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


View All Comments

  • mschira - Thursday, April 11, 2013 - link

    Well that tough to change battery is a bit of a worry. And the iFixit guide is not very reassuring.
    So one would hope HTC will offer battery replacement services?
    Do they comment on this?
  • superflex - Friday, April 12, 2013 - link

    When you battery wont hold a charge to your satisfaction, drop the phone in the toilet and make a claim on your insurance. That's how the iPhone crowd rolls. Reply
  • nerdstalker - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    What insurance? Does HTC confirm to have it 100%? Reply
  • Sir_Funk - Friday, April 12, 2013 - link

    IJudge, it seems nothing like a sponsored review please give anandtech some integrity.

    Anyone who is worried about the sealed battery they usually just replace the phone rather than the battery. Also anyone who is that worried about not having a replaceable battery just take out a small battery charger which isn't much bigger than a replacement battery. Great review and a great phone.
  • mebalzer - Saturday, April 13, 2013 - link

    Good point, I have a Galaxy Nexus and never replace the battery. It is always easier to hook up a charger, or external battery pack than to pull of the case, then back of the phone, which could lead to dropping it or worse. Reply
  • Thud2 - Friday, April 12, 2013 - link

    Can anyone say if this phone has a clearcoat type finish? I would guess it does but I am going to take some PPG Eldorado aircraft paint remover, tape of the area around that "Beats" logo and remove that shit. It will not damage Aluminum (or Aluminium). I really do not want to carry around an $800 sandwich board for Dr Dre. Reply
  • CNP-Keythai - Saturday, April 13, 2013 - link

    Fantastic exterior accessories. As good as ours, I bet. Reply
  • mebalzer - Saturday, April 13, 2013 - link

    I have a lot of respect for the writers on this site as well as their podcasts. These are real technical writers who go the extra mile to provide a complete analysis. This review will go a long way on determining my next phone. I hope they provide a comprehensive report on the Samsung S4 as well. Sadly, am I correct to believe this will not be offered by Verizon? Reply
  • Commodus - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    Verizon has so far said that it's not planning to carry the One, but there's been conflicting talk on that front. One theory is that it's repeating a 2012 strategy of demanding a custom device, or else waiting for another device timed for later in the year (a la Droid DNA). Reply
  • superflex - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Verizon will get the HTC One Droid Razer Maxx HD in sucker blood red with a SD slot and a extended replaceable battery.
    Of course, the screen size will have to be reduced to allow for their carrier branding.

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