Sony Xperia X vs HTC 10: which has the better camera?

Make a quick guess: what do people photograph the most? Themselves, maybe? Or landmarks and artifacts like the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa? Or perhaps we now mostly take photos of food and cutesy animals? Or of fingers accidentally placed in front of the lens? Whatever the answer, we're pretty sure that smartphones have helped us get there. Every model now has a decent camera that anyone can use, and boy, do people use their phones' cameras! Not all cameras are made equal, however, which is why we often do comparisons to find out which phone shoots best. 

Two of our last camera comparisons put the Sony Xperia X against a couple of formidable opponents, namely the iPhone 6s and the Galaxy S7. Alas, Sony's new top phone lost both races, but we're now giving it another chance to prove itself. Today, we'll compare the Xperia X vs the HTC 10. Here's a quick overview of what the two phones have to offer in terms of camera specs:

Camera Specs
Sony Xperia XHTC 10
Resolution and
aspect ratio
23MP @ 4:3
5520 x 4140 pixels
12MP @ 4:3
4000 x 3000 pixels
Sensor and
pixel size
1.12 μm
1.55 μm
Focal length
and aperture
24 mm
26 mm
Focus and
Phase detection AF
Object tracking
Optical stabilization
Laser AF
Optical stabilization

Looking at specs alone, it seems like the HTC 10 could have the upper hand in low-light situations thanks to its larger pixels and wider aperture. On the other hand, the Xperia X has the megapixel advantage, with almost twice the megapixels to work with. However, it should be noted that while Xperia X boasts a 23MP camera sensor, we've taken the photos at 8MP of resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. This is the default shooting mode set on the device and the one most people are likely to use. As for the HTC 10, it shoots 12MP stills by default.

We must also point out that the slide-over galleries used below contain cropped, scaled down photos for easier general comparison. The original, full-resolution photos can be found in a gallery at the very bottom of this article. With all of this cleared up, let us comment on some photos.

Scene 1: The mansion

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

One thing's clear: these two cameras have their own opinions as to how things should appear in this particular scene. The Sony Xperia X has gone for a slightly overexposed look, and its photo has this cold tone to it, which we don't find pleasing. In contrast, the HTC 10 has delivered a warmer image. Neither of the two is spot-on when it comes to color and tone accuracy – the truth is somewhere in the middle between the two photos.  

Detail appears to have been captured better by the HTC 10. If we zoom in on its photo, we see that there's a bit too much sharpening going on, but it still looks better compared to what the Xperia X has managed to preserve. Sony's phone seems to be having trouble resolving fine detail, which is why things might look smudged across many areas of the photo, especially if go you go further away from the center. At the end of the day, we'll give this one to the HTC 10 since its photo looks less bad overall.

Winner in Scene 1: HTC 10

Scene 2: At the flower shop

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

Again, the Sony Xperia X is treating us to a slightly colder image, just like it did in the previous scene. This is why we lean towards liking the HTC 10's photo better – it is more natural, more pleasant to look at. From up close, details in the Xperia X's picture are smudged. The HTC 10, on the other hand, adds plenty of sharpening to enhance them, which is not the best approach, but the results are still better compared to those from the X. 

Winner in Scene 2: HTC 10

Scene 3: After the rain

The original, full-resolution photos can be found in the gallery below.

In all honesty, we find this pair of images really nice to look at, but then again, there's something likable in pretty much every close-up shot. These two photos, in particular, contain plenty of detail that we can explore by zooming in. If there's anything we would change about them, we'd probably reduce the amount of sharpening added by the HTC 10. Overall, for this scene, we're calling it a draw. 

Winner in Scene 3: Tie

The gallery below contains all of the photos used in this comparison – uncompressed, in their original resolution. On PCs, use double-click to zoom and the fullscreen option to get a closer look at the images.

Related phones

Xperia X
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 650, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2620 mAh(14h 3G talk time)
  • Display 5.2" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(27h 3G talk time)



1. adi9764

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Any content submitted to PhoneArena, becomes the sole property of PhoneArena and cannot be used in parts or in whole without PhoneArena’s consent. All such content expresses the views and opinions of their authors and PhoneArena will not be held responsible for any offensive or racist materials posted.

2. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Xperia X's review made it pretty clear that it is not better than almost all flagships this year.

15. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

why compare the xperia x, instead of the x performance which is clearly better :/

17. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You do know that they share the exact same sensor from top to bottom?

20. Busyboy

Posts: 731; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

Keep in mind that the X Performance has a much better ISP since it has the SD820. So I would expect slightly better photo quality, but it's still subpar to the competition.

31. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

What if Sony are using external ISP? I know a lot of their Z series had external ISPs Not sure about the X and X Performance

29. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

but the X Performance has better camera software and its photos are a lot sharper than the X same hardware doesnt mean it's the same final quality

48. Kino2x

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Xperia X & X Performance, has the same 23mp. camera. No there is no difference between them. The difference would be if Xperia X been on Mediatek, and X Performance on Qualcomm. Sony for all these years has proved that they are not able to do camera phones. If you really want a good camera in smartphone, Xperia, it's a bad choice.

49. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

are you mad? I compared the 2 phones and the X Performance has a lot more fine details, and the X is running on Snapdragon 650, not MediaTek

23. f35hunter

Posts: 240; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

We all knew that although sony mad camera sensors for most of smartphones OEMs and implementing their latest camera sensors in their smartphones, but they had the worst camera quality in their smartphones due to the crappy camera software optimization. BTW I'm a sony user!!!

26. TypicalGeek

Posts: 213; Member since: Feb 19, 2015

They could careless about software optimization, they still make $20 each phone sold with their sensor.

22. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

These comparisons with xperia devices represent the PA response to sony fans asking for sony phones in camera shootouts. I don't even know why some people still supporting sony phones, it's not like moving away would mean losing app and content purchases, their xperias are just average at most and even the design it's getting old.

3. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

All the HTC 10 pictures were better, even the ones you called a tie. lol Look at the flower photo. The fence looks better on the HTC, though both did great with the flower. The statue shot? Even though the Xperia didn't take the best shot, the photo wasn't as dark as you look down the street vs the HTC. This is about the only shot where I think the Xperia did somewhat better, though it way over exposed he lights on the right side of the statue. But over all the HTC 10 was best. I just don't understand how Sony, who makes cameras; can't get them right in their own phones. Yet they supply sensors to others and those guys do a much better job. I want to see this Xperia vs the iPhone and see how it comes out. if it cant even beat it, then Sony really needs to get to work. That or PA doesnt know how to use the camera. Curious as to why the camera isn't set for its full resolution?!!!

14. perry1234

Posts: 645; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

I had used the Xperia Z2 for a brief duration and in my experience the Superior Auto with 8MP resolution was better than using the full sensor resolution. The images were overall much more noisier, perhaps the same applies here too. Anyway , undoubtedly S7 , HTC 10 and iPhone 6S have better cameras. Possibly in this order itself.

16. AgentZero

Posts: 314; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

yea , when it comes to hardware i think the HTC 10 has the best camera on the market , if they can just improve that software ...

18. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I agree. The HTC had the better picture in every scenario

24. srgonu

Posts: 548; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

HTC photos looked more red to me.

32. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Color temperature differences are personal preference, unless if excessive

4. Junior23

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 22, 2016

Why put the against X against high end phones?

5. letosaw

Posts: 135; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Maybe because it's very expensive(almost on a flagship level) and has the same hardware and software configuration as the x performance.

33. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

X Performance is expensive too. If they consider price why not pit X Performance instead of X? And no, they dont have similar internals.

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

because X can beat any mid-ranger around here /s

7. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

no blind test? :-/

8. ryq24

Posts: 875; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

I have yet to read a good review for this Sony Xperia X .

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2585; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

What takes better pictures, the Xperia X or this half eaten potato? My money would be on the half eaten potato.

10. TechKids

Posts: 16; Member since: Mar 14, 2016

Does Xperia X really have Optical Stabalization? Are you serious?

45. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

no, it doesn't.

11. libra89

Posts: 2280; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Wow, didn't expect this. :(

12. JesseJames

Posts: 226; Member since: Feb 22, 2015

LOL, its not even close. But its funny how sony makes the best camera sensors but have below average camera software.

13. TBomb

Posts: 1484; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

hmm... i woulda said that Xperia won... and im an HTC10 user.... woops

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