I am using Gsmarena photo camera comparasion tool and I compare iPhone 6s plus and iPhone X in low light. Why iPhone 6s plus looks much better and less noisy compared to iPhone X while iPhone X has much better sensor? Or am I wrong about image quality criteria in low light?

Camera comparasion tool

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    Also note that there are objective criteria for image quality - SNR, color rendition,... - and that there are subjective criteria. A picture with much noise might look bad for you, but to me, it might look great as I love the way the noise distributes. It's like that here: While I think that the 6s's picture is far less corrected/artificial, I think that the X's picture actually is better. – flolilo Mar 29 '18 at 11:43
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    Is the processing carried out by the camera known? Also unless you can obtain unprocessed RAW files you may not get a true comparisson? – Crazy Dino Mar 29 '18 at 12:10
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    You ask "Or am I wrong about image quality criteria in low light?", but you don't tell us what criteria you are assuming — so I don't see how we can answer that. – Please Read My Profile Mar 29 '18 at 13:50
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    "iPhone 6s plus looks much better" That's your opinion. Yes, it has less visible noise, but the aggressive denoising comes at the price of lost detail and blotchiness. If you like that look, great, just get a 6s+ and be happy. – user29608 Mar 29 '18 at 13:50
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    Can you tell us what criteria you were starting from? – Please Read My Profile Mar 29 '18 at 15:04

Peering at the pixels of these images really isn't going to tell you a whole lot. They both show a lot of noise. It looks like the first image has more noise reduction applied: it appears to have fewer speckles ("noise"), but also seems "smeared". The lower image has more apparent noise, but also sharper lines and contrast. There is probably more actual detail — but it's hard to tell because the scene doesn't contain much fine detail to peep at.

I have a hard time saying which is objectively "better", and although I have a personal preference for the lower one if this is all I had to choose from, if I really wanted a picture of some colored pencils, I'd get some more light and all of this would be irrelevant.


I think it's more a matter of algorithms in each of these phones slightly differing. Both appear to be low quality in the shadows. The iPhone X seems to over-sharpen the result and the iPhone 6s Plus seems to do some automatic noise reduction (or at least not perform as aggressive sharpening). As others have suggested, it's hard to know what "good" is in this scene without a better reference. Maybe taking a photo of the same subject in the same light with a "full frame" DSLR would allow us to see enough of the actual detail to make a judgement about which of the phone cameras renders the image better.

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