Comparing the Quality of iPhone Cameras Over the Years


The iPhone has evolved in leaps and bounds since the smartphone first burst onto the scene in 2007, and one of the most impressive ways it has evolved is in its capability to take pictures. In the original iPhone, a camera was something of an afterthought; the current model has entire commercials dedicated to the camera.

But knowing intuitively that the camera has improved exponentially is a far sight from seeing it with your own eyes. And so, just like they did in 2011, the folks behind the popular iPhone app Camera+ got every model of the iPhone together took a set of comparison shots for your perusing pleasure.


They ran the phones through their paces in three separate situations: a macro shot, a skyline shot and a low-light macro shot. The difference is striking. Sure, there’s not as much difference between, say, the 4S and the 5 (although, even there, the difference is noticeable), but from the original iPhone to now, it’s clear Apple has put a lot of work into making the camera great.

The biggest improvement by far came between the 3G and the 3GS. There was still no front-facing camera or flash to speak of, but that’s when we started seeing iPhone photography that actually caught our attention. Since then, the improvements have been incremental, but noticeable — even the addition of the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal surface between the 4S and the 5 seems to have helped.


Keep in mind, these are just the overall comparisons. For a more in-depth look at each camera in the series and how it performed in each situation, head over to the Camera+ blog and scroll through the evolution of the iPhone camera for yourself.

How does the iPhone 5 camera compare to previous iPhone cameras? [Camera+ via AppleInsider]

  • Travis

    weren’t the first two iPhones hyperfocal? macro doesn’t seem like a good comparison.

  • Dez

    Good point!

  • Adam Cross

    my iPhone 3GS is still serving me well enough ^_^

  • Johns

    Nice catch. Was just about to say that.

  • Paul Freeman-Powell

    Apple hasn’t put any effort at all into making the camera great, they’ve just spec’d a higher quality camera into the revisions as they’ve gone along. That way, people keep upgrading and giving them more money when they could have just made it half-decent from the word go. Please can we stop pretending Apple are a technology company and just realise that they polish, market and sell consumer technology to people who easily fall for marketing.

  • Steve

    By the iphone 12, I might want to get one, if it’s under $100 :) Until then, I’ll use a camera.

  • NonIdiot

    Sick of mindless comments like this one.
    Let’s look at the logic:
    -Apple puts a higher quality camera in every new phone but does not put any effort at all into it.
    -Anyone that buys an iPhone is succumbing to marketing.
    ALL phone companies update their specs you big galloot and they ALL advertise if they hope to sell any.
    Sorry, Apple haters are idiots.