Samsung didn't only shout loudly about the new Galaxy S6 and S6 edge designs at its Unpacked conference at this year's Mobile World Congress, it also made some major boasts about the new camera. 

Here's the skinny: both front and rear cameras utilise an f/1.9 maximum aperture lens, which means lots more light can enter to drive down the processing necessary and, in turn, deliver a cleaner resulting image with less interfering image noise.

The S6 front camera is 5-megapixel, the rear 16-megapixel with the same optical image stabilisation (OIS) as found in the Galaxy Note 4. But is this phone really all that good?


The number f/1.9 might not sound that different to the f/2.2 of the iPhone 6, but the way aperture values work (f/1.9, f/2.0, f/2.2 are the steps between a full "stop") means it is capable of letting two thirds more light in than Mr iPhone.

So with last year's SGS5 in hand, we thumbed our way through the latest S6 to get a feel for its new innards, and there are some top new features on offer. The camera loads nice and quick via a double-tap of the home button, with the familiar button layout of the S5 meaning the volume up/down can be used to fire a shot.

Immediately we noticed the face detection snap into play, popping circles around identified faces to ensure accurate focus and exposure. Don't want that to take over, then simply tap the screen for a speedy autofocus system. It's fast, but doesn't offer the on-screen autofocus array of the LG G3, the Korean competitor with its laser autofocus screen - but a new Samsung object tracking autofocus system is available to keep focus on moving subjects (it can be switched off if wanted).


Other key settings include the real-time HDR (high dynamic range) just like the SGS5, meaning the ability to balance highlight and shadow details right before your eyes. Not to excess, and it's only an off/on system rather than anything more detailed, but it seemed to work well.

The visual arrangement has been tweaked and refined a little, but it doesn't make that much difference in use except for when the Effects are put into play. Like HDR it's possible to see the effect in real-time on the screen, rather than needing to open the photo after and make adjustments. Smart.

Extra options include voice control, the ability to review pictures after shooting, GPS location tags, grid lines for rule-of-thirds composure assistance, and video-based image stabilisation.


One of the killer questions is just how well the camera works in low-light. Here's the bit where we have to wait and see: in the Unpacked conference area, phones setup under spotlights, it wasn't exactly a darkened room. The numbers are all in place, though, for a performance even better than the SGS5 - and that was no slouch.

Fast autofocus, wide maximum aperture, improved interface and effects - the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge make a good case on the camera front. And with the HTC One M9 not making much of a case for top-end photo capabilities, Samsung may well have this one sewn up. We'll find out when we get the devices in for a full-on review.