Sony's G Lens camera outclasses HTC's UltraPixel one, but the Duo Camera effects ease some of the pain.

The facts point to the obvious - HTC is continuing to bet on its ‘UltraPixel’ camera. First introduced last year with the HTC One, we’ve seen it become a staple feature in HTC’s flagship portfolio of late. It features the identically-sized 4-megapixel 1/3” sensor, resulting in larger-than-normal 2-micron pixels. However, this comes at the cost of having a relatively low image resolution of 4 megapixels. As before, the camera comes with wide, f/2.0 lens, but this time the flash is updated to feature two differently colored LEDs, called “Smart Flash”. Sadly, the M8 no longer features optical stabilization – it's been replaced by a software one.

In this newest device, HTC is experimenting on something new by carrying along a secondary camera used specifically to measure depth information, so that the camera can cast varying focus onto different depths throughout the shot. The so-called Duo Camera allows you to apply a number of eye-catching effects to your images, the most intriguing one being shallow depth-of-field.

At the same time, the beefy 20.7 MP camera of the Sony Xperia Z1 presents users with a strikingly different concept. With a larger sensor with a size of 1/2.3", the Z1's camera will still have pixels of tolerable size (1.1 micron), despite their greater number. This should help keep noise at reasonable levels. Meanwhile, the aperture is identically wide (f/2.0), which should help the camera achieve good results in low-light conditions, as it will allow a good deal of light to reach the sensor. Finally, the Z1 has a wide-angle lens of 27mm, while the HTC One (M8) has 28mm lens, meaning that both cameras will allow you to fit a lot of the surrounding scene in the frame.

From the looks of it, HTC has done some slight improvements to the 4 MP UltraPixel camera. As a result, photos captured by HTC's finest appear a bit more pleasant to the eye, compared to those of its predecessor, but sadly, there's still much to ask for, especially when we take into account the competition – or in this case, the Xperia Z1S' G Lens camera. The HTC One (M8)'s problem here is mostly in the details department, where the handset can in no way compete with the higher-resolution camera of the Xperia Z1S. You may not experience this issue if you're just looking at your photos from a zoomed-out view, but once you start zooming in, you'll see just how much more information the Xperia Z1S captures. Colors also tend to be more pleasing with Sony's camera. The Xperia Z1S' images have a nice warmth and vividness to them, while the One (M8)'s shots have a somewhat more uninviting look to them.

When it comes to highly-dynamic scenes, the Z1S once again tends to balance its images a bit better, while the M8 kind of ruins things up with a pinch of purple fringing.

Indoor photos with the Xperia Z1S trump those of the HTC One (M8) with their depth and detail, as well as realistic and pleasing colors. If we take things outdoors at night, however, we kind of gravitate towards the M8, as its photos turn out brighter, so you can see much more of the scene.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 2.3
No data
Sony Xperia Z1 3.2
No data

Turning our attention to video recording, the 1080p video recording of the One (M8) is pleasing to the eye, as long as there’s sufficient lighting around. By default, the phone has its focus locked when recording, which means that adjusting it is done via touch focus. Turning it off, though, the camera is constantly adjusting the focus on the fly. Frankly, it’s a nice option, but it seems a bit too sensitive – causing certain situations to become out of focus. Under low light, we’re content by how bright the videos turn out, but yet again, we’re simply faced with softer details. Regardless of that, audio recording is impressive, since it’s fantastic in capturing depth in low tones. Meanwhile, we're definitely not impressed by the 1080p video produced by the Xperia Z1S. Mostly smooth in nature, the 1080p video lacks fine details and liveliness. Overall quality is OK, but it's nothing earth-shattering.

Aside from that, the two phones present us with some unique shooting modes and effects. For example, the Xperia Z1S has things like Info Shot (attempts to give info about the object you're photographing) and Social Live (lets stream video to your Facebook feed), while the HTC One (M8) has a bunch of cool-looking effects, courtesy of the Duo Camera setup. Most importantly, it has Ufocus, which allows you to determine which obejcts are in focus by blurring the rest of the shot, creating that nice, bokeh effect.


Both phones are very well-equipped in the multimedia department. Each sporting a sizable, 5" display for enjoyable video playback and immersive gaming experience. In terms of quality, though, we'd prefer the IPS LCD of the One (M8), since it has livelier colors. In comparison, the Z1S' duller visuals make things a bit harder to look at, while its poorer viewing angles don't help either.

Moving on to the audio aspect, the HTC One (M8)'s front-facing BoomSound speakers simply outclass the Z1S' solo speaker, in both loudness and quality.

Although most of the HTC Sense 6.0 music player functions appear similar to those of its predecessor, it’s undeniably one of the more stylish music players out there. In fact, it has a more discerning dynamic quality to it, evident with the cool 3D-filled visualizer player and its ability to display lyrics as a song is being played. If the Sense 6.0 music player isn’t your cup of tea, the Google Play Music app is also preloaded as an alternative. Meanwhile, the Sony Xperia Z1S is loaded with the signature Walkman music player, and boy is it a cool music app. Naturally, it has its own set of features and audio goodies to play with, and frankly, which offering is going to appeal to you more depends solely on your personal preferences.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 1.28
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
HTC One (M8) 75.2
Sony Xperia Z1 68



29. vamp07

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

I own both phones on my account. I don't agree that the M8 is a hands down winner. I definitely prefer the look and feel of the Z1s. The screen of the M8 is better but the screen on the Z1s is crisp and bright as long as you are looking at it straight on and not at an angle which is how we all use our phones 99% of the time. The speakers on both are fine. Yes the M8 is preferable but I would not use either phone to listen to anything like music without headphones. As far as battery life, in real life use they are equivalent. I never feel like these automated battery tests ever give true to life results. I would actually say that the Z1s give me better battery life if I gave an opinion based on gut use but the M8 definitely does not outlast the Z1s at the level this review implies. In either case it is a great thorough review. In my case the the camera and feel/ruggedness of the Z1s wins. on all other matters I would rate the phones as very equivalent without any clear winner that would sway my choice of phone. Steven

26. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

We all know Z1 is the winner here. Functionality durability technology . Oh wait m8 won coz of viewing angle. Who the hell watches video sideways? Oh wait the boom sound. Seems to me sound system of Sony is far more superior than any front facing speakers. They did these comparison just to emphasize how far is the difference between Htc and Sony. Sony>Htc.

24. threeline

Posts: 325; Member since: Sep 11, 2011

Why are they comparing these two? Not fair to Sony.

23. cai4651

Posts: 26; Member since: Mar 09, 2014

Take a look at this.... Samsung Galaxy S5 has the ‘best performing smartphone display’ DisplayMate compared the display on Samsung’s latest flagship to existing phones, and found it to have the best overall display, especially in color accuracy, brightness levels, viewing angles, and contrast. have the most accurate colors for any smartphone or tablet when Cinema Mode is activated, and it was also the brightest display ever tested by DisplayMate, having the ability to reach 698 nits of brightness

22. av911 unregistered

Looks like a bezel fight.

14. papss unregistered

My m8 will be waiting at my house tonight when I get off.. I can't wait to put it thru its test and see what it does great at and what it doesn't.

16. engineer-1701d unregistered

did you see the water test it was in the sink under water for 2 hours no problems. they should market that and all the phones features.

17. papss unregistered

I have not seen that one.. I'll have to you tube it..

18. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

me too!!!

12. greyhulk

Posts: 191; Member since: Jun 30, 2010

Actually, a lot of the M8 sample photos look better to me than the Z1s. I'm sure there's less detail if you zoom in, but zoomed out, they look perfectly fine.

10. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Why was my comment removed Ray S. ? Why even run a comment section if you guys only promote your views in comment section and simply remove the rest ? #growapair

20. g2a5b0e unregistered

I'm guessing your comment was removed because the S5 is irrelevant to this article.

21. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Well, I wrote it as a joke and even mentioned 'jk' = Just kiddin' in the end. It was just to poke some fun as Samsung articles are full of praises of Z2 in the comment section. Also, my comment also consisted remarks about the phones in this article too. Irrespective of that, as long as I am not breaking any rules my comment shouldn't be just deleted without even mentioning the reason.

9. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

Z1's display and battery sucks.

8. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

As i told htc fanboys m8 was going to fail in camera. Lol 4mp dont tell me MP dont matter. 4k recording needs atleast 8.3mp sensor.

15. engineer-1701d unregistered

do you have a $5000 tv with 4k viewing if not no reason and if you do then you should have a pro camera, it should have been a 8up but we dont know what it takes to make a 8up camera maybe they will release a 2nd phone later like note and the 8up will be on it samsung held the tech for its notes maybe htc is going to put 2 high end units out a year.

7. limporgyuk

Posts: 385; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

Right, can everyone agree now that a large battery rating doesn't mean a long battery life.

5. YodhaMali

Posts: 49; Member since: Jan 05, 2013

The new HTC One should be pitted against the Z2 for a fair and exciting game, not its predecessor Z1/Z1s.

11. Amir1 unregistered

wrong. M8 is comparable to Z1. Z2 would smash it.

19. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

from what i've seen, only in the camera department

13. papss unregistered

I'm sure they will once Sony releases it to the mainstream.

4. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Is HTC's duo camera is just used only for some eye catching effects??? No combining pictures for larger images??? It should have been 8MP UP this year at least . I would like to see a comparison of HTC M8's front camera with the rear. besides the camera M8 is pretty awesome. love the sense ui and fast auto focus.

3. Dthawk

Posts: 42; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

I've held the Z1S and the first thing I noticed was the display is very poor. I'm hoping the Z2 is a big improvement.

27. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

Z2 is the best display yet

28. jellmoo

Posts: 2714; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Er... I'm pretty sure the S5 just took that award.

2. rawbow

Posts: 428; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Good Comparison! Apart from the cam, the m8 is awesome

25. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Religiously waiting for the Z2's review and comparison.. *-*

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

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