We don’t carry around point-and-shoot cameras anymore because we have smartphones in our pockets. But it’s not good enough for companies to merely attach cameras as afterthought technology; consumers today demand their devices take the highest quality images possible. And we’ve seen huge improvements on that front over the past several months.

Somewhere along the line, though, the megapixel war became like every other aspect of today’s market: more automatically means better. That’s not necessarily the case with smartphone cameras, especially when they’re stuffed into such small spaces. HTC is the first company to decide it’s had enough, and has instead designed something it’s marketing as UltraPixels in the HTC One.

HTC One Camera App Front Shot

There will be a lot of attention around the One’s 4-megapixel camera when it hits, especially since other phones are nearing the next 13-megapixel frontier. HTC can lobby all it wants about how much better its camera is than the competition, but what ultimately matters is real-world performance. So we put the One to the test against some of the biggest name handsets on the market.

HTC One Camera Shotting a Stack of Phones

In all, we put the HTC One against eight other smartphones, and even the company’s DSLR for good measure. We took different lighting conditions into account, including a mid-day front lit scene, shade, macro detail, inside under natural and artificial light, and of course, a low-light scenario with only some ambient light creeping in.

We’re not here to declare a winner—that’s for you to decide. The quality of smartphone cameras matter, just as much as a processor, or resolution of a screen, or even what OS it’s running. Let the battle of the best smartphone camera begin.

Please note that you can click on any of the images to see the full resolution versions.

Update: We added Lumia 920 pictures (taken around the same time of day and in similar conditions) so you can better compare the One’s performance. The One and Lumia 920 in particular produce excellent low light results, so we’re planning on doing a more in-depth comparison between the two devices. Until then, check out the two side-by-side in the comparison below. Which one do you think looks better?

HTC One with a Bunch of Phones
HTC One Rear Camera on Top of a Stack of Phones
HTC One in White - Rear Camera on Top of a Stack of Phones

HTC One vs BlackBerry Z10

HTC One Camera vs BlackBerry Z10 Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs BlackBerry Z10 Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs BlackBerry Z10 Camera - Outdoors - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs BlackBerry Z10 Camera - Outdoors on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs BlackBerry Z10 Camera - Outdoors in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs HTC Droid DNA

HTC One Camera vs HTC Droid DNA Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs HTC Droid DNA Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs HTC Droid DNA Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs HTC Droid DNA Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs HTC Droid DNA Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs iPhone 5

HTC One Camera vs iPhone 5 Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs iPhone 5 Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs iPhone 5 Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs iPhone 5 Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs iPhone 5 Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Nokia Lumia 920

HTC One Camera vs Nokia Lumia 920 Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Nokia Lumia 920 Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Nokia Lumia 920 Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Nokia Lumia 920 Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Nokia Lumia 920 Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs LG Nexus 4

HTC One Camera vs LG Nexus 4 Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs LG Nexus 4 Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs LG Nexus 4 Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs LG Nexus 4 Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs LG Nexus 4 Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus

HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus Camera - Indoor in Low Light- Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy Note II

HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Note II Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Note II Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Note II Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Note II Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy Note II Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S III

HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S III Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S III Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S III Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S III Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S III Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Sony Xperia Z

HTC One Camera vs Sony Xperia Z Camera - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Sony Xperia Z Camera - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Sony Xperia Z Camera - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Sony Xperia Z Camera - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Sony Xperia Z Camera - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

HTC One vs Canon 5D Mark III

HTC One Camera vs Canon 5D Mark III - Indoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Canon 5D Mark III - Indoor in Low Light - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Canon 5D Mark III - Outdoor - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Canon 5D Mark III - Outdoor on the Ground - Full Crop Resolution
HTC One Camera vs Canon 5D Mark III - Outdoor in the Shade - Full Crop Resolution

The quality definitely varies between the cameras as you can plainly see. HTC is betting big on the One’s camera, meaning it’ll be compared widely to many of the devices we tested. Unfortunately, an update bricked our Lumia 920, so we weren’t able to address that just yet—hopefully we can down the road. For now, take a peek at the comparison shots above, and declare your own winner. Smartphone cameras are hugely important in this day and age, and quality matters. Do HTC’s UltraPixels win out?

HTC One images were re-uploaded for clarity.