There is still something admirable about the HTC One's camera

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 14, 2014

Last year I ended up getting an HTC One to use as my daily driver. After initially going with the Galaxy S4, I quickly realized that it just wasn't the phone for me. When I switched it out for the HTC One, I was afraid that I would have a similar feeling despite how much I loved the design. Fortunately, the HTC One ended up having both beauty and brains and, for the most part, I was pretty happy with my decision in the end.

There was one thing I was initially skeptical about when it came to HTC One, and that was the 4-megapixel - dubbed "UltraPixel" - camera. As somebody who had been using cell phones since she was 14, being told nearly 10 years later that the slight increase in megapixels with each upgrade meant virtually nothing was kind of an unbelievable shock to me. You can't tell me that my Palm Treo Pro's 2-megapixel camera was on par with my HTC EVO's 8-megapixel camera. There was a world of difference between the two, so the fact that one had higher megapixels must have been the reason why one was so much better than the other... right? 

Yes and no. It's not that HTC was trying to say that megapixels didn't matter, just more of that they didn't matter as much anymore. What really mattered was the size of the sensor that was being used. Apparently, the larger the sensor the clearer the image, which is what HTC wanted to prove with the One's camera. Still, it's hard for somebody to look at the specs of the HTC One and see the "4-megapixel" bit and not wonder whether somebody had lost their marbles when choosing the camera. However, the HTC One's camera is one of those "see it to believe it" type of deals because before I used one I wasn't exactly convinced either.

I was nervous because I had the luxury of the Galaxy S4's 13-megapixel camera at my side, and as I said, I had grown up being under the impression that more megapixels meant better pictures. The Galaxy S4 also had a slew of different options right away from the camera, so giving that up was tough too. But once I actually switched to the One and starting to use the camera, I found that there wasn't really a difference between the two cameras that I could notice. If there was, you had to look really, really hard to find it. The HTC One's camera wasn't that bad at all. In fact, I would have to say it was the best smartphone camera I had ever used at the time.

When I took a photo, the camera was quick to take it and was usually very good about stabilizing subjects so the pictures didn't turn out blurry. The images were also extremely clear, both on the phone and on the web after uploading. Images showing up blurry or without clarity was a problem that I had with my iPhone 4S. The thing that the HTC One was really good at, above all, was taking photos in low-lit situations. Even the front-facing 2.1-megapixel camera was a breath of fresh air from the VGA quality I was used to on my iPhone 4S. The HTC One really hit the nail on the head from all angles when it comes to the camera.

The HTC One's successor is supposed to come out sometime within the next few months, and I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival. Even with the phone being nearly a year old, the HTC One is still one of the most popular phones on the market - the successor certainly has big shoes to fill. One of the areas which I hope the successor is able to hit better is the camera. I hope that HTC was able to keep that UltraPixel camera - I don't know exactly what all the UltraPixel camera entails, but I do know that it was able to do exactly as it said it was able to. It was able to take photos on par with just about any other camera on the market, even being compared with the famous Nokia Lumia cameras.

But although the HTC One's camera was able to take great photos despite the 4-megapixel camera, the one thing the phone wasn't that great at doing was zooming and cropping. That's where megapixels seem to really matter, and the next HTC One could stand to use some improvements in that area. Aside from that, though, I feel like HTC did a fantastic job of proving that megapixels aren't the most important of taking a great photo, and I think even a year or two from now the One's camera is going to be able to keep up with newer models.

Readers, what have your thoughts on the HTC One's camera been thus far? Have you been disappointed in the 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera, or have you been pleasantly pleased with the results so far?

Images via Phandroid, Gadget Talks

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