HTC One (M8) vs Sony Xperia Z1S
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 Sadly, the M8 no longer features optical stabilization – it's been replaced by a software one.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.
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.