The biggest change in the iSight camera found on the back of the iPhone 5 is not its sapphire lens cover, the new panorama mode, faster performance, better video stabilization or crisper photos stemming from enhanced post-processing capabilities provided by the heavily customized, Apple-designed A6 chip.

It’s its markedly better performance in low-light situations. The difference between the iPhone 4S and 5 camera becomes readily apparent on photos taken under artificial light, poorly lit scenes or no light at all.

By way of Engadget, we are now able to compare night shots taken on the iPhone 5 against those snapped up using Nokia’s newly introduced Lumia 920, Nokia 808 PureView device, HTC’s flagship One X and of course, Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Who do you think came on top?

The crux?

The iPhone was also a solid runner-up with this test — it didn’t perform as well in even dimmer light, as we experienced when capturing images from a dark rooftop late at night, but it did yield decent shots in the lab.

Even so, the frame is underexposed, includes a heavy orange cast and the 100-percent view is heavily pixelated and noticeably soft.

Deceptive advertising be damned, the Lumia 920 has the most even exposure of all five devices, even with a slight yellow cast appearing on dimly lit images.

Here, a closeup of a photo taken with an iPhone 5.

And this image was taken using a Lumia 920, Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone 8 device.

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III exhibit noticeably worse low-light image quality than both the iPhone 5 and Nokia devices.

A 101MB ZIP archive containing high-res versions of test photos is available right here.

Engadget mobile editor Myriam Joire put together this video clip highlighting the official results and noting some of the differences between the devices.

Of course, the Nokia 808 PureView beats every other smartphone to the punch when it comes to low-light camera tests because the 808, which was released last year and runs on Symbian, has a whopping 41-megapixel sensor, meaning it has way more pixels to work with in low-light situations.

If you’re reading this, you may be interested in our ongoing iPhoneography series. And those of you who are really into iPhone photography are welcome to tag their Apple-related photos with the #iDownloadBlog hastag.

You can also follow me @dujkan on Instagram.

I’d love to hear from iPhone 5 owners.

How’s your low-light camera performance?

Is it much better than you hoped it’d be?

Did you expect more advances in the iPhone 5 camera department?

  • Koray

    In the background of the picture is my hometown Cologne in Germany! 🙂

    • There’s Milka, too! My favorite! 🙂

    • its mine as well! 😉 so proud!

  • This is one of my favorite new features of the iPhone 5. A lot of my pictures are taken in low light and the flash is pretty much useless to me. I would never share a picture in which I used the flash. Hoping my iPhone 5 gets here soon so I can test it out.

    That Lumia 920 photo is pretty damn impressive though. I’ve always loved Windows Phone. Trying to talk my girlfriend into getting one so I can play with it all the time.

  • The Nokia 808 takes great pictures but its display is only 183ppi and the “phone” is pretty thick. Nokia would have been better off making a nice camera with wifi. S3 sucks as usual

    • yup

    • Liu Zhenyu

      I really don’t see how good the gs3 is, weird design at phone base, better hardware but terrible resource managing causing slow performance, lame 8 mp camera, terrible display, unnaturally big screen, slower LTE than iPhone, Ugly Samsung branding on phone, breaks easily in drop test compared to iP5 in drop test even though it is pacifier plastic and iPhone is aluminum, glass and delicate edges.

      Inb4 This is only my opinion, don’t call me fanboy just because you are fandroid.

      • Guest

        See you in court. Payback is a bitch

      • Liu Zhenyu


      • maurid

        “Ugly Samsung branding”? May we know what do you mean by that?

  • Ahmed Belarouf

    Thats it, am gona change my iphone 5 for lumia

    • coejam

      Nice joking.

    • Liu Zhenyu

      The camera is one of he ONLY good features of the 920 besides its touch screen, better think twice bro.

      • Serpentbane

        I’m using the 900 now, and I can assure you that this is not the case. WP is by far my platform of Choice for the time being.

  • My iPhone 5 takes pretty good pictures in low light conditions but where my 4s would use the flash on auto mode my iPhone 5 does not which in my experience so far leaves me with poorer low light level photos, I know I can set the flash from auto to on but if I forget to turn it off may lead to overexposure in brighter conditions

    • Simone Radice

      They can’t be poorer because iPhone 5 reaches 3200ISO, while the 4s stops at 800! Try the same shot, in the same light with the two phones (without flash of course) and you’ll see a much better picture on 5…The thing doesn’t change are daily light shots…4s and 5 for me are exactly the same…

      • Serpentbane

        problem is not whether or not the iPhone 5 camera is better compared to iPhone
        4, but the fact that the iP5 camera apparently shoots without flash where the
        iP4 shoots with. This would in many cases make the iP4 Pictures better as they
        have extra light. Higher ISO is one thing when it comes to light without flash,
        but it do have some negative effects also, one being noise. Also, images taken
        in dark with no flash are also more vulnerable to movement.

  • thedarkknight80

    looks like the lumia is a poised beast , yet to be revealed .

    Only strange waters to make me not think about getting it, would be the lack of apps on the windows 8 OS …

  • G

    The Nokia killed this contest

    • Liu Zhenyu

      Without a great camera to stand out they might as well go bankrupt.

  • Nice.I love being in cologne. 🙂

  • Guest

    I bet the 920 picture was taking with a professional DSLR; like they did with their PureLie commercial.

  • Javier Gore

    I bet the 920 picture was taken with a professional DSLR this time; just like they did with their PureLie commercial.

    • Serpentbane

      Did you see Apples comersial showing how fast it was surfing the web on 3G? No? Ah, could be because it was banned. Why? Because apple did not show actual phone preformance but “lied”. This is not unusuall, we are presented With images representing what is a glorified Version of the truth. Do Mr. Mussle work as well as the advertisement? This test do how ever show that Nokia actually have a great camera Technology. Tests done with the camera filming compared to iPhone 5 also shows that the Nokia advertisement were Close to the truth. The Optical imagestabilisation actually works rather well.

  • the 920 is awesome!

  • lance

    is this review for real??

    looks like it’s not…