Even before the One was announced, we all knew that HTC needed to unveil something that would grab our attention. It needed to be a device that not only did so through hardware, but through software and features as well. “HTC’s on its last legs,” is just one variation of many different negative statements regarding the company that were swirling near the end of 2012. Everything was set to change when the One was announced. But, now that it has been, and as we inch inexorably to its launch, I can’t help but wonder if anything has changed.

Every year, there are a lot of Android phones that make it out to market. HTC is one of the reasons why, in fact. The company is no stranger to launching phone after phone, ranging in sizes and features. One might think that for a phone manufacturer, releasing as many phones as possible is a good idea, but based on HTC’s presence in the market, it obviously isn’t as good as one might expect it to be.

In all honesty, the One X is a great phone. I may not be its biggest fan around, but I understand why so many people loved it. It does feel great in the hand, and the display was amazing for its time. The One, and eventually the One X+, were outstanding devices. HTC had nowhere to go but up, based on those two devices. Their flagship model for 2013, or at least for the first half of 2013, had a lot of expectations waiting for it at the gate.

I think it’s safe to say that HTC met those expectations head on, and came out on the other side no worse for wear. After the One was announced, the press seemed to walk away from the event relatively pleased. Their hands-on time with the device left a lasting impression, but not a negative one. The One’s 4.7-inch 1080p display was noteworthy all on its own, but made better by the industrial, lightweight and comfortable design of the phone itself. This is the best phone HTC has ever designed, and that is saying a lot, considering the company’s track record with outstanding hardware.

The other important feature on the One, outside of software (BlinkFeed!), is the Ultrapixel camera, featuring HTC Zoe. This isn’t a camera that boasts a ridiculously high megapixel count, and then tries to shove it down your throat. No, it’s quite the opposite. There isn’t a megapixel count at all. Instead, HTC just calls it an Ultrapixel camera, and moves on. They are, without a doubt, trying to control the conversation about the One’s camera, and doing so by removing one of the most important parts when it comes to consumers.

Earlier today, I spent some time in a wireless retail location. I was speaking with a few of the sales reps, and they were telling me about how excited they were for the Galaxy S IV announcement in a few days. They were expecting amazing things. So I asked which phones they carried, and they all pulled out their Galaxy S III. Okay, so that makes sense. They’re ready for the “next big thing” from Samsung. But, I wanted to gauge their desire for the One, considering HTC’s phone has already been announced, it’s real, and we know what it features.

They were all impressed with the device itself, and they were excited to get to try it out whenever they could. I brought up the camera, and talked about how the Ultrapixel camera was meant to set a new bar for smartphone photography. That the Ultrapixel camera was something new, without a big focus on megapixel count, but on technology instead.

They all laughed. And then they told me, ceremoniously, that they’d have an easier job selling just about every other phone in that case. I asked them to elaborate, and one of them was quick to point out that consumers still generally point to a bigger megapixel count as being better. More equals better, basically. I said that I agreed with that, more or less, but then suggested that they try to explain the camera to the consumer. Tell them why a higher megapixel count doesn’t’ necessarily mean a better image.

Suffice it to say, they laughed again, and I think that time they were laughing at me. They did suggest that another one of their employees there might take the time to do it, because he was an HTC fan. But, when left up to them, they’d all probably still point to a Galaxy S III, or even an iPhone 5, if the customer was looking for a top-tier photography experience from their smartphone.

The Ultrapixel camera does indeed take great photos, from what I’ve been told by those who are currently using the device. They aren’t disappointed, overall, by the camera at all. I’m looking forward to when I can take it for a whirl, and see how it stands up to a constant barrage of cute from my daughters. I doubt I’ll be disappointed, either. But I think this is going to be a big hurdle for HTC.

Why? Because even if HTC does put a big focus in marketing, especially with a laser focus on the camera, it’s going to be hard to just say, “Hey, fewer megapixels can be a good thing!” and hope that the general public jumps on board. It needs to be shown off. It needs to be experienced. But if a sales rep has to take longer to explain a camera, and why it might be better, or exactly the same as another camera on another phone, I think HTC is leaving quite a bit up to fate.

The Ultrapixel camera on the HTC One is easily one of its strongest features, but it could also be one of its most crippling.

What do you think? Is HTC the company to convince the mass public that megapixels aren’t the most important part of taking a picture? Or will we see Samsung, or even Apple, continue to push a high megapixel count, and still offer up a fantastic photo taking experience? Let me know what you think.

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38 Reactions to this post

"Do you think the HTC One's camera will make or break more sales?"

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Kevin Joel 920 if you want a good camera. I would know.
Suhail Khan Aaron, please let us know if HTC one Europe version will work on At&t 4G LTE please
Bryan T Miller Being ultra pixels but at only 4MP will mean only good tiny prints, a normal 8MP will still look better with larger prints
Lanh Nguyen So far the reviews on the camera is not as impressive as its being made out to be.
Mark Belcher The galaxy note 3 arrives in a monthes time and has a removable battery. Htc has lost the plot and does not have a removable battery
Matt Pankey The HTC Amaze did and still does take fantastic pictures. That camera should have been used in the HTC One and not some Zoe gimmick.
CeeGii Borels HTC One Camera vs 920 Camera on a demo HTC setup last MWC 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dt095hPgHk
Cezzar Micu Frankly it's not the camera that's making me want to jump to the htc one from a note 2. But instead it's the looks ;-) the camera is just an icing...
Håvard Ulsaker Combined with the fantastisc design... Yes!
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla more mega pixels mean bigger picture not a better quality in most cases. As sensors improve in megapixels, many things get improved as well (like light sensitivity). So it is not only the pixel count
Raymond Tang U don't know how to use it.
Orion Pax Lumia 920 camera is sooo overrated.
Orion Pax The Verge review it and said the camera is mediocre.
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla Is it even all about the camera?
Chris Culp People aren't going to understand what "ultrapixels" are. All the average public "knows" is that 13mp is better than 4mp (technically incorrect, but the average joe doesn't care to research)
Kenneth Maneeley I think it will make it. Concerning that its based on a new concept of 300% more light coming into the sensor and allowing it to have a better and crisper picture! It will be very interesting to get my hands on one and test it out and see it fir myself!
Dan Daniel The key in the US to being successful is seeding all reps with devices and massive advertising. PERIOD
Dan Daniel ANYONE who takes pictures know that its not about the MPs unless you are printing and blowing it up. The software is far more important. That being said sales people dont take the time to explain and most customers see a bigger number is better. While the geeks will get it most consumers wont and most salespeople wont care learn enough to talk about it properly
Emmanuel Ramos I prefer a 4 megapixels camera with high quality lens and image stabilization than a cheap 13 megapixels camera....
Jeff Cross Until Nikon Canon and Sony come out with an "ultrapixel" DSLR I'm still wanting megapixel numbers.
Rafael Coreas Camera aside, the phone is stupid sexy, I'm digging the double speakers more than anything!
Ed Covert My Amaze manages to take pictures that people don't believe come from a smartphone. I trust HTC to deliver on camera performance.
CeeGii Borels NOPE. Simply because like any other smartphone the 920s camera renders all of them irrelevant. Ultrapixels, so silly.
Brett Embury It says CAMERA not OS or phone it's self. If only a 4MP camera idc what you say I wouldn't every own a new smartphone from 2013 with a 4MP camera
Nick Catelli I'd be more concerned about the battery figures
William Plotner fantastic phone in every single way.
Naveen Shan Mark ru dumb?
Josh Lazenby The video samples I have seen at the very least seem VERY good. The phone over all seems really good. I didn't think I was going to want to upgrade from the HTC One XL yet, and HTC had to go an add a few features that actually make me want the new phone... Bastards. Glorious high quality bastards.
Mark Belkowski I'm considering the phone if the s4 doesn't impress. But I'm not thrilled it doesn't ship with android 4.2. Also coming from a note 2 the 4.7" will feel small.
Scheheryar Masood Make for sure
Tito Cruz Break. It's being marketed as a software advantage rather than hardware
Cody Shawn Sullivan make. by far.

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