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iPhone 6s camera samples: Is this the best smartphone camera on the market?

by Brandon Russell | September 25, 2015September 25, 2015 4:00 pm PDT

Apple’s iPhone has always been regarded as one of the best when it comes to smartphone cameras. The company built a strong reputation beginning with the iPhone 4, and its stature only rose with subsequent releases. Even with phones like the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 on the market, some people still argue that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the top of the pile. Not bad for a company that didn’t get caught up in the dreaded megapixel war.

This year, Apple says its iPhone cameras are even better. With an improved 12-megapixel sensor and the ability to shoot 4K video, Apple is once again poised to be the company to beat as far as mobile cameras are concerned. Not one to waste a moment, we took the iPhone 6s—probably the model most people will pick up—out for a quick jaunt, snapping pictures of things around the TechnoBuffalo office.

Apple says its new iPhones come equipped with a state-of-the-art sensor, a new image signal processor, advanced pixel technology, Focus Pixels, improved local tone mapping and optical image stabilization (for the iPhone 6s Plus). Those are a lot of buzzwords meant to hype up Apple’s technology, but it basically just means you can expect better photos, and that’s all consumers care about.

One aspect people might care about is that 12-megapixel sensor. People typically associate a larger number with “better;” many of Apple’s largest competitors have moved well into 16-megapixel territory and up. But we already know that a greater megapixel count doesn’t always equal better quality. When you try and cram more megapixels onto a small smartphone camera sensor, results can be poorer, making the higher megapixel count moot.

To counteract this, Apple has introduced a technology known as deep trench isolation, which the company says creates a wall between pixels, in theory producing sharper images with more accurate colors. Apple didn’t need to increase the megapixel count, but it’s all about perception. The 8-megapixel sensor of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is still excellent, but it was time to move on. And now users will have more flexibility to crop in on their favorite images.

Some of the other specs of the new iPhone 6s camera include an f/2.2 aperture, a five-element lens, a sapphire crystal lens cover, a backside illumination sensor, and auto image stabilization. The front-facing camera has also been boosted to 5 megapixels, which means your selfies will be sharper than ever. (No, really, the jump up to 5 megapixels actually makes a noticeable difference.)

Like other quick camera posts, we’re not going to deeply analyze the pictures. We’ll let you guys be the judge. Apple’s iPhones have long been considered the leader in the smartphone space when it comes to cameras. But some of its toughest Android competition has caught up, and in some cases surpassed the Cupertino company. Let’s see if Apple’s new flagship really is the camera to beat. We had to resize the images to play nice here; you can see the full resolution images at this link.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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