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Best phone camera 2016: iPhone 6S Plus vs Nexus 6P vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs OnePlus 2 and more

What's the best smartphone camera? iPhone 6s vs Nexus 6P, 5X, Galaxy S6, OnePlus 2 and many more

It's a murky-looking shot from the iPhone 6S Plus. However, the HDR mode - triggered automatically - means the sky hasn't been blown out. Detail and sharpness is good, but there's not all that much more detail compared to the 8Mp iPhones from last year. It may look murky, but it's close to what the scene actually looked like. Some of the phones managed to brighten it up more using HDR (such as the Nexus 5X and 6P) but in reality, St Pancras was fairly dark.

Google Nexus 6P

It's hardly suprising that the 6P's photo is virtually identical to the 5X: they use the same camera. The 6P has brightened up the scene even more though.

HTC One M9

We weren't overly impressed with the M9's main camera when we tested it against its rivals and it doesn't fare too well now, either. The HDR mode is hidden away as a shooting mode in its own right and isn't something that will turn on automatically so we left it disabled here. The overall exposure is a bit dark, but more disappointing is the heavy-handed noise reduction (and / or compression) which leaves the hotel's brickwork smudgy. The 16:9 sensor means you don't see as much of the scene as phones with 4:3 sensors.

Motorola Moto X Force

It's a decent effort from the Moto X Force, although the highlights are blown out. It makes for a better looking photo overall, but there's less potential to get a better image in Photoshop due to the clipping. Focus, sharpness and detail levels are all good, but compression artefacts are visible in the brickwork and tiles.

LG G4

An appalling misfire from the G4 here. It's hard to see without looking up close, but the whole image is fuzzy and smudgy with low detail levels. It wasn't caused by shaky hands, since both test shots came out the same and used a 1/364sec shutter speed and ISO-50. Checking the same photo shot back in May on a different sample supplied by LG, there's evidence of the same fuzziness and lack of sharpening around the pillars and balcony. The G4 is capable of better quality than this, but clearly not in these conditions. It's even blown the sky out. (It's worth pointing out that other people have got better results from their G4s than we have, and we know it's capable of great quality. But we can only report on the photos and video shot with the press review phones we were given.)

OnePlus 2

Aside from the over-saturated colours which have turned the brickword to orange, this is a good shot from the OnePlus. Focus and exposure are respectable, and although there's some evidence of noise, detail is retained and there are minimal compression artefacts.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

One of the best, if not the best, photos in these conditions. We already knew the S6 had a great camera and it proves it with this well-exposed shot that exhibits great detail levels. There's quite a lot of sharpening going on, but the result is a usable photo that doesn't require much editing at all. The only criticism is the 16:9 sensor which means you lose the top and bottom - just compare this with the much taller image from the Sony below:

Sony Xperia Z5

As we've seen from Sony before, the Z5 delivers a strangely ghostly image that's artificially bright. The wide-angle lens introduces some distortion and focus is a little soft. At least colours are natural. In better conditions, the Z5 is capable of better quality than this effort.

iPhone 6S Plus

Here the iPhone 6S demonstrates why it's one of the best phones for photography. The exposure is excellent, as is focus and white balance. There's just the right amount of sharpening and no noise. There's purple fringing on the tree branches which is a little more pronounced than other phones, except the OnePlus 2.

Google Nexus 5X

The HDR+ mode ensures another great photo from the Nexus 5X and 6P (the photo below is essentially identical). There's lots of sharp detail, and the sky isn't blown out.

When we tried the HDR mode on the One M9, we were rewarded with a blurry, out of focus photo. The image above was shot without HDR, and is much better for it. It's sharp and fairly detailed, but the limited range means the sky and tree branches are over-exposed.

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