Smartphone Camera Battle: iPhone 4S vs. the Android Elite

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How We Tested Each Camera

With each phone, we used a truncated version of our regular testing methodology for point-and-shoot cameras. We affixed each phone to a tripod and shot three images. All images were taken using full auto mode with no postprocessing, using the maximum resolution for each device:

1. One still-life scene with a mannequin, to rate flash exposure quality. This is the only test in which we used the phone's flash.

2. One still-life scene with a color chart and delightful random objects, to rate exposure quality and color accuracy. We used daylight-balanced 6500k lights to light the set.

3. A target chart and printed text, to evaluate sharpness and distortion levels (see the example below).

We use printouts of each image to rate each component of image quality. All test images were printed on a Fujifilm Pictrography 3500 Silver Halide Printer, and we recalibrated the printer after printing each set of test shots. A panel of five judges examined each photo and video, rating each one independently for color, exposure, sharpness, and distortion.

For video testing, we shot a moving scene twice from a tripod with each phone. While shooting each test clip, we played the same audio clip through speakers to evaluate how well each phone picked up sound. In the first test video clip, we shot in bright indoor lighting. In the second test video clip, we shot with the overhead lights turned off and a floor lamp turned on behind the camera to evaluate low-light footage.

To rate the quality of each clip, our judges viewed the videos on a 30-inch-diagonal LCD monitor calibrated to a color temperature of 6500k using a Spyder calibrator. The same panel of five judges evaluated each clip.

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