HTC One's Camera Tested (Updated)

Launch SRP: S$968

Extreme Low Light

An Extreme Low Light Test 

Since HTC promotes that the One's 4MP sensor is more sensitive to light, we decided to test its low-light shooting capabilities in an extremely dark environment. However, it seems that the larger photosites don't make much of a difference here; the One's low-light gathering abilities aren't much better than the rest. We then pushed up the shadows and brought down the highlights using Photoshop's Shadows/Highlights tool, set to a maximum of 100%, to see if the details were hidden in the shadows. But here again, it seems that the larger photosites don't add much to the One's dynamic range.

In fact, the Nokia Lumia 920 (the Nokia 808 PureView's results are so good, it's getting ridiculous to compare any other phone's camera against it) does much better than the HTC One at both low-light capture and the ability to pull details from the shadows and highlights. But the Nokia Lumia 920 takes more chances; it consistently opens its shutter for a longer period of time than the One, capturing more light but at the risk of introducing camera shake into the picture. 

Since we couldn't manually dictate shutter speeds for the phones, this isn't a strict 1:1 comparison. But from what we can see, the HTC One doesn't offer significantly better low-light performance than its peers.

ISO 100
HTC One HTC One XL
iPhone 5 (N.A.) Nokia 808 PureView (5MP capture)
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP capture) Nokia Lumia 920

 

ISO 200
HTC One HTC One XL
iPhone 5 (N.A.) Nokia 808 PureView (5MP capture)
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP capture) Nokia Lumia 920

 

ISO 400
HTC One HTC One XL
iPhone 5 (N.A.) Nokia 808 PureView (5MP capture)
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP capture) Nokia Lumia 920

 

ISO 800
HTC One HTC One XL
iPhone 5 (N.A.) Nokia 808 PureView (5MP capture)
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP capture) Nokia Lumia 920

 

ISO 1600
HTC One HTC One XL
iPhone 5 (ISO 2000) Nokia 808 PureView (5MP capture)
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP capture) Nokia 920 (N.A.)

 

Dynamic Range Compared

We took the low-light shots, pulled out the shadows and pushed down the highlights in Photoshop CS4 to see what we could see, which wasn't much. Here we show you the HTC One's ISO 100-1600 shots after post-production, with comparisons against the better-performing Nokia 920's shots. Note however, that the Nokia 920 is consistently shooting at slower shutter speeds than the HTC One, which allows it to capture more light. At ISO 100 for example, the HTC One is shooting at 1/20 of a second, while the Nokia 920 is shooting at a very risky 1/3 of a second.

We also threw in the Nokia 808's to show you just how ridiculously it's outperforming everyone else.

HTC One, ISO 100

HTC One, ISO 200

HTC One, ISO 400

HTC One, ISO 800

HTC One, ISO 1600

Nokia Lumia 920, ISO 100

Nokia Lumia 920, ISO 200

Nokia Lumia 920, ISO 400

Nokia Lumia 920, ISO 800

Nokia 808 PureView, ISO 100

9.0
Design
9.5
Features
9
User-Friendliness
9
Performance
8.5
Value
8
The Good
Aluminum unibody, zero-gap construction
Variety of useful features such as BlinkFeed
Fast processing speeds
Natural looking screen
Excellent audio
The Bad
Unconventional soft button configuration
lmaging quality is middling due to 4MP sensor
Average battery life
Display is hard to view under direct sunlight