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Wild West Smartphone Shootout: Sony Xperia S Versus the Rest

With the Ericsson part of the brand now moving out of the picture, Sony has its sights set firmly on the smartphone market, and plans to kick things off with a bang when it releases its first smartphone sans-Ericsson, the Xperia S.

Sony has crammed some excellent technology into the slim body of the Xperia S – including a Dual-Core processor and NFC – but the standout feature for us is the rear camera: a 12-Megapixel beauty with autofocus and LED Flash, capable of capturing images at a high resolution of 4000×3000 pixels and videos in Full HD 1080p quality. The camera software has the ability to create 3D sweeping panoramic shots, allows touch-to-focus functionality and even face detection, so you never lose focus on your subject.

Although the sensor may have a higher megapixel count than most smartphones on the market today, the Xperia S still faces stiff competition. Our good friends at Phones 4u decided to pit Sony’s new toy against the best of the rest to see if it will really take the top smartphone snapper crown. The Smartphone Shootout puts the Sony Xperia S, Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S II and Nokia Lumia 800 to the test to see which has the best camera – Wild West Styley.

The competition is serious here, with Apple’s iPhone 4S hailed as the “best cameraphone yet” by Apple themselves, the Galaxy S II with its excellent 8-Megapixel snapper and Nokia’s Carl Zeiss Tessar lens tech in the Lumia 800. Let’s take a look at what each phone packs in the camera department.

Apple iPhone 4S

  • 8-Megapixel Sensor
  • Backside Illuminated
  • f/2.4 Aperture

Apple’s latest and greatest has some great tech to make it a top-notch snapper. The backside illuminated sensor means that more light can be gathered in to the sensor, making the camera much better in low-lighting conditions. The aperture rating is lower than on any iPhone before, which, coupled with the wider lens means more light hits the sensor, which results in a more accurate colour representation in your pictures.

Nokia Lumia 800

  • 8-Megapixel Sensor
  • Carl Zeiss Lens
  • Automated ISO and Saturation Controls
  • f/2.2 Aperture

The Lumia 800 packs Nokia’s signature Carl Zeiss lens technology, which helps to provide crystal clear imaging quality. It also has a lower aperture rating than any of the other phones on test, which means more light will hit the camera’s ‘Iris’, resulting in even better low-light performance and vivid pictures.

Samsung Galaxy S II

  • 8-Megapixel Sensor
  • Backside Illuminated
  • f/2.6 Aperture

Samsung’s flagship smartphone has been duelling with the best of the cameraphones for a while now, but with the handset due for a refresh, will it compete with the newer models? The 8-Megapixel sensor is backside illuminated like the iPhone 4S so it’ll perform well in low-light, though it has a higher aperture rating which results in less light hitting the sensor. The Galaxy S II doesn’t pack a dedicated camera button on the side for quick shooting, though it does feature tap-to-focus onscreen.

Sony Xperia S

  • 12-Megapixel Exmor R Sensor
  • f/2.4 Aperture
  • Face and Smile Detection
  • Fast Physical Camera Key

The new kid on the block packs the highest megapixel count of the bunch which means still images will have a super high resolution of 4000×3000 – plenty of detail there. The famed Sony Exmor R digital camera sensor is used, which will give the Backside Illuminated sensors in the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4S a run for their money. The dedicated camera key allows for fast access to the camera app from your pocket, while Face and Smile Detection features ensure you don’t lose focus on your subject.

Now that we know what each subject packs, we obviously need to know which does the job best. Cast your peepers over the rather excellent video from the guys at Phones 4u below to see Long Tall Liz, Old Man French, Vengeful Abbi Cox and Diamond Dean Quinn battle it out in two challenges to see which phone comes out tops.

First up is the Quick Draw challenge. If you saw something awesome and had to take a snap as soon as you possibly could, you want your pocket-friendly camera – your smartphone – to do the job quickly and easily, while providing the best image quality possible. The Lumia 800 has a dedicated camera key which will load the camera app even when the phone is locked, the iPhone 4S has a camera button on the lockscreen for quick access and the Xperia S also has a dedicated camera button which claims to take you from the lockscreen to the camera app in just 1.8 seconds. The Galaxy S II is the only phone without a dedicated camera button, though it still managed to draw faster than the iPhone 4S. Here are the standings for the Quick Draw challenge:

4th Place:  iPhone 4S – 5.9 seconds

3rd Place: Galaxy S II – 5.2 seconds

2nd Place: Lumia 800 – 3 seconds

1st Place: Xperia S – 1.8 seconds

The second Smartphone Shootout challenge puts the two fastest shooters against each other to determine which captures the best quality image while still being uber-fast on the draw. So it’s down to Vengeful Abbi Cox and her Lumia 800 to take on the new Xperia S, nestled tightly in the holster of Diamond Dean Quinn.

Image taken on Xperia S:

Image taken on Lumia 800:

Sony’s offering snaps fastest, and with a steady shooting hand it also snaps the better of the two images. Both phones produce clear and crisp images, especially given how quickly they’re being fumbled to take the snaps, but the Xperia edges it with better depth and more vibrant colours.

So it looks as though the new kid on the block will be taking the title as best cameraphone when it launches in the UK early March time. Will it be the one for you?

Let us know your thoughts on our comments below or via our @Gadget_Helpline Twitter page or Official Facebook group.