Xperia Z1 in camera shootout against the HTC One, iPhone 5, LG G2, Lumia 925 and Galaxy S4

by XB on 9th September 2013

in Imaging, Xperia Z1

Xperia Z1 shootoutSony has put imaging prowess to the forefront when it comes to the Xperia Z1, it has a new 20.7MP CMOS sensor along with G Lens and the BIONZ image processing engine. The only real way we can see what progress has been made versus older Sony Xperia handsets is by comparing it the latest and greatest from Sony’s competitors.

Recombu has done the hard work for us, comparing the Xperia Z1 against some of the best camera phones in the market including the Apple iPhone 5, HTC One, LG G2, Nokia Lumia 925 and Samsung Galaxy S4. Pictures were shot using the automatic mode at default resolution across different scenarios including natural light, low light, flash and macro. The Xperia Z1 fared very well hitting the top three in each test, bar the macro one. Recombu crowned the Xperia Z1 the overall winner, check out the comparison shots below to see if you agree.

Camera shootout: Xperia Z1 against the HTC One, iPhone 5, LG G2, Lumia 925 and Galaxy S4

[Click to enlarge]

Xperia Z1 Shootout_Natural light

Xperia Z1 Shootout_Macro

Xperia Z1 Shootout_Flash

Xperia Z1 Shootout_Low light

Xperia Z1 Shootout_V low light

Via Recombu.

Thanks Basil

  • Makiz

    Meh, I expected more than that…. as always from Sony!

  • Guest

    Well, it’s no use if they aren’t compared to dslr camera… (I’m talking about white balance of course )

  • schattenkonig58

    And the winner is: The Sony Xperia Z1!

  • DrymR

    Really I don’t think the Z1 deserve the first place, The pictures are really great with it no doubt about it , but the overall winner is the Lumina 925 , From the pictures of this test the nokia always got picture with a dynamic range, with good color accuracy , and a weak level of noise during the low light shot,

    Thanks to X-Reality at the end of Imaging processing some of the Z1 were really stunning but nokia got me this time

  • Mike Gonzalez

    well, those are the results with 1st firmware… no need to explain how much Xperia Z’s camera has improved since launch, imagine Z1 after 2-3 updates

  • Guest

    Maybe I’m the only one, but I want to take pictures in low light “as is”: with lots of black color. Not like some kind of night vision mode…

  • X-Reality is for the display…. Anyway, I’d say G2 (while Z1 is close) takes the cake here, iPhone 5 is still doing what it does best. Z1 is still new and Sony always update the camera firmware, so it’ll get improve someday
    But we can’t really say that the colors are accurate here can we? There is no pictures from a camera, DSLR preferably. We don’t know what the place look like irl

  • Ambroos

    A DSLR will get white balance wrong in pretty much anything but daylight too.

  • torgrim

    Natural light: LG G2
    Macro: Sony Z1
    Flash: Sony Z1
    Low Light: LG G2
    Very Low Light: LG G2

  • Makiz

    the fact is that I wanted to believe that my Z will take awesome pictures but in some scenarios even my Xperia S was better, especially on auto settings! TBO I cannot see any improvement from the first firmware down to the 244 that I use now

  • Carljn

    Natural light: Z1
    Macro: G2
    Flash: Z1
    Low Light: Z1
    Very Low Light: Z1
    Unless my eyes deceive me, which I’m sure they may this late at night. :)

  • Dyaa

    fuck u

  • lucasarg

    obviusly the Xperia Z1 is the best. Xperia pazeom. lol

  • Lucian

    If Lumia 925 got good colour accuracy I must be blind.
    It produces somewhat greenish photos. With flash it is especially bad, photo is yellow..

  • Michael Hofmann

    That’s why there are manual controls

  • Ka Ku

    Wo Wo !! Finally i am happy that SONY is under spot-light :D Doesn’t really matters if it tops the chart. But we have to say this is just the BEGINNING buddies.

    Sony has come up with a BEAST with minor cons, hop this won’t have heat issues :(

    We lov yo SONY <3 long live ..

  • hash

    This is pointless.. match it up with 1020.. give it a real competition!!

  • surethom

    Nice finally a Sony phone with no over processing like the usual xperia’s. Nice. Now Role on the Xperia Z1 mini.

  • sfordesign

    exactly. i totally want to see how that experiment posted on sony website to be true. so far it doesn’t seem very true

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  • surethom

    This one seems much more realistic than the “Independent” one on the Sony web site. The Sony Z1 stand out well, a very good replacement for my Xperia S but may wait for the Mini?? if it ever comes.

  • xperiafan324

    You’re definitely not blind, the 925 gets the white balance wrong in ALL the photos, first two have a green tint, 3rd and 4th have a yellowish hue, and the 5th has a bluish tint, anyone calling the 925 superior based on this comparison needs a hard hit in the head to come to his senses.

  • Senay Mehreteab
  • Could be your eyes? Have a check on that instead blaming on the phone. You know it’s always the user’s fault.

    Computer Programming 101

  • DEM low light pics. Good job Sony!

  • Lucian
  • sulre

    Damn! Only 8mpx shots. Waiting for 20mpx shots in a low-light conditions.

  • AA

    The Nokia’s white balance is messed up. HTC One has nice wide angle which is almost always a good thing to have. I wouldn’t say Xperia Z1 is the winner here though because I failed to see a clear winner.

  • sulre

    What Auto mode caused> ISO set diffrently {in each phone}, whats more only 8mpx on a Z1, not so much detail.

  • Afnan Muhammad

    Xperia Z1 not even using 20mp. Only use 8mp and Sony already beat all competition.

  • siber storm

    Wouldn’t it be more apt to say all these other cameras ranging from 4-13MP with tiny 1/3″ sensors can compete readily with Sony’s overhyped 1/2.3″ 20MP camera? It’s no better than the rest. The thing doesn’t even have proper optical image stabilization. It definitely ain’t touching the 1/1.2″ sensor on the Pureview 808 or the 1/1.5″ on the Lumia 1020. And then you are straddled with a large and heavy phone with one of the worst screens around, terrible loudspeaker and microphones and ergonomics, and permanent screen protectors that make the phone look like ass all the time. What this says is that the camera on the Xperia Z1 is not a selling factor at all, and there’s a whole sea of other phones for you to choose with about the same camera quality. No need to be tied down to a compromised device.

  • Ray

    Thats why sony define xperia z1 as the best ‘OVERALL’ camera instead of the best camera on smartphone because they still not the best on some shooting mode :)

  • Andrie Putra

    now we have the real test and know who the best camera of all … even in the test use 8 mp LOL

  • sonylover

    wow Z1
    i thinks its in old frimware

  • Eman Philic

    no no no. dont buy SP. its a failure in display and camera. worst sony camera ever in SP. try ur best to get Z. Z display fails after the brightness above 50%.

  • dfq

    i think you’re judging the macro on the wrong portion. look at the full photo again and you’ll notice that the z1 was not focusing where the rest are focusing. it was focusing on the toy at the center, not the beak of that toy on the right.

  • Eman Philic

    clearly Macro is also Z1

  • dfq

    have your eyes checked or get a general checkup. you might be afflicted with “fanboyism”

  • Eman Philic

    nokia is a loser just like u now. 925 gave the pooorest quality performance here

  • Eman Philic

    man, its still 8MP test only. what if Z1 compete with full 20MP ? cant imagine huh :D

  • dfq

    no, it’ll be worse with the full 20mp. the photos become very noisy.

  • dfq

    why would you take photos of darkness?

  • Error

    and 1020 still the ultimate boss

  • K!NG M$

    LOL! What a ridiculous comment C’mon fanboy, you need to stop to deluding yourself!

    iPhone 5 is the real winner even LG G2 is still a much better than Xperia Zuck1

  • dfq

    look at the low light photos above. isn’t that proof enough? the person who did the shot said both were set on auto mode.

    of course 1020 will still win in the hands of a knowledgeable photographer. its specs are far superior. it’s just the auto where the z1 excels. most phone owners use the auto mode anyway.

  • dfq

    it will produce noisy photos with 20mp. 8mp is alright.

  • Brian

    These are all terribly taken pictures. Those macro shots could’ve been better. No depth of field examples :/

  • dfq

    say that to your nokia. it’s one of the phones tested.

  • dfq

    just get xv. it’s way better.

  • Colby Leong

    Sorry, might just be me, but when someone uses a play on words from a company like “Zuck”, “Samesung”, “iFail”, and whatever else you can come up with, I really don’t see how anyone can take you seriously. Seriously though the constant bashing and obvious trolling on a known Sony fansite, you really remind me of a particular little dipshit that likes to drop hammers on a phone.

  • Colby Leong

    I think the 1020 will outshine the Z1, just based on the amount of megapixels alone, but I still really want to see a side by side comparison. And not this silly excuse of a Z1 camera comparison PhoneArena did. (Apparently compared to S4, G2, i5, and HTC One.) Plus, for those who aren’t familiar with PhoneArena, they are some huge Apple fanboys.

    Just saying cause according to there ratings the HTC One isn’t as good as the i5.

  • dr Obama

    Damn! As usual a lot of marketing noise before introduction and finally nothing special at all. All Sony.

  • Makiz

    I’m a huge fanboy of Sony, some people are just idiots! Let’s face the reality for one time ok? And be honest with the others add ourselves! Sony was a pioneer and you all know it, WAS! Those Koreans have gone too far and too fast! I have no more to say sorry!

  • Husam

    check this link out, you can clearly see that the Xperia Z1 is the best camera phone (Y)

  • Adil
  • Quark Gluon

    Very nice AWB from Z1.

  • Quark Gluon

    Guess what, now you can always lower the exposure value even if you’re in auto mode. If you can’t, try to turn off the HDR first.

  • Jack Lim

    1020 is not sharp enough and white balance not that accurate

  • Colby Leong

    I really would prefer that the website reviewer, or whatever they’re called do it. Its a bit more reputable. In no way am I trying to put down the Z1 capabilities, I just don’t want to get sad if it ends up not reaching expectations. However if it meets or hopefully, exceeds then I’m all jolly pants.
    BTW GSMarena, one of my favorite tech sites.

  • Colby Leong

    It would be absolutely hilarious if the Sony camera does outshine the 1020 like nothing.
    BTW, anyone else but me a little thrilled that Microsoft bought Nokia? Now they compete against Sony on both the game console and smartphone fronts. Hopefully something awesome comes out from the two tech giants competing against each other.

  • Colby Leong

    “iPhone 5 has the best camera in a phone ever.” – said no one ever

  • Guest

    And if you have wifi issues you are SOL.

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  • shayan gozarabadi

    on my opinion z1 is the winner in all pictures..
    i think only in macro is on par with others

  • neednot

    No need – now I can just add a QX-100.

  • calu lu fat frumos

    No offense but LG and Samsung are above super Z1 with its super lens and super camera and thousands of MP and all. Check the noise and clarity. Only marketing. Z1 it’s just another ordinary Xperia.

  • Dexter Moregan

    Z1 win in most scenarios except Macro. ^_^

  • P Aleksandr

    Z1 was better in all scenarios! Just wrong fragment was scaled in macro mode :/

  • C0DmG

    Are you like… blind or drunk?
    I don’t know but you might need glasses mate.

  • DrymR

    Ok , sorry for my post,

  • josesl16

    Some sarcasm you got there, sir!

  • schattenkonig58

    Says king Micro$oft ,yet i’m the “fanboy” ?

  • Carljn

    You’re right, the reviewer should’ve made sure the focus was on the same object for all phones. The 100% crop is deceptive.
    So it’s a full win for Z1. Great news since I ordered one this morning :)
    I have to gratulate LG though, for doing quite a good job with “only” a 13mp 1/2.3″ Sony(?) sensor.

  • Carljn

    True, I was tired and missed that the focus was further away. :)

  • sad user

    I don’t like HTC products or anything else than Sony but I must admit that these pictures looked best on HTC One :/ why?? it had best colors, contrast and sharpness

  • Best new Android, ios and wph apps and games for September 2013 ..

  • S.H.U.R.O.

    Nice comparison, but why without Lumia 1020….? ) Maybe because it will beat Xperia`s Z1 xD.

    Ok. Here we go!!

    1) Natural light: The best is, .hmmm…, i dont know, i can say on 100%, perhaps Xperia Z1, but Lg G2 & SGS4 are good too!

    2) Macro mode: The best – Xperia Z1

    3) Flash: – Xperia Z1

    4) Low-light: – Xperia Z1, but colors better on Lg G2

    5)V. Low light: – Lumia 928 & Xperia Z1

    But I want to say: Sony, now you have the good camera, but it still, not the best! It has not made a splash like legendary Nokia 808 Pureview. Because photos taken from 808 Pureview , quality like on SLR cameras. Correctly say that Sony makes good cameras, but not in smartphones!

  • JZ

    Doesn’t Apple uses Sony’s camera inserted in their iPhones?

  • S.H.U.R.O.
  • mrtrantastic

    the flash portion makes me question what color those bricks could possibly be.

  • lucasarg

    But the price in here (for the xperia z) is so phucking high! in the same price-frage i can buy the xperia l or the zr but nothing more… but i’m also going to wait a little more to see if the price in the xperia z just drops :D thx! s2!

  • lucasarg

    xperia v can not get to buy even imported (in Argentina), simply can not be found :C

  • lucasarg

    LOOOOOOOOOOL! In his face!

  • Naime Shirou

    Z1 the Best.As you Can See Z1 Macro look ..not so good.but actualy.Z1 Macro Is Good Maaaa.From The Photo Above show That,Look At The focus cleary and You willl see (sorry for )bad english xD

  • Naime Shirou

    My Next PHONE~

  • Jason

    if the photos are real
    then Z1 is definitely winning here

  • Jason

    if the photos are real, Z1 won by miles

  • shubham

    xperia zr is a great device with a great camera you can go for that

  • torgrim

    First full review in of the Sony Z1 by

    They are not impressed by the camera… Too bad, I had hopes.

    But will wait for THE review (for us camera centrics) from They have said they will publish a full review in a few days.

  • lucasarg

    okay! thanks for your advice, now the Xperia ZR will be my next smart phone! many thanks!

  • After 2.245 update, SP’s camera has got a lot lot better. Display is like all other Xperia mobiles only. Contrast ratio of SP is even better than Xperia Z, refer GSM arena. Even Wifi issue has a solution (set minimum threshold to -100), but that needs root.
    Xperia SP is a solid performer in my opinion

  • ShopByChoice

    Nokia is most preferred brand by the Indian users due to more user friendly features from others windows phones. Nokia Lumia 925 is one of the best model of Nokia series .It is designed with latest features and specifications .

  • torgrim

    Sony Z1 is not in the same league as Lumia 1020. Sorry…

    Heres one of the first pro reviews/comparisons:

    Look at the image in full res and you will understand…

  • torgrim

    Sorry, no…

    First pro review/comparison test in:

    Look at the images in full res and you will understand that Sony Z1 is not in the same league as Lumia 1020. But its better (in some situations) than Samsung S4! :)

  • torgrim

    Heres something real (look at images in full res. and you will understand that Sony Z1 is not in the same league as Lumia 1020):

    But Sony Z1 gives very good Facebook/Instagram photos for sharing, so no reason to cry! :)

  • lucasarg

    okay thanks! but i don’t know what phone select! it’s so phucking dificult i love water resistance(Xperia ZR) and i just phucking love too dat ilumination led bar (Xperia SP), I just don’t know D:

  • Lucian

    They both aim at different markets. Sony aims at “average” consumer which will use their device as point and shoot camera. They made a very fast camera which captures really good photos in auto mode. Every comparison I’ve seen shows that Z1 is much better than every phone in auto mode. Their Superior auto is really quite superior. And everything they did points to fast capture and fast auto mode. Quick capture and 62 photos in 2 seconds all show that they aim at speed.

    Nokia on the other hand aims at “advanced” consumer that knows how to use camera. If you know what is what and you know how to get the best results you can get photos that are comparable to DSLR with 1020. Night shots can be amazing with up to 4sec shutter, but you must admit that night shots on auto mode with 1020 are quite dim and don’t have the right auto balance.

    Now the difference. Z1 has smaller sensor than 1020 but it’s the same size as most compact cameras. But still full resolution shot from Z1 from your link can’t compare to those compact cameras. This is all because they want to have fast camera and to get there they had to put quite a lot of compression to their shots. I am 100% sure that if you could get non-compressed photo from Z1 it would be comparable to 1020.

    Z1 snaps even 20.7MP photo almost immediately while 1020 needs 4-6 seconds to fully save photo and you can use camera to capture another. This is all due to compression. If we take a closer look to photos from your link we see that Z1 has 20.7MP photo that is only 6.52MB in size while 1020 produces humongous 22.3MB 34MP photo.

    Quote from your link: “Image grain is very noticeable and harsh.”
    The first thing to do before comparisons like they did is to have same settings. 1020 was shot with ISO400 and Z1 on ISO800 so logically there will be even more difference.

    Sony would do a very good job if they would make option to capture 20.7MP non-compressed photos. Then the comparison would be fair.

    Quote: “But Sony Z1 gives very good Facebook/Instagram photos for sharing, so no reason to cry! :)”

    F**k Facebook and Instagram, this is my opinion. Photos are meant to save memories and not showing them throughout the world.

    And every one who want’s to get a bit more serious in photography will buy professional DSLR camera with exchangeable lenses. There is no phone camera or compact camera or any other camera that would compare to shot produced with 50mm F1.4 lens on good body.

  • torgrim

    Agreed, and hopefully Sony will fix compression algorithm in future (soon to come?) updates to Z1.

    I have a Sony RX100 which I really can recommend (stunning photos in nearly every situation), but in most situations I only carry my phone with me. Thats why I would like the camera on my phone to be as good as it gets.

    Not sure about Windows on my phone (Lumia 1020), so the decision right now is between Sony Z1 and actually Samsung Note 3 (average camera, I know, but love the pen). Reviews will show, and if the camera on the Sony Z1 can deliver well above average (S4/IPhone 5) its my choice!

  • sfordesign

    then you need to compare with the real situation: is the actual scene that bright? it’s not like the brighter the better in low-light scenes. i prefer photos taken to be as realistic as possible, and one thing i don’t like about the 1020 is that the photos taken by it are mostly over-saturated..

  • Lucian

    Yes, but in my opinion they should leave auto mode as it is because it works really good and give option in manual mode to turn off compression completely. This would probably give around 12MB photos but they would be amazing.

    RX100 looks really great, manual focus ring is the best addition.

    The best thing about Sony for me is their quick capture and camera button and I know that I couldn’t do without those two. I think that Sony will improve camera quality in next updates like they already did in past versions of Z1 (there is comparison between them here on xperiablog).

  • Eman Philic

    yeh go for ZR. buy in online for low prices ;)

  • Eman Philic

    noisy thing will be fixed with updates. so no worries as it will be the head of cameras anyway ;)

  • Ufupuw

    Z1 is using 20 MP but the images are downsampled to 8 MP. Same thing what Nokia 1020 does, 41 MP downsampled to 5 MP by default. So yes Z1 is using 20 MP raw data from the sensor and then the final result is downsampled 8 MP.

    Downsampling improves the image quality

  • Ufupuw

    It’s not 8MP idiots!! ! It’s 20 MP data captured from sensor that is downsampled to 8 MP. Downsampling improves image quality (lowers noise for example).

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