Camera: Photo Quality Comparison
In this section, we will be comparing the OnePlus One’s imaging output to that of some other leading smartphones. While we did compare the One’s camera specs to the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 at the beginning of the camera section, we did not have either on hand to provide sample comparison images. In the place of the iPhone 6 Plus we have samples from the iPhone 5s. Again like before, all images were taken in Auto mode, and we attempted to take each one in similar lighting conditions. Also, the Galaxy S5 takes images at a native 16:9 aspect ratio, so we cropped them to 4:3 for this comparison.
Indoor Performance: Low Light
This first comparison shows how the One performs in low light conditions indoors. In order to achieve decent results, the One shot at ISO 4500, which did result in an image with a lot of noise. The One does not suffer from an overly aggressive noise smoothing algorithm in post-processing like some other phones. Out of the images being compared here though, the LG G3 pulls off the win with a crisper image and the least amount of noise thanks to its OIS.
Indoor Performance: Low Light with Flash
With the addition of the flash, the image quality improves immensely for all the phones being tested. The One’s picture is captured at a much cleaner ISO 346. Unfortunately, it does seem that its dual-LED flash isn’t particularly powerful and is not able to light up the scene enough to be able to use an even lower ISO like the other phones.
Indoor Performance: Very Low Light
In extremely low light, none of the phones produce an image that one would consider usable. The One’s picture is much better than the Galaxy S5’s and marginally better than the HTC One (M8), which just doesn’t capture much detail. The iPhone 5s, thanks to its larger pixels, and LG G3 produce the best images in these conditions.
Outdoor Performance: Daytime
With enough light, most modern smartphone cameras capture good images, as is the case here. The One’s 13 MP sensor captures a lot of detail and the faster shutter speed and low ISO ensures that the picture is crisp and noise free. Colors look a little washed out compared to the iPhone 5s though. Also, the One doesn’t capture the correct color of the street, giving it a yellow cast.
Outdoor Performance: Low Light
We weren’t able to capture the same image for each phone under the same lighting conditions, so this won’t be a true apples-to-apples comparison. It's evident though that the One struggles with noise since its Auto mode favors a higher ISO in lower light conditions.
Outdoor Performance: Night
The One performs well in this dark scene, about on par with the iPhone 5s, though the Auto mode did set the ISO to 800, the highest of all the phones tested. The LG G3 comes out a little overexposed, with a lot more bloom around light sources. The HTC One (M8) performs the worst. Its white balance is way off and the 4 MP sensor just doesn’t capture enough detail.
From looking at all these comparison images, it’s clear that the One’s camera, while not always the best, can at least compete with the camera’s of other top smartphones on the market. It’s not unusual for lower priced smartphones to compromise on camera quality to keep the price down (Nexus 5), so it’s nice to see that OnePlus paid attention to this aspect of the phone. Its camera might not kill any flagships, but it can certainly compete with them.