Camera comparison: One X vs Galaxy S II vs Nexus vs N8 vs iPhone 4S

Introduction, Details, Color reproduction, Exposure


When HTC was announcing the One X, it made it sound as if the new ImageSense camera is the best camera on a phone you may get. Well, since we now have the One X in our hands and have been using it for a while, we decided to put his new camera to the test. Winning this comparison, though, won't be easy, as we've chosen some of the best camera phones out there to be its competition: the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus, Nokia N8 and Apple iPhone 4S. Let the games begin!


The devil is in the details, and when it comes to taking photos, having great level of details is indeed one of the most important elements. Interestingly, the new ImageSense camera of the One X performed terribly in this area, presenting us to muddier-looking images compared to all of the other contestants here. Here's how all five handsets rank in this category:

1. Apple iPhone 4S
2. Nokia N8
3. Samsung Galaxy S II
4. Samsung Galaxy Nexus
5. HTC One X

Color reproduction:

This was a very close one, at least for the first 3 positions. The N8, Galaxy S II and Nexus manages to produce very natural colors, with the N8 excelling slightly overall. The iPhone 4S snatched the 4th position here since it's images are quite warm, but still closer to reality (and more appealing) compared to the pics from the One X, which were too cold.

1. Nokia N8
2. Samsung Galaxy S II
3. Samsung Galaxy Nexus
4. Apple iPhone 4S
5. HTC One X


We're once again seeing some pretty equal performance here, although there are still some anomalies observed. While most of the smartphones tend to deviate from the natural exposure by overexposing the image at times, the One X is the only one that underexposes it, and thus comes up with an overall dark photo. Interestingly, this also happens with normal daylight shots, which aren't taken in some more specific lighting situations that would make it difficult for the phone's camera to do its thing properly. Nope, the One X's camera simply underexposes the pictures, making them somewhat less pleasant to look at, compared to what we get from the other contenders here.

1. Nokia N8
2. Samsung Galaxy Nexus
3. Apple iPhone 4S
4. Samsung Galaxy S II
5. HTC One X

Indoor shots:

Ranking our five handsets in the Indoor shots category wasn't very easy, because they achieved different results when shooting in different light conditions. The ranking you see below represents their overall score. The Nokia N8 is our favorite here, since it manages to retain a pretty good detail and overall quality level throughout all lighting variations, whereas the shots from all the other handsets become much worse when the lights get weaker. We think the One X performs equally to the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus in this respect, since all three are good in a different respect – the Nexus has the most natural colors, the iPhone 4S capture more detail than the Nexus, but its exposure is a bit off, while the One X has an OK exposure, good details and colors that are a bit off. The Galaxy S II is last here because its colors were too yellowish, save for those pics taken in very dark conditions.

1.Nokia N8
2.Apple iPhone 4S, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy Nexus
3.Samsung Galaxy S II

Night shots:

Choosing the best handsets for taking night photos wasn't that hard. It's clear that the One X is a top performer in this category, along with the iPhone 4S, which produces similar results. They excelled in color reproduction and details, plus both of them offer easy exposure setting when doing touch-to-focus, which helps them in various situations. In the samples below, we've used touch-to-focus on the cathedral, which made the handsets set the exposure in such a way that would have the cathedral properly exposed. Both phones may produce varying results when using this function, so it's best to experiment in order to get to know your handset's behavior. The Nokia N8 couldn't top this category, since its photos are somewhat greenish and not as sharp.

1.HTC One X, Apple iPhone 4S
2.Samsung Galaxy S II, Nokia N8
3.Samsung Galaxy Nexus


When it comes to macro, we managed to achieve best results with the N8 and Galaxy S II, where both devices captured some wonderfully-details shots, but the N8 had the upper hand thanks to its higher resolution. The One X wasn't too far behind, although its somewhat smoother images couldn't compete with the first two.

1.Nokia N8
2.Samsung Galaxy S II
3.HTC One X
4.Samsung Galaxy Nexus
5.Apple iPhone 4S


Of all five smartphones, the iPhone 4S has the best video-recording capabilities. Its 1080p video simply looks great and is very smooth. The second place is shared by the Galaxy S II and N8. Although the N8 is limited to producing 720p video, its clips are incredibly smooth, and of very high quality overall, whereas the Galaxy S II is competitive, but a bit choppier and inconsistent. The third place is shared by the One X and Galaxy Nexus, which produce pretty much the same results – mediocre.

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1.Apple iPhone 4S
2.Samsung Galaxy S II, Nokia N8
3.HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy Nexus

HTC One X Sample Video - Daytime:

Samsung Galaxy S II Sample Video - Daytime:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Sample Video - Daytime:

Nokia N8 Sample Video - Daytime:

Apple iPhone 4S Sample Video - Daytime:

HTC One X Sample Video - Nighttime:

Samsung Galaxy S II Sample Video - Nighttime:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Sample Video - Nighttime:

Nokia N8 Sample Video - Nighttime:

Apple iPhone 4S Sample Video - Nighttime:

HTC One X Indoor Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S II Indoor Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Indoor Sample Video:

Nokia N8 Indoor Sample Video:

Apple iPhone 4S Indoor Sample Video:

Ease of use and speed:

In terms of ease of use, speed, and overall greatness of the camera UIs, our favorite one is the HTC One X, as it is very comfortable and features some cool additional stuff like filters and various settings. Then comes the iPhone 4S with its ultra-fast and ultra-simple design. We'd place the Nokia N8 third here, because of its dedicated camera shutter, which makes the process of taking photos feel a bit more natural and straightforward.

1.HTC One X
2.Apple iPhone 4S
3.Nokia N8
4.Samsung Galaxy S II
5.Samsung Galaxy Nexus


This was it, shutterbugs. Apparently we don't have an ultimate camera phone here, but even if we had one, it wouldn't have been the new HTC One X. The handset did arrive with a very fast ImageSense camera, which made photo-taking very intuitive and fast, but it's not up to snuff when it comes to the quality of the actual photos and video. You'll be able to achieve much better results with the iPhone 4S and even with the oldie-but-goodie Galaxy S II. The real shock actually came when we saw the Galaxy Nexus beat the One X in many of the categories, which wasn't really expected. If you are taking a lot of photos and video with your cell phone and hoped that the One X's ImageSense camera will raise the bar in this respect, better look elsewhere.

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