HTC One vs Nokia Lumia 920 vs 808 PureView: technical comparison
It was hardly news even then, but in the next five years until now smartphone makers were trapped in a race cramming more and more megapixels into cameras to impress the masses. This continues up to this day too with companies like Sony squeezing in a 13-megapixel camera on a smartphone with a small sensor. Heck, the most anticipated Android phone of the year, the Galaxy S IV is rumored to also have a 13-megapixel camera. HTC itself is guilty of the same sin, though, with its 16-megapixel Windows Phone-based Titan phone, but with the One a change that Nokia first started on Symbian is finally coming to Android.
Nokia’s 808 PureView and the Lumia 920. We’re throwing in last year’s HTC One X as well to show how the company has evolved, but it won’t be a topic of our discussion.
The new HTC One does not have a 13-megapixel camera, an 8-megapixel shooter, nor even a 5-megapixel one - it has a 4-megapixel camera. It is one HTC calls UltraPixel and claims will offer vastly improved image quality.
As shockingly little and strange as it may sound to some of you, we believe less is more and HTC is going with a reasonable common sense move in an area where common sense has been lost. Here is why.
HTC One – 4.3MP 1/3-inch CMOS BSI
Nokia Lumia 920 – 8.7MP 1/3-inch CMOS BSI
Nokia 808 PureView – 42MP 1/1.2” CMOS FSI
HTC One X – 8MP, 1/3.2” CMOS BSI
The sensor is the most expensive and important part of a camera, a layer with photosites that captures incoming light and at each roll of the shutter assesses how many photons hit each photosite to make up images. The larger it is, the better.
The HTC One comes with a 1/3-inch sensor, as big as most other smartphones including the Nokia Lumia 920. Or to be perfectly correct we should say “as small as” other smartphones because 1/3-inch sensor is tiny compared to what we find even in point-and-shoot cameras, and many times smaller than a DSLR or full frame cameras.
In cameraphones, however, the sensor size of the HTC One is comparable to most other devices, including the Lumia 920.
The Nokia 808 PureView is one big exception. The Symbian device set the bar high as it features the largest sensor ever put in a phone (it’s also much thicker than an average smartphone), a 1/1.2” one. Comparing just the sensor size, you can immediately see that the HTC One cannot be a direct competitor with the Nokia 808. It would not be an apples to apples comparison after all as the Nokia 808 is much, much thicker while the HTC One does not compromise on size.
HTC One - 2.0 µm
Nokia Lumia 920 – 1.4 µm
Nokia 808 PureView – 1.4 µm, or up to 4.9 µm virtual
HTC One X – 1.4 µm
Pixel size is probably the most important overlooked technical feature of a camera and interestingly it is illuminating best the differences between the HTC One and other smartphones starts becoming very apparent.
While most other high-end smartphones have 1.4µm pixels, the One has significantly larger ones allowing in much more light and thus much better images in underlit conditions. That is where the name UltraPixel stems from.
This should allow the HTC One to outperform the Nokia Lumia 920, a smartphone that takes pride in low-light performance, but also has a smaller 1.4µm pixels. Theoretically, this means the HTC One has double the light sensitivity of Nokia’s Windows Phone flagship.
HTC One – f/2.0, 5-element, 28mm focal length equivalent
Nokia Lumia 920 – f/2.0, 5-element, 26mm
Nokia 808 PureView – f/2.4, 5-element, 28mm
HTC One X – f/2.0, 3.6mm, 28mm
The f number signifying the aperture of a camera is another important measure. The lower the f number the wider the opening through which light passes to the sensor. A wide aperture also allows you to use faster shutter speeds with adequate exposure, and that’s why we’d also refer to them as “fast.”
HTC has gone with a relatively wide f/2.0 aperture for a smartphone at an almost standard sensor size. Nokia’s Lumia 920 also has an equally wide f/2.0 camera.
What might surprise you is that the top rated cameraphone, the Nokia 808 has a narrower, slower f/2.4 aperture.
So it’s a draw here between the HTC One and the Lumia 920 which both have an equally wide, fast aperture. In contrast, even some of the best phones this year like the Sony Xperia Z have a slower f/2.4 aperture.
HTC One – HTC ImageChip 2, Live HDR video recording, integrated HDR, optical image stabilization, simultaneous video/stills capture, LED flash
Nokia Lumia 920 – optical image stabilization, LED flash
Nokia 808 PureView – Xenon flash
HTC One X – HTC ImageChip debut, LED flash
HTC’s dedicated ImageChip debuted on the One series last year and it brought huge improvements to image quality. With the new HTC One, the company makes it faster which brings one big improvement - support for faster shutter speeds of as quick as 1/48 of a second, compared to 1/30 earlier.
The ImageChip not only lifts the burden from a SoC image signal processor (ISP), it allows HTC to deliver faster different versions of the same device based on different chips as it does not need to adjust the different ISP in every different chip. Instead, it has one uniform ISP.
The ImageChip kicks in with tasks traditionally handled by the system-on-chip ISP. Autofocus, Auto white balance, and Autoexposure are handled by the dedicated ImageChip. Lens correction, noise reduction, best shot picks, continuous auto focus, LED flash levels, face detection and many other tasks are more effectively handled by it.
optical image stabilization and that’s great news for still image quality in low light and video recordings on the move. We don’t know much details about the One’s OIS except for the fact it counters motion on 2-axis, kicking in extremely frequently, 2,000 times a second.
Now, this is four times more than on Nokia’s Lumia 920, which has an OIS system that works only 500 times a second. Nokia however seems to use a different system overall, where not just a single lens component moves, but the whole optical assembly.
Overall, HTC has taken a big risk with the UltraPixel Camera on the HTC One. But it is a much, much needed one. We simply cannot have good quality cameras on smartphones as long as all discussion revolves around the number of megapixels. It has to stop.
It is clear to every expert that anything in the vicinity of 5-megapixels should be plentiful for the vast majority of users. However it takes action and guts to deliver a 4-megapixel camera while the industry and some users are salivating in anticipation of more and more megapixels. HTC showed it has the guts to challenge those misconceptions.
Admittedly, the company is not the first one to make drastic improvements in cameras. Nokia was there first years ago, and most recently it has delivered some revolutionary devices like the Nokia N8 and the Nokia 808 PureView.
Bad news for Nokia is it has diluted its PureView technology with the Lumia 920. PureView started as a synonym for the Nokia 808 with its huge sensor and resulting amazing image quality. But later, with the Lumia 920 it evolved into a marketing term with little meaning.
Finally, it is clear the HTC One cannot compete with PureView as seen on the Nokia 808, but comparing the two wouldn't be comparing apples to apples because of the difference in size and thickness.
HTC One UltraPixel camera samples Fullscreen
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2. zhiae posted on 21 Feb 2013, 07:56 12
whata hell they are talking about i dont get it
it is better or not ?
8. windroid posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:04 20
It's a "technical comparison" they are analyzing each camera technical specifications. It's not intended to be a winner here.
152. zhiae posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:52 3
thank you Windroid
what about pixels do you think pictures can be zoomed i mean in details i think not and what i think is over 2 mp., photos quality will be on cam sensor
after all i dont know how may be like .
265. dexter_jdr posted on 22 Feb 2013, 07:04 1
i wanna post this on top
96. SamsungFan posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:56 8
Those nokia fools are talking without reading the article. I'm a samsung fan. But love the improvements made in technology. You nokia fans have to accept htc one is better than stupid lumias
117. lumia920 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:07 17
if adding more ram and processor is improvement then yes you are right.
but the real thing is innovation, samsung is nothing just a copy cat. your beloved samsung pays a huge amount of their hard earn money to his father, apple. and apple pays to his father, i.e, nokia. from this you can conclude that nokia is the grand father of your beloved samsung.
122. SamsungFan posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:12 5
Oh I didn't know that. That may be the reason why nokia sold their headquarters and start selling other things. That may be because they got a lot of money from Apple and samsung :-D
128. lumia920 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:14 12
if you don't know that then shut your mouth... we don't need your speculations.
188. Toivoja posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:49 3
You can think of it this way: Nokia sold their HQ as they are going through a transition phase and as they have laid of people, they don't need as much space as they needed before. There are numerous companies have rented their HQ as they want to concentrate on what they do best.
Ps. as Samsung provides components for Apple and Nokia, I wonder how much of the components info goes to Samsungs "R&D"?
239. chadrick0814 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 23:09 2
Last I checked, 70% of iPhone is made by Samsung. So who is paying whom? Also, I didn't realize that Samsung had already paid apple a dime from the court cases. Thanks for enlightening us. But you are correct in one aspect, MS does make more money from android sales than WP sales...which is unfortunate.
258. SamsungFan posted on 22 Feb 2013, 03:52 1
Those nokia trolls don't know anything.
266. bon24x7 posted on 22 Feb 2013, 07:05 2
do you? you don't sound like you know either.. -_-
275. SamsungFan posted on 22 Feb 2013, 08:27 1
I think I know better than nokia fools
289. Altair posted on 23 Feb 2013, 06:04 1
May I ask what you know? I've checked few of your comments. All of them just looks trolling.
261. lumia920 posted on 22 Feb 2013, 05:23 1
samsung pays royalties to apple, as they were found guilty and sued by apple.
all of this and comment # 117 exposes the truth.
124. Nathan_ingx posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:13 15
If indeed you love technology, you wouldn't have called anything, let alone Lumia, stupid. You don't love technology, i'm not even sure if you know it well.
Just admit that you hate Nokia...that'll be much better.
133. SamsungFan posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:19 4
I don't hate nokia. I said 808 has the best camera but not the lumia. I hate nokia trolls but I don't hate nokia
136. Nathan_ingx posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:25 10
Ok, fine...you love Nokia. But you shouldn't have said stupid. That beats your love for technology.
By the way, 920 triggered the making of One's camera sensor...so think before you say anything.
146. SamsungFan posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:47 3
Sorry I just felt angry with those nokia trolls
138. lumia920 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:27 9
yes 808 has the best camera.. and second is 920.
147. No_Nonsense posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:47 11
N8 is second.
174. Deaconclgi posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:28 1
148. SamsungFan posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:50 4
Stop trolling buddy.
Don't say that I'm also a troll because I love samsung but now im on htc's side because simply one is the best camera phone out there. And that what is called true innovation
189. Toivoja posted on 21 Feb 2013, 13:51 3
Wait... then where did the 808 go? or N8? or L920?
259. SamsungFan posted on 22 Feb 2013, 03:54 1
Nokia 808 has the best camera followed by nokia n8 and in the third place its htc one .
262. dexter_jdr posted on 22 Feb 2013, 07:01 0
uhmm hi samsungfan...
268. bon24x7 posted on 22 Feb 2013, 07:24 4
you do realize that every so called 'innovative' thing mentioned here about HTC one has been already on a Nokia phone right?
ultrapixel == go back 6 yrs and check N95
image stabilization == check nokia 920 from last year ( works to 1/7.5sec on HTC vs Nokia's 1/3 sec)
night shot == check nokia 920 again.
since when does coming up with an already existing idea called innovation?? no wonder you're a samsung fan...
290. Altair posted on 23 Feb 2013, 06:06 0
Yeah, dont forget design. HTC one is pure iPhone copycat. Lawsuits will come afterwards for sure.
248. shashi.map posted on 22 Feb 2013, 00:27 4
The Improvements in technology were started by Nokia .....and not your favorite copycat Samsung.....samsung adds ram and cpu cores ,bump the screen & camera a bit and call it the best.......nothing innovative there i see.......dual core lumia can make a quad core droid sweat it terms of speed & fludity
260. SamsungFan posted on 22 Feb 2013, 03:56 4
A droid can do many things which a wp can't. And I don't hate nokia but I hate wp. It would be better for nokia if they redesigned symbian instead of using wp
296. shashi.map posted on 24 Feb 2013, 11:17 0
Re-desinging Symbian or MeeGo......never gonna happen untill that trojan elop is there in nokia
279. maccess posted on 22 Feb 2013, 15:51 0
lol.. a type of comment from a butthurt fanboy.. we costumers never claimed samsung is the best.. but the volume of the sales speak by itself..
284. dexter_jdr posted on 23 Feb 2013, 01:53 2
people just think samsung is better coz they see ads all around. i blame nokia for bad marketing.
295. shashi.map posted on 24 Feb 2013, 11:13 1
hey i dont hate samsung to the core or anything, it's just that i want to see a really innovative smartphone from them. The SGS2 & note-1 were my favourite's,and then they got their sequels s3 & n2 nothing of these two really impressed me that much,It was like they added 2cores and bumped the screen....... i really liked what nokia did with the lumia 920 (L800,L900 were never good),the OIS ,supersensitive screen were some welcome improvements for smartphones and nokia was there first to implement them
21. Nathan_ingx posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:30 10
Written up there are the plus points and minus points. You should "like totally check it out" before you get a screamin'.
Thanks Victor, this article should help people like me, understand how camera works inside our smart phones.
If HTC One does manage to outperform the 920 in the low light category, it will raise the bar to a whole new level again! Competition is good!
3. _Bone_ posted on 21 Feb 2013, 07:59 10
The sensor size and aperture is actually impressive, but ironically what HTC says, that the MP count doesn't matter applies to them as well, so just because the One has 4 million single pixels it doesn't mean it will capture more details than say the 920 of same sensor size with smaller but more pixels. The samples I've seen so far are perfectly okay in low-light conditions, but under more light, they don't stand out at all, as a matter of fact there are rivals that look sharper at higher resolution than the One does at just 4MPs.
In any case one should give HTC A for effort, what a phone!
9. Victor.H posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:08 9
We would not rush on judging the HTC One by those camera samples right away. We have included them for reference, but the device is expected to ship in March and we wouldn't be too surprised if HTC took those extra few weeks to make some more improvements on the camera software.
34. _Bone_ posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:39 5
Looking forward to release performance and comparison, can you include BOTH Exmor RS devices?
149. _Bone_ posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:50 1
Can you do the comparison shots on the girl on the HTC ad?
4. erick01 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:00 4
What nonsense article: are you comparing the cameras? the phones? the OSs?
37. FireDragon posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:41 6
The article is trying to introduce us to the camera technology used in smartphones.
70. jsdechavez posted on 21 Feb 2013, 09:24 13
I think they are praising and lowballing Nokia's efforts at the same time with Pureview and implying that HTC has beaten Nokia with an Android over WP... Thin (One) over thick (808)...
BIASED article definitely.
This article was merely posted to promote HTC One. Not that it really is better than the phone camera king, Nokia.
Let's wait about HTC has to say when the Nokia EOS comes out. Can't wait for that! hahah
130. lolol posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:15 5
Totally agree with you! If pa does a camera comparison I know who's going to win =P when they include a phone without latest updates for the camera, biased, can't wait till Nokia EOS comes out..
139. shikroi posted on 21 Feb 2013, 10:29 4
@jsdechavez My point exactly.
7. Siaw_Yong posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:03 10
Wow! A 4.3MP camera beats an 8 MP camera from nexus 4. I can hardly imagine if the HTC One has a bigger MP+Ultrapixel :O. It'll be Lumia 920 hardest competitor in camera department.
10. p5yb0rg (unregistered) posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:08 12
I'm very skeptical about this 4.3 MP or "ultrapixel" business. There's a chance it may work because lower pixels generally result in smaller sized files, leaving more room for pics. So, smaller sized pics and better quality = win. However, falling below the industry's 5 MP standard could be a huge fail. Let's see how it plays out in quality and vs the competetors.
13. asingha94 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:18 4
Thanks PA! afterall nokia 808 is in comparison list.They should withdraw the nickname ULTRAPIXEL!!
28. alterecho posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:35 3
Unaware people will think it is worse than other Android 5mpx camera phones. HTC can't have that, after all their efforts(?). So they need to tell, the uninitiated, its different than the others. So i think their marketing term is justified in this case.
14. trustory posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:19 8
How come phonearena doesn't go this in depth with every review of a smartphone so we can objectively compare cameras?
36. Victor.H posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:41 8
A lot of that has to do with the stalled development of smartphone cameras where we basically get more megapixels every year. The HTC One brings change, and I'm pretty sure you will start seeing more depth that goes with it in our reviews.
172. -box- posted on 21 Feb 2013, 12:25 5
I would disagree with the "more megapixels every year". Nokia had the 12MP N8 in 2010, but their 2012 flagship has only 8.7 (we all know that the 808's shots tend to be distilled to 5-8MP with the "oversampling" featue). HTC had the 16MP Titan2 last year, now their flagship has 4.3, previously 8. I'll grant that Pantech has upped its MP count with the Discover, having 13 compared to the usual 5 or 8, but most OEMs are remaining at the 8MP for the most part, but improving the optics, as well as the other components (BSI vs FSI, for instance, and adding OIS and dual-LED or Xenon flashes).
232. tashreef posted on 21 Feb 2013, 21:25 4
next time while doing comparison please let someone else from PA do it.. your conclusion looks more biased than technical
15. preet27in posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:21 3
welll it shows all. htc has rather taken a bold and better step towards improving the camers. it is clear in those pictures that megapixels actually dosent matter. pictures r damn clear and definately better than htc one x or any other smartphone of this catagory. its equivalent or better than nokia 920 atleast if not 808 pureview. techinical specifications show u all.HTC UR THE BEST. this move is highly APPRECIABLE as now other companies got some work to do with those cameras. the design is ultimate and top most compared to any other phone design. BEST OF LUCK. KEEP ROCKING HTC.
16. amansingal14 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:23 15
There are three levels of camera understanding -
Low - MPs, Zoom and all
Mediocre - Sensor Size, Pixel Size and all
High/The Most Basic Level - Algorithm, Practicality, Logical reasoning and all...
For Example, only the lens moves to provide OIS in the HTC one, thus providing a very low level of it. But since the whole optical assembly moves, although slower, thus providing ten times better OIS in the Nokia
Simply speaking, HTC is jus taking you from Low level to mediocre level, thus faking you even more, but Nokia is jus making you think at low evel and is itself thinking at the last level.
Also, about the algorithms, Nokia already has been providing Portico update with many changes and bug fixes to the 920...
So, according to me, both Nokia(s) beat out the One completely. Not saying One would be a bad camera phone, in fact it would be great, but just doesn't have as much capability as Nokia 920/808 do in the camera department.
18. preet27in posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:26 6
future will telll. wait n watch matee.atleat lumia 920 is out from competition. cheerz
20. amansingal14 posted on 21 Feb 2013, 08:29 7
Lumia out of competition. Bet you didn't see portico update coming...
233. tashreef posted on 21 Feb 2013, 21:29 0
oh really... you saying it before any real comparison between L920 and HTC one ... i would suggest you to watch some OIS demonstration of L920 before concluding.....