The Galaxy S6 is one of the best camera phones ever
We have a lot to say about the new Samsung Galaxy S6. For one, I can’t get over the fact that it kind of looks like an iPhone—my Macworld colleagues certainly agree—and two, it’s obvious Samsung put a lot more effort into this phone than the past few generations of its flagship Galaxy family.
We talked about the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge quite a bit in our initial hands-on with the devices at Mobile World Congress. One of its standout new features is its new camera hardware. Rather than simply increase the megapixels and tout a higher number, Samsung worked meticulously on this year’s camera to ensure it outperformed its predecessors.
Thus far, we’ve only had about a day with the phone, so instead of rushing a half-assed review, we took the Galaxy S6 out for a spin on the streets of San Francisco to focus on testing out its new camera capabilities. Whatever Samsung did to its camera software really worked, because this is seriously one of the best camera phones I’ve ever used.
I took the Galaxy S6 to the photo lab to begin testing its photo-taking capabilities. I was astonished at how much Samsung actually improved its camera. It’s not just clever advertising.
The Galaxy S5’s “ghosting” effect seems to have been effectively reduced in the Galaxy S6. This is not only a boon for those who do serious photo editing with their smartphone, but it’s also a testament to the fact that Samsung did right by its users in equipping the Galaxy S6 with a camera that takes in more light, rather than simply upping the megapixels.
Low light performance has increased exponentially between the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6. The end result is no longer grainy and almost indecipherable, though I’ve honestly yet to take the Galaxy S6 into a bar setting to really test its low-light chops. Check back in the review next week for that particular low-light, real life test.
For a while there, I could barely believe the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, or Galaxy S5 had Macro abilities because of how frustrating they were to use. Taking Macro shots on the Galaxy S6 is much more stress-free. I still have to hold the lens at a bit of a distance to allow the camera to focus, but it’s more akin to using a 50mm lens on an DSLR.
Indoors, the Galaxy S6 camera was inconsistent, though that’s to be expected considering the lighting in our building is a bit inconsistent, too. There are some rooms that are brightly lit by windows, while others have fluorescent lights, and still others utilize spot lights. That said, the Galaxy S6 was better at adjusting to the different lighting situations through the building than other smartphones, and it was consistently quick when choosing the mode in which to shoot. The live HDR preview certainly helped in some cases, too.
Outdoors, the Galaxy S6 produced a myriad of stunning shots. In fact, it inspired so much confidence in me, that I posted photos directly to Instagram with the hashtag #nofilter. I hardly ever do that because I’m usually too embarrassed by the quality of the photos I take with whatever Android hardware I have in hand. (This exact reason is also why I switched to the iPhone for six short months in 2012. Seriously.)
In our initial look at the Galaxy S6, Samsung said that it did a lot of tweaking to the camera sensor’s focus abilities. It definitely shows: I tapped the screen to focus in on the stop sign you see above, and afterwards the app instantly brightened just that area of the stop sign. It was previously too dark to see it in the shade