HTC One and the UltraPixels: the end of the megapixel war

People and companies alike come up with the best they are capable of when their backs are against the wall, and HTC just confirmed the old adage "do what's right and take the consequences" with the introduction of the HTC One, which carries a humble 4 MP camera in an age when the marketing departments scoff at anything less than 8 MP for a flagship device.

The fact of the matter is, however, that true photographers know these high resolutions in a size-restricted phone sensor are just a sales gimmick, contributing nothing to the quality of the photo, especially in low light, as more pixels on this space means they are smaller, and able to soak less light, hence the notoriously crappy low-light shots from smartphone cameras, excluding Nokia's PureView phases.

So what is an Ultrapixel? Frankly, it is just a bigger pixel, but that makes for all the difference when you want more light in. For comparison, the Sony Xperia Z has a 1.1 micron pixel, the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 920, Galaxy S III and iPhone 5 sport 1.4 micron pixels, and things pick up at the Nokia N8 with 1.75 micron, to reach 2 microns in the HTC One. Granted, the older Nokia N90 and N95 had even larger pixels, and DSLRs like Nikon'ss would go up to 4.8, but still we are talking a modern smartphone, and a thin handset at that with the One.

It is not only the pixel size, of course, as technology is evolving and a lot of other things are at play, and it was mentioned that the pixel "buckets" for light on the One are shorter than typical, letting the light in faster and with less refraction to the sensor. HTC One sports a compact 1/3" backside-illuminated sensor and F2.0 aperture on 28mm lens. Moreover, the sensor itself is on suspension, similar to Lumia 920, making it only the second phone with some sort of optical image stabilization - it is said to be two-axis, with 2 kHz oscillation, meaning it can compensate thousands of movements per second. HTC flaunted the Ultrapixel camera results with the image below.

This sensor is combined with HTC ImageChip 2, the second edition of the company's dedicated camera processing efforts, which intros <200ms continuous autofocus speeds, and, together with the powerful Snapdragon 600 chipset, allows for tricks like HDR photos or HDR video, as well as slow-mo recording with variable speed playback. The end result with ImageChip 2 is 84dB signal-to-noise ratio, which is extremely impressive for a smartphone, and means that not only your night snaps will be better lit and exposed with the HTC One, but also the level of digital noise should be kept to a minimum without smearing up details.

Not only that, but HTC pairs its Ultrapixel phone camera breakthrough with HTC Zoe - software that records high-res pictures and video at the same time, and then makes a professional-looking collage complete with zoom animations, color and sound effects and rotations for you to share life's precious moments without having to learn picture and video editing. You have a choice of themes and tracks, and can remove unflattering footage, before the so-called Zoes are recorded in a proprietary HTC format, sort of like Cinemagrams or Vines. We say Vine, as Zoe Share uploads the files to HTC's servers and gives you a simple URL to share them with friends and relatives in the span of 30 days.

There is also on-device retouch with Object Removal, Group Retouch, and Sequence Shot, as well as five levels of LED flash strength automatically set by the distance to the subject to keep it evenly exposed.

"The megapixel race... it just became a sales metric," said HTC during the event, and with 3 times more light than your average smartphone camera being soaked in by the One, we couldn't agree more, at least if the review shots confirm HTC's promo shots in the slideshow below.

Related phones

  • Display 4.7" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 4 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 2300 mAh(18h 3G talk time)



1. darkskoliro

Posts: 1092; Member since: May 07, 2012

Cant wait to see the review!! Damn im so keen to get one

11. danny_a2005

Posts: 365; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

Im still going for the xperia z... this is really nice though

13. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

i'll get the cheaper one. they're equally good with their owns strengths and weaknesses. it's the price that'll determine preference.

41. diego9016

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

Going for the Z too

61. ubuntu

Posts: 40; Member since: Jan 11, 2013

Going for the Z too

53. omarr

Posts: 149; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

Tell me how you will go to the Xperia Z and your pic is HTC

73. abhishek48

Posts: 164; Member since: Feb 19, 2012

this was bad joke of the year... why you need a inferior phone.. which has baddd camera.. and lower processor....

12. RiseAgainst94

Posts: 281; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

I would get the One over the xperia Z any day, but to each their own. Love the pic that HTC provided lol, it looks like garbage. Competitor X and Y must be 5 years old phones.

40. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

"For comparison, the Sony Xperia Z has a 1.1 micron pixel, the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 920, Galaxy S III and iPhone 5 sport 1.4 micron pixels, and things pick up at the Nokia N8 with 1.75 micron" Nokia N8 preceded its time and it still has the best camera phone. How great is Nokia !!!.

68. rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

you forgot the "to reach 2 microns in the HTC One" So Xperia Z have 1.1 to reach 2, the others have 1.4 and N8 1.75 to reach 2

77. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 2013

But overall the Nokia N8 is waaay better: N8: 12.1 Mpx * (1.75 micron)^2 is way better than One: 4 Mpx * (2 micron)^2 It is not specified if that is the size of the side of the pixel or the surface of the pixel so I chose the former.

80. sn8jg

Posts: 4; Member since: Mar 10, 2013

the nokia 808 pixel size is 1,4 microns in 38,4 megapixel camera mode but in 8megapixel images the pixel size is 3,17microns and in 5 megapixel mode (still more resolution picture than the 4megapixel pictures of the htc one) the pixel size is 4,01microns (two times bigger than the htc one) So it is false that the htc pixels are bigger than those of the nokia 808 in any of the pureview modes

26. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

this is promising. this will bring htc back on track alright. love the new sense and can't wait for the camera results. and that slcd-3 screen looks good. cant wait for the review. a true gamechanger by htc. wish you all the best.

28. jsdechavez

Posts: 814; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

Can't wait for the Nokia 808 Pureview and HTC One comparison.. Will it be the oversampling tech? Or the ultra (large) pixels? I'm thinking Nokia's 808 will take better 4MP shots than the HTC One.. Imagine the amount of oversampling for a 4MP shot!

39. Just_a_boy

Posts: 183; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Yeah, I think that the war has just begun, between HTC and Nokia, better for us!!

37. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I'm sold if this thing takes RAW format.

44. tashreef

Posts: 476; Member since: Nov 24, 2012

Let's see What Nokia has in MWC EOS? Hope so....

51. tashreef

Posts: 476; Member since: Nov 24, 2012

Reliance communication will offer HTC One in india hope they will add a worthy price tag, an arrogant price tag will never work in india .. ..

76. Dastrix unregistered

It's all great on paper, and does look very promising for HTC. I'll wait and see how it stacks up to Nokia's PureView technology.

2. Mxyzptlk unregistered

So it has a more advanced camera. It's too early to call it a big game changer.

7. vandroid

Posts: 405; Member since: Sep 04, 2012

samsung galaxy s4 will be a game changer

14. RiseAgainst94

Posts: 281; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

No it won't. It will be more of the same just better quality.

15. vandroid

Posts: 405; Member since: Sep 04, 2012

samsung isnt apple their phones look different every year

17. Mxyzptlk unregistered

But the 5 and the 4S look nothing alike.

19. vandroid

Posts: 405; Member since: Sep 04, 2012

are you serious? put them side by side and you can just see that one is just longer

52. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

joke of the year -_-

65. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

It's just stretched out 4S with a metal back plate and a colored metal band. They look fairly similar.

25. jsdechavez

Posts: 814; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

You meant ALL the Samsung phones that come out every other week or so? They all look the same. And weeks from now, the Note 8.0. It will be DOA for sure.

45. RiseAgainst94

Posts: 281; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

@vandroid Different, but not better. The GSII looks better than the GSIII.

18. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

i heard samsung will be moving their launching date for the siv. they're trying to find newer tricks to compete. beefing up the processor, RAM, and battery seems to have become passe these days.

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