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  • Camera comparison: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, Sony Xperia Z1S

Camera comparison: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, Sony Xperia Z1S

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Camera comparison: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, Sony Xperia Z1S

Introduction


The day is February 19, 2013. HTC is about to announce its new Android flagship phone, and the tension in the air can be cut through with a butter knife. Rumors are suggesting that the company will introduce a new, revolutionary smartphone camera technology, which is going to blow the competition's smartphone cameras right out of the water. Needless to say, geeks everywhere are excited about this new phone, eager to find out what kind of camera HTC has crafted. Then comes the HTC One announcement, followed by our thorough review a month later. The phone itself rocks, but its 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera, although good, doesn't quite manage to match its high-end rivals.

Now, over a year later, it looks as if history is on the verge of repeating itself. HTC just took the veil off of the all new HTC One (M8), and its most peculiar feature is its much-touted Duo Camera. The latter consists of two cameras – an UltraPixel camera that is technically very similar to the one found on last year's model and a secondary unit to capture “depth information”. Thanks to the tandem, the photos can be post-processed for an emulated shallow depth of field – photos that look as if they have been taken with a professional camera.

But in reality, what will photos from the new HTC One's camera look like without the fancy after-effects applied? Could HTC's UltraPixel camera finally be a worthy rival to the cameras on today's high-end smartphones? Well, we're about to find out. We took the time to bring you this full-on camera comparison starring the new HTC flagship and some of the best smartphones in existence – the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, and the Sony Xperia Z1S.

Colors


First, the good news. For the most part, the new HTC One's photos have a fairly accurate color representation. They can be regarded as slightly undersaturated, although this could be a matter of personal taste. The bad news is that there are still some problems (due to artifacts), as our samples demonstrate, such as the weirdly pinkish clouds seen in most daytime shots. Still, the phone's photos are absolutely acceptable and a step above last year's model.

As for the rest of the bunch, we'd rank the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G2 the highest, although they aren't leading by much. Colors in the photos by these two are very close to reality, and what's more important, color accuracy is retained across scenes. In contrast, the Nokia Lumia 1520 takes awesome photos in some cases, yet throws the color balance out of the window in others. Photos by the iPhone 5s represent a scene that is warmer and brighter than what it looks real life, but as a whole, its photos are very eye-pleasing. We were expecting for the Galaxy Note 3's images to be as accurate as those by the S4, yet strangely, its photo turned out slightly more yellowish than they should have. Still, they're still pretty good-looking. The Sony Xperia Z1S produces great photos, although there might be some excessive color boost in some of them. The only not-so-great performer is the Google Nexus 5, which constantly produced overly warm, yellowish photos across the outdoor scenes in our testing.


Camera comparison: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, Sony Xperia Z1S

87 Comments
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posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:03 18

1. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8794; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Hold up.. S4 ranked higher than the Note 3?

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:13 7

4. _Bone_ (Posts: 2137; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


It is an interesting battle. Most S4s are equipped with the Exmor R (SD600 versions), some with the Exmor RS (Exynos 5 versions), while the Note 3 packs a newer Exmor RS (both versions), that has higher level of detail than the Exmor R, but worse dynamic range. Of all the Exmors looked at here (S4, N3, Z1s, G2, N5, 5S) the iPhone does consistently the best photos, while I think the 1520 needs a SW update, cause it's far more capable than the results it's pulling.

Expect Samsung's ISOCELL to make all run for their money, bar the 1020.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:17 1

7. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8794; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Photo #27 and #35 is where the Note 3 shines.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 03:56

52. refillable (Posts: 652; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)


Seriously? I have no Idea how the heck can a 1/2.5" sensor beat a 2/3" that was just been released a year ago?

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:14 11

5. Johnnokia (Posts: 536; Member since: 27 May 2012)


It is really so absurd to Lumia 1520 in the pre-last rank ..

So silly and suspicious indeed!

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:17 8

8. Contreramanjaro (Posts: 153; Member since: 04 Dec 2011)


I usually just look at these articles to compare pictures on my own. I don't think I've ever agreed with PA on the results.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 13:24 5

20. akki20892 (Posts: 3601; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


We should compare photos with professional photographer.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 16:20 1

58. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)


It Hurts More Than Market Share Doesn't It ...?
http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-camera-phone-the-final-comparative/
and here you go, cold water thrown in your face.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 18:59

73. utg001 (Posts: 31; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


I think in some scenarios, the 1520, iPhone and Z1 out shine the others by a margin. Clearly!

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:56 4

16. sergiobr (Posts: 428; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


PapaSmurf as a Note owner (like you) I must say that, in low or high light my phone takes better photos than S4 (I checked with my friends), when I shot with CameraPro is much better. I don´t know what PA is doing.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 18:01

69. geordie8t1 (unregistered)


i agree, i have galaxy s4 and note 3, and for me it was MUCH more noticable in night shots, my s4 just could not do very well at all, my note 3 however on similar settings, performs probably twice as good, my night shots are crisp and clear for what i got, i dont really notice so much in the day time shots.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 14:19 1

24. Ashoaib (Posts: 2353; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


I accept, S4 and g2 are almost equal with a slight difference of saturation levels but note3????? well, my experience with note3 is way better, I experienced note 3 performing better then z1, better then s4 and g2 as well... dont know about lumias bcoz I dont bother myself to check nokia

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 16:13

31. doejon (Posts: 359; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)


hahaha htc one m8 where u aaaaaat :D

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 09:44

56. sergiobr (Posts: 428; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


My Note 3 can take similar photos with this ...http://cdn02.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/samsung-galaxy-s5-image-samples-6.jpg

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 20:04

85. KingaSpades (Posts: 45; Member since: 04 Nov 2013)


And that's how you know that the entire thing is bullshyt.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:06 13

2. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 1983; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Nokia 1020!!!! Nothing comes close

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:29 10

11. akki20892 (Posts: 3601; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


And we know that.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:47

51. mayur007 (Posts: 459; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)


everyphone knows that ;)

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 16:22 2

59. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)


http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-camera-phone-the-final-comparative/
Here comes cold water for market share guy.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 13:04 5

17. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


yes it does the PV808

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 14:18

23. Nexus4lifes (Posts: 85; Member since: 13 Feb 2014)


Nokia lumia 1520 almost all flagships beat it..:)

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 23:44

45. rockers123 (Posts: 56; Member since: 08 Sep 2013)


You should have a look at MKBHD top 5 Camera phones

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 18:02

70. geordie8t1 (unregistered)


PV808

posted on 01 Apr 2014, 17:01

81. Hlorri (Posts: 40; Member since: 07 May 2008)


Uh... Except the Nokia 808 PureView! ;)
Still, 2 years after, the "king" of camera phones.

That said, the 808 (and even moreso the 1020) are not really the most suitable for casual/action shots. Both (especially the 1020) are slow to start, have long picture-to-picture durations, and have relatively slow exposure times (compared with, for instance, the HTC One).

The 1020 has Optical Image Stabilization, but that does nothing to prevent motion blur of the subject (and not the photographer).

Between my 808 PureView and my HTC One, I find that the One often captures the sharpest photos of my kids - especially if they're moving around. Of course the 808 takes the cleanest photos of still objects (nature and such) - though for that you'll probably want to use a DSLR anyway....

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:11 3

3. hmd74 (Posts: 374; Member since: 31 Jan 2013)


the question is when did PA get the phone to do the compare? :|
WTF? they reviewed it :|

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 23:33

42. KillerKeyboard (Posts: 307; Member since: 21 Nov 2013)


Embargo. Tech review companies get pre-sale units before the product launch with an agreement to only publish their articles in a given time set by the manufacturer.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:15

6. HTCOE (Posts: 497; Member since: 20 Nov 2011)


umm?? they didn't look bad in camera comparisons for the HTC One but not the best either. i'll accept it... i hope they make a detachable lens like what sony tried to do with the QX

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:20 2

9. SlowPoison77 (Posts: 27; Member since: 30 Nov 2013)


htc one m8 photoes are stunningm better than expected from 4mp, i m ready 4 upgrade

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:27 5

10. FaisalWibowo11 (Posts: 133; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)


Phonearena.com's camera comparison is really inconsistent and unprofessional.

In the previous comparison, Z1 has a score of 8.5 in colour representation but now it only has 7.0.

In the previous comparison, Z1 was rated lower than note 3 and s4 in night shots. Now, the Z1 is rated higher.

Video scoring also changes now.

Jeez, I don't get it. Maybe someone can clear me up

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:30 6

12. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8794; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Because it's a different test under different scenes?

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:44 3

15. FaisalWibowo11 (Posts: 133; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)


Maybe true. Because any phone's camera performance can turn out differently depending on the scene.

Still, S4 and G2 rated higher than lumia 1520 and Z1 kinda bugs me considering lumia 1520 and z1 have larger sensors, oversampling, and better per ISO performance.

Also S4 being better than note 3 is also kinda weird considering they have the same post processing methods

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 23:27 5

39. Jason2k13 (Posts: 657; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


It's called software, obviously Samsung optimize it alot better. xperia Z and Z1 are a joke compared to note 3 or S4.

I've tried the Z1 camera soo many times, and its usually a hit and miss. Soo many blurred shots, even go to Z1 XDA forums of people talking about it.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 16:23 1

60. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)


http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-camera-phone-the-final-comparative/

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 18:04

71. geordie8t1 (unregistered)


well the note 3 has a slightly modified sensor and processing setup, which makes it ever so slightly better, having owned and used both i would say that in no way is the s4 better then the note 3, in low light my note is far better at taking stills

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:36 2

13. jerrycutshaw (Posts: 28; Member since: 27 Apr 2011)


Nick - In future comparisons please add in subjects in motion such as a car or person walking. As a parent my subjects are rarely sitting still!

I'm floored the LG G2 scored so well. We are on our 3rd replacement model. It takes excellent pictures of stationary objects. It focuses very slowly (if at all) and if the subject is even THINKING about moving you get alot of ghosting. I've compared this with my HTC one and found the difference significant. Also MUCH worse than the iPhone 5.

Does anyone else have such experiences with the LG G2?

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 14:12

22. Ashoaib (Posts: 2353; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Yes, you are right... nice terminology "ghosting"... indeed it happen though I didnt realized it that time but I remember now what you mean

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 15:45

28. Gatorsrule52 (Posts: 34; Member since: 18 Mar 2013)


That doesn't happen with mine at all. The quality is better than an iphone 5 for sure according to the people im around, even some with iphone 5's! Ghosting can be a problem sometimes but its never more sever than the other phones ive used... i hope it can b taken care of with an update though cause i feel like this camera shouldnt have any issues with this

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 01:51 1

48. Ashoaib (Posts: 2353; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Yes, it is not that sever and ignorable thats why I didnt remeber it, above comment reminded me... moreover, ofcourse G2 is better then iphone 5s, no doubt in it

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:51

34. chebner (Posts: 146; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


What's causing the "ghosting" effect on moving objects is a slow shutter speed.

Have you set the ISO manually? Setting ISO to a low setting will reduce noise, but in lower light situations it will cause the camera to slow down the shutter speed in order to get adequate exposure. With a slow shutter speed moving objects will blur.

Being a photographer I don't normally recommend anyone to use full auto mode, but with these camera phones unless you are trying to capture a specific affect it's normally your best bet.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:36

49. magnanimus (Posts: 303; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


Thanks you. I thought no one would address this. The G2's camera didn't impress me at all :/ it does great in good lighting conditions, but try to use it at night and it becomes a potato. The viewfinder frame rate bugs me so much and if the subject is moving, they tend to 'ghost'. I wish this can be addressed by software. I really need this as I tend to take more photos at night :(

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 02:38

65. AndroidStuff (Posts: 27; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)


Focus was very slow on jelly bean but it was fixed on KIt Kat :) Better camera update on G2 now loving all the Pictures on HDR mode

posted on 30 Mar 2014, 23:30

77. sarge77 (Posts: 202; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


The LG go has a great camera and yes movement I'd a problem kinda strange because this phone was supposed to do well with movement. The flash in any camera take forever I have note 3 and have LG g2, and same problem for both.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 12:38

14. robert26101 (Posts: 84; Member since: 21 Mar 2014)


I don't crop photos so I think this phone will work for me.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 13:07

18. 1ceTr0n (Posts: 527; Member since: 20 May 2012)


WTF S4 beats Note 3 in color accuracy? BS PA....

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 13:09 13

19. cai4651 (Posts: 26; Member since: 09 Mar 2014)


So...S4 is better than the new HTC one ? We are talking of a device that have 1 year old...S5 will kill this...

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 14:26

25. koko1 (Posts: 98; Member since: 03 Dec 2013)


thats why the s4 was the best camera phone after the 1020
so u guys said that m8 is better than s5 ?
hahahahahhaa

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 14:31 4

26. Ashoaib (Posts: 2353; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Samsung is better bcoz sam has good experience with cameras... they are not just a phone company like many out there... sam uses the same sensor as used by others but optimize the software efficiently to out perform many... lets see how isolated cell technology will perform, it can increase sams respect or break all together

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 13:36 1

21. user996 (Posts: 189; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


1520 shines

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 15:34 1

27. GoBears (Posts: 374; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


All I can tell you is I got an LG G2 because of all these high rankings on it's camera. Let me tell you all it was one of the worst camera experiences I had on a modern smart phone. Details and colors were fine if the lighting was good and the subject was perfectly still. What these reviews always fail to mention is important details like how slow it focuses and that it doesn't use the LED to prefocus in dim lighting. I went back to the S4 and it was worlds better in quality. Now I'm super happy with my Note3 camera. My point is that you have to try them all yourself and pick the one you feel is the best.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 15:50

29. Gatorsrule52 (Posts: 34; Member since: 18 Mar 2013)


Not true for me at all! Its one of the best camera phones out their! All the pictures i take come out clear and crisp and it focuses perfectly on where want it to. Im not sure what you are taking about with the LED "prefocus" because it fires the flash first, focuses, then takes a shot so everything can be crisp. The S4 camera is basically the same so I dont know why you would say "worlds better"

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 16:00 1

30. GoBears (Posts: 374; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


Like I said, it's all in the users opinion. Mine was on 4.2.2 and definitely didn't use the flash to focus. Maybe they added that with kitkat.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:25

32. redmd (Posts: 901; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


G2 camera needs tweaking. Off white balance issues but has a good amount of detail. I sold it.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:35 1

33. -box- (Posts: 3853; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


1520 below the Samsungs? I know they're pretty good (especially the Note3) but for whatever reason it's taken a beating on this round, even though there's another update already out for it which improves the camera even more than at launch.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 20:18 1

36. Edmund (Posts: 656; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


I really wouldn't put too much credence on a phone arena camera comparison.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 23:28 1

40. Jason2k13 (Posts: 657; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


the pictures are there, use it.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 16:30 1

61. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)


http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-camera-phone-the-final-comparative/

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 20:01

35. Gemmol (Posts: 541; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


This website trolls windows phone, how do you put the 1520 under any of those phones, its either they have a faulty 1520 or something, I cannot talk much about the new htc one because I do not have anyone with that phone around me, but come on, this is just trolling to a new level. I expect this out of the people who come here to comment, not the people who write the article, they shouldn't be bias at all, especially when your comparing.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:45 1

50. Ashoaib (Posts: 2353; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Try all, visit different phone markets n try all... you will see the difference

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 01:00

64. The13thKing (banned) (Posts: 849; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)


http://thedigitalcamera.net/best-camera-phone-the-final-comparative/
Here You Go Ignorant. Read. Its Good.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 20:20

37. Edmund (Posts: 656; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


another day, another BS smartphone camera shootout by phone arena.

The 1520 wins hands down. Learn to use it properly

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