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HTC One Update Dramatically Improves Camera Performance

Steven Blum
HTCOne Update teaser

It's common for manufacturers to release a minor update for a brand-new device. Often, these OTA updates contain fixes for minor bugs deliver slight speed increases. However, HTC One's latest OTA update is actually quite extensive and improves the performance of the device. Among other things, HTC has fixed a bug in the camera. The result: better photos!

The notification for the update lists the following fixes:

  • Optimization of system stability
  • Update for location service
  • HTC Zoe: Optimizing the sound quality
  • Camera: Parameter optimization
  • Beats Audio: Expanding the sound experience
  • Further optimizations and fixes 

Particularly interesting is the entry: "Camera: Perameter optimization." Much has been written about the HTC One's UltraPixel camera. Apparently, one of the reasons for the One's noisy photos was a camera bug that affected the ISO speed. The camera used a very low film speed when set to automatic. 

Vergleich Auto
The update dramatically increases the contrast and colors of photos, as you can see here. On the left is a photo taken before the update. © AndroidPIT

As you can see, the camera on the HTC One now takes significantly better photos. Both of the photos here were taken using automatic mode. The first frame chose ISO 100 at f2 and a shutter speed of 1/253 seconds. After the update, the camera took the same photo with an ISO 125, shutter speed of 1/270 seconds. The difference is clear, with the right photo showing more saturation and sharpness than before. It's also possible that HTC has also made some post-processing changes that helped, as well.

The remaining improvements are less obviously important for the average user. The revised "location services" provides more accurate results for weather, although this feature was already reliable on our test model. The sound improvement for Zoe was also improved, and the new Beats Audio is perhaps slightly clearer but it's really hard to spot the difference.

The camera update, however, is great, and might even mean that some of the early sample photos taken by reviewers don't match the HTC One's capabilities.

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  • Christa Joe Apr 25, 2013 Link

    I don't understand how a software update can improve the hardware performance in anyway. I believe any device is launched with the best possible hardware performance and when any software update improves it further, then this does mean that it was kept as a backup for future upgrades. Isn't it?

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  • David Ramer Apr 25, 2013 Link

    how can you not understand how programing can affect hardware? the galaxy S3 uses a upgraded iphone 4s cam sensor and pales in comparison to the iphone in picture quality ... only difference being programing....

    could you guys take before and after pics of something from a farther distance??

  • Christa Joe Apr 26, 2013 Link

    @David, I guess you didn't actually understand what my concern is. What I actually mean is if another way around was possible, then why company didn't use it before and why they launched an update all of a sudden.
    And, if programming could boost up the performance all of a sudden, then trust me no one in this world would be deploying high performance servers for hosting website, according to your point, they would just upgrade their desktop machine with a new software.
    Hardware does matter David.

  • Chris Avila Apr 26, 2013 Link

    If you don't think software can influence hardware how do you think the camera chooses the best exposure setting? There are complex algorithms in place to help translate what the lens is actually seeing and how it should be exported into a compressed format.

    For launch I don't think they've maximized the potential of the hardware lens in the HTC One given these before and after results.

  • Zebulon Pi May 6, 2013 Link

    @Christa - Do you really, truly not understand how more efficient code/drivers/BIOSes, etc., can improve hardware performance? Have you ever taken a look at graphics card drivers, and their release schedule?

    The fact that you get snotty with David, AND tout your own tech blog, while simultaneously being stunningly clueless about the relationship between software and hardware in regards to performance, makes me reel. Shows that anyone can have themselves a blog nowadays and feel like they have a clue.

  • Christa Joe May 7, 2013 Link

    @Zebulon Pi, In case you haven't read my initial post which says "A software Update" and not just a software (I hope you do understand the difference between the two).
    Please tell me that you really think that a company like HTC would launch its most popular device, gained a lot o buzz with its integration of Facebook home, without optimizing its hardware and software interaction for a high quality output and put its reputation on stake. Do you really feel that way?
    Talking about "tout-ing" my tech blog, it is definitely to share my piece of work. I don't understand why do admin of blog allow people to comment even when they haven't read the discussion properly and keep on adding their view irrelevantly.

  • Gaura Allen May 14, 2013 Link

    @Christina That's a pretty brutal response to Zebulon, Obviously HTC did in fact believe (rightly) that their optimizations were off AFTER launch. In the article they mention a bug affecting the manner in which the camera chose it's ISO speed and from there shutter, etc.
    Configuring software to most efficiently take advantage of the available hardware is an ongoing process for developers.
    Through the development process the device is tested in as many simulated environments as possible. The problem is that in the first few days of launch the device has been used by consumers 100x more than than it was possible to test, so flaws are exposed and than patched.
    In this industry a company that did not continually release software optimizations & patches is the thing of nightmares to third party developers, IT support staff, & consumers who purchase it's products.
    This statement: "...when any software update improves it further, then this does mean that it was kept as a backup for future upgrades. Isn't it?" show's you do not understand that. If a manufacturer could release a device and never offer software updates again they would either be purveyors of the impossible or negligent!

    Oh yeah. The HTC One did not launch with Facebook Home, that's the HTC First.

  • Christa Joe May 14, 2013 Link

    @Gaura, I guess you're right I was pretty harsh on Zebulon and I apologize for that. "I'm sorry @Zebulon".
    And thanks @Gaura because it was your explanation that actually answered my actual concern and I actually lost my temper because people were thinking of me as a stupid person who's posting irrelevantly.
    If they would have been gentle, I would have done the same.
    Once again, Thanks for the answer @Gaura.