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


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  • Thud2 - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    In the interest of full disclosure I do have to say that I am a fan of great industrial design and precision machining. I was enamored with the CNC work described in this article. I am on Sprint but before I went in order to the phone I went to AT&T to get a look at it and found that the speaker cover had a sharp overhang and was not smooth to the body. I looked at many phones and the "GAP" described in some comments was nowhere to be found but I guess early production models were not smooth from body to speaker cover. Knowing this, when I went to the store to pick up my phone I noticed the rough edge. the store rep noticed to and said he was sending the phone back. I went to another Sprint store and their phones had no ridge, smooth as ... I don't know, but pretty smooth, so I bought it and it's really really nice. Enough said. Reply
  • Pazz - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    I picked up a HTC One at the weekend over here in the UK. The build quality was terrible, the top front aluminium section was too wide for the housing and left a lip on one side. There was also a gap between the middle plastic housing and the aluminium on the top face, so big I could fit a finger nail almost down it. This gap flexed and closed up with pressure. Was this sample provides to Anandtech by HTC? Reply
  • Thud2 - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    Mine has no gap and I looked at at least 6 of them at AT&T and Sprint stores and never saw a gap. An overhang yes but mine is smooth as silk. Reply
  • Bhairav Pardiwala - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    Apparently the microsphone test would have to be redone as the HTC one microphone will now be using a diffrent part Reply
  • KarlSmith432 - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    The one-piece aluminum case is amazing but the other specs are also unique, like: the fastest OS and the built-in amplifiers. I saw a list of them @ but I would like to read a review on these specs Reply
  • m0nz - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    As always, an amazing review from Anandtech. That is why I try to find a review from you guys before anyone else. It's just sad to see such crap around the net, but such a breath of fresh air from here. Good job. Reply
  • ELPCU - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - link

    It is quite surprising anandtech says its finish is excellent.

    I just bought HTC One yesterday, and I found it frontal aluminum(top and bottom portion of front) aligned improperly.

    This issue seems pretty pandemic.

    Yes, all product might have few defective products, but disappointing part is I can see same issue at Anandtech's photoshot as well, and anandtech said its finish is excellent, so not even have to read about it.

    Closely look (zoom if you do not see)
    at photoshot of bottom side of phone and top side of phone.
    Seam between frontal aluminum and plastic portion is bigger compared to that of back aluminum and plastic portion.
  • Montago - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    First world problems much ?

    its not by Apple standards, that's for sure...

    it rings, it plays games, aren't you happy ?
  • Montago - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    BTW... the biggest problem with the HTC One is not the build quality of the phone... but the software... Android still needs a lot of work :-(

    it's insane that the OS can't handle power usage and CPU/GPU usage better...
  • Montago - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    I just got my HTC One yesterday... i used it all day and installed a lot of apps and configured what antennas to be turned ON...

    I charged the phone 100% and put it on power-saver ... but overnight i lost 30% battery !

    jebus !

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