Real World Camera Comparison, Performance in Well Lit Scenes

I took a bunch of photos with the HTC One alongside a number of other cameras in either a bracket or some other form of mount, and I think they tell an interesting story. If you click on the buttons the thumbnail will change, and the image link will also change for viewing the full res original image. I’d recommend opening the full res images in new tabs and then switching back and forth at 1:1 zoom. The phones I had with me for most of these were the HTC One (obviously), iPhone 5, Lumia 920, HTC Butterfly, and LG Optimus G Pro. I took many many photos with each camera at each location and selected the best ones.

What sticks out at me is how much the subtleties of the HTC One match the HTC Butterfly, it’s obvious how much of the regional tastes of their camera tuners makes its way into the images. Both have a bit too much sharpening for my tastes, and virtually all the smartphones lose a lot of detail to noise reduction but still manage to have surprisingly noisy sky texture. I still can’t shake the impression that HTC has some JPEG artifacts which accentuate the noise in these relatively homogenous regions as well. Apple seems to reflect the kind of tuning I would find myself wanting the most – minimal noise reduction in-camera, encode the noise out, and don’t risk losing any detail. HTC and LG seem to go for more aggressive noise reduction which occasionally leaves that oil painting look, and Nokia surprisingly is somewhere in-between.

HTC One: 1/9600s, ISO 100

In the first Sentinel Peak image, the Lumia 920 is oddly soft at the bottom, the HTC One has a bit of softness at bottom right. Because of the way that OIS works in both these cameras there’s that chance that the extreme field angles will have some softness if the camera is shifted during capture while OIS is compensating.

HTC One: 1/3800s, ISO 109

In the second Sentinel Peak image with the saguaro cactus, it’s interesting to pay attention to the detail in the foliage of the palo verde tree. The Optimus G and Butterfly turn most of the tree into a blurry homogenous mess, the Lumia 920 has a bit of an oil painting look as well, and the HTC One does pretty well given its lower resolution, though still looks a bit too sharpened for me.

In this next shot I exposed for the shadowed Virgin Mary figurine using tap to focus / capture on all the cameras. I find that the One excels in situations like this which are a challenge because of very bright and very dark regions next to each other. There’s no HDR used here.

HTC One: 1/320s, ISO 100

What sticks out about the HTC One to me is what I get from looking EXIF, which is why I pulled that data out for each image in its comparison. Because there’s no way to manually set exposure on any smartphone right now (because nobody is willing to treat smartphone users like adults, apparently), I wind up using auto mode and looking back at what each camera selected in each setting. In the daytime images, what sticks out is that the exposure time is incredibly short, or fast. The result is that the One is incredible at stopping motion outdoors, and this seems to have been HTC’s big priority with tuning the One, rather than pushing noise down even further by going perhaps to ISO 50 like we see the iPhone and LG Optimus G Pro do, if the ST CMOS in the One even supports it.

Still Camera Analysis The Real Test: Low Light Performance of the HTC One
POST A COMMENT

626 Comments

View All Comments

  • hp79 - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Sad to hear there's already blemished on your device. I thought it's supposed to be sapphire or something which causes the purple haze when directed on bright light source. I read that iPhone5's has the same purple haze because of this, but I don't know. I'm just going to put some kind of protector on the back so the camera is recessed from the rest of the back.

    Can you comment on how the condition of the screen/plastic and aluminum seams are on your device? I read there are some quality control issues. I expected it to be Apple iPhone quality, but maybe it's not up to that level yet. (I'm a Note 1 - N7000 user.)
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Go to HTC's Smartphone page and see how many phones are called the "One" or have "One" in the name.

    http://www.htc.com/us/smartphones/

    SEVEN. SEVEN phones have "One" in the name. What the hell were they thinking? Why didn't they call it the HTC Aluminium or the HTC Ultrapixel? Something that distincts it from the flustercuck of phones it has.
    Reply
  • dyc4ha - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    you want to count how many samsung devices are named galaxy? they are building a brand name, it is the right thing to do. Reply
  • hp79 - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    They should have named it HTC One Ultrapixel or something. Samsung's Galaxy is the family name, and then there's a model name which makes the distinction. Every time I search for something related to HTC One, I have to do "htc one -v -x -vx -h -evo -z" to filter out everything. It's kinda crazy.

    Anyways, I received my HTC One today and I'm dissapointed at the build quality. What's with the gaps between the screen and the aluminum speaker grill, and one of the corner has a protruding black plastic (which wraps the screen on left and right edge). The sim card eject hole looks like the plastic has been drilled with a electric home drill. I can probably drill it cleaner than that. Maybe I was expecting too much from them. I do like the performance overall, but the quality control really sucks.
    Reply
  • dyc4ha - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Are you guys going to review the US version with LTE and update the review by any chance? That would be greatly appreciated! Reply
  • gnx - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    I second this. I checked out a few at the AT&T store, and the screen, sound and form were gorgeous, but would appreciate a updated review that considers the US models (rather than UK/international ones) with LTE and more importantly updated software (especially for the camera, hopefully).

    Also, I have to say, 3 of the 5 models displayed at the huge AT&T store had a visible slight gap on top and bottom where the white metal strap meets the back aluminium. It was disturbing to see, and I even took a photo, lest I get accused of being a nay-sayer. Personally, I'm guessing this is just first production model quirks, like the first round of Iphone5s having chipped strips on the side, so I'll wait till the more mature batches come along, and hopefully an updated review to help me settle on what to buy too!
    Reply
  • rohini - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    I've become a fan of aluminium body. It was iphone 5 first but now i've fallen in love with the HTC One. The camera is also very impressive and the quad-core processor is more than capable of doing any task that you throw at it. Talking about the octa-core phones, do you really think that you'll really require 8 cores for doing some calculation on a smartphone?
    I've prepared a table of what Samsung has been doing for years and what the Koreans must learn from HTC.
    http://www.speedmango.com/htc-one-the-last-flamboy...
    Reply
  • sAiyAnstAr - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - link

    Are you saying that the iPhone first came out with the Aluminium body, or you liked the iPhone 5's aluminium body first? My HTC Sensation came out in 2011 and it has an aluminium body... Reply
  • Thud2 - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    All bullshit about camera resolution aside this camera is great , AMAZING in daily use. The HDR mode produces great indoor photos. Just captures everything. No black holes or white flares. Great for the average user (me) Reply
  • Thud2 - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    OK, just got home and took a pic out my back window in night mode. Have never been able to get anything but black noise with other cams (albeit phone cams and low end cameras) I wish I could post this pic, amazing! They have achieved their goal of expanding the useful range of the phone cam. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now