It’s only business: BlackBerry Motion vs. LG G6 camera shootout

LG G6 vs Blackberry Motion camera comparison
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Years ago, anyone buying a BlackBerry phone was more interested in the keyboard than the camera. Anyone buying an LG phone recently would be looking for the opposite. BlackBerry has changed, and while the keyboard, security, and battery life are still high priorities, the rest of the hardware has also dramatically improved.

To see how, we put the BlackBerry Motion, recently announced for the U.S. for $450, against the LG G6 — a smartphone that has a good camera and because it’s a year old, is now available at a very competitive price. Amazon often has it for $420 for Prime members, for example. Once, it would have been a no-contest. Today, it’s not so clear cut. Here’s the results of our LG G6 vs. BlackBerry Motion camera shootout.

If you want to see more camera comparisons, check out our smartphone camera shootout series. Comment below to let us know what camera shootouts you want to see next!

Camera specifications and apps

How do the pair compare on paper? The LG G6 has a dual 13-megapixel camera, with the primary lens having a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, and phase detection autofocus. The secondary, wide-angle lens has a f/2.4 aperture and no autofocus. We haven’t included the wide-angle shots here, as the Motion cannot replicate them. However, the wide-angle camera is a big bonus for the G6, and the feature stands out in a world obsessed with bokeh Portrait Modes. The BlackBerry Motion has a single 12-megapixel camera lens with an f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus.

The LG G6 camera app has various modes including panorama and food, an artistic mode called Popout, plus a Square mode that makes best use of the 18:9 aspect ratio screen. It also has a manual mode for those interested in tweaking shots before taking them. The app is intuitive and easy to use. On the BlackBerry. it’s not so simple as you’re forced to go through several steps to activate manual mode, for example. The Motion’s camera app also has filters and a panorama mode, plus a business card scanner. It’s not as fast as the G6, and overall the LG phone was more pleasurable to use. We did like being able to assign the camera app to the Motion’s Convenience key on the side though, providing quick access without returning to the home screen.

Sunny days

On a rare sunny day in wintery London, we put both phones up against each other as we toured some of the famous spots in the city. Take a look at the photos outside the Natural History museum, and the differences are interesting. The BlackBerry Motion’s photo is far warmer, with the building itself looking more realistic, while the vivid blue sky looks better in the G6’s picture. Turn your attention to the tree in the left corner, and you can see more detail in the Motion’s photo, but the broken tree trunk to the right looks more natural in the G6’s picture.

Next we get in closer, and in the photo of the fence with the building in the background shows the G6’s superior depth of field, isolating the golden decoration more effectively than the Motion. The gold color is also more dramatic, while retaining the beautiful blue sky in the background. The Motion washes out slightly, and the lack of background blur makes it a more confusing picture to look at.

Across the road from the Natural History museum the two phones produced a photo that really splits opinion. The Motion is our preferred shot. It’s brighter, pulls more detail in the darker areas, and is generally more representative of what we hoped to capture. However, the G6’s picture is more accurate. The sun is directly behind the tower and was very bright, and the G6 captured the look of the scene perfectly. It’s just not the photo we’d want to share. However, in the picture of the rooftop backed by a blue sky, the G6’s ability to pull detail shines. Just look at the shade of the bricks.

Further into London

Entering Knightsbridge, we snapped a photo of the famous Harrods department store. While both are great photos, the Motion’s sense of scale — even without the G6’s wide-angle lens — is stunning, and the striking red of the bus in front of the store still manages to stand out against the building and blue sky. There’s more detail revealed in the darker areas too.

Taking a photo through a metal fence, focusing on the statue behind it also showed how differently the two cameras process colors and warmth. The G6’s photo is colder and greyer, while the Motion uses the sunlight to enhance the creamier tones of the stonework. In reality, the look was somewhere in-between, but the G6’s photo uses its improved focal length to emphasize the subject.

Finally, outside Buckingham Palace, the G6 repeated this ability to showoff the subject better than the Motion. Look at the beautiful golden gleam on the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue, and the bright, vivid blue sky. Again, the Motion’s picture is brighter generally, but this time at the expense of the primary subject. The G6 captures the focal point of the photo far better than the Motion, which captures the entire scene in a more generalized way.

However, walking around the city in the sunlight, the Motion consistently took photos we preferred.

Food

Who doesn’t like a slice of chocolate and vanilla cake? The question is, which phone makes this naughty snack look more appetising? The LG G6’s photo is considerably more accurate, the dark chocolate glistening with moisture, and the crumbly moist cake appearing ready to fall apart when you pick it up. The BlackBerry Motion wasn’t so keen to get in close, and loses quality when it does so. While water droplets are still visible, they aren’t as defined and the chocolate isn’t as dark.

In the overhead shot, the BlackBerry Motion takes the slightly better picture, with more detail in the cake, and a more starkly white plate. However, with a little editing the LG G6’s shot does improve, revealing the detail missing in the picture straight off the camera. However, we like both the shots.

Somerset House

A quick stop at Somerset House and King’s College gave us the chance to take a picture of a wider scene, plus a challenging closer shot in difficult light. In the wide shot of the college courtyard, the G6 sees the blue sky, while the BlackBerry Motion prefers the clouds, resulting in a moodier shot. Focusing on the sculpted face, the Motion washes the picture out slightly, while the G6 makes good use of the darker area, and the varying levels of grey, for a prettier more atmospheric shot.

While the BlackBerry Motion doesn’t have a wide-angle camera, the G6 had to show off a little in the expansive courtyard. Yes, there is a fish-eye effect, but using the camera lets you enjoy the massive scale of the area itself, and the stunning architecture, to full effect. It’s not suitable for all situations, but here the G6 became the more creatively interesting camera phone.

camera comparison Somerset House wide LG G6
LG G6 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Low light

The G6’s f/1.8 aperture saw it outperform the Motion in lowlight. The two pictures of the Farmhouse pub look similar until you zoom in, where the pub’s sign is out of focus in the Motion’s picture and pin-sharp on the G6. Also, zoom in and look at the people through the window. The man in the blue shirt is perfectly defined in the G6’s picture, but blurred and misshapen in the Motion’s photo.

It’s the same situation in the photo of the Old Bank Chambers. The brickwork, sign, and even the street name below the traffic signal are in focus in the G6’s photo, but noisier and blurrier in the Motion’s photo. Finally, examine the metal sign outside the Foresters pub. The ageing, texture, and patina is clearly visible in the G6’s picture, but almost entirely lost in the Motion’s photo.

Conclusion

Anyone dismissing the BlackBerry Motion as a business phone should be eating their words about now. The Motion’s camera takes excellent pictures during the day, and were more instantly shareable than the ones taken by the G6. However, after dark the G6’s superior specifications took over, and showed the Motion how it should be done. The G6 also has the awesome wide-angle camera, and the app is better to use.

Neither phone took a truly bad picture, although the Motion struggled when we took photos in Tube stations, where it was slow to react, resulting in blurred pictures. We also had a few no-shows, when the Motion failed to capture any picture in low light at all. The G6 didn’t suffer from this issue.

This makes it difficult to pick a winner. While the Motion’s daylight shots came out better, the lowlight performance is substandard, and the G6’s ability is excellent. Add in the wide-angle camera along with more camera modes, and the G6 has to take the win for creative flexibility; but faced only with the images shown here there’s no doubt the Motion took the fight to LG and performed extremely well.

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