Camera interface and ease of use

Having a great camera on your phone isn't the only requirement for taking high-quality pictures. In addition to that, a lot of thought has to be put into developing a versatile camera app and an easy-to-use interface.

The camera app and UI found on the Google Nexus 5 leave us with mixed feelings about them. On one hand, we like how clean and uncluttered it is, but on the other, we find it organized poorly, with settings that are not as easy to get to as they should be. On the other hand, we like the fancy PhotoSphere mode that comes standard with it, and the lock screen shortcut is nice having.

The iPhone 5s isn't very generous on camera settings. In fact, there's very little one can adjust manually. However, the interface is extremely easy to use and can be accessed in a blink of an eye via the dedicated lock screen shortcut. What’s more, the camera is extremely rapid and requires minimal time between individual shots. For those who are into these, image filters can be applied to the photo. Special modes include HDR, which works surprisingly fast, and 120fps slow-motion videos. The handset itself is very comfortable to hold and its volume button can be used as a shutter key.

Using the Sony Xperia Z1 to take photos and videos with is a pretty straightforward process. First of all, the shape of the handset is ideal for the purpose and the dedicated 2-stage camera button allows us to instantly launch the camera app straight from the lock screen. The interface itself is set to its Intelligent Auto mode by default, adjusting the scene settings for you as best as it can. To get the most of the Z1's camera, however, you'll have to use the manual mode instead, where there are more settings to be tweaked. Sony has not forgotten to throw in a handful of awesome features as well. For example, you can stream video straight to your Facebook wall or add augmented reality effects to your shot.

Designed from the ground up with photography in mind, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is easy to hold in landscape orientation and its 2-stage button is very convenient to use. There are two camera apps loaded out of the box, namely Nokia Smart Cam and Nokia Pro Cam, and regardless of which one you choose to use, the camera's optical image stabilization will be live and running. The Smart Cam app is for casual users, allowing them to easily apply advanced manipulations to the image, such as to remove moving objects or to create dramatic action shots with motion blur and all. Those who are really into manual controls will appreciate having the Pro Cam app, which gives control over the camera's exposure, white balance and ISO speed. Even the focus and shutter speed can be adjusted manually – something most other phones will not let you do. Additional camera features, effects and filters (referred to as “camera lens”) can be downloaded from the Marketplace.

To no surprise, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 share the same UI. A whole ton of shooting scenes and modes are available for the user to play with, and most of them can actually be quite useful given the appropriate conditions. We find it convenient that two separate shutters have been added – one for taking photos and another for recording videos – so there is no need to switch manually between modes as the case is with the Z1 and the G2. Both come with software image stabilization, eliminating (to some extent) the effects of vibrations introduced by the user's hand. A solid advantage for the Note 3 is that it has the option to record extra-smooth 1080p video at twice the normal framerate – 60fps. Support for 4K videos is present as well, and that footage would look nice on one of those new, fancy 4K TVs.

There is no shortage of shooting scenes, modes, and options on the HTC One. It can take HDR photos and videos at 1080p resolution, 60 frame-per-second videos at 720p, all the while capturing stereo sound of fantastic quality. However, the UI hasn't been organized the best way possible. Most settings and adjustments are placed in a single list with lots of sub-menus, so getting to the one you need may take more steps than it should. Thankfully, the frequently used ones are placed on the very top of the list.

On the LG G2 we have a well-arranged user interface with lots of shooting scenes for photos and live effects for videos. The best thing about the smartphone's camera is that it features optical image stabilization, and it works pretty well, as our experience shows. Another awesome perk is the option to shoot video at 60 fps, and the improvement in quality is easy to notice.



1. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

This Ultrapixel "thing" is just huge disappointment...HTC shall stop putting it in flagships and come up with a better idea!

7. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It isn't but the post processing and the fact that they went only 4MP really cost them. If they fix those two items, they will likely be the top. So now we see what they do with their next flagship.

10. LiyanaBG

Posts: 381; Member since: Nov 07, 2013

HTC always every Camera Comparison they always get worst score. because of stupid Ultrapixel


Posts: 36; Member since: Apr 01, 2009

That is a false!! not on other tech sites which i would value there opinion more then phone arena. i had 2 samsung gs4. allthou the gs4 had more megapixels the htc one took better pics overall. sorry. i am not biased towards either phone. just stating facts.

64. anirudhshirsat97

Posts: 408; Member since: May 24, 2011

Are you kidding. Even i have seen both their photos and S4 takes better pics no doubt. By any chance you saw them on your cell? Cause i had seen them on my TV. That could make a difference.

66. pharttart

Posts: 7; Member since: Dec 05, 2013

I visit this site on occassion but You are the reason I made an account.....educate yourself on what Megapixels are and edit your comment.

70. anirudhshirsat97

Posts: 408; Member since: May 24, 2011

4 megapixels are still more pixels than a standard tv. Yet their is difference when viewing them. So i asked him If he did . Its a valid question. Dont get over smart.

18. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I'm honestly not surprised by the results. Lumia 1020 on top followed by the Z1 (beat camera on the Android front) with the HTC One in dead last. UP was the biggest disappointment from HTC in 2013.

74. oldhamletman

Posts: 72; Member since: Sep 03, 2011

I bought a 1020 a few weeks back and the 41MP sensor is awesome, on the fly zoom in video and stills is really smooth... using it with pro shot gives an excellent camera solution that is in line with full blown cameras. I wish the 1520 had the same camera.... I'd like the bigger screen, but there is no way I'm giving up the cam on the 1020

25. KillerKeyboard

Posts: 372; Member since: Nov 21, 2013


27. mqmorasch

Posts: 12; Member since: Nov 18, 2013

all the shots are obviously done in Zoe mode by the lack of zoom

31. Muayyad

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

No it is not, I'm very happy with the results it gives me for a pocket shooter.

35. x_maly_x

Posts: 72; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

Then you must change eye doctor.....


Posts: 36; Member since: Apr 01, 2009

your a idiot lol

54. x_maly_x

Posts: 72; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

Idiot make you...and fogot splash....

34. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Im sure if they have put Xperia Z instead of One it would achieve a far better score. I don't understand whats the problem with PA. They have put Z aside from the beginning of its appearance. Thats shameful.

42. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

except that the Z has consistently been in the top ranks of this contest, it went lumia, Z, G2 (Although I argue the G2s pictures were better overall, it was close enough that I can see where people would prefer the Z's) as the top 3 more or less. There were some like the panorama test which doesnt matter at all (like less than 1% of people will actualyl even bother with that, it is such a little used feature it should not have warranted it's own category) that they both had poor scores on, but otherwise did very well.

47. zuckerboy

Posts: 898; Member since: Dec 22, 2011

I was here for say that...


Posts: 36; Member since: Apr 01, 2009

why cuz phone areana says so? lol. there camera is just fine and look around the web its got some good ratings. sure htc should have put in at least a 5 or 8 megapixel. but i personally love this phone. hands down still the best overall phone on the market. might not be the best camera phone. but best overall phone and thats what i care about

2. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

I've been expecting the similar results.

3. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Well the fact that the N5's output is comparable to these high-end phones is very telling (OIS definitely makes a lot of difference in indoor/low light situations). Definitely worth your money (combined with the rest of what it has to offer), would love to get one for wifey.

4. noler

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

No Lumia 1520? HTC One score is "4" because it has 4MP camera?

11. shahrooz

Posts: 792; Member since: Sep 17, 2013


16. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea, the scores literally follow the MP count.

43. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

so much for megapixels meaning nothing, eh HTC?

5. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

In daylight details the Nexus 5 comes out on top almost everywhere, where the Lumia loses quite a bit per pixel (more pixels, less sharpening), interesting scores PA. Color reproduction is spectacular on the 1020 though, and overall it often beats out the DSLR.

6. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Did you leave HDR+ on for the Nexus 5 shots, Nick?

8. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

BTW, Photosphere does much better panorama than panorama on the Nexus photo SW. In fact I'd call it best in class providing you can keep the lens in the absolute middle.

9. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Nexus 5 shots are quite amazing

12. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

1020 and Z1 FTW!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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