Camera comparison: HTC One vs Nokia Lumia 920 vs Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S III vs Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4

Smartphone cameras have improved tremendously over the years and nowadays you can easily replace a point and shoot camera with your smartphone, especially if most of the photos you take are during the day and you are not too pretentious about image quality.

One of the biggest leaps in cameraphones recently was the switch to backside-illuminated (BSI) sensors with the light sensitive element being in front of the wiring. A solution that allows for better low light imagery, the technical difficulties for it were overcome in 2011 and 2012, and now most high-end cameraphones have BSI sensors.

In 2013 we are going one step beyond. A lot of mainstream smartphones will be making the jump to 13-megapixel cameras which should translate in greater detail.

HTC has gone against the trend and the HTC One has only a 4.3-megapixel camera. To make up it aims to deliver the best low-light images and videos. And with no intentions to do large prints the 4.3 megapixels should definitely suffice.

Now, we have a star lineup to compare HTC’s latest and greatest with. In this latest smartphone camera shootout we are comparing the HTC One against its biggest rivals: the trend-setting Apple iPhone 5, the most prolific Android device, the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the other smartphone with focus on low-light camera performance, the Nokia Lumia 920. Then, we also have Sony’s 2013 flagship, the Xperia Z with its Exmor RS 13-megapixel camera, and finally, Google’s own Nexus 4.

Additionally, we have reference shots taken with a dedicated camera, the Panasonic Lumix GH2 with its 18-55mm kit lens.

We have used automatic settings in all conditions, except at night when we used night mode (where available) and for macro where we used the macro setting (where available). Images from the reference dedicated camera were downsized to 8 megapixels.


When it comes to the small details in the image, the newcomer HTC One with its modest 4.3-megapixel camera is not standing in a good position. Looking at 100% crops or zooming in closer, you’d definitely see that fine detail is not among the One’s strong features. Images look a bit spongy, even in perfect weather.

The Nokia Lumia 920 yields a high amount of noise, and there is a lot of softening happening on the device. This makes for less distinct images, lacking a bit in sharpness.

The Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III performed similarly to each other - detail was relatively high, with noise in check. They are our favorites here.

Strangely, smudginess is something that affects the Sony Xperia Z too to some degree. We got varying results with it, in some situations it managed to capture some fine details others could not, but most times this came at the expense of softening the actual image.

On the Nexus 4 noise was noticeable even on a bright sunny day, which is bad, but detail is above average compared to the competition.


  • Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Nexus 4
  • HTC One
  • Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z



1. loken

Posts: 462; Member since: May 09, 2012

Awsome.. and The best one is Xperia Z for camera phone but its a matter of personal preference

5. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

I bet u didnt even compared the pics before commenting here ! Your thumbnail says it all. BTW, I'd love to be stand corrected if you can tell us what led you to believe Xperia Z is best camera phone.

44. wendygarett unregistered

Most unbiased review ever, hard to find winner? Phonearena IS a winner ^_^

55. maxican16

Posts: 364; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

Life in ignorance must be blissful.

58. wendygarett unregistered

Oops, pa rank the lumia very well, but why Victor say the lumia camera is toyish? either way, camera quality is subjective, some prefer night shot and some prefer higher mp, if the user has awful snapshots, it's pointless To have a good camera phone if you ask me

106. Emily1985

Posts: 127; Member since: Nov 08, 2012

63. rizevnarastek

Posts: 349; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

In my opinion the best looking photos come from HTC One and iPhone5 ....then the rest follow.

157. kclgphilsbsa

Posts: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 2013

this is unrelated haha Phonearena this is quite interesting

163. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

but I dont speak russian!!!!

6. AamirSIII

Posts: 187; Member since: Oct 04, 2012

ha ha... PA again paid for this comparison... giving iPhone 5 first spot in almost all catagories including night when everybody can see its 920!! shame on u PA

11. samsunggalaxylover

Posts: 37; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

I think we should wait for such comparison with the galaxy s4.

12. android_hitman unregistered

this is clearly a desperate act from apple .. shame on you PA

80. Muzhhur

Posts: 261; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

Agree, anyway I bought my Lumia 920, its osom!!!!

13. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Well looking at the pictures, iPhone 5 does come out on top during night. But being said that in almost all other website's camera phone review, Lumia 920 was on top. that baffles me too TBH !

54. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Regardless of which made it to the top and which to the bottom, i don't agree with how PA post comprisons. Last we had comprisons like this (minus the One and Z) it was different. Now it's shuffled to a new order, the results vary and it feels different. Each camera comparison has different results for every smartphone, except for the iPhone. It has been compared with consistency...don't know if it really is or not but i've been saying this since last year to PA. To hire a proper professional if you have to compare...use manual settings, make the best out of the phones and see the result and then we can see the real potential behind each device.

149. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Maybe they were blocking the 920's light sensors or messed the settings up. This result is less than realistic.

96. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

typical iphones might be photoshoped for top spot if all other sites are reporting opposite

19. buraini

Posts: 10; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

awkward conclusion..clearly 920 was the winner..PA didnt feel the shame?million users came to this website..and watched this comparison..surely they will pick 920..PA,how about u make a pole which smartphones have best camera performance..lets see if ur iphone can survive the poll..hehe

36. SleepingOz unregistered

Nopes, HTC One won in the low light category.

57. asingha94

Posts: 295; Member since: Apr 08, 2012

That's why I say gsmarena is best!!they are all anti nokia & paid by appy nd samsung!

123. MrJerry

Posts: 403; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

Here's full of Nokia trolls Look st the pictures before you say something forf**ksake

142. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Yes iphone 5 has the best camera phone it's even better than xperia z. I saw a comparison in you tube between iphone 5 and xperia z made by a professional photographer and iphone still the winner, even though the iphone 5 camera still better than S4 check the comparison over here on phone arena.

94. chocolaking

Posts: 495; Member since: May 22, 2012

Come on PA, stop being biased. You guys are always leaning toward apple and samsung! give HTC some credit! xda got a better none biased review on these highend smartphones. URL:​ostcount=2205

105. amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

Lol xperia zz is far behind others except nexus.. 1-lumia 920 and One 2-iphone 5 3-s3 4-z 5-nexus 4

125. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

I don't even need to bash these results, because everybody can see for themselves the "results" are nothing but trash talking lies... Apple must have paid real good for these results ;o)

144. amansingal14

Posts: 309; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

typical According to me, the real order is (acc. to photos I have captured using my friends' and family's phones, with HTC One and Lumix compared using this comparision)- 1. Canon EOS 650D (w/ kit 2) 2. Nokia 3. Lumix 4. iP5, HTC One(One lacks due to extremely small photos, or it would be near Lumix) 5. Xperia Z 6. Samsung Galaxy S3 7. Nexus 4 But its just me...

165. p5yb0rg unregistered

I'm not an Apple fan but the iPhone clearly takes the best pictures followed by the GS3. The 920 has a great camera as far as stability but the picture quality is unbalanced and always requires retouching when saved to the pc. The rest of phones take acceptable photos.

2. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Camera : Lumia 920>iPhone 5>Nexus 4>Galaxy SIII>Xperia Z>HTC One (Just my opinion)

20. LonghornTech

Posts: 50; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

I think you're pretty spot on. I like the iPhone 5s day time pics the best and the Lumia 900 nightimes. The GSIII has great day time but poor low light the Xperia Z falls behind a bit and the Nexus 4 even more so. The One takes good photos but they generally lack details and are not as appealing white balance wise. The Lumia in day light is alright, but a few poor color accuracies and smoothing of details have always haunted the Lumia line. From the very few pics we've seen the GSIV looks to dethrone the iPhone5 for daylight photos. We'll see.

23. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Yup, this is just our opinions. :)

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

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless