Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and iPhone 5S

We put the latest and greatest camera phones head-to-head to see which one shoots the best

It's a great time of year to be interested in smartphone cameras, as all of the major manufacturers have put their latest and greatest photographic technology into the flagship devices. The iPhone 5S is well-known for its camera quality, but how do the just-released Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 hold up? Well we know not everyone will get their hands on all three devices at once, so our very own Ally Kazmucha has gone above and beyond with an in-depth camera shootout over on iMore.

We have side-by-side-by-side comparison shots, in-depth analysis and information on what makes each camera stand out in different scenes. What one performs the best? You'll have to read through and see for yourself.

Read: iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy S5 vs. HTC One M8: Camera shootout!


Reader comments

Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 pitted against iPhone 5s in extensive camera shootout


OMFG! When will the camera shootouts stop, sheez! It's the one knock that Sammy and iPhone fanboys need against the M8 to feel good about themselves! We get it, 4 mp can't compete against 8 and 16, but we love our M8s anyways. Mind you, I haven't even seen the article. I just read the title!

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M8 is a marvelous device, its camera isn't the best one out there, but neither are the ones on S5 or 5S. Where's Lumia 1020? It easily sweeps the floor with all of these three compared here. But, if the cam isn't that important for you, you should try the M8 as its camera is not at all that bad.

Good point. Why don't reviewers compare to the 1020 if it has such a good camera? I guess the answer is because "nobody" has a 1020 and lots of people have the 5s.

What's the point in comparing the phone against something it will lose to? Apparently no one buys the 1020; especially since everyone is not on AT&T and these other phones are on all carriers.

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See my comment below - - it's only against the S5, but at least someone comp'd it to the 1020...

It's not about the truth, I think I stated the truth in my comment. I don't get the relentless camera bashing of the M8. And, I did look at the pictures. The M8 by comparison is about an 8, if the best phone in this test is a 10. The thing that I do most on my phone, they are not choosing to compare. I listen to Bluetooth stereo and my amazing speakers and I text. Honestly, I can go weeks without taking a picture. It's nice to have a good camera and I think htc has done that. I'm just tired of all the reviews saying 4 ultra pixels isn't enough, when I know damn well that it is. I take great pics with this phone 95 percent of the time! And, I've shared them on the forums. Most would agree! And, for those of us who have bought this phone have decided we want the best looking phone with the best user experience android has to offer. The HTC m8 fits that description for me!

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Then may be HTC should have taken care of it. Everyone knows camera is the one important area phones are compared against.

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And why even is this? Why does anyone take "serious" photos with a phone, anyway? I'm much more interested in screen, build, audio, and UI quality, all areas where HTC excels and everyone (other than Apple, maybe) fall short.

It is not about serious photos, it is about casual spur of the moment ones.

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Unfortunately I would have to agree with you, they should have just put a really good standard camera instead of all the R&D on the daul camera. Don't get me wrong, HTC has been the main innovator since the One X was launched over 2+ years ago and still is but they keep getting the camera wrong. All my phones have been the HTC and even the one I'm using now is still the One X. Other than the exposure issues with the One X it is a really good camera and imo they should have continued that philosophy with the M7 and M8. Unfortunately I may have to wait and see what the M9 is all about. HTC CEO was highly involved with the development of the M8 and I'd love to see those documents confirming why it was a good decision to keep the same 4 ultrapixel camera, atleast move to an 8 ultrapixel camera. Idk I love htc to death but sometimes I think they like to shoot themselves in the head with some of their decisions. I must say tho critical improvements to their survival and hopefully they work ie, software updates, warranty, launch strategy, Sense UI, etc...

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OMG 4 realz! How dare they post an article comparing the three top flagship smartphone cameras! SO annoying! What a waste of time! Why do all this hard work for us so that we can make informed decisions!? I'm so tired of all this free information they keep stuffing down my throat!

Just saying, most of us who purchase the HTC realize we are not getting the best camera a smart phone has to offer, but we are getting damn near the best smart phone experience Android has to offer as a whole and complete device. And, I rate a large part of that on aesthetics! I love the quality and feel of this phone and I think I speak for most htc m8 fans when I say that. And, truth be told... If the writers keep making it all about the camera, then many people will stop right there and whisk off this phone, when in reality the camera can hold its own. And, the M8 should not be ignored because of the camera... So, the decision is really not an informed decision when you're over emphasizing one aspect of the phone.

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LOL....keep'm coming (reviews/comparisons) regardless of topic or content. Ignorance is not bliss and only for the faint of heart.
I like information even if it doesn't support my particular purchase.
Fortunately for most of us, our station in life is not decided on by which cell phone we own.

This isn't really a MP issue since the shots were resized to all be similar. Sure you lose the detail if you plan on cropping or using the digital zoom; which idk why anyone would use digital zoom. Looking at the images produced, the 5s and S5 both consistenly produced better looking shots in most of these situations. HTC produced a great looking phone, with a tolerable camera.

Some argue, well if you want better shots then buy an actual camera. To that I say smartphones are almost always with us and not everyone wants to carry around another piece of equipment. Besides, when other smartphones take better shots than the M8, HTC really blew it. Anyways, I'm happy with my G2 so I don't even know why I commented here :P

Agree with what you said, reason I want a good camera is because 9 don't want to carry another device just in case I might want to take I photo.. I want a good camera in my phone so if I need to take a pic I can. There's a reason why sale of dedicated cameras are declining because more people want to take shots on there phone and don't want the hassle of carrying a another device.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

Wow...really? That's what's referred to as overly defensive. It's just a goddamn phone. No need to take it so personally.

Wish they had included the 1020, Z2 and the G2.

Otherwise, nothing that we did not already know. M8 camera is winner in low light and not terrible everywhere else, 5S is consistently excellent and the S5 is consistently excellent.

Yeah, I don't think HTC should have gone with "Ultrapixels", I think they should have just used a 16 MP camera to make it on par with the S5. No matter how you slice it, 4 MP is horrible resolution.

Oh well, maybe their flagship next year :P

In most photos where they called it a tie between the 5s and S5, the iPhone 5s seemed to have much better shots.

Reviewer needs an edumaction in photography before she does more reviews. She clearly doesn't understand apertures or the trade offs in pixel density.

Seriously, why troll in two spots? I said resolution, not pixels. Which is absolutely TRUE. Low resolution = more noise when you zoom in, blow up, etc.. Also, people make mistakes. I got aperture backwards in my wording. Calm down. It's fixed.


Don't know you nor most of your articles, but nice job on this one and welcome to AC if this is your first. I am sure you write for other MN sites so your not new.

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Well, when the review is cross posted to several sites, you can't complain when you get called out in several places. It isn't trolling either. It is the truth.

The problems with your review are the same problems as most phone camera reviews. 1) lack of reviewer knowledge of photography, 2) total disregard for value of having a phone camera that is responsive with almost no shutter lag, i.e. what allows you to actually capture the shot you want and not the back of someones head after they have turned around 3) misrepresenting (through ignorance most likely) the huge advantage the One has in low light/available light photography over these other phones due to it's ability to achieve and lock focus, respond to the shutter activation (no lag) and take shots at lower ISO due to the FASTER lens and larger pixels. 4) unfamiliarity with the particulars of the phones being reviewed. The HTC suffers most from this lack of knowledge and unfamiliarity, because it differs the most from the norm- your low light photos of the One are OVEREXPOSED, that is how much better it is in low light. Use the One exclusively for a month or so and you will hate to go back to any other phone camera because it can capture shots that you can't with the other phones and because you will begin to learn the nuances of using a phone camera that is very sensitive to light and because it is so much more responsive.

I wouldn't much care about these reviews except my concern is that HTC will eventually cave to all the idiocy of these reviews and just stick a 13 or 20 mp sensor in their phones in the future, and that would be a huge loss for those of us that truly appreciate what HTC is doing with their cameras, and there are a lot of them on various forums posting up some marvelous shots that are possible with other cameras.

Sure, the HTC lags if you are taking pictures at the beach or landscapes in bright light, (but not as bad as what your samples show if you are familiar with the phone and how to get good results from it, ie experience), but it more than makes up for it in indoor and low light/available light situations.

I think she got photography just fine.

Question: have YOU used all three phone cameras for a month to make your conclusion?

I enjoy HTC products (currently M7), and I have to agree the camera is probably the weakest link of the phone. They could have done a MUCH better job at it. I'm still getting an M8 because of the other things it offers, but the camera is a miss for sure.

I would have rather had a larger sensor with more megapixels and the same 2 micron pixel size than this duo camera set up. I think most people would agree.

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No, no she didn't. Of course she did change the statement that the f2 lense would mean that the lens was slower and result in blur, AFTER and IN Response to my comment on iMore (which they deleted). But that is such a basic mis-understanding of photographic principles that to say "she got photography fine" is wrong.

And to make a larger sensor with 2 micron pixels would require a larger camera module and larger lens. In addition, more pixels means more processing and more memory. While processing and memory may be getting to the point it is possible, the larger lens and sensor is where the problem remains.

So true, but they're not listening! We can look at it from a positive though, whether it's good advertising or bad, at least it's advertising because htc is doing a paltry job of getting their phones noticed! Htc has a lot of Sammy haters too and as long as you got haters you're doing something right! Ha!

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Wow that camera on the M8 is pretty sub-par IMO, it seems to compare to my Nexus 5. The S5 seems like a great camera according to the sample shots, it should have won the contest, not tie with the 5S.

I bought my M8 to be a great premium feeling media device. As well as a phone obviously. Some people honestly really don't care about super duper ultra negative pixel cell phone cameras. If I wanna take pictures I can blow up a d crop I'll buy a DSLR.

But If you wanna be technical and funny I can take the Ultimate selfie pictures with that 5mp from facing. Mwahahaha!
Prepare for Apple to unveil a 8mp front facing WITH flash on the iPhone 6. Lmao.

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Some people don't care about metal either. Personally, I'd rather have a better camera over aluminum. But hey, different strokes ...

When the N5 was released there were (still are) plenty of unbiased reviews that had it besting or at least matching the 5s in video reviews. Having used both extensively I would give the edge to the 5s on consistency (which is very important), but the N5 is no slouch and is damn good in HDR+ mode. Looking forward to putting both the M8 and S5 through their paces.

yea im gonna trust a website made for crapple phones, lol
"If you take a lot of indoor and low light photos, the Galaxy S5 will serve you better. For flash and macro photos, the iPhone 5s still reigns supreme."

Like this sentence, just the way she says crapple phone "reigns supreme" sounds so bias!!

LOL, why wasn't it written like this..."If you take a lot of flash and macro photos, the iPhone 5s will serve you better. For indoor and low light photos, the Galaxy S5 still reigns supreme."

You know he has a point right? Just the way you word things shows your bias

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"For flash and macro photos, the iPhone 5s still reigns supreme.". In the sample macro segment she called a tie between the S5 and 5S, yet in the quote she states the 5S reigns supreme. Contradiction much??

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Just realized Allyson was the author.... Can you comment on my statement? Help me understand why it was a tie then later saying the 5S reigns supreme? Thanks

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I absolutely love your responses to these troll people. Ha!

Keep this up, please :-)

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Really wanted to comment on the iMore page but refuse to sign up for anything iPhone related. Seem strange how the iPhone photos are larger than the other 2 in every comparison.

Not trolling or hating but setting the HTC and Samsung to 4:3 would have established a common denominator for a better comparison. Thanks for the work though!!

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This wasn't done because the overall size of the picture would be diminished. you would lose the HD resolution and so the comparison would still be unfavorable biased against HTC and Sammy.

I'm still waiting for comparisons with a DSLR as a baseline. Not very many people understand this concept. How do i know how accurate any of the pictures are since I wasn't there to see the colors and light with my own eyes.

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I like what they said about the 1020,but that's just an ugly phone! If I had to walk around with that phone or lug a DSLR, I'd just go ahead and carry the DSLR! Lol! I don't want a camera posing as a cell phone! Guess my vanity is shining through!

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Yep I've always thought these comparisons don't mean much unless you have a pro camera to compare it too. That way you can see which ones gets closer to pro camera.

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I just don't agree with always using HDR if it doesn't actually produce the best image possible. Maybe a separate section for full auto vs HDR.

Otherwise, great article.

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Too bad it runs Windows Phone or it'd be a knockout. The camera is important, but not THAT important to make most people care about WP. Yes, I've used it more than in the store. I'd rather carry a good camera and a dumb phone.

Nice job on the shoot out. This is important to me and the days of me lugging my SLR around are pretty much over ( my wife will still lug hers around on occasion). This matters more to me than build materials and speakers (not a dig on the M8, just my reality.)
Having said that, I am using my Lumia 925 because after the serious WP 8.1 update, I feel good enough about it to use as a daily driver! And purview is a serious camera not to mention the 6 superb camera apps I use with it.

WTF? The iPhone had a purple tint in a bunch of the pictures that were taken at the beach. How did it tie with the SGS5 which had blue colors for a blue sky?

Maybe I need to get my eyes checked then. But if I had a eye problem, why would the other two photos look blue and one have a purple tine.

Upper right corner in this one:

Unless if the pictures were taken at different times of the day. Please comment back with some feedback.

When looking at multiple shots from each device, I see pictures that I like from all three over the others. However, I noticed the first couple of shots didn't do well on the M8, but then its sunny pictures looks fine in examples #4 and #6.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

Apple does cameras right. HTC is going about it all wrong with their ultra pixels and dual cameras. Just stick to one good one. Not sure about Samsung. They should have easily beaten the iPhone. 6 months in phone time is an eternity. They had more than enough time to get the camera right. The iPhone should have come in last in every shot...

Goes to show you have no idea what you're talking about, iPhone has been getting much of the same flack as htc for not getting in the mega pixel race. They have also chosen larger pixel size as opposed to more pixels.. But whatever... If you keep needing better equipment to make better pictures, then maybe you're just not good at photography in general, there is a certain art to capturing great pics and it doesn't always boil down to the device you're using. And, to be honest these cell phones are all good enough to create awesome pics... The rest is up to the photographer. I don't find that my equipment is in the way with my m8!

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Who else is annoyed that the phones aren't actually connected to form a perfect triangle in the picture?

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how is the iPhone 5S known for camera quality? Yea the pictures u take on it are good for Facebook and Instagram but that's about it....

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I don't care how awesome (by the way it's not) the iPhone is. iOS is a deal-breaker for me.

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They are all good phones, all take great pictures...but...iphones are too small and too limited... And tbh dont look to great once printer from local photo shop. The note 3 and even the LG g2 are far superior in final print quality... but iphones are great for the kids or my parents, they find it very easy to use.... so cant complain to much about apple.

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