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Android camera phone face-off

We here at Recombu have been testing our five favourite Android phones to see which is the best snapper.

Toting around an HTC Sensation XL, Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Note and S2, we snapped six pictures to give you an insight as to just how these high end happy snap cameras compare against one another during this time of early night skies, fairy lights and festive decoration.

We’ll also be pitting them against each other during sunlight, so make sure you check our Android camera phone face-off part 2.


Here’s how we got on:

Low light:

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The best noise handling is offered by both the Samsung Galaxy Note and the Samsung Galaxy S2, however, they also come out lower on detail, with the HTC Sensation XL and Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S faring considerably better.

With the best dynamic range and striking a good balance between noise suppression and detail, our favourite low light distance shot of the bunch was the HTC Sensation XL closely followed by the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S, then the Samsung Galaxy S2.


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Both the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC Sensation XL delivered the best colours in this shopping mall scene, with the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S’ hues looking too blue and the Samsung Galaxy Note and S2 subduing the scene more than they needed to.

In turn, our artificial lighting champion is the HTC Sensation XL with its accurate whites and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus closely trailing.


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When it comes to macro, all these cameras performed exceptionally well considering at the end of the day, they’re phones first and foremost. That said, the Sensation XL managed to bag the most accurate colours close up along with the best depth of field thanks to it’s f/2.2 lense, however detail wasn’t as sharp as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S.

For that reason, we’re crowning the Samsung Galaxy S2 our macro champion as it delivered more accurate colours than the arc S, bringing Sony Ericsson’s slick handset in at second.

Indoors – No Flash

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The indoor home scene delivered some pretty interesting results. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus produced the lowest levels of detail hands down, as can be expected given the 5-megapixel sensor on board coupled with noise handling. Colours were accurate but subdued. While the HTC Sensation XL offers best dynamic range, the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S delivers strongest levels of detail, though with considerably more noise. The Galaxy S2 and Note both miss the mark in terms of colour and detail unfortunately.

This means that once again, for festive shooting, the HTC Sensation XL places first with the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S coming in second.

Indoors – Flash

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Finally, it’s flash time and we light up the same dimly lit scenario we saw before. The results? The HTC Sensation XL produces the most balanced shot, with no spotlight vignetting taking place. Both the Samsung Galaxy Note and Samsung Galaxy S2 beat it in terms of sheer detail though the flash isn’t as even. The Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S is a bit noisy at 100% and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus looks slightly washed out and over-softened.

The winner is the HTC Sensation XL, delivering the most printable overall shot. The Samsung Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note come in joint second with better overall detail at 100%, but an uneven flash coverage.

Overal winner: HTC Sensation XL

With its f/2.2 lense and 8-megapixel sensor, we found our low-light festive champion to be the HTC Sensation XL. Given the dual LED flash, it lights up a room nicely and disperses the glow for the most natural illumination. The shots look most like the scenes we took them in and print-outs looked great at 6×4 or 7×5.

Right behind were the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc which offers great levels of detail and the Samsung Galaxy S2 with its superior noise handling.

Naturally, this is our opinion – if you want to reach your own conclusion, just download the full grid of pictures by clicking below (warning, for your viewing pleasure, the image is about 2.5MB):

If you enjoyed this why not check out our Android camera-phone face-off part 2?

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Many thanks to Three for the provision of sample units


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