Not long ago, we had the pleasure of reviewing the HTC U Ultra – the company's most-recent high-end phone. Long story short, it does not quite tick all the right boxes a $750 phone should, but the flashy design does impress, and the camera performed pretty well during our testing. Now it is time to focus on that main 12MP shooter the U Ultra boasts – more specifically, to compare it against some of its rivals.

For the purposes of this camera comparison, we took the HTC U Ultra, the Galaxy S7 edge, the iPhone 7 Plus and the LG G6 out for a camera shootout. We're about to comment on the photos that they produced in just a moment, but before we get to that, let us take a look as the cameras' specs.

Camera Specs
HTC U UltraLG G6Galaxy
S7 edge
iPhone 7
Plus
Resolution,
aspect ratio
12MP@4:3
4096x3072px
13MP@4:3
4160x3120px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
12MP@4:3
4032x3024px
Sensor and
pixel size
1/2.3"
1.55μm
1/3"
1.12μm
1/2.5"
1.4μm
1/3"
1.22μm
ApertureF1.8F1.8F1.7F1.8
Focus and
stabilization
PDAF
Laser AF
OIS
PDAF
Object track
OIS
Dual-pixel AF
Object track
OIS
PDAF
OIS

Looking at megapixels alone, the 13MP LG G6 might appear to be a step ahead of the rest, but as we've said many times before, megapixels are far from all that matters in a camera. The HTC U Ultra, for example, has the advantage of packing the largest sensor with the physically largest pixels. In plain words, this should let it absorb more light more easily and with less noise. At the same time, the Galaxy S7 edge has the widest aperture, which should give it a boost in low-light performance. And after that theoretical overview, let us proceed by examining some actual samples.

A few disclaimers:

The photos in the galleries below have been scaled down from their full resolution to make them load faster. Full-resolution images are available at the end of this article. The LG G6 used in this comparison is a pre-production unit running close-to-final software. The Galaxy S7 edge is running the Android 7.0 Nougat update.

Scene 1: The rusty ride



This is a scene I wanted to include because it visualizes a common conflict – realistic images aren't always the ones that look best to the average viewer. To be more specific, the image out of the HTC U Ultra appears bland compared to what the other three cameras deliver, even though it is a more accurate representation of what my eyes could see then and there. Looking at the images out of the Galaxy S7 edge and LG G6, I see that contrast, saturation, and sharphess have all been given a boost, and honestly, I'd be okay with that if I was simply sharing that photo on social media for the likes (as most people surely would). The iPhone has taken things a step further by adding a dose of warmth to the image – something that Apple's cameras tend to do.

So all in all, the HTC U Ultra is off to a good start, even though its image isn't quite as attention-grabbing as the others. But it looks like it will be facing some serious competition throughout the rest of this comparison. 

Scene 1: score
Galaxy S7 edge7.5
LG G67.5
HTC U Ultra7.0
iPhone 7 Plus6.5


Scene 2: The darling daffodils



It is easier to pick a favorite in this next scene, and that would be the iPhone 7 Plus. The reasons: first of all, colors are spot-on, with the natural warmth of the morning sun captured quite well. Also, I really like how the phone managed to capture the whole flower in focus, while parts of it are blurry in other shots due to the shallower depth of field of the other cameras. As for the HTC U Ultra, it is also delivering great results, especially when it comes to color reproduction. While the photos out of the Galaxy S7 edge and LG G6 are okay, I see an excessive amount of green in them.

Scene 2: score
iPhone 7 Plus8.5
HTC U Ultra8.0
Galaxy S7 edge7.0
LG G67.0


Scene 3: The monolithic mansion



Remember that part in the beginning where I said that larger camera sensors with larger pixels could prove an advantage in low light? Here's a set of shots that support my words. Zooming in on the photo out of the U Ultra and S7 edge, both of which lead in that respect, reveals more detail, as can be seen more clearly in the draperies and the ornaments on the building's facade. But as a whole, all four images look more than acceptable.

Scene 3: score
Galaxy S7 edge7.5
HTC U Ultra7.0
iPhone 7 Plus6.0
LG G66.0

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85 Comments

1. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

People are going to love this, the iPhone getting last place while a Galaxy S gets first in a comparison on Phonearena. I actually agree with the whole comparison tbh, that normally doesn't happen.

3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

that iPhone is just waste of space... they should use pixel instead :-/

5. Papa_Ji

Posts: 855; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

iPhones are even worse than Chinese companies..... Who just arrange hardware form here and there and to make there smartphone... (At least those chinese smartphone justify their price.)

8. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

@ibend. There would have been no contest if they had used the pixel, at least there was a shoot out between the S7 and G6.

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5723; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Pixel vs S8 vs XZP will be interesting

14. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Though the Xperia XZ Premium has solid camera hardware going for it, Sony's camera software hasn't proven to be a solid contender in a camera comparison versus Google and Samsung.

25. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

I've seen Asian reviews of the XZs beating the S7. The IMX400 is Sony's best sensor ever, and it's an Xperia exlcusive (I wish they would sell it to other companies though).

31. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

I doubt it'll beat the s8. Even if we know the s8 isnt much of a depature from the s7 but still. As for lg, its sad to see how theyve fallen off from the g4. They're now more or less in the likes of huawei's ball park. Too bad

34. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Well, at least Samsung used a fresh new sensor for its S8 (I still wished for a 1/2.3" sensor though). I still can't believe that LG decided to go with a few years old sensor used by low-end phones and midrangers... Even though they're good with the camera software, it will probably be a dealbreaker for me.

27. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

The pixel is in a level all by itself tbh.

77. Mixkhata1

Posts: 162; Member since: Feb 26, 2017

Pixel is like the Undertaker of mobile space. No one comes close to that.

16. aegislash

Posts: 1514; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

I still don't understand why HTC was able to perfect the camera with the Pixel, but yet the camera on the U Ultra is subpar compared to Pixel, which came out before the U Ultra. Why didn't they just take the Pixel's camera components and slap them into the U Ultra, and then they'd have had their *own* device that takes stellar top notch photos?

20. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"I still don't understand why HTC was able to perfect the camera with the Pixel, but yet the camera on the U Ultra is subpar compared to Pixel, which came out before the U Ultra." That's because the camera software and post processing algorithm of the Pixel phone is made by Google, not HTC... So, HTC did not perfect the camera of the Pixel phones. HTC did not even make the camera hardware, as it's a Sony sensor, so I wonder what makes you think HTC had a hand in the Pixel phone's camera, be it in hardware or in software. The U Ultra - just like every other HTC phone - fails in camera comparisons due to HTC's subpar camera software.

48. Hyperreal

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

True but how does it fail as you can clearly see it's competing with best? I know they had subpar cameras for years but this is over since HTC 10, which i believe 10 is even better then ultra and even won some some camera shootouts on PA which I consider very subjective anyway.

24. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

HTC only put the pixels together in factory and nothing else, hardware was picked by Google and all the software is Google's, in other words it was Sony and Google that perfected the pixel's camera and it's software.

30. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Htc didnt perfect the camera neither did they even create it in the first place. All what u see there is googles software processing handwork and their unreal software processing.

83. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

HTC had nothing to do with pixel beside putting the part together everything else was 100% google.

28. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

The pixel can only be compared to itself.. A pixel 2.

26. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

No. The pixel is on a whole different level. It can only be compared to a pixel 2 at this point.

47. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

I am shocked that the iPhone was not first on this site. This site is so bluntly thief towards the iPhone. This was a shame, I hope now their reviews will be realistic.

74. AmashAziz

Posts: 2931; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

You just bluntly believe the hype of calling this site iPhonearena. It's not always true.

4. mrochester

Posts: 1020; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

You can be sure those people won't be derogatorily calling the site 'AndroidArena' as they would do if the iPhone had been given the first spot.

70. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

No need to. The images speaks for themselves. Iphone 7 Plus surely suck in comparisson. But im very supriced that LG G6 didnt do better, looks like G5 was better.

82. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

I also agree mostly. Still like G6 picture more they seem a bit less artificial.

2. hungpakto

Posts: 48; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

1 year old phone versus all of the new phone still win

32. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Which isn't saying much tbh. Just wait till the htc ocean, xperia xz, iphone edition comes out. Lets even forget the pixel which is currently balling on its own territory. The galaxy s8 is as good as the galaxies are gonna get this year considering that the note line will use these same sensors in the s8..

39. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Been hearing that for 3 years. Still nothing...

6. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Just imagine how good the S8 camera gona be..

15. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"Just imagine how good the S8 camera gona be.." The new Sony IMX333 and Samsung S5K2L2 ISOCELL image sensors does give a clue on how good the S8's camera will be!

73. adecvat

Posts: 644; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Same.

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