When I sat down with Apple to discuss the new, more powerful camera on the iPhone 4S, company officials told me they had a revelation. As they prepared to update the phone’s imaging system, they realized not only were more people using the iPhone 4′s camera than any other camera phone, but more were using it than any other camera in the world.
Now we have the iPhone 4S. The phone update enhanced the iPhone 4’s digital camera in almost every imaginable way. Yes, 8-megapixels is merely parity with a variety of existing smartphones (the HTC EVO 4G, for example, has an 8-megapixel camera, and so does the Droid Incredible and upcoming Droid Razr). Apple, though, insists the changes are more than just megapixels deep. It has five lenses sandwiched inside the phone’s optics system, improved auto-white balance and an updated maximum aperture — it was f2.8 and is now f2.4. The result of that last change is more light on the sensor and better image quality. Apple even added the ability to detect up to 10 faces in a shot.
I’ve been shooting pictures for decades and was even one of those camera nerds who built a darkroom and developed his own black and white film and prints. To this day, my camera of preference is a larger, lens-switching Sony NEX-5. Unfortunately, I can’t carry that camera in my pocket. So I, like millions of others around the world, shoot a lot of photos with my iPhone 4. The new camera on the iPhone 4S is good enough to help me feel a little less guilty about leaving the Sony at home.
This gallery shows how well the iPhone 4S camera compares to its predecessor on the iPhone 4. I did my best to shoot the same photo in the same position and conditions for each duplicate shot. The results show that both cameras are good, but the iPhone 4S clearly captures a lot more information, handles colors better and renders more detail overall. Please note that the images are not at their original size.
Let us know what you think of the pictures and how they compare to your camera phone and point-and-shoot camera and don’t miss my full review of the Apple iPhone 4S.