Do HTC One ultrapixels deliver? Our full camera review
DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.
HTC is a pioneer in the smartphone world. The Taiwanese manufacturer got very early into the game with its Windows mobile devices, many of them marketed under carrier brand names. It also designed and manufactured the first Android phone in 2008, the T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream.
However, in the more recent past HTC has been struggling to compete with its bitter Korean rival Samsung. While HTC's 2012 flagship device, the One X, got rave reviews and was universally praised by technology writers as one of the year's best devices, it could not match expectations in the marketplace where many consumers found Samsung's Galaxy S3 to be the more compelling choice.
2013 could therefore be a "make-or-break" year for HTC and it seems the company has done everything it could to prepare itself. With its 8MP camera, fast F2.0 lens and a 1.5GHz multi-core processor, last year's One X was no slouch, but the new 2013 flagship has been improved in almost every area. The HTC One swaps the One X's polycarbonate body for a beautiful all-metal unibody design which houses a 4.7-inch 1080p Full-HD screen, 2GB RAM and a Snapdragon quad-core processor.
While all the general device specifications leave no doubt that the One is a high-end device, HTC has put special emphasis on its flagship phone's image capturing capabilities. Like its predecessor, the HTC One comes with a fast F2.0 lens but also offers an optical image stabilization system, making it, at least on paper, an ideal low-light imaging smartphone.
The HTC One is not the first smartphone to sport a fast lens and OIS, but its 4 "ultrapixel" CMOS sensor is a novelty in the mobile space. "Ultrapixels" is essentially a marketing term that has been coined by HTC to describe pixels that are larger than those on competing models. The core of HTC's argument is based around the idea that using fewer, larger pixels on a sensor that's the same size as the 8 or 13MP units found in competitors should offer better image quality. This of course runs counter to conventional marketing, which has always contended precisely the opposite, i.e. more pixels are better.
There is an argument for using fewer pixels on a smartphone, since most images are edited and/or shared at lower resolutions than 4MP. That said, there’s a pretty strong argument that what really determines image quality when looking at the image as a whole is the total amount of light captured by the sensor, not by each individual pixel. We've put the HTC One through our review process to find out what ultrapixels mean for image quality and how the device generally performs in imaging-related tasks. Read on to find out how it did.
If you would like to see the HTC One in a side-by-side image quality comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920 and Apple iPhone 4S please also have a look at our comprehensive Smartphone Super Shootout and our comparison with the Apple iPhone 4S.
Key Photographic / Video Specifications
- 4MP backside-illuminated HTC 1/3" CMOS sensor
- F2.0 aperture
- 28mm equivalent focal length
- Optical image stabilization
- 1080p Full HD video on both front and rear cameras
- HDR video
- HDR Microphones and stereo speakers with Beats Audio
- Slow-motion video with variable speed playback
- HTC Zoe movies
- Object Removal, Always Smile and Sequence Shot editing options
- 88-degree wide-angle front camera
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, 1.7 GHz
- Android 4.1.2 "Jelly Bean" OS with HTC Sense 5.0
- 4.7-inch 1080p screen (486ppi)
- 2GB RAM
- 32/64GB storage
- 2300 mAh battery (not removable)
- All-metal unibody design
Our ten-page review
We've considered every aspect of the HTC One, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.
QuickStories is integrated into the latest version of the GoPro app and automatically creates 'stories' using the video clips you've shot during a day.
Journalists photographing a protest in the US Capitol building claim they were told by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of arrests.
The Meizu Pro 7 Plus secondary display can be used for music playback, date and weather-related information, or as viewfinder when taking selfies with the rear cameras.
Nikon is marking its 100th anniversary in many ways, including the creation of a new scholarship program for 'future visual creators' in the USA and Canada.
Take one Digital ELPH (or IXUS), rotate it vertically, add a fully articulating LCD and a lens with a camcorder-like focal length, and what do you get? Why, the Canon PowerShot TX1, of course. In this week's Throwback Thursday we revisit Canon's one-of-a-kind hybrid stills/video camera.
Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, here's the definitive video proof that yes, a $50,000 cinema camera beats the pants off a $50 camcorder in a side-by-side test.
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.