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Galaxy S4, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z Cameras Compared

Steven Blum (translation)
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© AndroidPIT

The holy trinity of smartphones have arrived: the HTC One, the Sony Xperia Z and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are currently the brightest stars in the Android cosmos. In this comparison, we'll take a look at how their cameras sack up against in each other in a range of different environments.

All three manufacturers follow their own path when it comes to the technology inside each camera. The HTC One relies entirely on UltraPixel technology, using just four megapixels that can absorb a lot of light and thus produce images that have less noise when taken in the dark. The maximum aperture is f/2.0 and the lens is 28-millimeters wide. An optical image stabilizer and five-stage flash (called "Smart Flash") round out the package.

Samsung Galaxy S4's camera is capable of taking 13 megapixel shots and has a maximum aperture of f/2.6– a difference that comes into play in bad light. Samsung's software is near-perfect and almost never lags.

The Sony Xperia Z has an Exmos sensor and is capable of taking 13.1 megapixel shots. The benefit of this camera is that it comes from Sony, which is very experienced with creating digital cameras. More on that later…

Low Light, No Flash

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In low light, the HTC shines. The image the camera produces is color-accurate, if a bit pale. The Galaxy S4 is no match for low-light situations and you can clearly see it struggling with the darkness. The Xperia Z's image looks the brightest and most colorful, but also shows an extreme amount of noise.

Winner: HTC One

Low Light, Flash

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The Galaxy S4 has the strongest flash, resulting in a lot of reflected light. The Xperia Z takes second place. The HTC One uses a flash only to illuminate the objects, and colors and details remain quite accurate

Winner: HTC One

Macro Mode

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Here the HTC One draws the shortest straw; the Macro mode on this phone is generally the least sharp. The Xperia Z and the Galaxy S4 also allow for a closer shot. The Galaxy S4 provides the most details in macro mode.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Portrait Mode

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HTC One's automatic mode could have allowed for a little more light here. The Xperia Z makes Stephen look paler than he actually is. The Galaxy S4's image appears closest to reality.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Test Card

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Even if these kinds of images are not captured during day-to-day life, the comparison is still interesting to make. All three smartphones deliver different results in automatic mode. The HTC One and the Xperia Z;s colors seem ever-so lighter and washed out. The best picture is from the Galaxy S4.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Color Rendering

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A photo of the office snack box is also instructive. Here we can see that the HTC One's blue is the richest, while the Xperia Z provides the warmest color image. The brightest and clearest comes from the Galaxy S4.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Daylight, Street Scene

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It was hardest to find a winner when it came to daylight street settings. Here the Xperia Z provides the most dynamic range with a far more detailed sky and enough brightness even in the darkest corners of the image. The HTC one's sky is overexposed, but the shot has the most details. 

Winner: Unclear

Daylight, Earth and Sky

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The view of the sky is again best with the Xperia Z, which has the most dynamic range. The HTC One's exposure is all wrong, with the row of houses sinking into darkness. The Galaxy S4 takes second place, but doesn't capture as much light as the Xperia Z.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z

Conclusion

The Galaxy S4, Xperia Z and HTC One's cameras each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The HTC One is clearly superior to the rest in low-light situations. In daylight, I preferred the Galaxy S4 – its color reproduction, sharpness and exposure seemed to be the most balanced overall.

In our macro shot test, the HTC One was clearly outclassed. You can see the drawbacks of having only 4 megapixels. In difficult lighting conditions with high contrasts, the Xperia Z takes the best photos: its automatic mode mastered the bright sky and subtle shadows in our "Earth and Sky" shot. Overall, however, the Galaxy S4 has the best camera, followed by the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z. 

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Comments

Write new comment:
  • Imran 11 months ago Link

    z performance is like iphone.

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  • stephen Barker 11 months ago Link

    Phone camera: got to be the Nokia 808 PureView:

    http://stevesstats.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/on-phone-camera.html

    Its also a great phone too, and can be bought for less, if not much less, than the above.

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  • Rutger 11 months ago Link

    It's a sony cam in iPhone, so that's why, or am I wrong? A little dissapointed on the Z, it should have been better. My Xperia S is taking fantastic photos in daylight, but in dark it's horrible!

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  • Hend Farid 11 months ago Link

    The HTC One and Xperia Z are better than the S4 for me. S4 only gives 8GB of space for applications. Even with memory card, not all apps can be installed on the external memory

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  • Ace Design 11 months ago Link

    The amount of megapixels doesn't mean a thing. 4 megapixels is enough to take excellent pictures (with a decent camera). You would only need more if you wanna blow up a photo to poster size. And if you would wanna do that you probably won't use a cellphone with a tiny crappy lens.

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have Lg tone but it cuts out