Camera comparison: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, Sony Xperia Z1S

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The day is February 19, 2013. HTC is about to announce its new Android flagship phone, and the tension in the air can be cut through with a butter knife. Rumors are suggesting that the company will introduce a new, revolutionary smartphone camera technology, which is going to blow the competition's smartphone cameras right out of the water. Needless to say, geeks everywhere are excited about this new phone, eager to find out what kind of camera HTC has crafted. Then comes the HTC One announcement, followed by our thorough review a month later. The phone itself rocks, but its 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera, although good, doesn't quite manage to match its high-end rivals.

Now, over a year later, it looks as if history is on the verge of repeating itself. HTC just took the veil off of the all new HTC One (M8), and its most peculiar feature is its much-touted Duo Camera. The latter consists of two cameras – an UltraPixel camera that is technically very similar to the one found on last year's model and a secondary unit to capture “depth information”. Thanks to the tandem, the photos can be post-processed for an emulated shallow depth of field – photos that look as if they have been taken with a professional camera.

But in reality, what will photos from the new HTC One's camera look like without the fancy after-effects applied? Could HTC's UltraPixel camera finally be a worthy rival to the cameras on today's high-end smartphones? Well, we're about to find out. We took the time to bring you this full-on camera comparison starring the new HTC flagship and some of the best smartphones in existence – the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, iPhone 5s, LG G2, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 1520, and the Sony Xperia Z1S.


First, the good news. For the most part, the new HTC One's photos have a fairly accurate color representation. They can be regarded as slightly undersaturated, although this could be a matter of personal taste. The bad news is that there are still some problems (due to artifacts), as our samples demonstrate, such as the weirdly pinkish clouds seen in most daytime shots. Still, the phone's photos are absolutely acceptable and a step above last year's model.

As for the rest of the bunch, we'd rank the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G2 the highest, although they aren't leading by much. Colors in the photos by these two are very close to reality, and what's more important, color accuracy is retained across scenes. In contrast, the Nokia Lumia 1520 takes awesome photos in some cases, yet throws the color balance out of the window in others. Photos by the iPhone 5s represent a scene that is warmer and brighter than what it looks real life, but as a whole, its photos are very eye-pleasing. We were expecting for the Galaxy Note 3's images to be as accurate as those by the S4, yet strangely, its photo turned out slightly more yellowish than they should have. Still, they're still pretty good-looking. The Sony Xperia Z1S produces great photos, although there might be some excessive color boost in some of them. The only not-so-great performer is the Google Nexus 5, which constantly produced overly warm, yellowish photos across the outdoor scenes in our testing.

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