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The HTC One has gained a lot of traction since its official release back in March, and for a couple of key reasons. The first being the most noticeable, and that's the premium aluminum unibody design that it's often praised for having. Another key reason for the current success of the HTC One is also for its introduction of front-facing speakers, called BoomSound, along with the Beats Audio integration that HTC has been known to add in their hardware. Last but not least, you have the 4-megapixel "UltraPixel" camera, and a new shooting mode that HTC calls Zoe.

I have recently switched phones from my iPhone 4S, which I had been carrying for a little over a year and a half, to the HTC One. Well, actually, let's back that up a little bit: I had first chosen the Galaxy S4, but found that the device just wasn't for me. I opted to go with the HTC One for its narrower body, despite the concerns I had in the back of my head for any 4 UltraPixel camera that the One boasted about. Yes, secretly in the back of my head, I actually did still consider megapixels to be an important thing when it comes to pictures. In fact, to a certain extent, I still do.

Upon getting properly situated with my new HTC One, one of the first things I did was test out this UltraPixel camera. At first I tried it in normal shooting mode in a dark room; no flash, no filters, no Zoe, no anything. The results showed exactly what the phone said it would do, and that is to produce a surprisingly well-lit photo in low light situations. That being said, it was still quite grainy and not exactly the clearest photo I had ever taken. Then again, at least you could tell what the image was. With most smartphone cameras, you'd be lucky if you could make out certain shapes. It was also nice that you didn't have to wait or deal with an intrusive flash. The phone just takes nice pictures in low-lit situations.



I tried out the various settings to see what could produce the best result. I actually had a really hard time producing a clear image most of the time, and if by chance I did walk away with a clear image it was a really lucky shot. When I did get those lucky shots, HDR and Macro worked very well in most situations. However, and almost ironically, Night mode did absolutely nothing to help the HTC One when it came to pictures taken in dark settings. I had much better results taking pictures in Normal mode than Night mode in dark rooms.

I didn't use Zoe very much because at first, I don't think I quite understood the concept. I was under the impression that Zoes would take bits of recordings and photos and string them together with some ambient music. I was kind of wrong, because that's only part of what Zoe does. The other part of Zoe is the shooting mode, which takes short 5-second recording, and from there you could go through the frames and pick the clearest or best image from the 5 seconds of recording. Ever since discovering that's how Zoe really worked my pictures actually turn out rather well for the most part since I have so many frames to choose from. There are still times where I'll shoot a Zoe and not get the perfect shot, but for the most part the idea behind the concept is spot on. Especially for somebody like me, who has a wiggly toddler who won't hold still for more than a couple of seconds, missing that moment where they say "Cheese!" usually means you've missed your one and only chance. Toddlers are much too busy to sit still just so you can get a good photo.

Even if you don't have a toddler, or even kids, Zoe works well in most situations. I don't have really shaky hands, but they're not exactly the most still either (i.e. they're not that great for taking pictures), but with Zoe I can usually get that shot that isn't blurry, and it takes about as long to produce the Zoe as my Galaxy S4 did taking a single picture (albeit they were pretty good pictures). It seems like the only downside to Zoe is that you'll spend a lot of time sifting through frames to find the right shots, and after that you have to delete all of the "photos", or frames, that Zoes produce (which can quickly add up) but other than that I have found that I'm enjoying the concept immensely.

I've mentioned before that I thought that the HTC One's camera wasn't the best, and I still don't think it is. For overall quality, I would still say that the Galaxy S4's camera ranked higher than the One's in most situations, but the convenience of the HTC One camera definitely gives it an edge, especially when it comes to Zoe. In fact, if it hadn't been for Zoe I might still be extremely disappointed in what the One's camera has to offer, and I would have never gotten this sweet shot of Iron Man at the local science museum:



Or this action shot of my tot stepping all over the color-changing tiles:



In the end, even if I wasn't wowed by the whole UltraPixel bit initially, it seems that HTC did a good thing by incorporating Zoe.

Readers, what have your thoughts been on the HTC One's camera so far? Are you impressed with what the 4 UltraPixel camera can do, or do you think they could have done better by adding a higher megapixel count? What are your thoughts on Zoe? Share your opinions with me in the comments!

Images via HTC


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