Android cameras

The new software improves the Moto X camera, but how does it compare to other Android phones?

The Moto X camera got quite an update last week. It looks as if focus, color compensation, and the magic algorithms that turn data into pictures was tweaked pretty heavily, too. There were some really good comparisons between the old and the new when the update rolled out to T-Mobile customers.

The Developer Edition Moto X also shipped with the new software, and it gave me a chance to grab a handful of popular Android phones and snap a few pictures.  Folks are curious how well the "new" Moto X camera compares to the other great phones out there, and hopefully this will help. Hit the break, have a look.

Discuss: Moto X forums; Android photography forums

It's a pretty dreadful day here, but between rain showers I was able run up to post office with my bag o' phones. I also flipped on a couple daylight color temp lamps and took some indoor pictures. My methods:

  • Everything automatic
  • Tap to focus, then shoot enabled if available
  • Auto HDR enabled if available
  • I shoot in 16:9 if available, because that's what I'm most comfortable with
  • I took five pictures of each subject with each phone, and picked out the single best

Note, these have been resized to fit the web. Click them to open a bit bigger. The full versions of all the pictures, unedited and straight out of the respective cameras, are available on Google+.

Samsung Galaxy S4 (T-Mobile)

S4close-up  S4 general indoors

S4 outside

HTC One (Developer Edition, with Android 4.3)

HTC One close up  HTC One general indoors

HTC One outside

LG G2 (AT&T)

G2 close up  G2 general indoors

G2 outside

Nexus 4

Nexus 4 close up  Nexus 4 indoors

Nexus 4 outside

Moto X (old software)

Moto X (old)  Moto X (old)

Moto X (old)

Moto X (new software)

Moto X (new)  Moto X (new)

Moto X (new)

Some random thoughts and observances

I'll let you decide which is best, and how each compares to the other. But there are a few things I noticed that I want to pass along.

  • The Galaxy S4 had a hard time focusing on the second shot (the one with the I/O bugdroid). I'm not sure why, and it's a problem I've not seen before. I call it an anomaly, but still included the image and wanted to mention it. The camera on the S4 is far better than this one picture would leave you to believe, and the other two show that.
  • The old Moto X camera software uses HDR (when in auto-HDR mode) more often than the new. Not sure if this is good or bad, but I wanted to mention it.
  • The G2 is by far the fastest at focusing and taking the picture. I'm not sure if it's the hardware or the software, but I know if I were buying a phone solely for the best camera, it would be the G2. By a mile.
  • If all you want to do with your pictures is post the to Facebook or Google+, any of these phones would be just fine for you. Even the throw-away images were good enough for the web.