2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for smartphone cameras, with two major manufacturers releasing devices early in the year that demonstrate some incredible potential and plenty of time left for others to come along and surprise us. We've already shown you some of the cool things the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are capable of, and as we dig into the capabilities of the LG G4 it's clear the title of "best" in the photography department is not going to be an easy award to hand out this year — though we've got plenty of pictures for you to look at in our comparison. It's well past time for Android phones to move from cameras that can take decent photos if you know how to cameras that routinely grab amazing photos in full auto with no effort, and this is clearly going to be the year we see that happen.

That's all rear camera stuff, though. What about the front facing camera? LG dropped an 8MP sensor in the front of their G4 this year, and while we all know that megapixels don't make a good camera it'd be interesting to see how LG's software — which seems to be working miracles on the rear camera — takes that sensor and turns it into a great photo and video experience. Rather than compare the front facing camera to other front facing cameras — since, lets face it, no one wants to dig through a dozen photos of my mug to see which is better — I decided to have some fun. Today, the 8MP front facing camera on the LG G4 will compete with the rear cameras on the OnePlus One, Nexus 5 (technically released at the very end of 2013, indeed), HTC One M8, and 2014 Moto X.

READ MORE: Four 2014 Android phones and the LG G4 front facing camera

Sample Series 1 — Indoor

The first in this series of largely unscientific photo comparisons is an indoor capture from an arm's length — also known as your average selfie's length — away. All of these photos were captured in full auto mode with all of the default settings on. The only edit made to any of these photos was to flip the image on the G4 so it faced the same way as all the other photos.

Photos in this set are arranged first to last as OnePlus One, Moto X 2014, HTC One M8, LG Nexus 5, LG G4 FFC.

In this set, the G4's camera is fairly easy to spot. It's the darkest of the photos here, with the overly aggressive smoothing effect that helps make skin look "better" but also ruins the kind of detail that makes an image like this look good — which is important to keep in mind if you're taking a photo of yourself posed next to something. LG offers a slider for this smoothing effect, so it's probably best to turn it all the way down in those environments.

You can see full res versions of each of the photos in this set here.

Sample Series 2 — Outdoor

This front facing camera on the G4 is much harder to spot in this next set. In fact, at a glance, most folks are unlikely to be able to pick the front facing camera out of the lineup. This set was taken from 10 inches away on all devices, and since there's direct sunlight here there are some cameras that activated HDR as part of their full auto software. LG's camera software clearly steps things up a notch outdoors, and unlike the 2014 Moto X the software was able to lock on to the figurine and actually focus in the right place.

Photos in this set are arranged first to last as OnePlus One, Moto X 2014, HTC One M8, LG Nexus 5, LG G4 FFC.

While the G4 is not the best photo in the batch, and if you zoom in you still see some aggressive smoothing that eliminates some detail, the front camera on this phone is competing directly with the rear camera on last year's flagships, which is kinda nuts.

You can see full res versions of each photo in this set here.

Sample Series 3 — Distance

We've done two sets where the focal point is where your average face would be, which in theory is where the G4 would be the most capable of taking a photo. This third set aims at train tracks 25ft away, with plenty of scenery and necessary detail. Like the last photo set, some cameras default to HDR when put in environments like this, but the whole point is to let these cameras shoot in full auto, so it's to be expected. Can you spot the G4?

Photos in this set are arranged first to last as OnePlus One, Moto X 2014, HTC One M8, LG Nexus 5, LG G4 FFC.

Aggressive smoothing gives the G4 away in this set, especially if you zoom in on things like the grass or tree bark, but the overall photo is directly comparable to the other photos in the set. This is great news for those of you who are planning to grab selfies with a great big world behind you (or beneath you if you're a crazy climber).

You can see full res versions of each photo in this set here.


G4 FFC Sample

As you can see, camera software on Android devices have taken a massive leap forward in the span of one year — or a year and change in the Nexus 5's case. LG's front facing camera isn't categorically better than all of the rear cameras from last year, but seeing these results is clear evidence of how far camera software has come in a short time.

The G4 is proving to be an impressive all around smartphone, with the photography tools needed to show it can hang with the best and a front facing camera that wants for nothing. Whether you're among the selfie obsessed or you enjoy the occasional video chat with friends and co-workers, it's clear the G4's front camera is going to be one of the better options out there this year.