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iPhone 6s camera ranked by DxOMark – no better (or worse) than iPhone 6


DxOMark recently published its review of the iPhone 6s, and it confirms what we already sort-of new: it’s not a huge step up from the last generation iPhones. In fact, the camera performs ever-so-slightly worse than last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which both entered the DxOMark rankings in 1st place when they were reviewed last year.

It’s a slightly different story this year. With Apple packing in more pixels in to the sensor, the company’s aim was to offer higher resolution pictures without ruining performance. For the most part, Apple achieved its goal. DxOMark notes that exposure, white balance and detail are all good in bright light. What’s more, autofocus and stabilization are both great on video in daylight. It’s in low light conditions that the iPhone 6s doesn’t perform as well. There’s noticeable noise, yellowing and ghosting in low light and indoor conditions.

DxOMark noted:

From our tests, images are generally well-exposed and for the most part colors are vivid and pleasing outdoors. However, there are occasional differences in exposure noticeable between consecutive captures in very bright outdoor scenes, typically due to the inconsistent activation of the HDR mode. There is also a slight but consistent underexposure in extremely low light levels (5 lux); the result however is still quite usable and an improvement over the iPhone 6.  White balance is reliable though inevitably some inaccuracies were noticeable at times, with a slight yellow cast visible in some outdoor scenes. Although this cast was present in captures from the iPhone 6 the cast was slightly stronger and more noticeable on the 6s.

As for video, it could do with some OIS action if it’s going to improve its stabilization in low light, which is currently supplied using some clever software tricks, rather than through mechanical means:

Results for digital stabilization were similar to the iPhone 6 (and the Samsung), with it working well in good lighting but rather less efficient at reducing shake in low light where, arguably, it is needed more.


The iPhone 6s ended up with a score of 82, the same score as given to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year. That places the iPhone 6s in 10th place on the current list of smartphones, behind the likes of the newly announced Nexus 6P, Moto X Style and Xperia Z5. I’m sure many Android fans will gloat over that very fact. According to DxOMark, the iPhone is no longer the market leader when it comes to camera performance. By all accounts though, it’s still a very good camera overall.

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  1. André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

    Am dissapointed with Apple. They used to use the best of what they had. Now it seems to just be about profit margins. 16GB for the base model, which is ridiculously low and the next increment is 64GB. Had they offered a 32GB I suppose that would have eaten away at their 64GB sales. So its about profit, not making something the best they possibly can (within certain limits). Still 12MP is quite low these days for phone-camera. Why not just up it and offer us 20MP? Just got my 6S yesterday, never has my enthusiasm been so low to use a new iPhone.

    • tinman8443 - 7 years ago

      If you don’t like the phone, return it. No one is forcing you to buy their products.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        @ tinman8443, I like the phone, no doubt about that, but going from a 6+ to 6S+ is a little “blagh”. Of course they’re not forcing me to buy their products, please, don’t be such a sheep that you cannot see where intentions lie.

      • David Kaplan - 7 years ago

        you don’t get it, the people on this page consider Apple to be an extension of themselves. It’s bigger than this phone, it’s an emotional thing where we want Apple to win in all areas. Your suggestion to return it is missing the point…

      • Charlypollo - 7 years ago

        The same stupid argument every day when anybody complains about apple products. I decided to spend my hard earned cash on a product that is marketed as the best thing ever, and after using it I see that it isn’t, so i have the absolute right to complain about it. How the hell can I criticize it if I don’t buy it?

    • vandiced - 7 years ago

      It has ALWAYS been about profit margins, foo. Apple is not selling iPhones because it’s running non profit charity. Jesus, open your eyes.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        @vandiced, gee really? I’d never have known that. Thanks for pointing that out. No, its never always been about profit margins, it used to be about building the best products with the best components and profit margin e.t.c. took a back seat. I don’t think you know Apple well enough.

    • tomsupraboy - 7 years ago

      I think you may have to see it the other way around. The fact that a 6S has same results with a 6 shows that MP don’t make it all. So why wanting even more MP then? There are other areas to cover than this, to make the camera better I guess.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        @tomsupraboy, you’re right, MP isn’t everything, but its still an influence. They should have opted for a better sensor as well as the ramped MP. If MP has nothing to say on its own, why did Apple then go from 8 -12? So you see, it does say something, but not all about quality. They should have made the phone a little fatter too. Only Apple is obsessed with thinness, no user really is.

      • tomsupraboy - 7 years ago

        @André Hedegaard Of course I agree with you about MP having an influence as well, sure. But I guess the MP increase should have come along with something else to make a better improvement of the camera. As you said, maybe a better sensor would have made a difference. About the reason going from 8 to 12MP (I don’t remember who exactly at 9to5mac assumed it) I’m afraid Apple did it because of “pressure” from popular demand, to avoid a “Damn 8MP again!? In 2015, what???” I don’t know, it made kind of sense when I read this here. But yeah, that’s just an assumption.

      • bhayes444 - 7 years ago

        What I don’t get is why they just didn’t use the camera sensor that is in the new Nexus phones. It is a 12MP sensor with with the same size image sensor pixels as the iPhone 6 and 6+ from last year. Those phones don’t use OIS, and get better scores from DXOmark than the new iPhones. Maybe the 6s line couldn’t accommodate the new sensor, but it would’ve helped to increase performance from last year’s models.

    • You’re missing the point. It’s not about MP. About those 16GB. Apple know better than any of us how many users doesn’t need 32GB or 64GB. When there’ll see higher demand for 32GB they will make it. It’s that easy.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        @Miroslav, price also dictates demand. Tell me, how strong is the demand for the gold watch compared to sport model? Thats not the way to base it on. If you notice the price difference between 16GB and 64GB and 128GB, you’d see the price difference is roughly the same despite the vast increase from 64GB – 128GB. So how does the price difference then justify from 16GB to 64GB? Profit. Thats all, not a “demand” as you put it.

      • loungebob - 7 years ago

        Good heavens you can’t possibly be that stupid and sheepish.

    • ロハン増進 - 7 years ago

      I am getting your point and completely agree….Apple fallen into category of “making good phones” from “awsome iPhones”…..Earlier I used to die to buy a new iphone, I used to eagerly promote the new iphone launch, stand in line, post my excitement in social media. And now…”ahhh new phone, will buy it when I get time, lets wait for any ‘gate’ to be resolved”…..Apple fallen into category of “no taste”. They are not making iphones now, they are making good phones. I am not bashing at all, but being so attached and loyal hardcore Apple fan, I am just disappointed how Apple has changed after Steve Jobs. Flat, colorless, tasteless, soulless, all white, cartoonish ios is the biggest proof of it. We are seeing colors in ios what jony likes it(just like his plain gray tshirt in all videos), not what we used to like and fall in love with those beautiful live objects on screen

      • Craig Schober - 7 years ago

        Sounds like you used to get excited about a new phone release but now you have grown up. What smartphone are you getting in line for now? Apple hasn’t changed, you have.

      • ロハン増進 - 7 years ago

        Craig Schober : I can understand you. I was also like that…”cant hear anything against Apple”

      • ロハン増進 - 7 years ago

        And yes…I am not going to leave iphone. Using since 3gs. Owned all of em. Using 6s right now. So I am not here to bash, Just sharing my user experience of all years. Still loving it, but certainly its not like before!

      • ロハン増進 - 7 years ago

        @André Hedegaard : Yes, Tim cook and new management are not interested in making awesome products. They are interested in making big money, big stock market, grab liquid cash, bigger share price, bigger buyback, bigger sales number(though its a loss in practical sheet). No one from the company stopped making/approving ugly flat ios, ugly plain iphone 6 box, not giving sim ejector in new box. Coz they knew people is going to buy iphone anyhow for bigger screen and their loyalty. So lets take advantage and misuse their loyalty. Sorry for being rude, buts that’s the truth!

    • Marcos D (@madg1976) - 7 years ago

      Companies must make marketing decisions when pricing and some of those decisions are meant to get you to buy a higher priced item. At the end of the day plenty of people want a basic phone. The do not store a lot of stuff and nowadays with Apple Music, Spotify and iCloud Photos, the biggest capacity hogs, Apple is saying here you want to go all cloud? Get the 16GB you don’t need more than that. With app splicing and cloud services this is a real possibility. If a perfect world Apple would be a private company that ONLY decides the way you wish it would (which I think is the way it would want to) but as long as they are publicly traded they have to deal with bullshit analysts and their margin expectations. 3D Touch costs more money to build but the base price is the same so maybe this is a side effect of market expectations. And on 20MP? What for? My god there are professional full frame cameras that do 16MP! Going to 20MP would simple worsen low light performance… it is physics not much you can do about that.

      • modeyabsolom - 7 years ago

        “My god there are professional full frame cameras that do 16MP! Going to 20MP would simple worsen low light performance… it is physics not much you can do about that”

        I’m sorry but nearly all the smartphone cameras that beat the 6S on image quality have higher resolution sensors. The number one current smartphone camera – the Sony Z5 has a 21MP one! So I don’t think its the sensors MP count thats a problem here. Its the overall design and image processing of the 6S camera that’s not up to scratch compared to the competition. Again that never used to be the case, up until this latest release the camera of every new iPhone model used to go to the top of its class in image quality, that didn’t happen this time. And that indicates to me and others, who have loved Apple’s cutting edge designs in the past, that they seem to be losing it or just don’t care anymore. A similar story with the latest 1TB Fusion Drive on the latest iMacs going from an effective 128GB of Flash to a pretty much useless 24GB. These are steps backwards, with Apple seemingly wanting more profits instead. I feel they’re falling into that complacency of a large company that has become a victim of its own success. There’s not enough drive anymore, they’ve all become too fat and rich. I’m not happy about this, it makes me very sad!

    • Prasad Velkuri - 7 years ago

      you are talking like a typical android phone user…always bringing specs into discussion…. iPhone (all apple products) was never about specs and it is never going to be….didn’t you read cultofandroid video where iPhone with dual core beats Note4 that has 8 cores?
      Just look how much effort they have put in 3D Touch. Show me any other company which is doing this original work? Samsung who is next best simply following Apple from day 1 and it still can’t figure out how to write a decent software…

      Same thing for camera, touchid, appstore etc… Apple is giving you the best in the market…

      • “you are talking like a typical android phone user…always bringing specs into discussion…. ” then in your next breath “didn’t you read cultofandroid video where iPhone with dual core beats Note4 that has 8 cores?”.

        Awww man you kill me.

    • Hi,

      The MP are not relevant.
      They went from 8 to 12 to be able to shoot 4K video.Period.
      It would be great if they put 20MP, yeah, but only if they doubled the size of the sensor, which is not going to happen.
      What you need is a bigger – or more performant, but bigger is quite necessary – sensor.
      This will help in low light situations, and in any situation.

      Look at the iPhone World gallery printed on billboards. Yes they were optimized, but still shot with an 8MP sensor.
      Do you need to print billboards bigger than this ?
      I have a Canon 5D, it’s a little outdated but has professional quality. And it’s 8MP.

      To have better pictures – without considering lighting and talent – you need (in order) :
      1. A better sensor
      2. Better lenses (quite tricky for a phone)
      3. Better technology : the way the sensor is made, the way the pixels are arranged, and also, the number of them.

  2. rahhbriley - 7 years ago

    Knew not new.

  3. vandiced - 7 years ago

    “Results for digital stabilization were similar to the iPhone 6 (and the Samsung), with it working well in good lighting but rather less efficient at reducing shake in low light where, arguably, it is needed more

    What the hell is “the Samsung”?

  4. Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

    Technically, it’s not 10th place. It’s tied for 7th. They cheat on the graph by showing four phones with a score of 82, but making the bars shorter as they go to the right. They do the same thing with the three phones with a score of 83 and 79. If the score is the same, the height of the bars should be the same, and if there are only six phones with a higher score, that puts it at a tie for 7th, not 10th.

    • rogifan - 7 years ago

      That’s a really crappy graph. It’s like they rounded the numbers for the graph but the underlying data isn’t hence why you have different bar heights for the same number. Even still it seems like Apple needs to up its game in this space. I get the feeling Schiller is living in a fantasy land where iPhone camera blows away the competition and that’s not the case any more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great camera but others have great cameras now too.

    • Arvin (@Ableriot) - 7 years ago

      Actually, it’s tied for 5th:
      1 – Sony Xperia Z5 (87)
      2 – Galaxy 6 Edge (86)
      3 – Nexus 6P (84)
      4 – LGG4 (83)
      Note 4 (83)
      Moto X Style (83)
      5 – Xperia Z3 (82)
      iPhone 6 (82)
      iPhone 6 Plus (82)
      iPhone 6S (82)

      • Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

        There are 3 phones tied for 4th. That means there is no 5th or 6th place, and then there are 4 phones tied for 7th.

  5. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in picture quality on my 6S over the 6. So, essentially, DxOMark can derelict my balls.

  6. Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

    Well, we don’t know were they paid to do such “report”. It’s really irrelevant to compare the top tier phones, despite the brand. All of them are crappy in low light, etc. Outside they are more or less the same. So all of these “reports” are basically paid to direct customers from something to something other (iOS to Android/Apple to Samsung, etc). Still, I think the 6S’ camera is probably top 3 right now. Besides, you don’t buy your phone as… umm, camera, right? It’s ONE OF MANY things that your phone can do. So having 6S is pretty enough for selfies and occasional photography, as we already know. But intelligent people won’t care about such reports,… aren’t we? :)

    • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

      I’m interested in your evidence, links, resources about your postulations about their reporting about directing customers from one brand to another?

      • mahmudf2014 - 7 years ago

        Andre, the reply wasn’t for you. Also this WordPress kills me and 9to5Mac just doesn’t do anything about it.

      • Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

        To be honest, I don’t think you deserve an honest answer. If you can’t comprehend the reality, then you just don’t fit around. Sorry. Go some other place to troll and spam. Bye.

    • mahmudf2014 - 7 years ago

      You don’t have any idea of what you are talking about. If the iPhone 6s had been number one, you would accept it, wouldn’t you? DxOMark is higly respected in this area . They kmow what they are doing unlike you. You said something about them and now you have to prove it. There are “facts” and “lies”

      • Charlypollo - 7 years ago

        Well that is no mistery here. If any analysis shows apple as the best thing ever, they are the best analists. If it shows Apple in a bad view, then they suck and they get paid by “Samesung” and probably ISIS, and they should executed immediately. The same story every time on this site.

      • Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

        mahmudf2014, I know what are you talking about – no, I am not such a fanboy to praise all Apple products as the best. I just wanted to point that some reports show that X is the best, while some other reports – that Y is the best. So, what I was saying is that we can’t be sure how accurate is their analysis. However, I appreciate their effort, plus I am sure that they are right – that a (any) smartphone is not the best in low light, there’s noise and so on. :) So yeah, probably 6S’ camera is not the best, yet we can’t be sure what’s behind the report. :)

      • Phil Quinn (@phil_quinn) - 7 years ago

        I can’t take DxOMark seriously when their own camera is ranked #26 overall. That thing is a joke.

  7. islandgirl45 - 7 years ago

    Did they test the 6S Plus? I don’t see it on the graph.

  8. Teespring (@Teespring7) - 7 years ago

    Its true the iPhone 6s camera is not much better than the iPhone 6 camera, however, from my experience I feel the iPhone 6s has some extra features to enhance photos:

  9. Toro Volt (@torovolt) - 7 years ago

    The rankings sound reasonable when you compare the specifications on paper alone. Those top camera-phones have bigger sensors, bigger pixels and larger lens apertures than the iPhone 6S. Some of these can even save Raw files.
    This is a big disappointment given that Apple for a long time has positioned itself as the Platform for Creative/Artistic people and premium components.
    I don’t blame others to be disappointed too. Premium expectations are proportionate to premium prices.
    I honestly was expecting for Apple this time to be at least in 2nd or 3rd place and to provide Raw capabilities.
    Missing the Steve Jobs Apple.

  10. Craig Schober - 7 years ago

    This is one data point by one review team. Why even care if they rank iPhone #1 or #100? If any Android fan held this up as some sort of proof that iPhone wasn’t on top everyone would laugh in their face. Come back when everyone else agrees with these tests.

    • mahmudf2014 - 7 years ago

      Having a bad day? Can’t accept the truth? This is, what it is… More megapixels doesn’t mean better camere and even Apple’s itself had said this. The 6s camera has more pixels packed in to same area as iPhone 6. F stop is also the same. While other smarphones have bigger sensors, bigger pixels and larger aperture. So it doesn’t take a rocket science to understand that. I have an iPhone 6s Plus and i don’t like the camera quality, it’s not better than my old iPhone 6 Plus and sometimes it takes worse pictures than the old one. No need to be fanboy

  11. tonywmd23 - 7 years ago

    More pixels in a sensor with the same area will end up with smaller single pixels, and that translates into more noise. Apple knows that, and so should anyone who really cares about camera performance on their smartphones. Even with software makeup and a new ISP it’s still 100% reasonable the 6s to perform on par or even worse than 6 under low light conditions. Now everyone seems to be flabbergasted by these results. Geez, people.

    My 6s plus is leaps and bounds better in taking low light photos than my 6 thanks to the OIS. With OIS, the megapixel advantage can continue to shine under low light conditions, so DxOmark should include 6s plus in their tests and see where IT ranks compared to 6 plus. Their test is so flawed to comfortably border on unscientific as a whole.

  12. iluvappleblog - 7 years ago

    This is what happens when the bean counters starts to dictate to what needs to go into a product. Tim Cook, himself a bean counter, needs to let engineers do what they do best. Ask Ford what happened to them when they let bean counters to dictate to engineering decisions. You might win in a short term, like Apple is, but harm your long term reputation. This camera fiasco will dent Apple’s image now.

  13. From the bottom of the review(1): “DxO – THE COMPANY BEHIND DxOMark”(2) – DxO sells the “DxO ONE. The professional-quality connected camera that pairs perfectly with your iPhone, so you can take amazing photos anywhere.”

    This review is from a company whose MAIN PRODUCT is a iPhone Camera accessory to replace the embedded iPhone camera. Wow, no mention in the review or this article. #FUD #CONFLICTofINTEREST #ETHICSinJOURNALISM ?


    2 –

    I had to make an account to comment on this, just because I feel this is vital information which was excluded and erodes at the review’s scoring credibility given this.

    I’m not saying the results are less accurate, but I think that it is certainly something looking at this review others might not take time to figure out.

  14. WaltFrench - 7 years ago

    DxO scores (QUITE) roughly correlate with the size of the camera sensor in the phone. A bigger sensor (all else equal, especially the f-stop) captures more light, so has less noise. This is basic physics.

    So, why don’t all phones use the bigger 1/2.3 sensor of the top score here, versus especially the 1/3 size of the iPhone 6S+?

    Again, simple physics (actually, simpler): a bigger sensor needs a deeper body to keep the lens proportionately the same distance away, to get the same view. Up the sensor size by 20% and your phone needs to be 20% deeper, or else take in an increasingly wide-angle view, one that may include a lot of stuff on the sides you didn’t really want. For your party pictures, just move a bit closer; for your landscapes, just crop off the stuff you don’t want. Note, however, that now you have a different view: the closer shot emphasizes the parts of the body that are now proportionately much closer (the big nose effect, why pro portraits are usually taken several feet away, with a near-telephoto lens). Cropping throws away megapixels that DxO used to measure as signal, making random noise a more noticeable proportion of the photo.

    My SLR has a “prime” lens of about 45mm equivalent for general shooting. Apple’s iPhone5 was the next longest effective length here, with 33mm; Apple’s 6-series have trimmed that to 29, still at the upper end. With that SLR lens, I get the same photo at 45 feet that the iPhone6’s have to move in to 29 feet to get: 1/3 closer. My lens lets me get about TWICE as far away as the Nexus 6P’s 24mm equivalent. (Google doesn’t actually publish that ultra-wide spec; I calculated it from the sensor size and the non-35mm-equivalent 4.67mm I found for a photo.)

    Focal length is not a measure of quality, unless it’s different from what you want. But generally, picture-snappers will get more satisfying results from a longer focal length than most of the ones here. For most pictures. The real standout here is the Galaxy Note IV, which manages to be only 8.5mm deep despite its 31mm effective focal length and mid-sized 1/2.6 sensor. On the other end, the Moto X Style has a pack-leading 11mm depth despite a fairly wide 27mm focal length paired with a moderately large 1/2.4 sensor.

  15. DanG (@Ingila_Bear) - 7 years ago

    I wonder if Apple can make improvements via future firmware update, can they?

  16. Stephen Ellerington - 7 years ago

    My iPhone 6 is my only camera. I wasn’t planning on upgrading to a 6s and I certainly am not interested in doing so now. I expect iPhone cameras to improve over time and I am not impressed with Live Photos. I hope Apple significantly improve the camera in the next iPhone and make me want to upgrade. I don’t need thinner and I don’t need Live Photos, just a better camera.

  17. bpmajesty - 7 years ago

    Yeah, DxOMark can go walk off a bridge. I don’t need someone to tell me something I can plainly see with my own eyes. My phone 6S camera is way better than my iPhone 6 was. I know this. My eyes know this. Thats all that matters to me.

  18. mannyleaders - 7 years ago

    This makes complete sense. I have a Lumia 1520 that kills my iPhone 6 when it comes to photos. Whenever I know I’ll be taking a good amount of pics I make sure I charge up the Lumia. The iPhone is good for selphies and low light situations. That’s about it.

  19. Randy Magruder - 7 years ago

    We Nexus fans probably wouldn’t gloat so much if Apple and its owners didn’t spend the last several years rubbing our nose in it over the superiority of Apple’s camera. Live by the sword…

  20. charismatron - 7 years ago

    Can’t wait till the iPhone 7 hardware starts leaking and everyone starts losing their minds over that. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. :P