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New iPad vs. iPhone 4S camera test (photos)

A gallery of photos comparing the camera quality of the Apple iPad (third-generation) to the Apple iPhone 4S'.

Donald_Bell.jpg
Donald_Bell.jpg

Donald Bell

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1 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Bricks

According to Apple, the 5-megapixel camera on the back of the new iPad (third-generation) uses the same five-element lens system and digital processing as the successful iPhone 4S.
To put this claim to the test, we shot a number of indoor and outdoor photos on both devices to see the difference for ourselves.
In this first example, you'll see a photo of bricks taken with the iPad (left) and the iPhone 4S. Can you spot any differences in detail, color, or clarity? Neither could we.
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2 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Admiral Sackbar and friend

For this indoor photo, we photographed our beloved cubicle mascot, Admiral Sackbar and his armpit-sniffing woodland companion.
The iPad photo is on the top, with the iPhone version below it. You'll notice that the iPhone photo is slightly closer, and tricks the camera into a shallower focus. This was an unintentional, but recurring, quirk, caused by how we naturally wanted to hold each device and view its screen.
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3 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Sky

Side-by-side shots of telephone lines against blue skies, with the iPad again on the left. The blue of the iPhone photo looks slightly more saturated, but otherwise the photos handle details and color gradients similarly.
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4 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Flower focus

Here we have a close-up of some flowers, with the iPad's photo on the left. In both cases, the tap-to-focus feature brought the foreground flowers into a shallow focus. If there's a reason the iPad photo looks a little sharper, I'd credit the fact that the large screen made it much easier to identify that the shot was in focus and framed well.
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5 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Indoor portrait

CNET's Dong Ngo poses for a portrait in the windowless subterranean dungeon known as CNET Labs. Again, we have the iPad photo on the top, with the iPhone 4S photo below it. In both instances the built-in face detection and autofocus worked as advertised.
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6 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Old Cadillac

This photo of an old Cadillac demonstrates how identical the iPad's camera (top) and iPhone 4S' really are under some conditions.
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7 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Peeling paint

Here's another shot where we are stumped to tell the difference between the iPad's camera (top) and the iPhone 4S'.
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8 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

Hydrant

This hydrant offered an odd mixture of hues and textures to test the cameras against. But aside from the iPhone 4S' camera (below) offering a slightly color richer saturation than the iPad's, both cameras handled the photo identically when it came to focus and details.
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9 of 9 Donald Bell/CNET

In the garden

A close, but not too close, shot of some flowers. I'll let you decide which one's the iPad and which is the iPhone 4S.

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