With the iPhone X arriving on Nov. 3, there’s no better time to see just how far the iPhone’s camera (both front and back) has come from the original within the last decade. It’s truly incredible how much has improved.
While our comparison tests are in no way comprehensive — we did our best to shoot fast and let the camera take care of all the settings — it provides a good, realistic look at what progress from the iPhone’s cameras looks like on every single model.
We shot four common scenes everyone is bound to take: outdoors, indoors, selfies, and, and low-light.
To see how intelligent the cameras were, we let the camera autofocus (or not autofocus) on the subject for each shot. No editing was done to any of the photos, except cropping to fit our graphics.
Aside from image noise and sharpness, the most noticeable differences across the iPhone’s cameras throughout the years is how they handle color.
For this test, we headed out to the streets at around 5:30 p.m., just 25 minutes or so before sunset. The light didn’t fluctuate as it would during the afternoon. You can really see how blue the color temperature was on the first iPhone and how much more life-like it is on the X.
We shot this indoor test in one of our project studios with minimal fluorescent lighting switched in one corner. The lighting was controlled and consistent and you can see how the iPhones tackles dynamic range in the blocks.
Apple didn’t add a front-facing camera to the iPhone until the 4. These selfies were taken indoors in an evenly-lit office room by Mashable Senior Vice President of Marketing Natasha Mulla. Which one handles skin tones the best?
And, of course, one of the most important tests nowadays for the iPhone’s camera is low-light. Can it nail that night or bar shot? These pics of the Empire State Building were taken at around 6:30 p.m. The sky was starting to darken and it was the conditions were perfect for seeing how the cameras would compensate for dark conditions.
Improvements across the board
Photography will always be subjective, but one thing you can always count on with a new iPhone is improved image quality.
From its humble single rear 2-megapixel camera, the iPhone X now packs possibly the most advanced cameras ever included in a smartphone.
It has dual cameras (one wide-angle and one 2x optical zoom) — both with optical image stabilization. Low-light performance is better than it’s ever been.
Portrait lighting has the potential to take photos to the next level without the need for a real studio setup. Portrait mode continues to amaze with its “professional-like” bokeh. And the selfie camera is even more kickass; you can take Portrait mode photos with the FaceTime camera on the iPhone X.
Can you imagine how great the iPhone’s cameras will be in another 10 years?