The biggest surprise of HTC’s One wasn’t its design, or the way the company molded its Android skin into one of the best we’ve seen. It was the device’s excellent UltraPixel camera, which has proved itself as one of the better shooters in the mobile market. HTC made a big statement when it dropped out of the megapixel race. Instead, the company focused on creating a sensor with larger pixels, and the results were actually pretty darn good.

Just because the HTC One has a 4-megapixel camera doesn’t mean it can’t produce good images. But against something that has a 41-megapixel sensor, like Nokia’s incredible new Lumia 1020, there has to be a difference in quality, right? A lot of information, pixels and data gets stuffed into Nokia’s revamped technology, which is why the company talked so much about zoom. But is too much information being stuffed onto such a small sensor? That’s what the HTC One is getting at.

When Nokia introduced its Lumia 1020, it spent a lot of time talking about zoom. Don’t like how your image turned out? You can crop it down, turn it into something you originally envisioned. On the HTC One, though, images are relatively low resolution, dangerously low, meaning users don’t get much flexibility when cropping down. That might not be an issue for some, but it’s one of the Lumia 1020’s biggest selling points: shoot now, worry about results later. In a way, that kind of goes against the art of photography itself, especially since composing images before you take them is so crucial, but this is a consumer device after all.

htc-one-camera

Shooting with the two devices is a completely different experience. The Lumia 1020 affords a more professional environment—it feels powerful. But boy can it be slow. Like, “Wow I just missed an opportunity,” slow. That’s not the case at all with the HTC One. The all-metal device is much quicker and nimble, able to focus and snap in the blink of an eye. When you have a camera on you at all times, being able to take a picture as fast as possible makes a huge difference. It’s worth considering when choosing a device.

These devices take two completely different approaches. HTC’s One aims for the “less is more,” while the Lumia 1020 is quite obviously the opposite. So which one, given their new technologies, produces the better results? In this comparison, we stuck to our typical format, snapping photos with both devices on auto of the same subjects at the same time of day.

Taken under a patio umbrella on a sunny afternoon.

Taken under a patio umbrella on a sunny afternoon.

Taken on a sunny afternoon.

Taken on a sunny afternoon.

Taken on a sunny afternoon in the shade.

Taken on a sunny afternoon in the shade.

Taken inside with office and natural light coming in from behind Baird.

Taken inside with office and natural light coming in from behind Baird.

Taken inside a dark office with flash.

Taken inside a dark office with flash.

Taken in an office with the lights off, but sunlight coming in from being the camera.

Taken in an office with the lights off, but sunlight coming in from being the camera.

Taken in a completely dark office with flash.

Taken in a completely dark office with flash.

Taken in an office with a light directly overhead.

Taken in an office with a light directly overhead.

Taken inside an office building with ample light.

Taken inside an office building with ample light.

Taken in a completely dark office with no lights and the blinds closed.

Taken in a completely dark office with no lights and the blinds closed.