The HTC One has a lot going for it, especially on the hardware and design front. The UltraPixel camera is one of the many hardware features that HTC markets as a unique and daring approach towards offering better quality over a pure megapixel number play. The 4MP maximum resolution output from the HTC One Ultrapixel camera for still images does sound ridiculously low when compared to the 13MP sensors/images offered by most of the upcoming next gen Android superphones. HTC’s approach of cramming lesser but larger pixels on a standard size smartphone camera sensor should technically result in better image quality in terms of more detail, lesser noise and better low-light image quality.
We threw a rather modest challenge at the UltraPixel camera by comparing it to the 8MP shooters in the iPhone 5 and the Blackberry Z10. The larger pixels do make a difference, especially in terms of noise and image quality in low-light situations. But, is there a compromise? Is there a substantial difference in quality for you to ignore the benefits of higher resolution images? In a bid to answer some of these questions and more, we have compared the camera shots from all three smartphones at their native resolution along with a separate comparison with all shots at 4MP resolution.
It’s clear from looking at the above images that the 4MP camera on the HTC One is an impressive performer. It manages to really limit noise when compared to the other two (for e.g. if you compare the pencils in the images in the first row above, you will see that the One is the most capable of keeping noise at bay). The One’s low-light shooting prowess is further affirmed when you see the limited noise levels in the captured images, especially when compared to the Z10’s and the iPhone’s low-light shots.
However, there are also some clear issues with the One’s camera. There is a clear blue tint in most of the photos shot indoors under good lighting, the images do look dull especially when compared with the shots taken by the iPhone 5. Also, although the HTC One is able to keep noise levels in check under good lighting, the images captured by the iPhone look more colourful and have more sharply captured details (for instance, look at the letters printed on the race-car and the engine on the right side of the images in the second row above).
From all of the above, it’s clear that the HTC One’s camera is exceptionally good at reducing noise in images and is the pick of the litter when it comes to low-light photography. Whether you should opt for it really depends on how important low-light photography is for you. In situations where low-light is not an issue, there’s not really much that gives the HTC One an advantage and in fact casual photographers would prefer the more colourful (if slightly saturated) images shot by the likes of the iPhone over the realistic, but dull colours of the HTC One.