Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5 Camera Shootout

The iPhone 5 or the Nexus 4, smartphone cameras are the go-to camera for many owners. Both of these phones sport an 8MP sensor, but the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 don’t capture the same photos.

In the camera comparison below, we look at how the LG Nexus 4 compares to the iPhone 5 in common photo taking opportunities. We’ll also compare the features of these two popular smartphones and their ability to quickly correct exposure and other issues in the built-in photo app.

Read: iPhone 5 vs. Nexus 4

To test the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 cameras we took these photos at the same time in the same conditions. While there are slight variations in what’s captured, these samples should show a good range of situations and performance of the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 cameras.

Click on any of the images to see the photo at full resolution. Unless noted, there is no post-processing on the phone or on a computer.

Outdoors Sunny Day

The first test was shooting a reflective building on a sunny day. Both phones performed well in this test, but the iPhone 5 shows a slight edge in the color of the building.

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City scene with the Nexus 4 camera.

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The Nexus 4 photo is darker on the face, losing some details, but offers a more accurate color for the sky.

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City scene with the iPhone 5 camera.

Indoor

Taking photos indoors in average lighting is also a win for the iPhone 5 over the Nexus 4. This sample comparison is a good one to look at closer, as the Nexus 4 looses detail.

The iPhone 5 is on the right and the Nexus 4 is on the left.

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Nutcracker with the Nexus 4 camera.

In the photo of the Nutcracker below the nutcracker colors are spot on, where as the photo taken with the Nexus 4 above is lacking the bold blues and reds and a dark black hat. The iPhone photo sample isn’t perfect as the green of the trees is a but much.

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Nutcracker with the iPhone 5 camera.

Indoor Medium Light

We took the next sample in decent lighting without the flash, and the Nexus 4 does a better job of capturing the colors of this ornament.

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Ornament in medium lighting with the Nexus 4.

Both samples here are good, but the Nexus 4 offers a more natural look.

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Ornament in medium lighting with the iPhone 5.

Indoor Close Up

When taking a close up of garland, the iPhone 5 does a better job at capturing the silver color.

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Close up of garland taken with the Nexus 4.

Both cameras do a good job of capturing the detail of garland strands in this close up. It’s important to note that when using the auto-fix option on the Nexus 4, the end result is a much better color reproduction.

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Close up of garland taken with the iPhone 5.

Low Light

Taking photos in low light is a problem for most smartphone cameras, but the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5 do an OK job of capturing a sleeping puppy without blowing out the photo with a flash.

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Low light Nexus 4 camera sample.

the Nexus 4 captures more detail in the low-lit part of the puppy’s face, and in the auto fix section below the Nexus 4 delivers a more detail with more natural colors.

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Low light iPhone 5 camera sample.

Outdoor Detail

In the photo samples taken outdoors on an overcast day the iPhone 5 performs better, delivering more detail on the leaves and grass around the metal cover and more defined raindrops on the cover itself.

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The LG Nexus 4 outdoor camera sample showing color and details.

Once again the iPhone 5′s photo delivers a brighter green then you’ll find on the ground in Ohio in early December.

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The iPhone 5 outdoor camera sample showing color and details.

Panorama and Photosphere

The Nexus 4 offers a cool new feature called Photosphere that allows users to create a 360-degree capture of their surroundings that are shared to Google+ or to Google Maps to view in a globe-like manner. When it comes to sharing online or on other social networks, the flat image below will have to do.

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Sample Photosphere taken with Nexus 4.

The iPhone 5 can take panoramic photos like the one below, which it does well at, but it doesn’t compare to the complete wrap around effect of the PhotoSphere photo taken on the Nexus 4.

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Sample panoramic photo taken with iPhone 5.

Quick Fix Samples

Another important factor to consider is the ability to quickly fix photos, to compensate for issues with the hardware. In the samples below, we used the built-in auto fix option to adjust color and other aspects of each photo on the iPhone 5 or the Nexus 4. This is a step many users take before sharing or printing photos, and it’s an easy way to improve smartphone photos.

Camera Speed

The speed of the camera is another important aspect to consider. The iPhone 5 allows users to slide up on the lock screen to use the camera and the Nexus 4′s lock-screen widget offers fast access to the camera as well.

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When it comes to taking the photo after the camera is open, the iPhone 5 is slightly faster, but the Nexus 4 keeps up. The Nexus 4 is slightly slower due to the auto-focus that occurs before taking the shot. Both phones are fast enough to catch cute moments with kids or pets, even if the iPhone 5 has a slight lead.

Comments

    • Aaron says

      I’d give the iphone 5 the slight edge in the camera shootout. However, I would still choose the nexus 4 because of the amazing price tag and screen size. =)

  1. sean says

    The Nexus did way better then I thought it would in this comparison. I haven’t snapped many shots with my Nexus, I just assumed the iphone5 would be a much better camera.

  2. Photographer says

    The color inconsistency is just the white balance or exposure compensation algorithms out of whack, easily fixable in an update. What’s more interesting is the 100% pixel comparisons. the iphone 5 has a better low-light sensor, able to take clearer pictures at lower ISOs, whereas the Nexus 4 relies on noise reduction algorithms afterwards, which reduces fine detail.

    What would be more interesting is comparion center and edge sharpness, shutter speed in low-light conditions that result in blurry photos. Read a digital camera review (like on dpreview.com) for ideas on how to properly compare cameras since these smartphone cameras are higher quality and the differences can only be revealed by closer examination of the sensor & lens.

  3. Matt says

    @Photographer your comment are inconsistent with the findings of the author since more detail can be found on the Nexus 4 photos at low light.

    And from what I’m able to gather from this article is that the Nexus 4 camera is slightly better than iPhone 5, except iPhone 5 is quicker on the draw.

    Other thought: Sometimes I wonder if people actually look at the content of an article or just read the title and jump straight to the comment section?

    • GoHomeMatt says

      @Matt: sorry to tell you, but the one not getting the point here is you and not Photographer. You clearly have no idea about photography. The comparisson in the article may suffice most users, but nevertheless the actual pros and cons of the sensors are not revealed.

      • Professional Photographer says

        @matt and @NotMatt: What I find really funny, is that people actually think of camera phones as actual cameras. If you wanna take a good picture, go buy a freaking camera! Everyone knows camera phones suck. It’s like comparing who’s pile of vomit is better. It’s still vomit.

        • Nick says

          So in retrospect of what you said, I should be walking around everywhere with a Nikon SLR hanging around my neck ?

  4. jeduhu says

    Yes. Camera phones aren’t true professional cams but I’ve been a professional photographer for a bit and all I have to say is that for day to day….they are catching up. It will be a while before we have a Eos phone but hey, I recorded an entire 30 min seg in low lighting of a fire dance om my htc and though its not “professional grade” the people I sent it to we’re very impressed. Go go go technolution!

  5. Gary says

    I have to wonder why Professional Photographers are getting so worked up over a camera phone when they point out in every complaint that camera phones aren’t real phones………

  6. phubai1 says

    I appreciate the comparison. I’ve been considering an iPhone 5, especially for the camera. Now I’m thinking I may be able to squeeze a little better quality picture out of my N4. I just sold my iPhone 4s, and was pleased with the photos it took, and I haven’t been able to replicate that with the N4. I was blaming the N4…now I’m going to have to look at the output of the rear facing camera for what looks to be the problem!

    Also, I have seen some beautiful, professional, photos taken from an iPhone. In the right hands, and in the right conditions, a camera phone can do an exceptional job, and it’s with you most of the time.

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