White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4: Do They Have Different Cameras?
Flash Exposure Tests: White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4
Comments from our editors/panelists: Several editors said that the white iPhone 4 added a "weird color tint" to our flash exposure shot, which contributed to inaccurate skin tones. Associate Editor Ginny Mies even described our mannequin model as having "a jaundiced look." A few editors noted deeper blues and purples in our white iPhone 4 test shot, as well as a warmer overall color temperature. The black iPhone 4 was described as having a softer, more-balanced flash, as well as better white-balance automation when using the flash.
We're not sure that these impressions can be attributed to each iPhone's camera, but it's worth noting that Assistant Editor Megan Geuss noted "a look of desperation" on our mannequin's face in our white iPhone shot, while there was "a look of hope" on her face in the black iPhone 4 shot.
Still Life Tests: White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4
Comments from our editors/panelists: This test was taken with the flash turned off, and the differences were far more subtle than they were in our flash-exposure test. Editors noted slightly deeper blues in our white iPhone 4 test shot, as well as noticeably sharper detail (in particular, look at the motherboard, Pepsi can, and hedgehog in the foreground). Senior Editor Jason Cross described the black iPhone's test image as "softer," but with cleaner, whiter whites. Color accuracy between the two cameras was about equal in this test.
Sharpness/Distortion Tests: White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4
Comments from our editors/panelists: This was another test that showcased more-noticeable differences between the two cameras. The white iPhone 4 was described as having sharper text and better contrast, but Jason Cross also pointed out that the white iPhone test image displayed more chromatic aberration in the sample text (at the left of the shot) than in the test shot that was taken with the black iPhone 4. All seven editors agreed that the white iPhone 4 snapped sharper test images than the black iPhone 4.
Low-Light Video Tests: White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4
Comments from our editors/panelists: In bright light situations, we didn't see much of a difference in video quality between the two iPhone flavors. Shooting video in low light showcased a few notable differences. The white iPhone 4 produced low-light video with improved white balance; brighter reds, yellows, and browns; and slightly better sharpness and contrast when compared to footage shot with the black iPhone 4.
Conclusions: White iPhone 4 vs. Black iPhone 4 Camera Tests
So, between the white and black iPhone 4, is one a better choice for photos and video? Yes, no, and maybe.
In our tests, the white iPhone 4 turned in better results for image sharpness and color vibrancy in low-light video, while the black iPhone 4 did a better job in terms of flash exposure and color accuracy. However, we can't rule out the possibility that the discrepancies we saw were simply due to the fact that no two devices are built exactly the same, regardless of what color case they come in.
Other than the differences in sharpness and low-light video quality, the image-color discrepancies are all fixable by using one of several image-retouching apps available for iOS devices, and both phones are standouts in the smartphone class when it comes to capturing images and video. The wide array of photo-editing, photo-sharing, and photo-effects apps that are available for the iPhone may make the subtle differences we saw in each iPhone camera a moot point.
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