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.
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.
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?
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.