colored. This is a trend we’ve been seeing, because the other two shoot brighter images (i.e. the windows are noticeably darker on the S7 image). This may come down to preference. I feel like the S7’s reproduction is more true to the scene, but then on brighter images, you see more detail in darker areas.

S7_G5_10_Set5

In a similar manner, the sky on S7 image looks more true than on the G5 and 10. Although, I love how visible the bottom of the road is on the 10. It looks almost pitch black on the G5.

Indoor

S7_G5_10_Set6

How the tables turn. As we move indoors, the S7 result now looks more colored of the three. Also, the whipped cream on my drink is blown-out. The G5 and 10 are really similar to my eyes. Except, the 10 has more depth of field going on with the background and the clearest reproduction of the whipped cream.

S7_G5_10_Set7

This shot was in a movie theater before the crowds started rolling in for Captain America: Civil War (it was awesome!). I too favored HTC’s camera in this set. Compared to the S7, it was less grainy and the red color on the chairs was less pale. The G5’s result was darker and a bit blurry (remember that its pixels aren’t large like in the others).

Another interesting observation is the purple hue in the S7 image. You’ll see it to a smaller extent in the 10‘s image too (very top).

S7_G5_10_Set8

This was another low-light shot, of my figurines hanging out with my Gear VR. Again, I felt the 10‘s reproduction looked most like the real scene (color-wise), but it was the blurriest of the three. The G5 was the sharpest, but the tone is way too yellow. The S7 was kind of in between.

S7_G5_10_Set9

It’s almost a toss-up between the S7 and G5 in this one. I’d give it to the S7 because the wood floor looks slightly sharper. HTC’s result isn’t as warm in tone, which is actually more accurate. There were large windows to the right, so this scene created a good complication between natural and the room’s ambient lighting.

S7_G5_10_Set10

There were also a lot of colors at play in this shot. They all react differently. Compared to the other two, the S7’s capture of the room is slightly pink-ish. I prefer the G5’s result overall, but the 10 does reproduce the left panel better (at the expense of a darker image).

Foliage

S7_G5_10_Set11

Sometimes it’s hard to get my dogs to pose for one shot, let alone three. Good doggie! These captures are really close, to my eyes. But if I had to comment, HTC’s result is the brightest and LG’s is the most colored.

S7_G5_10_Set12

This was another attempt to see how the cameras react to contrast due to sunlight/reflection. The S7 and G5 fared well, but the 10, not so much. Not that it’s terrible, but the overall warm tone isn’t accurate. I’ll also say that the S7’s image is the sharpest of the bunch.

S7_G5_10_Set13

I still feel like the S7 has the clearest image in this comparison. I’m starting to think it’s because of the focus depth of the other two cameras. For instance, if you zoom on the leaf at the center, all of the images are just as detailed. I also notice that warm tone of HTC’s camera again (at least, compared to the other two).

S7_G5_10_Set14

I loved this macro (or micro?) shot because of the dramatic depth in the background. To me, the contrast in the S7’s image puts it on top (the sunlight in the back is more defined).

S7_G5_10_Set15

I think the S7 wins out in this comparison again. It captured the scene almost exactly. The G5 succumbed to the sunlight, turning yellowy in tone. The 10 is alright, but the lighting is slightly overblown.

Thoughts

As I expected, these cameras are neck-and-neck. No one really wiped the floor with another. But if I had to pick, I would give it to Samsung. Outdoors, the S7 consistently gave the most accurate results. Indoors, the tables turned and HTC got its chance to shine. The G5 often produced great results, but sometimes let out a question mark.

Which flagship’s camera do you prefer? Let us know your thoughts of the comparison down in the comments!

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