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Best Smartphone Camera: iPhone 6s Plus vs. Xperia Z5 Compact vs. RX100 iii

Best Camera Smartphone iPhone 6S plus vs. Xperia Z5 Compact

Best smartphone camera: iPhone 6S Plus with OIS vs. Xperia Z5 Compact with BIONZ. Can they beat the Sony RX100 iii?

Last year on my blog, I explained the 15 reasons why the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is better than the iPhone 6S (depending on your usage and requirements): for me, it’s essentially the Z3 Compact’s small form factor and the impressive battery life.

But while I’m still a satisfied owner of the small Sony smartphone, I’m keen to upgrade in order to get access to better performances, a better camera and the convenience of a finger print scanner.

As you can imagine, I had high expectations for the Xperia Z5 compact which ticks all the boxes on paper.  I was particularly keen on the significant camera upgrade.

To keep my options open, I also reserved the brand new iPhone 6S to pick it up on launch day.  Following a mix up (long story) and the advice from the Apple employee who served me, I left the Apple store with the iPhone 6S Plus instead.  I know.  But the OIS and especially the extended battery life seemed rather compelling.

It’s quite a contrast, don’t you think?  I thought it’d be a good opportunity to try out a larger phone for a couple of weeks.  But boy, the iPhone 6S Plus is not big.  It is HUGE.  And it’s heavy.

Sony’s newly released Z5 line up just got itself some great praises online, with DxOMark ranking the Sony Xperia Z5’s camera as ‘the best on a smartphone yet‘.  So does it live up to the hype in a real life situation?  Let’s find out!
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A simple camera shoot out

I thought I’d share my experience and my thoughts on the camera experience with a key focus here on photography, not video.  This article took me hours to put together, so I sincerely hope you will find it helpful.

Best Camera Smartphone iPhone 6S plus vs. Xperia Z5 CompactEarlier this week, over lunch I went for a walk in London South Bank to shoot some photos with three devices: the Xperia Z5 Compact, the iPhone 6S Plus and the Sony RX100 mark iii.

I conducted a simple camera test whereby I shot three photos each time with all three cameras (in auto mode) and I selected the best photo to share on my blog.

I carried with me my Manfrotto Pixi mini-tripod and Phot-R’s cheap little smartphone mount, but I decided not to use that set up to better reflect a real life situation.

Please note that if I didn’t enhance any of those pictures, I had to resize them to optimise the loading times on my blog.  You can find all the original pictures on my Flickr photo album.

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t really pleased with the Xperia Z5 Compact camera’s overall performances.  I found it rather slow, poor in low light, desperately lacking OIS when zoomed-in, and consistently showing quite a lot of noise.

Best Smartphone Camera: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs. Apple iPhone 6s Plus

You will find below a selection of photos which I hope will help you compare the quality of the cameras on the brand new iPhone 6S Plus and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.  You can even compare them to the acclaimed Sony RX100 iii.

I appreciate some of you will argue that it’s unfair to compare those two smartphone cameras with the much acclaimed Sony RX100 iii camera (which costs about £550) which captures a whole lot more light with its big 1inch sensor and enjoys a combination of optical and digital zoom.  But I was keen to demonstrate that there is still a long way to go for smartphones to reach such a level of quality and definition.
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11. London South Bank St Paul’s Cathedral

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank St Pauls Cathedral
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank St Pauls Cathedral
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank St Pauls Cathedral
Sony RX100 iii Camera London Southbank St Pauls Cathedral
Sony RX100 iii Camera London Southbank St Pauls Cathedral

 

22. London St Paul’s Cathedral [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London St Pauls Cathedral Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London St Pauls Cathedral Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London St Pauls Cathedral Closeup
Sony RX100 iii Camera London St Pauls Cathedral Closeup
Sony RX100 iii Camera London St Pauls Cathedral Closeup

 

33. London South Bank National Theatre

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank National Theatre
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank National Theatre
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank National Theatre
Sony RX100 iii Camera London Southbank National Theatre
Sony RX100 iii Camera London Southbank National Theatre

 

44. London South Bank National Theatre [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank National Theatre Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank National Theatre Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank National Theatre Closeup
Sony Rx 100 iii Camera London Southbank National Theatre Closeup
Sony Rx 100 iii Camera London Southbank National Theatre Closeup

 

55. London South Bank Statues

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Statues
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Statues
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Statues
Sony Rx 100 iii Camera London Southbank Statues
Sony Rx 100 iii Camera London Southbank Statues

 

66. London South Bank Statues [Close up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Statues Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank Statues Closeup
iPhone 6S Plus Camera London Southbank Statues Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Statues Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Statues Closeup

 

77. London South Bank Bridge

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Bridge
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Bridge
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Bridge
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Bridge
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Bridge

 

 

88. London South Bank Bridge [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Bridge Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Bridge Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Bridge Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Bridge Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Bridge Closeup

 

99. London South Bank Book Shop

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Book Shop
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Book Store
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Book Store
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Book Store
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Book Store

 

1010. London South Bank Book Shop [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Book Shop Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Book Store Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Book Store Closeupq
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Book Store Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Book Store Closeup

 

1111. London South Bank Skateboard Park

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank SkateboardPark
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park

 

1212. London South Bank Skateboard Park [Close up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Skateboard Park Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Skateboard Park Closeup

 

1313. London South Bank Merry-Go-Around

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank merry-go-round
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round

 

1414. London South Bank Merry-Go-Around [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Southbank Merry-Go-Round Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London SouthBank Merry-Go-Round Closeup

 

 

1515. London South Bank London Eye

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Eye
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye

 

1616. London South Bank London Eye 2

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Eye 2
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye 2
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye 2
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye 2
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye 2

 

1717. London South Bank London Eye Sky

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Eye Sky
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye Sky
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye Sky
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye Sky
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye Sky

 

1818. London South Bank London Eye [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Eye Close up
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye Close up
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Eye Close up
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye Close up
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Eye Close up

 

1919. London Westminster

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Westminster
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Westminster
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Westminster
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Westminster
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Westminster

 

2020. London Westminster [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera London Westminster Close up
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Westminster Close up
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Westminster Close up
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Westminster Close up
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Westminster Close up

 

2121. London South Bank Centre

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera South bank Centre
iPhone 6S plus Camera London South Bank Centre
iPhone 6S plus Camera London South Bank Centre
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London South Bank Centre
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London South Bank Centre

 

2222. London South Bank Centre [Close Up]

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera South bank Centre Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Centre Closeup
iPhone 6S plus Camera London Southbank Centre Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Centre Closeup
Sony Rx100 iii Camera London Southbank Centre Closeup

 

2323. Guardians of the Galaxy Groot

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera Flash Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
iPhone 6S plus Camera Flash Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
iPhone 6S plus Camera Flash Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
Sony Rx100 iii Camera Flash Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
Sony Rx100 iii Camera Flash Groot Guardians of the Galaxy

 

2424. Guardians of the Galaxy Groot

Xperia Z5 Compact Camera Flash Hand Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
iPhone 6S plus Camera Flash Hand Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
iPhone 6S plus Camera Flash Hand Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
Sony Rx100 iii Camera Hand Groot Guardians of the Galaxy
Sony Rx100 iii Camera Hand Groot Guardians of the Galaxy

 

There are dozens of great tech bloggers reviewing smartphones every day, all over the world.

As far as I am concerned, I have a demanding day job and those articles take a tremendous amount of time.  I create product reviews I’d find useful myself when looking to buy a new piece of tech.  This is why I review them as a regular user/owner and don’t spill out a lot of technical specs on my videos.

So thank you in advance for your constructive comments, positive and negative.

What do you think of those photos taken with the iPhone 6s plus and the Xperia Z5 compact?  I had high expectations for the Z5 compact and its small size factor, but it let me down based on my initial tests.  Maybe a future software update could improve performances of its photo and video capability in real life situations?

If you enjoyed reading my article or if you wanted to react, I invite you to connect with me here, on twitter (@Visible_Banking) or on LinkedIn.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Christophe, how’s the quality of the Z5 using the 8 MP mode? I’m confused how DXOMark can give the Z5 such a high score, and yet not perform well.

  2. I dunno… looking at the pics, the colour and contrast are better on the Z5 than the iphone. Also, you are zooming in on the Z5 pics much further than the iphone, making it an unfair comparison. The Z5’s 24mm lens has a much larger FOV, so objects should be smaller compared to the narrow 30mm lens on the iphone. Did you try the low light mode on the Z5 to see if that’s better?

  3. Hi Christophe, there’s a thread on XDA forums that has figured out the issue with the Z5 camera. In short, use the default 8 MP mode (rather than the 20/23 MP). The Z5 uses super-sampling to combine pixels to create a high fidelity 8 MP pic. I think everyone assumed that 23 MP is automatically better than 8 MP, which seems not to be the case under most circumstances. So before you throw out the Z5c, give it another go. Cheers! 🙂

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