Six-way camera shootout: Smartphone roulette
Time to wrap things up - we wondered if maybe we should split the final decision into two, still photography and video recording, but the results came out consistent enough to declare a clear winner.
And it is, drum roll please, the Nokia Lumia 1020. It's not a huge surprise, the Lumia 1020 is entirely geared towards camera excellence. In broad daylight it showed clear superiority for photos and it won the low-light challenge even if poor white balance betrayed it on one occasion.
The Lumia 1020's high dynamic range, lossless zoom, excellent low-light skills and quality audio also helped it do excellently in the video test. It didn't quite top the good light part of that challenge, but it wasn't too bad either..
And that device comes in second, it's the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The phablet was a very adequate still shooter, but it's the video recording that makes it stand out from the crowd. Narrow field of view aside, with 2160p recording, high quality 1080p @ 60fps and video zoom that's almost as impressive as that of the Lumia, the Note 3 video skills are very hard to match.
It's low-light shooting abilities - for both photos and videos - leave a lot to be desired, but the pretty strong flash partially makes up for that. And we mustn't also forget the excellent panorama and HDR, plus a long list of fun features that help you spice up your photos.
The Sony Xperia Z1 does beat the Galaxy Note 3 in daylight photography and its videos were very good too. However, low-light results left something to be desired and the value-added features aren't on the level of the Note 3. Also, with a 20.7MP sensor and the same Snapdragon 800 chipset, the Z1 could have had a video zoom feature even more impressive than the Note's. Or at least a great panorama - Sony's work isn't done here.
The LG G2 comes in fourth. Daylight photos were on the level of the Note 3, but it lagged behind in video recording. And low-light shooting - Note 3's Achilles heel - is not a strength of the G2 either. It has a long list of cool software features, too, but in the two most commonly used ones - panorama and HDR - it didn't score as high as the Note 3.
The Apple iPhone 5s comes in fifth, which is very impressive considering the competition. The iPhones were always well-rounded rather than heavily skewed towards one discipline (like the Lumia 1020 is). The 8MP stills are good, but a bit behind the times when compared to 13MP / 20.7MP / 41MP shooters. In several areas it actually beats the previous two phones and in the daylight its videos match those of the Lumia 1020. Finally, low-light performance is pretty decent and the panorama is one of the best.
Lastly, we come to the HTC One. Its Ultrapixel camera is somewhat of a one-trick pony that fares pretty poorly when lighting is good (which is actually most common). In the dark, the One's result were quite good - the videos especially - but unless all you do is record videos at bars and discos, there are better cameraphones you can have.
Nokia set out to make the best smartphone camera and they succeeded - whether or not that's enough to carry the entire device is another matter and beyond the point of this article.
The other participants are cutting edge smartphones, where the amazing camera is just one of the host of features they offer. If anything, we should compliment them on the fact that they came so close to the PureView beast, instead of bashing them for failing to beat it. And it's not like they didn't manage to show Nokia a few areas where it can improve for its next generation cameraphone flagship.