I have been a heavy user of custom ROMs for more than three years now on all my Android devices. Lately, although I have a phone that not so long ago was still Samsung's flagship (the galaxy S4, I9505), the pictures I get with it really suck. A couple weeks ago, the phone could not detect my SIM card (pure hardware issue), so I re-installed the stock firmware and took it to the repair shop to get the warranty repair. They fixed it and I got my phone back. Just to make sure it was working fine, I decided to use the stock ROM for a while, and oh surprise: the camera takes much better pics in low light conditions or indoor than the same camera with any custom ROM app (usually AOSP-based, AOKP or CM-based). I tried to download the Google camera, and the low light pictures really suck. Then I tried a bunch of camera apps from the Play store, but I invariably got similar results to what I got with my custom ROMs.
That got me thinking. I'm no dev nor programmer, so I won't get technical, but it seems to me that there can be two reasons for the samsung app to work better:
- Either it has access to (proprietary) hardware drivers that other camera apps cannot access, and therefore it can get everything out of the camera hardware
- Or Samsung (which is not known to be great for its software) has developed a great camera software.
I would think it's something along the lines of the first reason. So does that mean I am either stuck with a ROM I cannot stand (Touchwiz is awful, has always been, and may always be) and a decent camera, or a decent ROM but a camera that is kind of useless when I'm indoor?
If so, how are the cameras on other similar phones (I'm thinking Nexus 5, Sony Xperia, etc.), running on custom ROMs compared to the stock camera apps? Is there also a noticeable difference, or is it just with Samsung?
I understood that you cannot run the Samsung camera apk on a custom ROM (even one on a Samsung phone), because the camera relies on some kind of Samsung proprietary framework.
Does this mean I should be looking for a phone that is running not only on open source software, but also open source hardware, does that even exist?
Anyone has noticed something similar? Am I the only one to be bothered by this?
I'll post here a couple pics taken in the same ambient light conditions. One with the Samsung camera (Auto setting), one with Google camera, and one with another camera app from the market (don't remember which one, but I tested about 15 of them and their results were quite similar).
Anyway, even if you don' have a solution to the problem but can point me to information that could help me understand how to choose my next phone, I would really appreciate. Thanks!