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Can iPhone 4S Camera Match the Performance of a Digital Camera?

At its release, the iPhone 4S was advertised as featuring one of the best cameras incorporated on a smartphone. But, does Apple's latest iPhone pack a camera good enough to replace your digital camera?

The answer obviously depends on your expectations. A professional photographer would probably never concede that a smartphone can take good enough pictures, while someone on holiday would be happy not having to carry a point and shoot camera.

iPhone 4S' 8 MP camera with improved lenses and its software enhancements was recently put to the test by ARS Technica (opens in new tab) against the 5MP iPhone 4, 8MP Samsung Galaxy SII, an 8MP Canon 20D, and a 10MP Olympus XZ-1.

When capturing outdoor images, iPhone 4S camera appeared to match the performance of high end point-and-shoot Olympus XZ-1 and Canon 20D with impressive natural looking display of colours. At a closer look, 100% crops revealed that both iPhones' images had more noise than the other cameras including the Galaxy S2, though the latter tends to blur the fine details due to its heavy noise filtering.

Shooting indoors proved to be more challenging for iPhone 4S but still was able to compete well against the Canon, though the XZ-1 had superior image quality.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S2 was found to offer no improvement on the iPhone 4, whereas the 4S with its speedy launching, focusing and snapping, as well as image quality is definitely a step up, on a par with the Canon - whilst the Olympus comes top.

"The iPhone 4S offers convenience—light weight, fits in pocket, simple controls—along with competitive, if not excellent, image quality. Unless you need or want full manual control or greater versatility in lens options, the iPhone 4S certainly makes a great photographic tool," the ARS technica study (opens in new tab) concludes.

Radu is the founder of, and has worked as a freelance writer for ITProPortal, as well as having been blogging around since 2004. He is interested in anything Apple as well as gaming and mobile applications.