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This article was published on September 27, 2013

Smartphone camera shootout: Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s, G2 and Moto X

Smartphone camera shootout: Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s, G2 and Moto X
Josh Ong
Story by

Josh Ong

Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].

The latest round of smartphones come packed with impressive new camera features, so we put them up against each other in a shootout. The handsets we tested are: Nokia’s Lumia 1020, Apple’s iPhone 5s, LG’s G2 and Motorola’s Moto X.

Before we dive into the photos themselves, let’s take a look at the specs on each of these phones:


Nokia has packed a massive sensor into the Lumia 1020, giving the device a significant bulge in the back. Apple and Motorola, on the other hand, have opted to expand the size of their phones’ pixels without pushing the sensor resolution into higher megapixels. LG took the standard route of bumping up megapixels. I didn’t have the Galaxy S4 or HTC One on hand, but you can head here to see how their cameras performed.



We used a Joby GorillaPod and GripTight Mount smartphone attachment to take most of the photos. All of the images were resized before uploading. Everything was shot on auto, and we stuck with simple scenes around the house since we were more interested in seeing how the cameras compared against each other than we were in composing beautiful shots.

Galleries are ordered as: Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s, G2 then Moto X


   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

At the pool

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Flower power

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

In the cloud

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Indoor (medium light)

These photos were taken during the daytime in a room with the shades drawn and no lights on.

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Flower (low light)

Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Flower (low light, flash)

I took these in my front yard around midnight with just street lamps to go off of.

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

[Ed. Note: Not sure what happened with the Moto X photo, but I double-checked the metadata and it says the flash did fire.]


Also taken around midnight with side lighting from a kitchen window.

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Garden (flash)

   Lumia    |    iPhone    |       G2       |   Moto X   |

Video stabilization


As you’d expect, the Lumia 1020 is a clear leader in most of the tests. As we pointed out in our review of the device, it’s definitely the best camera phone out there, though not the best smartphone. With the additional Pro camera features, the Lumia 1020 is good enough to compete with standalone cameras. If you’re not already on Windows Phone, then I’d recommend you treat a Lumia 1020 purchase as if you’re buying a point-and-shoot camera that also happens to work as a phone.

Apple has added a bunch of improvements to the iPhone 5s camera, and it shows. The handset did, however, still have trouble in low light. The general sense I get with the changes to the 5s are that Apple is aiming more at making the experience simpler and better for everyday users. Considering that it doesn’t add compromises to weight and form factor, it’s a remarkable shooter.

The G2 held its own for the most part, but the images felt too sharp and flat. Having 13MP is nice, but it does seem that LG would be better off doing more to improve the sensor instead of just upping the megapixels.

The Moto X was disappointing. The camera is capable under normal conditions, but it had serious issues under lowlight. The Moto X takes better pictures than a lot of previous-generation handsets, but it feels more like a mid-range device instead of a premium flagship.

At the end of the day, each of these smartphones packs a better camera than point-and-shoots from even just a few years ago. Photo fanatics should definitely give the Lumia 1020 a try, but average consumers probably won’t need all those extra megapixels and settings and will get along fine with the latest iPhone or Android.

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