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The Winners: Overall Image Quality
1. Apple iPhone 4 (Image Quality Score: Good)
2. Motorola Droid X (Image Quality Score: Good)
3. HTC EVO 4G (Image Quality Score: Fair)
4. Samsung Galaxy (Image Quality Score: Fair)
Here's evidence that megapixel counts rarely matter: Apple's 5-megapixel iPhone 4 led the pack for overall image quality in our tests, serving up well-exposed, brightly colored images in our evaluations.
In fact, the iPhone 4 actually bested two full-fledged point-and-shoot cameras when it came to two testing categories: We included sample images from the Samsung HZ35W and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 in our image-evaluation pool, and the iPhone 4 outscored both of them in terms of exposure quality and color accuracy.
However, the iPhone 4's image quality was far less impressive in two categories: sharpness and distortion. It trailed the Droid X in terms of image sharpness, and those Sony and Samsung point-and-shoots finished far ahead of it. The iPhone 4 finished in a dead heat with the Droid X and Samsung Galaxy S in terms of image distortion. All in all, though, the iPhone 4's photos looked more colorful and had better white balance than pictures taken with the other phones in this comparison.
The 8-megapixel Droid X was right behind the iPhone 4 in terms of overall image quality, finishing in second place for exposure quality and color accuracy, and outscoring the iPhone 4 in our sharpness tests.
HTC's Evo 4G finished third in our jury evaluations for image quality; it had the lowest-rated exposure quality of the phones we tested, but it was judged to have the least-distorted images in the test field.
Taking up the rear for overall image quality was Samsung's Galaxy S phone, which finished ahead of the Evo 4G in terms of exposure quality, but finished in last place in our color accuracy, sharpness, and distortion tests.
If you'd rather trust your own eyeballs, you can see the sample images from the PCWorld Labs' subjective imaging tests for each of the four camera phones here: Exposure and Color Accuracy Tests | Sharpness and Distortion Tests