HTC One X Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 4S vs Nokia PureView 808

August 1, 2012

HTC One X camera vs other mobile phones

In this review I’ll be talking about the HTC One X mobile phone camera.  If you’ve visited HTC One X on htc.com, you’ve probably seen the sub title: “Amazing camera”. That’s doesn’t really tell us how good the One X camera really is.  The Nokia 808 PureView raised the bar, at least where the camera is concerned. The questions is whether the HTC One X camera can give image and video quality that will satisfy your needs as an amateur photographer. Furthermore, you probably wanted to know how the HTC One X compares to the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia 808 PureView mobie phone cameras. In this review I will try my best to give you an answer for the most basic question: “How good is the HTC One X camera”. I will compare it versus other mobile phone cameras and hope that at the end we can come to a clear and distinctive conclusion. A conclusion that will help you make a better buying decision.

 

HTC One X Image Sensor

The image sensor is probably one of the most important parts of a digital camera, whether it’s a regular digital camera or a mobile device camera. Let’s compare the HTC One x vs Samsung Galaxy S3, Apple iPhone 4S and Nokia 808 PureView sensors in a table, in order to see the differences in the sensors.

HTC One XSamsung Galaxy S3Apple iPhone 4SNokia 808 PureView
Sensor Type1/3.2-inch1/3.2-inch1/3.2-inch1/1.2-inch
Sensor Architecture TypeBSI-CMOSBSI-CMOSBSI-CMOSCMOS
Sensor Size4.54×3.42 mm4.54×3.42 mm4.54×3.42 mm10.67×8.00 mm
Total Effective Pixels8MP8MP8MP38MP
Sensor Model NameS5K3H2YS5C73M3OV8830N/A
Max. Image Reslution3264x24483264×2448 pixels3264×2448 pixels7728×5368 pixels
Crop Factor7.6×7.6×7.6×3.2×
Lens28mm f/228mm f//2.64.28mm (33mm) f/2.4Carl Zeiss Tessar lens
8.02mm (26mm) f/2.4
Video1080p30 Full HD1080p30 Full HD1080p30 Full HD1080p30 Full HD
Camera Key FeaturesCapture photo while filming
Video stabilization
High quality slow motion video capture and playback
Simultaneous HD video and image recording
geo-tagging
touch focus
face and smile detection
image stabilization
8-megapixel iSight camera
Autofocus
Tap to focus
Face detection in still images
Video stabilization
Photo and video geotagging
Touch focus
Landscape orientation
Exposure compensation
Sequence mode
Geo-tagging
Auto and manual white balance
Still image editor
Face recognition
Full screen viewfinder
Self timer
Center weighted auto exposure
Auto Exposure
FlashLED flashLED flashLED flashXenon Flash (4m)

As you can see from the above side by side comparison table, the HTC One X (HOX), Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4S, all of those phones have the same sensor size. I’m referring to the rear camera, not the front camera. All of those cameras utilize a 1/3.2-inch 8MP sensor with the same maximum image resolution. I know that those numbers might be confusing for some, so let’s take a look a a sensor size comparison diagram that will illustrate the sensor size difference much better.

HTC One X image sensor size

HTC One X image sensor size in comparison to other sensors

As you can see from the above diagram (HTC One X is the one with the arrow above it), the HTC One X sensor is the same size as the SGIII, iPhone 4S – however the One X sensor is much smaller than the Nokia 808 PureView’s sensor. This of course won’t come as a surprise for those who already read about the Nokia 808 PureView on mobile review’s websites. One of the big selling point of the Nokia is its camera with its large sensor. In fact, some people might not consider this as a fair comparison. It’s like comparing a point-and-shoot compact camera to a Compact System Camera (mirrorless).

Having said that, the one thing that grabbed my attention is the HTC One X’ lens. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2, one of the brightest on the market, even THE brightest lenses if I am not mistaken. What we know for sure is that the HTC One X lens is faster than the Galaxy S3′ f/2.6 and the iPhone 4S’ f/2.4.

Now you probably going to ask me, what ‘aperture’ means? What is a fast lens? – I’m happy that you asked.

The aperture of the lens is a hole/opening which the light passes through. The larger the aperture is, the more light can pass through, leading to better light gathering capabilities and improved image quality in low light. the “f/” symbols is being referred to as f-number.  Now listen carefully, the smaller the f-number is, the larger the opening  and the more light can pass through. Yes, again, smaller aperture number means that more light reaches the sensor.

The HTC One X has a f/2 aperture, S3 has f/2.6 and iPhone 4 S has f/2.4 – so HTC One X has a brighter lens, or faster lens. Photographers usually tend to say fast lens, because in lower aperture numbers, more light can pass through the lens, which allows them to shoot in faster shutter speeds even when there might not be much light to get a good exposure. In general terms, when people say ‘fast lens’ they usually referring to lenses with minimum aperture of f/4 and below.

So now you understand that one of the main advantages of the HTC One X is that it has a relatively faster lens in comparison to other lenses on competing mobile phone devices. So what is it good for? – it’s very useful when you are shooting in low light and want to get well exposed photo or video. It will allow you to shoot in faster shutter speeds, an therefore stop the action when shooting fast moving subjects. Of course it’s also depends on how much control you have on the shutter speed, because with mobile phones it’s mainly automatic. But you can trust the camera to do a god job at it, even if it’s automatic. Mobile phone cameras have predefined modes that behind the scene sets the camera settings, so you won’t need to understand what shutter speed, aperture or ISO means. You just shoot and get beautiful photos.

I’ve already compared the Nokia 808 PureView camera vs iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S3, so I highly recommend reading this camera image quality comparison if you are looking to buy one of those smartphones.

 

HTC One X vs Nokia 808 PureView – Fair comparison?

I know that many of you will be comparing the HTC One X vs Nokia 808 PureView. Honestly that wouldn’t be suck a fair comparison considering the sensor size difference. The 808 PureView has a large sensor, plus it comes with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, a very high quality optics to match the performance of the sensor.

Let’s take a look at a Nokia 808 PureView vs. HTC One X test video made by besteproduct.

You can clearly see a difference in this comparison. One of the first things I’ve noticed is the moiré pattern artifacts that exists on the One X, but not on the Nokia 808 PureView. In fact, that one of the advantages of the Nokia sensor and Nokia stated that in the press release. These are undesired artifacts that occur on Bayer sensors due to Bayer image interpolation.

Look at the building blocks and on the pavement. On the HTC One X the pavement looks blurry with a lot of moiré pattern artifacts, loosing all the fine details there. On the 808 PureView it’s almost non existent and only has minimum effects. It’s there, but it’s hard to notice and doesn’t mass out the video image quality. This happens only in certain occasions where you shoot an object that contains repetitive details that exceed the sensor resolution. This is of course rare, you won’t get it in any scene, but you should be aware of that, and the above video is a good evident for that.

The 808 PureView will also give you shallower depth of field because of its large sensor (three things affect DOF: distance from the subject, aperture size and focal length). Overall it’s hard to point differences. What I did notice is that the HTC One X lens does a better job when shooting indoors. The image looks brighter  and that’ most probably due to the bright lens of the HTC One X.

Let’s take a look at some sample shots shell we?

HTC One X Sample Images

Sommer på kyststien (Htc one x)

HTC One X demo photo

HTC One X demo photo

 

I’ve gone through numerous photos, and I wasn’t that thrilled with image quality. The lens is sure bright, bright it just didn’t have the punch that I was waiting for (already addicted to the PureView). Noise is apparent even in day light (low ISO), but not a big deal. Sharpness is very good.

Nokia 808 PureView Sample Images

Ben's Best Deli's Famous Stuffed Cabbage; Rego Park (Queens), New York

PureView - Girlfriend Portrait

2012-06-21-0541.jpg

 

The 808 PureView produced colors never seen on mobile phone cameras before. Rich colors, great contrast, great sharpness with lots of details – every picture have a great punch to it. You just feel alive watching those photos. So as you can see, the Nokia just put the HTC One X to shame. It’s not a question of which one is better for photos and videos, whether it’s the HTC One X or PureView, because the answer for this is way to simple. What I want to know how good is the HOX versus the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3, this will be a fair comparison.

 

 

HTC One X vs iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3

So I think that it’s better to compare to phone cameras that are in the same league.. I did brought the PureView comparison because I know that you want to know which one is better of the two. Now that know the answer, let’s take a look at the other competitive phones. So both the GS3 and the iPhone 4S have the same sensor size, although there are differences. The HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III have the same focal length (28mm, equiv. to 35mm camera). The iPhone 4S camera doesn’t offer the same wide angle, and it’s close to normal angle (33mm). The HTC One X will certainly be better for shooting landscapes, group shots, architecture and indoor shots. And the difference between 28mm and 33mm is quite significant.

The HTC One X offers a brighter lens, iPhone comes second and GS3 last.  All mobile phones offer video image stabilization, all have LED Flash, all have the same maximum resolution, all Backlit CMOS sensors.

Let’s take a look as some test videos..

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs HTC One X

iPhone 4S vs HTC One X

 

HTC One X video image quality looks better, but in no way by a large margin. It’s certainly much better for low light shooting (ie. indoors, night shots) than the other two and has a wider angle than the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy S3 does a better job than the iPhone 4S in the image quality department. It seems that the iPhone 4S did its job and its need a replacement pretty soon (iPhone 5!).

CNET also did a nice comparison but without the HTC One X and shows us that the 808 PureView is the best, and in some comparisons between the iPhnoe and Galaxy, sometimes the iPhone is better in others the Galaxy is better. If you want my final verdict: the iPhone 4S is second to the Galaxy S3 in general. What I like about the iPhone is the way it renders the scene in terms of color reproduction. I just love the colors, well saturated, closer to the One X than the Galaxy S3. It’s also looks that the iPhone 4S has a better automatic white balance, images looks very neutral when shooting in various lighting conditions.  The iPhone 4S also did great job in closeup shots.

 

Do We Have a Winner?

It’s hard to point for a clean winner here (without the Nokia involved). I think that the main advantages of the HTC One X camera is that fast lens and wide angle. The HTC handles exposure very well too and it’s the ideal phone for low light shooting. Indoor images tend to be “warmer” on the iPhone, “colder” on the S3 and One X. If you love depth of field effect, it looks better on the Galaxy S3, the HTC One X actually came last in the Bokeh department. The Nokia 808 PureView tops them all in almost every department (ie. Image and video quality, Bokeh, sharpness, colors).

If I had to choose I would probably went either with the HTC One X or the Samsung Galaxy S3. I did notice some jaggies one the HTC One X in videos, which is quit evident when viewing the video in full resolution. This might be due to increase of sharpness, and the S3 video is indeed sharper.  I also think that the Galaxy S3 handles exposure better, while being able to maintain more details in the highlight areas. I’ve also notice that the HTC One X does a very good White-Balance job. The HTC One X is also a better low light shooter, so if you want to shoot indoors (ie. in a pub, apartments, inside buildings, museums, etc.), the HTC One X is certainly the way to go.

So if we include the Nokia 808 PureView here, this is my verdict: 1) Nokia 808 PureView, 2) HTC One X, 3) Samsung Galaxy S3, 4) Apple iPhone 4S.

 

So yes, I have concluded that the HTC One X has one of the most versatile cameras with one of the best image quality on the market today.  Second after the 808 PureView is pretty damn good!

I really want to hear your opinion and your experience with those phone’s cameras. Please comment below and share your experience and thought.

 

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