Camera comparison: HTC One vs Nokia Lumia 920 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S III vs Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4
- 1 Introduction and Details
- 2 Color reproduction
- 3 Indoor
- 4 Night
- 5 Macro
- 6 Video
- 7 Camera interface comparison
- 8 Conclusion
- HTC One specifications
- Nokia Lumia 920 specifications
- Apple iPhone 5 specifications
- Samsung Galaxy S III specifications
- Sony Xperia Z specifications
- Google Nexus 4 specifications
Smartphone cameras have improved tremendously over the years and nowadays you can easily replace a point and shoot camera with your smartphone, especially if most of the photos you take are during the day and you are not too pretentious about image quality.
One of the biggest leaps in cameraphones recently was the switch to backside-illuminated (BSI) sensors with the light sensitive element being in front of the wiring. A solution that allows for better low light imagery, the technical difficulties for it were overcome in 2011 and 2012, and now most high-end cameraphones have BSI sensors.
In 2013 we are going one step beyond. A lot of mainstream smartphones will be making the jump to 13-megapixel cameras which should translate in greater detail.
HTC has gone against the trend and the HTC One has only a 4.3-megapixel camera. To make up it aims to deliver the best low-light images and videos. And with no intentions to do large prints the 4.3 megapixels should definitely suffice.
Now, we have a star lineup to compare HTC’s latest and greatest with. In this latest smartphone camera shootout we are comparing the HTC One against its biggest rivals: the trend-setting Apple iPhone 5, the most prolific Android device, the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the other smartphone with focus on low-light camera performance, the Nokia Lumia 920. Then, we also have Sony’s 2013 flagship, the Xperia Z with its Exmor RS 13-megapixel camera, and finally, Google’s own Nexus 4.
Additionally, we have reference shots taken with a dedicated camera, the Panasonic Lumix GH2 with its 18-55mm kit lens.
We have used automatic settings in all conditions, except at night when we used night mode (where available) and for macro where we used the macro setting (where available). Images from the reference dedicated camera were downsized to 8 megapixels.
When it comes to the small details in the image, the newcomer HTC One with its modest 4.3-megapixel camera is not standing in a good position. Looking at 100% crops or zooming in closer, you’d definitely see that fine detail is not among the One’s strong features. Images look a bit spongy, even in perfect weather.
The Nokia Lumia 920 yields a high amount of noise, and there is a lot of softening happening on the device. This makes for less distinct images, lacking a bit in sharpness.
The Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III performed similarly to each other - detail was relatively high, with noise in check. They are our favorites here.
Strangely, smudginess is something that affects the Sony Xperia Z too to some degree. We got varying results with it, in some situations it managed to capture some fine details others could not, but most times this came at the expense of softening the actual image.
On the Nexus 4 noise was noticeable even on a bright sunny day, which is bad, but detail is above average compared to the competition.
- Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Nexus 4
- HTC One
- Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z
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1. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)
Awsome.. and The best one is Xperia Z for camera phone but its a matter of personal preference
5. tech2 (Posts: 1324; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
I bet u didnt even compared the pics before commenting here ! Your thumbnail says it all.
BTW, I'd love to be stand corrected if you can tell us what led you to believe Xperia Z is best camera phone.
44. wendygarett (unregistered)
Most unbiased review ever, hard to find winner? Phonearena IS a winner ^_^
58. wendygarett (unregistered)
Oops, pa rank the lumia very well, but why Victor say the lumia camera is toyish?
either way, camera quality is subjective, some prefer night shot and some prefer higher mp, if the user has awful snapshots, it's pointless To have a good camera phone if you ask me
106. Emily1985 (Posts: 123; Member since: 08 Nov 2012)
Nokia Lumia 920 wins smartphone camera battle
The Best Smartphone Camera,Nokia Lumia 920 wins
63. rizevnarastek (Posts: 313; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)
In my opinion the best looking photos come from HTC One and iPhone5 ....then the rest follow.
157. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
Phonearena this is quite interesting
6. AamirSIII (banned) (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Oct 2012)
ha ha... PA again paid for this comparison... giving iPhone 5 first spot in almost all catagories including night when everybody can see its 920!! shame on u PA
11. samsunggalaxylover (Posts: 37; Member since: 23 Jan 2013)
I think we should wait for such comparison with the galaxy s4.
12. android_hitman (Posts: 587; Member since: 07 Jul 2010)
this is clearly a desperate act from apple .. shame on you PA
80. Muzhhur (Posts: 231; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)
Agree, anyway I bought my Lumia 920, its osom!!!!
13. tech2 (Posts: 1324; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
Well looking at the pictures, iPhone 5 does come out on top during night. But being said that in almost all other website's camera phone review, Lumia 920 was on top.
that baffles me too TBH !
54. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2964; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Regardless of which made it to the top and which to the bottom, i don't agree with how PA post comprisons.
Last we had comprisons like this (minus the One and Z) it was different. Now it's shuffled to a new order, the results vary and it feels different. Each camera comparison has different results for every smartphone, except for the iPhone. It has been compared with consistency...don't know if it really is or not but i've been saying this since last year to PA. To hire a proper professional if you have to compare...use manual settings, make the best out of the phones and see the result and then we can see the real potential behind each device.
149. -box- (Posts: 3566; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Maybe they were blocking the 920's light sensors or messed the settings up. This result is less than realistic.
96. haseebzahid (Posts: 1775; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)
typical iphones might be photoshoped for top spot if all other sites are reporting opposite
19. buraini (Posts: 10; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
awkward conclusion..clearly 920 was the winner..PA didnt feel the shame?million users came to this website..and watched this comparison..surely they will pick 920..PA,how about u make a pole which smartphones have best camera performance..lets see if ur iphone can survive the poll..hehe
36. SleepingOz (Posts: 2481; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
Nopes, HTC One won in the low light category.
57. asingha94 (Posts: 268; Member since: 08 Apr 2012)
That's why I say gsmarena is best!!they are all anti nokia & paid by appy nd samsung!
71. Bernoulli (Posts: 1401; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
And that's even though they left out the King, the 808 pureview and the Knight, the nokia n8
123. MrJerry (Posts: 378; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
Here's full of Nokia trolls
Look st the pictures before you say something forf**ksake
142. Trex95 (Posts: 521; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)
Yes iphone 5 has the best camera phone it's even better than xperia z. I saw a comparison in you tube between iphone 5 and xperia z made by a professional photographer and iphone still the winner, even though the iphone 5 camera still better than S4 check the comparison over here on phone arena.
94. chocolaking (Posts: 421; Member since: 22 May 2012)
Come on PA, stop being biased. You guys are always leaning toward apple and samsung! give HTC some credit!
xda got a better none biased review on these highend smartphones.
105. amiroo (Posts: 269; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)
Lol xperia zz is far behind others except nexus..
1-lumia 920 and One
125. UrbanPhantom (Posts: 947; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)
I don't even need to bash these results, because everybody can see for themselves the "results" are nothing but trash talking lies...
Apple must have paid real good for these results ;o)
144. amansingal14 (Posts: 277; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)
According to me, the real order is (acc. to photos I have captured using my friends' and family's phones, with HTC One and Lumix compared using this comparision)-
1. Canon EOS 650D (w/ kit 2)
4. iP5, HTC One(One lacks due to extremely small photos, or it would be near Lumix)
5. Xperia Z
6. Samsung Galaxy S3
7. Nexus 4
But its just me...
165. p5yb0rg (unregistered)
I'm not an Apple fan but the iPhone clearly takes the best pictures followed by the GS3. The 920 has a great camera as far as stability but the picture quality is unbalanced and always requires retouching when saved to the pc. The rest of phones take acceptable photos.
2. xperiaDROID (Posts: 4835; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)
Camera : Lumia 920>iPhone 5>Nexus 4>Galaxy SIII>Xperia Z>HTC One
(Just my opinion)
20. LonghornTech (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
I think you're pretty spot on. I like the iPhone 5s day time pics the best and the Lumia 900 nightimes. The GSIII has great day time but poor low light the Xperia Z falls behind a bit and the Nexus 4 even more so. The One takes good photos but they generally lack details and are not as appealing white balance wise. The Lumia in day light is alright, but a few poor color accuracies and smoothing of details have always haunted the Lumia line.
From the very few pics we've seen the GSIV looks to dethrone the iPhone5 for daylight photos. We'll see.
33. Emily1985 (Posts: 123; Member since: 08 Nov 2012)
Lumia 920>iPhone 5>Galaxy SIII>HTC One>Xperia Z>Nexus 4
87. XperiaUser (unregistered)
GalaxyS3=iphone5>Xperia Z>HTC ONE>lumia 920>Nexus 4
110. terabyteRouser (Posts: 407; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
I by no means see the Lumia 920 as the top. It does not reproduce accurate colors. Everything is artificially over saturated to make it look better. But the picture doesn't actually depict reality.
131. Baseballer (Posts: 126; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)
They fixed the htc one photos because from the other sites i've seen pics on, they look pretty good and not as bad when zoomed in. Just go check phonedog or technobuff.
3. Muayyad (Posts: 94; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
Best two are HTC One and Lumia 920 without a doubt but each one of them has a criteria. HTC One gives more small details VS Lumina 920 gives better overall light balance. Others, I don't want to talk about because they have more megapixles with less quality.
86. XperiaUser (unregistered)
both are oversaturated in most of the cases which is not good for a camera ;)
4. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 5648; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)
It's bout damn time u guys put the XPERIA Z in camera comparison. I say the NOKIA 920 have warmer colors than the rest of the pictures
7. pyradark (Posts: 710; Member since: 10 Jun 2012)
what to expect from a rugged phone. let see with ZL..
atleast Z is in the middle
26. pwnarena (Posts: 720; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)
it's not about the ruggedness. it's the software that's causing problems. even xperiablog points out how xz photos in burst mode appear better and more detailed without the stupid processing/noise reduction. sony's tech guys have been sleeping. i hope everything gets fixed in the upcoming update.
85. XperiaUser (unregistered)
SONY is totally ruining its camera sensors by providing poor software support and over compression .
14. Muayyad (Posts: 94; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
not true, it doesn't need a genius to determine what is best. Phones don't perform as good in all conditions. You take over all results not from one or two examples.
9. buraini (Posts: 10; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
Where Pureview 808??You should add the beast to compare which smartphones came close to its quality..
10. HussamAldean (Posts: 12; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)
I think apple and Samsung paid to you PA
35. SleepingOz (Posts: 2481; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
Can you please stop all these iphonearena paid by apple, samsung BS?!
Just because the results don't go in favour of your favourite devices, doesn't mean this is a biased comparison! YOU ARE THE BIASED ONES!
If you're not happy here, then why don't you just leave and go on a dedicated HTC or Sony or Nokia site that will only praise your favourite devices?!
15. vandroid (Posts: 243; Member since: 04 Sep 2012)
the iphone 5 clearly bested the lumia 920 in the low light videos phone arena
16. preet27in (banned) (Posts: 173; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
now now now,,, guys if u compare overall ratio then htc one stand out the most. the best camers yet. i dont know why phonearena is always in favour of iphone, its nothing!!!!! i phone's camers is good but not as compared to nokia and htc one. in terms of design, software, hardware and looks i think HTC DESERVES THE BEST. cheers
95. zippolite28 (Posts: 100; Member since: 28 Sep 2012)
amazing video by lumia 920
18. ebubekir26 (Posts: 305; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
they all look very good
PA that's a stupid ranking
21. ishtiak (Posts: 6; Member since: 19 Mar 2013)
Unstable comparisons... There's no such real respect for lumia 920. Very strange!
22. cloud_atlas1991 (Posts: 61; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Damn! I just can't help but be amazed by the phones in the thumbnail! They all look stunning side-by-side! But Z and One definitely stand out like a boss!
Anyway, cameras for me isn't that a problem as long as it's fast and produces less noise.
24. pwnarena (Posts: 720; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)
sony fanboys should stop being too committed. i like sony but we have to realize that the xz is not up to par. the photos produced in burst mode even look better than those processed through superior auto. what's wrong with sony? i thought it's the best the company has?
if the xz is really the best sony can offer, i'm not surprised why they are failing.
51. lee480 (Posts: 163; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
LOL. I'm surprised Sony sold more phones then HTC, Nokia and LG last year. Haha Fanboy comment. Sony won some and lost some in the test and this fanboy claimed Sony lost all. Radical fanboys should be banned and be locked up.
109. EasycapExpertti (Posts: 15; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
Samsung is the worlds biggest phone seller when it passed Nokia in the beginning of last year. Nokia is still selling about 4 times more phones than Apple which is the worlds 3rd biggest phone seller. Sony, HTC and LG are nearly 10 times smaller phone sellers than Samsung and Nokia. I think You mean smartphones where Sony is the 3rd biggest producer 2012, but I think at least Nokia will passed it during this year when they are selling more models of Lumia serie and their Asha serie will probably started to count to smartphones as like Nokia itself already counts - they sold 9,3 millions Asha phones during Q4/2012.
25. jlp34876 (Posts: 79; Member since: 02 Dec 2012)
xperia z samples are terible because of too much noise reduction.