HTC One (M8) vs Google Nexus 5
A clear winner is hard to produce, though the One M8 does provide a much richer feature set.
If you thought that the 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera on last year's HTC One was just a short-lived experiment, you're wrong. The Taiwanese vendor appears intent on steering away from the megapixel wars, and is instead focusing on other parts of the never-still equation. With a very wide, f/2.0 aperture, the One M8's 1/3'' sensor should, theoretically, capture more light than your average flagship, and those extra-large, 2-micron pixels are said to help with that. The new One also sports a companion camera, which focuses exclusively on gathering depth information in stills, which then allows for some cool tricks. Lastly, and to complete the overall package, the One ships with a differently-colored, dual LED flash combo, dubbed “Smart Flash”. OIS, this time around, is absent, and you instead only get software stabilization.
In comparison, the Nexus 5 camera bundle instills less of a “wow” effect. Google's flagship features an optically-stabilized, 8-megapixel snapper with narrower, f/2.4 aperture, and a smaller, 1/3.4'' sensor. There's no secondary flash to speak of.
In reality, however, the results produced by the two shooters are pretty much on par, at least when looked at as a whole. So while the Nexus 5's 8-megapixel unit captures more fine detail than the UltraPixel camera on the One M8, the latter is better at keeping colors realistic-looking. They are palpably more natural, and true to the scenario at hand. This stalemate of sorts also extends to indoor and low light shots, which again are very much on equal footing, though they get different parts right or wrong. For example, the Nexus 5's algorithms don't always churn out optimal results, and often crank up ISO levels noticeably, resulting in noisy pictures. At the same time, the One M8 is a hit or miss in darker-than-usual indoor environments, and sometimes ends up with stills that are simply unrealistically bright. Neither of the two is overly fond of using its flash unless absolutely crucial.
An area in which the two can be clearly told apart is the feature set of both cameras. Thanks to its Duo Camera, the One M8 is capable of pulling off some sweet effects, and easily. Applying a faux-bokeh effect at either the foreground or background is pretty straightforward, and nets you an artistic-looking shot. We also found the One M8's parallax-inducing Dimension Plus effect to work well. In contrast, the Nexus 5 is sticking to the basics, like white balance and exposure controls, but nothing more.
When video capture is concerned, we're back on equal footing. Both devices can, of course, capture 1080p video, and both offer clear and stable results during the day. At night, however, there's a palpable drop in quality with both devices, with visible digital noise and even some noticeable blur making an ugly appearance.
Boom go the BoomSound stereo speaker. No contest here.
With wonderfully-detailed, 5-inch 1080p displays, there's little to no cause for complaint when it comes to watching video on either of our contestants. Playback is smooth, though both offer little in terms of extra features with their built-in video players. The same goes for both phone's respective Gallery apps, which really focus on executing the essentials well. That said, HTC's skin, once again, proves to be the more visually-attractive of the two, and few would contest that notion.
Where the two really proved to be on entirely different levels was audio reproduction. The BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers on the HTC One M8 blow the speaker on the Nexus 5 out of the water, and any other smartphone's for that matter. Those are seriously loud, and cranking the volume to the max comes at no considerable cost to sound fidelity. Moreover, the placement of the two BoomSound speakers on the top and the bottom gives you an actual stereo effect.