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HTC Throws Down the Camera Gauntlet

HTC Throws Down the Camera Gauntlet
Jamieson Dean

With the announcement of the HTC One today, Nokia’s main Windows Phone rival has really thrown down the camera-phone gauntlet.

Despite initial marketing hiccups, Nokia’s achievements in the smartphone camera space have been under hardly any dispute. The performance of the camera in the Lumia 920 – particularly under low light conditions – is nothing short of incredible due to the combination of smart algorithms and the first genuine Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) to ever grace a mobile phone. HTC’s best effort, the 8x, whilst beautiful to lay both the eyes and the hands on, simply doesn’t compare on camera performance.

All that could be about to change.

The HTC One is an Android device with a 1080p 4.7” screen, quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, either 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage and a 2300mAh battery. All fairly impressive as a whole package, but it’s the camera features that really made a statement.

The device sports a 4MP camera, but these aren’t any old pixels – they’re the ‘UltraPixels’ you may have heard whispers of. These are larger than your average pixel at 2 microns in size (for comparison’s sake, the 920’s are 1.4 microns) and HTC claim they can capture a whopping 313% more light. What’s more, on top of those super-sized pixels they’ve thrown in OIS as well.

In the face of Nokia taking a stranglehold on the Windows Phone market share with their Lumia line in spite of HTC’s ‘partnership’ with Microsoft, this would hardly seem a coincidence. HTC have a history of late of focussing on the camera experience in their phones, but this has resulted in more software differentiation than hardware. This new device is a clear departure from that strategy*, and due to its timing, one can only conclude that it is a direct response to the success of the 920. Of course, only time will if this new venture produces any decent photos or not.

OK, so this is an Android phone, what does that mean for Windows Phone?

With HTC’s professed dedication to Windows Phone and the difficulties of battling Samsung on the Android front, it would be hard to imagine HTC not porting this technology over to challenge Nokia head on. Nokia, on the other hand, have left themselves no choice; they must succeed with Windows Phone.

Which to me says one thing – the innovation we have seen on the cameras sported by our Windows Phones won’t be slowing any time soon. As a smartphone camera enthusiast, I can only see this being a good thing.




*Mind you they haven’t ignored the software side with this release either. They’ve also announced a feature called Zoe which is extremely reminiscent of Nokia’s Cinemagraph. Where the Zoe name came from and what it has to do with animated images, however, I’m not sure.

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  • Saijo George

    I would love to see the other OEMs step up and challenge Nokia. Right now Nokia is untouchable on Windows Phone. ( and with good reason too.. they are all in as it’s the only platform they are offering )

  • Steven

    The Zoe, I believe, is reference to a zoetrope( As for the quality of the images, if the leaked ones are to believed, they are far from impressive.

  • jabtano

    I would love to see someone take on Nokia both in camera and devices. seeing how all noika wants to do is give everyone low and middle end device. and making the only real high end WP so dam exclusive. Go get them HTC!

  • Alana

    This phone looks unnervingly like the new Samsung S4. However, I love the sleek design and the fact that it doesn’t look like a low-end phone. Now, I just wanted to point out that most people are content with the ‘ordinary’ pixels that are found in most smartphones thanks to the number of apps that make it possible for you to edit photos before sharing them with friends (Instgram comes to mind). Great article, though, so thanks for that.