This has undoubtedly been one of the best years for advancements in camera quality on Android phones, but at the same time we're seeing a huge push towards $400 phones that don't look or feel like midrange products. We've seen already how improved the camera on the Moto X Pure Edition is compared to another $400 phone, but against one of the best Android-powered cameras out there we've got some questions that need answered.
Here's our Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Moto X Pure Edition camera showdown. For each of these samples, the Moto X Pure Edition is on the left, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 is on the right. If you want to take a deeper look at these photos, a link to the uncompressed version straight off the cameras is available at the bottom of the article.
There's really no contest in this first compare. The slight breeze shaking this bunch of flowers was too much for the Moto X Pure Edition to capture an appropriate amount of detail, and the Galaxy S6 nailed every aspect of this shot. The colors are more accurate, the detail is incredible, and background isn't blown out like the Moto X Pure Edition.
For a full auto image captured seconds apart on a tripod, the only thing to blame here is the software.
Full Auto HDR
At first glance, these HDR shots at sunrise are incredibly similar. Samsung's photo is a little brighter than Motorola's, but the colors are almost identical and the image is visually pleasing in both samples.
Where you'll notice a huge difference in quality is when you zoom in on the full image. Samsung's foreground, specifically the water on the left, is not nearly as clear as the Moto X Pure Edition. If you zoom in on the boat on the right, you'll see a lot of grain in the S6 shot that doesn't exist on the Pure Edition. While both shots are great, Motorola takes the win here.
The goal for this photo was to focus on the bunch of yellow leaves high up in the tree, but also to see how well each phone handled exposing the foreground and background with no HDR enabled. Both cameras have an HDR Auto mode, but it was disabled for this shot.
As you can see, the Galaxy S6 clearly took the better photo. The background isn't blown out, the colors are significantly better, and the leaves are just as sharp as they are on the Moto X Pure Edition.
Specific focus detail shot
This is another photo where Motorola blew out the background, but the real difference in this photo is when you zoom in on the tree bark. Motorola captured way less detail than Samsung, and did so at a cooler temperature.
The Galaxy S6 was cleaner, sharper, and produced colors much closer to real life. There's really no comparing the two when you look closely.
Poor light outdoors
This is another photo where Samsung captured more light, but didn't necessarily capture a better image. Zooming in on the water and the boats will show a lot of grain on the S6 photo. Motorola's picture is more true to life, and despite the poor lighting and thick fox managed to capture a fair bit of detail.
There's really not a clear winner here. Both cameras did a great job, but both failed in significant ways. Motorola captured less light, and Samsung captured less detail.
Low light indoors
In a room with the shades drawn and the lights turned down low, these figurines aren't easy to get a good photo of. The Moto X Pure Edition did an OK job capturing a reasonable amount of light, but you can also see a fair bit of grain all around the image.
The Galaxy S6 looks brighter, warmer, and isn't quite as grainy around the figurines. It's clearly a better camera for this kind of picture.
It shouldn't come as a big shock that the Samsung Galaxy S6, and by extension the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, offer better cameras than the Moto X Pure Edition. The GS6 sells for right around $200 more than the Pure Edition, and that's the pricetag after it has been out for a few months. The Note 5 will run you even more, and for those higher price tags you expect a higher quality camera.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether the camera is actually $200+ better, keeping in mind what the specs for each of these phones look like side by side.