HTC One, Galaxy S4

We compare image quality on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 rear cameras

Though they're direct competitors, the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 are two very different smartphones. That's especially evident when you look at the way they handle photography. The Galaxy S4 packs a 13-megapixel shooter with f/2.2 aperture, improving upon the 8-megapixel, f/2.6 unit in last year's S3 with the potential to capture even more detailed images. The HTC One trades sheer megapixel count for larger (2-micron) pixels on the sensor itself, allowing for improved low-light capabilities when combined with its wide-angle f/2.0 lens.

That's the basic hardware at work, but specs only go so far. That's why we've prepared a few direct comparison shots from the European HTC One (on the latest 1.29 firmware) and the international Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505). Check 'em out after the break.

Note: In each set, top (widescreen) images are from the HTC One. Bottom (4:3) images are from the Galaxy S4. Click images to expand.

Our first shot is a challenging one, with both dark and very light areas in the same image. The HTC One does a good job of evenly exposing the whole scene, whereas the GS4 defaults to center-weighted metering, meaning the outside area in the center of the shot is prioritized. More noise is evident in the image from the HTC One, however.

HTC One Galaxy S4

The same shot, taken in HDR mode on both cameras. Both have excellent HDR modes, but we think the Galaxy S4 performed best on this instance. Colors are richer and more natural-looking, and the image is more sharply focused on the Samsung device. View the image up-close, however, and you'll see some ghosting around the moving people in the GS4 photo.

HTC One (HDR) Galaxy S4 (HDR)

In this outdoor shot of Manchester town hall, the image from the Galaxy S4 has more vivid, if less realistic colors. Up close, some slight artefacting can be seen on the shot from the HTC One, on account of the sharpening and noise-cancelling algorithms being used, combined in with the lower megapixel count,

HTC OneGalaxy S4

100% crop (HTC One)

HTC One crop

100% crop (Galaxy S4)

Galaxy S4 crop

Our first macro shot -- both phones are highly capable when it comes to macro shots. The HTC One has a dedicated macro mode, whereas the Galaxy S4's "auto" mode works well for close-ups. Aside from the differing aspect ratios, the only real difference here is color. Once again the GS4 gives us more vibrant-looking colors, though they're not necessarily any more realistic than the HTC One.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

All of our night shots were taken using the phones' dedicated night modes. And no surprises here -- the HTC One runs rings around the Galaxy S4 in night shots. The S4 didn't fare too badly here, but there's plenty of noise and fuzziness to be seen compared to HTC's 'Ultrapixel' camera.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Another daylight macro shot, this time taken upwards with a bright sky in the background. The Galaxy S4 shot appears a little less washed-out, though both cameras performed really well in this instance.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

A daylight shot through a display case of a giant Japanese spider crab. The HTC One gives us more accurate-looking colors here, though once again the S4 does a better job of eliminating visible noise.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

A daylight street scene is well within both devices' comfort zones. On account of its wide-angle lens, the HTC One captures a wider view of things, whereas the Galaxy S4 gives us a narrower field of vision.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

This macro shot didn't turn out great on either phone. On the HTC One it's slightly out of focus, on the Galaxy S4 the colors are wildly inaccurate. In our opinion, though, the HTC One captured the better-looking image, with more accurate colors and a softer background.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

A bright, outdoor scene, and once again the Galaxy S4 comes out on top thanks to its higher megapixel count.  the image from the HTC One suffers from noisy areas in spots of dark concrete. The warmer colors of the Galaxy S4 shot also make for a more pleasing image.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Here once again we see the benefit of the HTC One's wide angle lens, as more of the building is captured in a shot taken from the same spot. 

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Of course, as a side effect of this you get very long portrait shots, as seen here.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Another macro shot captured faithfully by both phones, however the HTC One gives us a more evenly-exposed shot and more accurate colors.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

In this shot taken on an overcast day, the HTC One does a better job of not blowing out the sky, though that's at the expense of making the rest of the shot a touch underexposed.  As before, the GS4 leans towards giving us brighter, more vivid shots, though in this instance no cloud detail is visible.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

A shot of a river on a sunny day, and as with most daylight shots, you need to view things up-close to appreciate the differences. The Galaxy S4 captures much, much more detail than the HTC One here, and though both images look good at a distance, the S4 is the clear winner when you zoom in a bit.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

An HDR photo taken in the opposite direction, with the sun in the top right corner. Edges become softer on the HTC One in HDR mode, but the resulting image looks good nonetheless, capturing bright and dark areas without any weird halo effecs. The Galaxy S4 performs even better, though. In fact, it's hard to tell that it's an HDR shot at all.

HTC One (HDR)Galaxy S4 (HDR)

100% crop (HTC One)

HTC One crop

100% crop (Galaxy S4)

Galaxy S4 crop

Here the HTC One gives us another image with a clear sky but slightly underexposed terrain, compared to the Galaxy S4, which defaults to center-weighted metering and so favors the building and ground.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

The same scene captured in HDR mode. Some halo effects can be seen on the HTC One, as well as some blurring around the edges. The GS4 captures a better image all-round here.

HTC One (HDR)Galaxy S4 (HDR)

Another couple of night shots illuminated by streetlights, and another win for the HTC One. The Samsung phone produces a fuzzier image with less accurate colors, and takes more time to do so.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Looking from a dark area out into daylight in "auto" mode. the HTC One blows out the brighter area in the center, giving us significantly more detail indoors. The Galaxy S4 does the opposite, giving us a darker but more accurate image.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

In HDR mode, the differences are less striking, though the HTC One still blows out the bright area at the end of the corridor. HDR mode allows the Galaxy S4 to pick out more detail in the darker parts of the image.

HTC One (HDR)Galaxy S4 (HDR)

A very close-up macro shot of some moss on a brick wall. Both are decent shots for a phone, but the HTC One seems to struggle with the very bright background.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

A daylight shot looking down at a sign. Here the HTC One gives us a more realistic looking image, whereas having a dark target in the center of the image causes things to get slightly overexposed on the S4.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

Our last night shot, and one in which the Galaxy S4 performs reasonably well. There's still a good deal more noise compared to the HTC One image, but the S4's extra megapixels allow it to pick out some subtle details in the restaurant signage that are missed by its rival.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

100% crop (HTC One)

HTC One (crop)

100% crop (Galaxy S4)

Galaxy S4 (crop)

Aside from the wider angle of the HTC One shot, the main differences in the two side-by-side captures of a shop front can be seen in the colors. Daylight images from the S4 appear slightly warmer, and the primary colors in the Galaxy S4 ad (see  the 100% crops) are far more vibrant, if not quite representative of real life. Once again, there's also a good deal more visible noise from the HTC One when viewed up-close.

HTC OneGalaxy S4

100% crop (HTC One)

HTC One crop

100% crop (Galaxy S4)

Galaxy S4 crop

Finally digital zoom. Predictably, the Galaxy S4 fares better in this area, as it's got more megapixels to play with. The HTC One image didn't turn out too badly, but you can see lighter halos around some areas, the result of image sharpening software.

HTC One zoomGalaxy S4 zoom

A few general conclusions

The HTC One was consistently quicker at taking shots than the Galaxy S4, with absolutely no shutter lag. The GS4 was less speedy at capturing images, and significant shutter lag was present in night shots and HDR shots compared to the HTC One.

In all instances the Galaxy S4 benefits from its much higher megapixel count -- around three times that of the HTC One, in fact. It has the potential to capture more detail in daylight, and it also means the various algorithms that reduce visible noise and sharpen the image have that much more data to work with. That’s why you’ll sometimes notice artefacts and other aberrations in dark areas of well-lit HTC One photos.

On the other hand, the HTC One outperformed the S4 in low light shots. (No surprises there.) It’s also much more difficult to get a blurred shot on the HTC One -- there’s very little shutter lag, and features like burst shooting are easier to get to. (Simply long-press the shutter key.)

We should consider the HTC One's excellent Zoe, Zoe Share and Highlights features too. We've missed these on the Galaxy S4, and if you're after an easy way to compile and share instant highlight reels, this is a big point in HTC's favor.

On the whole, though, the Galaxy S4 produced the better-looking images in our testing, despite its comparative weakness in low light shots. The HTC One's camera is by no means bad, but its performance is clearly weighted towards indoor and low-light photography at the expense of daylight performance. The opposite is true of the Galaxy S4, which excelled in daylight photography, and is backed up by an excellent HDR mode.

Ultimately, both the HTC One and Galaxy S4 are great cameraphones, but for different reasons. Which camera is the best fit for you depends on the kind of shots you plan on taking.

View our full-size sample shots

We've got a Google+ gallery full of full-sized versions of all these images. Check 'em out over here.

 
There are 193 comments

Danny Medina says:

HTCONE FTW

dkotoric says:

Disagree, having used both phones the GS4 can wipe its but with the HTC One camera, the only better pictures on the HTC One are low light. Quality wise GS4 has better camera by far.

Agree. And I actually prefer the GS4 in the last low light shot.

Indeed, and in the other low light shots there barely is any advantage for the HTC. Don;t really see how a call was made to pick one over the other when both shots are so mediocre. Nothing compared to what a real camera can do at least.

Jaredshoes says:

Yeah, I agree the HTC one is pretty good in lowlight but the GS4 trumps it in general This is "new" tech for smartphones though and hopefully next year htc hits the nail on the head.

lldsandsll says:

having had to use my phone a ton indoors recently, the low light factor is a huge win for HTC. also, the quick shutter makes shooting so much easier, and i get virtually no blurred shots. my roommate has the s4. i agree that pixel density does add to detail, which is great, but that's the only place where the s4 beats HTC, and i don't know about you guys, but i find the other features a tad more important than looking at cropped and zoomed photos all day.

BKBayemi says:

Very good point. I rarely take images indoor, so it means little to me but I can see how this works for you.

rits2011 says:

It'd help if you tried to be a little less myopic. The S4 clearly has a better camera for daylight shots, but that's mostly due to the higher MP count. With the One, pretty much everybody knew its not meant to be zoomed into and cropped (which caters to the use cases of a majority of smartphone users). Where things become apparent (and there's no software or algorithms you can manipulate for this) is lowlight photography. The One holds a massive advantage here and this is where most smartphone cameras (including the S4) fail miserably. Pretty much any camera can take decent to good daylight shots but only a couple can capture good lowlight images. That, for me, is the winning card.

lldsandsll says:

you said it better than me (right above you)

cordawgfrito says:

Hahahahaha you are one of those idiots that think higher megapixel count equals better camera hahaha. Hate to break it to you but more megapixels don't mean shit.

The great thing about this board is we all have our opinions. I also have both phones (currently) and I prefer the pictures of the HTC One device. The galaxy camera constantly tries to overcompensate for colors by over-saturating them in daylight, and undersaturating them in night shots. All of the pictures with green in them were over-saturated. Grass does not look like forest green in sunlight, it has a lighter green hue to it. Also, that red sign with the gold lions on it is a darker red (as was taken in the HTC One phone), not the bright red and gold the Samsung phone took. It seems the Galaxy camera wants to make colors brighter when in a shadow, and darker when in sunlight. The compensation seems to be a reversal to real-life coloring in all of the shots. Both are awesome phones however, life-like coloring belongs to HTC One.

ctychick says:

Common Sense2 - as an owner of both phones, what has been your personal experience with the S4's shutter lag? The idea of getting consistently clear photos with little lag from a smartphone camera per the HTC One is very compelling. (And, yes, I do realize that a smart phone is not a camera replacement.) I happen to be both a photog enthusiast AND a Android geek, so weighing the S4 software features against the HTC One camera performance is difficult. I know I can fully customize the HTC One to make it more comparable to many of the S4 bells and whistles, but I've owned the HTC Rezound since release and HTC failed miserably at software updates and support. The thought of going another two years with HTC is painful. I think the speed of the HTC might be a deciding factor here, but I'm wondering if you are as impressed with its speed as many of the reviewers seem to be.

ldEnoch says:

Amongs everyone's opinions I can nt agree less to that of your submission,hw on earth would any one b saying that d image produce by d x4 is far better than dat of d htc were as colour presentd in all d x4 day light images are over saturated and sm hw looking blur.d htc images looks mor sharper and angle shape capture than dat of d x4

barondebxl says:

The S4 definitely has the all around best camera. I mean look at those daylight pics.

crxssi says:

I disagree- some of the variance is because they are not framed the same due to the wider lens of the HTC. And in the HDR and sky photos, the sun and/or brighter part of the sky was MORE PRESENT in the HTC photos, meaning it is going to drastically alter the results. And the 4:3 sensor of the GS4 is a negative right from the get-go (although it has enough pixels it could be cropped to 3:2 or 16:9 no problem, or just set that way; but it is still strange).

It is hard to compare the two due to the framing differences. They both seem to have very good cameras, but in different ways. This would have been a **FAR** better comparison had he put the GS4 into the same wide mode and sacrificed some pixels....

estebancam says:

THIS!!!!!!! This is EXACTLY EXACTLY what I was thinking as soon as I read the article!

Thank you!I think I should post this on the forums.... because all the daylight pictures I take with my HTC and S4, they look extremely comparable to each other when the lighting captured is the same.

Rob CO2 says:

This IS the whole problem will ALL these Photos (probably from both Phones, but certainly the HTC One (which I own)). It's an Apples to Bananas comparison, they paint the Banana red (crop 100%) and say "see the difference" ...

First off set both Cameras to 16:9 or 4:3 (even better, do double the Tests).
Next, frame both Photos as close as mechanically possible (put Cameras side-by-side).
Set the Zoom on the HTC One to 2X.
Take both Photos at as close to the same time as possible (Videos should be synced).

Comparing a 4MP Camera with a 12MP Camera (if each were exactly 4 and 12 MPs) would simply involve taking the Galaxy S4 Photo first and than while looking at it moving three times closer (12/4=3) and taking the EXACT same Photo with the HTC One and THEN compare the Pixels at 100% Zoom, otherwise it is Apples to Bananas (or nuts).

Most Important: If you really want to Test the "Hardware" then 'fiddle' with the Software. You might need to adjust where you aim your Shot to trick the Camera's Software into focusing correctly and setting other Attributes like WB and Contrast properly -- sometimes the Software misguesses and the Result is poor, but it gets counted as a 'representative Sample' (in some Reviews, and by some Readers).

Expect to try the Shot a few times to ensure that the Software got the Shot that the Hardware was capable of producing. In the future the Software can be updated and problems fixed but the Hardware can not be (practically) fixed.

New Sensors with larger Pixels will always work better in low light, and New Sensors with more Pixels will always allow Printing to larger sizes (it is Physics, fact). If your getting any Photos where the Galaxy S4 worked much better in the dark or the HTC One allowed Printing with great enlargement and high quality then there is something wrong. Often nudging the Software will allow the Camera to make a second GUESS (based on it's input Data) and AutoBalance the Camera correctly.

Setting the Cameras manually is unsatisfactory since there is not enough Controls to fiddle with nor can the ones available be set finely enough. That is the biggest complaint against CellPhone Cameras (they don't try to replace Cameras that cost less than $200 (or $75)).

.

You can really see the Software misguess if you take Video in very dark conditions (with the HTC One, this may also occur with other Cameras that work well in low light), you will see that as you move from dark to better lit areas that the Software does not always guess correctly and sets the WB a bit off (resulting in odd, noisy, orange, Videos for a few seconds).

luniboy26 says:

You must not have read the entire article smh.

ozpain says:

100% correct. Any beginner photo or art 101 student would be able to tell that the GS4 is better by miles. That low light nonsense is doesn't make up for the poor image quality it produces in daylight. You know, when most of us are awake....using our phones. I wish these people at this site who review these phones would stop trying to convince its readers that the HTC One produces good photos when we can clearly see it doesn't. Maybe somebody "found" some cash on their desk with a mysterious note saying "<3 HTC"

robsawalker says:

What utter tosh. Try using both phones over the course of a week yourself, and then see what you think. This article is only of limited use because most people tend to use smartphone cameras for particular things. I found the HTC was far better for me, nor only for its better low light images but because it was so much quicker and easier to take pictures with than the s4 I used. The s4 needs notice in writing before taking a picture, which I found immensely frustrating. And if I want to take printable photos I use a DSLR. For photos I share online the HTC camera is perfect, the s4 images were reduced before sharing anyway so what's the point?

ctychick says:

I agree re: dslr for printing. But for argument's sake, consider this. I take many photos on my phone, but actually print a very select few. Most are shared online, a few are printed in Shutterfly-style books and all are ultimately stored away on a hard drive. For the rare photo that I print out, I would likely tweak it in Photoshop or Lightroom regardless of the camera used, and even then I would mainly print 5x7 or smaller. Given my photo "habits", do you think that the S4 camera would suffice? I'm one of those people who are equally interested in both smart phone camera performance AND Android software bells/whistles, so I'm hoping that I can go for the S4 and compensate for image issues in Photoshop. I would, of course, have to settle for the lag, but I deal with that with my current phone and have managed to tolerate it. Would you still recommend the HTC over the S4 for someone like me?

Rob CO2 says:

> I would mainly print 5x7 or smaller. Given my photo "habits", do you think
> that the S4 camera would suffice? ... Would you still recommend the HTC over
> the S4 for someone like me?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_resolution#Resolution_in_various_media
http://www.digicamguides.com/print/ppi-print-size.html

You can Google your own answer if you disagree with those Sites.

NYT Article - Breaking the Myth of Megapixels - Published: February 8, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/08/technology/08pogue.html?pagewanted=all...

The "Myth" was settled several years ago.

SonOfTheMan says:

I've had two Samsung phones and will never buy another one. Hate Touchwiz, hate their poor support and minimal software upgrades.

The HTC One is also the very first Android with good hardware design. Samsung just sucks in the design department and it's basically for ugly people with no taste :)

As far as photos, I usually take phone photos when I do not have a real camera, which is mostly in situations with poor light, like restaurants, parties, etc.. So, the HTC One seems a better fit for me (and I just placed an order for the developer version).

Two other points: the wider lens on the HTC is a huge advantage (precisely in places where phone cameras are most often used). It seems closer to what the iPhone does, which is a good thing.

Finally, testing at two different aspect rations and with different subject framing will definitely skew the test: for instance, in the night restaurant scene the narrow crop of the S4 would give it an unfair advantage, since it measures a much more limited and more uniformly lit area than the HTC One.

totalsmoshy says:

The phone is ugly, but that doesn't mean it's for ugly people. And no, I don't have one, in fact, as of now I'm deciding between an HTC One and a Samsung Galaxy S4.

totalsmoshy says:

The phone is ugly, but that doesn't mean it's for ugly people. And no, I don't have one, in fact, as of now I'm deciding between an HTC One and a Samsung Galaxy S4.

Riley Reid says:

All camera phones are garbage. The difference between these two in bright light is very small either way. I'd rather have better low light performance so I can consistently get a picture of what it is I want to take a picture of.

Noble Lox says:

Have to facepalm with a stupid comment like this one, but what do you expect from a Chavski fan?

The HTC One camera was made with a certain market in mind, the Samsung, another. HTC is wider with lower pixels to work better at low light. So it suits people who are going out with mates at night, taking shots and uploading them to social network sites.

S4 is more a jack of all trades, and so is better at some tasks than others, but will suit snaps of touristy stuff.

If you want a camera that does it all, go buy an SLR camera for a few hundred quid.

Neither wipes anything with the other, and it's spelt Butt, when you are talking about (or in your case, out of) your arse.

Deegan says:

Nope the S4 takes the cake.

SlimJ87D says:

Well that didn't go as you planned lol.

FaisDogg says:

Did you guys notice that all the pictures taken with HTC one show more content than any other phone, thanks to wide angle sensor, and shots look more dramatic/artistic. And keep in mind that all photos are taken with default setting, you can highly improve the photos on BOTH devices by being a little smart with your shooting.
GS4 has a really nice camera, some shots look like DSLR quality. A perfect camera is yet to be made, but personally like HTC Once camera.

rookiegenius says:

HTC fails once again. The camera is the main selling feature of the One, yet it's not any better than the S4's. Ok in low light it's better but in general, the S4's camera is still better.

I expected the One's camera SUPERIOR to its competitor in EVERY way, not just better in low light and certainly worse in other conditions.

hmmm says:

Honestly, I'd take either one. The low light performance of the One trumps the slightly better overall performance of the GS4 though. Taking shots of my kids indoors without a flash would be nice. If I was upgrading from my GS3 this year I would stick with the GS4 simply for the useful notification light Samsung uses vs the worthless one HTC uses that is crippled even further by HTC sense with a 5 minute timeout period.

turdbogls says:

i actually wasn't impressed with the HTC one i played with. maybe my eyes are getting old, but i wasn't impressed with the screen any more than i was the Nexus 4 sitting right next to it. and the day time camera performace is lacking IMO from these shots above.

the S4 felt better in every aspect (never liked aluminum devices) and overall i was more impressed with it.

Your eyes are definitely getting old. :) I have a N4 and a One in front of me and the differences are quite apparent, though not mind-blowing at around a foot or more away. The biggest advantage the One screen has is that the N4 loses a lot more contrast at even moderate angles, and my One at least has slightly more accurate colors, though admittedly the lack of any apparent factory calibration from LG or HTC means accuracy is probably a crapshoot. Don't get me wrong: the N4 has a great screen, but it is definitely not as sharp or versatile as the One.

As for in-hand feel, I love the One with its greater heft and rounded back. Not that the GS4 feels bad, but I still detest the glossy plastic that always looks greasy within minutes of being used. To each his own, imo.

you haven't touched a GS4 then because you have no clue about crippling overlay. Touchwiz has cripped the GS4 more than any phone EVER. Severe lag while sense 5 is the fastest, smoothest Sense to date. No lag anywhere in the phone no matter what you are doing.

dkotoric says:

NO GS4 with CM10 is the smoothest, trust me I know. LOL

Matt120- says:

I would wager its not any smoother than my stock Optimus G. Not to mention people who root their phones are the massive minority here. Samsung cripples the shit out of their devices with Touch Wiz.

rookiegenius says:

SUre I don't like the cartoonish look of touchwiz, but if you say Samsung cripples their devices with TW, you obviously never used Touchwiz, or just played with it for a short time and not discovered all of its features.

Deutch says:

I agree. I'm not a fan of Touchwiz at all. I've owned every HTC device on Sprint since the vogue and just switched to the S4. I far prefer the camera, screen, features, removable battery, sd card and ergonomics of the S4. I always use a case so the aluminum would have been covered up and installed Nova prime to fix touchwiz. Now this phone is absolutely incredible.

MrMercedes says:

There is no more lag with the recent update.....

rkirmeier says:

Not everyones world revolved around lag. It's not ideal but some people just make such a big deal out of it. In reality lag does not effect the actual functionality at all...

rits2011 says:

But its annoying as fuck and makes the phone feel shitty. A quad core (octa chip but its still only quad anyway) phone with 2 GB DDR3 RAM running Jellybean 4.2 should not even have the word "lag" in its dictionary. The S4 doesn't only lag, its slower than the One in switching between apps, returning to home, taking photos and I've had 3 random reboots in a week. That's how horrible Touchwiz and the billion gimmicks stuffed into it are. It also only has 8.6 GB of free space. You can add a billion GB SD card but your apps will still only have less than 8 GB for everything, which is pathetic. Even purchased movies can't be moved to SD. Don't tell me about root and shit as that's not the point here. I can unlock and root in 10 mins and do whatever I want with it, but an overwhelming majority of people don't know jack about it and will never do it or even try it.
I got the S4 (not happy with it at all) and my cousin got the One. Tested both at length and.. I'm now waiting for the One to become officially available in India in a few days and I'm returning the S4 for it.

BKBayemi says:

Sorry for you. That is unfortunate. I had the opposite experience.

You mean you got a HTC One with TouchWiz installed on it? Amazing!

Rick2340 says:

Sounds like you are really angry about the whole situation.

codehut says:

Agreed. I think they both have merits.

Incitatus says:

Comparing all of the images listed on this page, I feel there are just trade offs from one to another. I like the low light, and faster shutter of the HTC-One, but also like the overall cleaner, higher quality image from the GS4.

People need to accept that these are cameras on a phone, and not phones on a camera. Either one of these are more than acceptable.

BKBayemi says:

This! But we are humans, we can't help to compare.

Overall my GS4 has a great camera and it's a great phone, I love it! Just a little sad I didn't wait to get more GB.. oh well I guess lol

Ryandroid86 says:

good read. Thank you

HTC One all the way. And what's with the S4's square images? Is this 2003? That's just as bad as nearly every website which stills formats to leave massive blank columns on either side. Nobody sells, buys or uses square monitors anymore, Sammy. Get with the new millennium. Give me widescreen any day, better colors, better low-light, better video, and more usable/sensible options as found on the One.

The S4 is for people who want an iPhone but can't afford it.

This doesn't make sense, due to my contract being up I was able to pick any phone basically for a cheaper price, the GS4 and the iphone 5 were priced the same for the 2 year agreement, and i've already had an iphone anyways lol

Just say you don't like the phone.

+1

barondebxl says:

Why did you waste your time answering him?

MERCDROID says:

I will admit, it's hard to resist, sometimes lol

tim242 says:

Spoken like a blind fan boy. Every review says the S4 camera is better. As for square images, you obviously are clueless. You can change it to 16:9, but that reduces the MP from 13 to 9. Not to mention that the S4 is the same price as the iPhone. You have zero credibility with such stupid posts. Wow. Too stupid to know that ratio is a setting.

BigDinCA says:

It's a setting you have to change on the GS4 but not the One. The sensor isn't square on the One - it's basically 16:9 so the default setting is wide. So on the One you don't have to go into the settings to change the ratio. You get the maximum picture with widescreen because that's what the sensor is.

Beenyweenies says:

And most people view pictures taken with their smartphone camera ON their smartphone, which is 16:9 Viewing a square photo really isn't pleasant on a smartphone.

I will say, however, that it makes more sense (to me, anyway) to have the full 4:3 sensor with 16:9 as an option. With a 16:9 sensor you start off with fewer megapixels due to the dimensions, but then to get a 4:3 cropping you are losing even more resolution.

crxssi says:

To me what would make more sense would be to use 3:2, which is the most *correct* aspect ratio to use, because that is what all professional photographs are...

In which case, they both lose :)

BKBayemi says:

Not on mine. My gs4 was set on 16:9 from the get go.

Cobravision says:

You also end up with ridiculously tall photos in portrait mode. 4:3 is a more universal AR for both portrait and landscape. Besides, you can just crop the landscape photos to 16:9 without the need to zoom if you want landscape.

So do you yell and scream about 4:3 ratios to the pro camera market?

You'll also find many people who despise this shift to 16:9 ratios, and miss the 16:10 and 4:3 because no one wants to scroll to read everything...

Basically, your comment is moronic and childish. Pick whatever phone you want, 4:3 photos are the defacto standard, and display a larger overall image.

What, you can't crop?

Really? Do we have to do this right now? Do you ever get tired of it?

The S4 is pretty much the same price as the iphone5 new.

Why does the S4 have to be for the people "who want an iPhone but can't afford it", why can't the S4 be for people who just want the S4???

The S3 or S2 are for people who want an S4 but can't afford it.
The iphone 4 or 4S are for people who want an iphone5 but can't afford it.
Logically doesn't that make much more sense?

MERCDROID says:

This.

mmark27 says:

Um, you can use the S4 as widescreen too. You don't have to be 4:3. Widescreen is just not at full 12MP resolution.

offdahglass says:

I was with you up until that last sentence. Then you messed it all up. smh..

BKBayemi says:

Wow, troll much?

I wish the One had a square image. The wide image is awful for portraits.

barondebxl says:

Good point.

rookiegenius says:

ahaha I laughed at this guy. Ever heard of the iPad? what ratio is its screen?

If you take a vertical shot, you will miss that 4:3 ratio

ALso in the US there's no such phone that people can't afford. iPhone has the same price as every other high end phones.

Rocky1978 says:

Well, most people would disagree with you. Every time I go into Best Buy, people are crowded around the GS4 loving it. The One? Yeah, nobody cares.......

Very thorough and objective write up. Well done sir, well done.
I am impressed by both of these cameras, if I was choosing between these two phones, the camera alone wouldn't help me make a decision very much, they both seem to perform very well for my needs.

rlbrooks says:

I agree. Both shooters are amazing in my opinion. So how long before someone puts a day and a night camera on the back side of a phone? Three cameras on a phone? Does the SR4 have the speed shutter function like HTC where all you have to do is hold down the shutter button to continiously take pictures? I love that feature on my Evo LTE. My pictures have improved by that feature alone. With me it is seldom the camera's fault and mostly mine.

That HDR shot of the river/stream from the GS4 is beautiful. Cannot believe that came out of a phone camera.

Incubus123 says:

Personally i think the S4's moss picture is more stunning

Yup that too.

mmark27 says:

Great write up. I think this has solidified my decision to get the S4. Alex, can you do some panorama comparisons with the two phones? The panos that I've seen from the S4 have been really great now that they don't compress the livin' hell out of them.

egreenwood1 says:

Great review, seems like you and most other sites have came to the same conclusion, both are great cameras. The s4 does a better job in daylight, where the One does a better job with low light images.

For me personally I take most of my images in bars and clubs so I need all the low light imagery I can get. So far the one has been amazing for these types of shots. A lot of times I don't even use flash inside a dark bar. Have been very happy and impressed with the One. And don't even get me started on zoe and highlights. Those two things make the gallery such a fun expierence.

Cant go wrong with either. Just where you take most of your pictures!

barondebxl says:

Actually most reviews says the S4 has the best camera on any phone available at the moment.

OLD_HATCH says:

Awesome review and the one review I was waiting for.

What I would like to see is how the "ONE" compares to the previous generation ONEx" camera. ;)

HTC ONE IS THE BEST

Incubus123 says:

Not when it comes to the camera..

brendilon says:

When it comes to the camera, it's a tossup depending on your particular needs. Both cameras have strengths as well as weaknesses. Considering that what the One does well is something very, very few smartphone cameras have done well, I would give the edge to the One.
Hopefully we'll see a camera that does both soon.

meyerweb says:

I think HTC was on the right track, trading off ultimate resolution for better low light ability. They might have gone too far in that direction. But I don't think the real problem is the number of MP. I have an ancient (by digital standards) Canon digital camera that is only 3MP, and it produces sharper results than the One seems to. I don't know if the issue is the lens, or the internal processing, or some problem with the sensor itself, but 4 MP should be capable of sharper images than the One seems to manage.

Beenyweenies says:

It's the heavy handed processing. It appears to be subjected to heavy noise reduction, with sharpening applied over top in an attempt to bring back detail.

The end result is mush, and as much as I love the HTC One their processing makes the camera take awful pictures. Maybe 1 in 10 pictures I've seen from this device are really nice, the rest are just crushed under the weight of all that processing.

jfs101 says:

Great article Alex. The best comparison I've seen of these two phones cameras.

BKBayemi says:

Indeee

BKBayemi says:

Indeed*

rkirmeier says:

Why the author took widescreen on one and standard on the other is just stupid. If you are going to write an article to compare two phones/camera set them both for widescreen or standard!

rits2011 says:

The One has a default 16:9 ratio and the S4 has a default 4:3 ratio, that's why. Changing the default FOV will reduce the max resolution. If you switch the S4 to 16:9 wide-angle, its resolution will drop to 9.6MP and if you switch the One to 4:3, its resolution will drop to 3 something MP. That's why. Don't go around calling people stupid when you're the one who doesn't know why.

BOOM!

GadgetGator says:

Yeah, but based on the megapixel issue, it would have been nice to see a widescreen to widescreen comparison. Pity that was not done.

crxssi says:

It doesn't matter. It should have been taken in the same aspect ratio. Otherwise, comparison is impossible because the sensors are seeing different information. This is ESPECIALLY true in the HDR photos, because the ONE had to contend with FAR more bright sky (and hotter regions).

Alex Dobie says:

Images were taken at the maximum possible size on both phones. On the S4 that's 13MP in 4:3 orientation, on the HTC One it's 4MP in 16:9 orientation. That's because their sensors are differently shaped.

duckydad says:

I have to say in almost any situation I would prefer the S4 camera. I had the One for one night and just wasn't impressed. I LOVE my S4 camera. I use the HDR mode for just about all outdoors shots I take and whether the lighting is bright or nearly dark the pictures are amazing. Also...the shutter lag really isn't as bad as the review made it sound. Yes, the effect on the screen lags, but the actual pics are taken very fast...and that includes in HDR. And sports mode? I have pics of my son throwing a football with NO blur at all. Below are that and a macro:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/wimui5lh20qwzyh/kQXh-JyuqB

A macro I took out of my car window. Had the camera focus on the drops. No editing beyond cropping the bottom of the image to crop out cars:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/7gudnarvfppzhp2/HQdbGgN7TM

I like that macro

suavehouse says:

I like the HTC One better than the SGS4 (for every reason BESIDES photography), but I will admit the the SGS4 takes better pictures.

n0obpr0 says:

If you can combine both camera lenses into one...it would be great. The GS4 lenses for the day and HTC one lenses for the night =)

atishc says:

I have thought this many times. I would absolutely get a phone with a 2 camera set up if it meant the best pictures in both situations. If the same lens and module could switch back and forth with a toggle, even better.

crxssi says:

It is not the lens that is the major difference, it is the sensor. And you can't "combine" them. You could have TWO lenses and TWO sensors, but that would be expensive and impractical.

atishc says:

Sure it is - with off the shelf modules available in 2013. Lots of things that are expensive and impractical become less so with clever engineering. What if the FFC (maybe located somewhere next to the front facing speaker) became as large a lens as the rear facing one with a different sensor inside? If a company can limit compromises while maintaining a design aesthetic appealing to the mainstream, they should be able to increase their business.

user7618 says:

Well, HTC already had a phone with two 5mp cameras on the back. Not too much of a stretch to swap one out for a camera that shoots great daylight shots and the other for low light. Then just a tweak to the camera software to allow you to choose which one or tie it into the sensor used for the auto brightness for auto selection. Just sayin that it could be done, doesn't mean that it should. :-D

Trouble is, the HTC One camera is barely any better at night shots. You really need a DSLR and it's big wide open lenses for that to look even remotely useful.

gravage says:

The GS4 definitely shoots better pictures, I just wish it was as fast as the One. The shutter lag is annoying. I wonder if a software update can speed it up.

robfactory says:

I disagreed with one or two of these.
However, this is my opinion having used the two phones.
The HTC One is better for Macro, dark area pictures, and close to mid-range pictures.
Anything mid-range to landscape, the GS4 will wipe the floor with the One.
Having said that, I use my phone like most users, close to mid-range and in the afternoon/evenings in low-light settings. For me the One wins.
If you like to take mid-range to long-range pictures then go with the GS4

I disagree all my pics are midrange and close looks very nice compared to my friends HTC one... Both look good tho

robfactory says:

Your friends have the latest update?

aapold says:

The shutter lag or lack thereof is actually a very compelling argument imo.

I don't know how many times especially with a camera phone I'm fumbling with it trying to get a picture of something that is past by the time I get it ready. I don't always get to stage shots.

Of course a proper dedicated camera button would be what both need to take the cake on that one...

smooth3006 says:

I rarely use the camera on my devices to even really notice or care.

DavidJ726 says:

If the camera was going to be that signicant of a factor in my decision making process, I might want to wait and see if the Nexus 5 really does launch with a 16-megapixel Omni-Vision camera. In fact, all of the rumors about the Nexus 5 sounds very sweet, making me more than willing to wait on any purchasing decisions right now.

atishc says:

Where did this rumor come from? My understanding is that even with an excellent sensor, Nexus devices are limited because of licensing issues around image processing software.

DavidJ726 says:

Where else? I search the web for any news on the Nexus 5 and read the same stories / rumors as anyone else :-) I haven't heard anything about Nexus devices being limited. I'm sure there'll be plenty of new stories and speculation starting early next week as Google I/O gets underway...

I think we're just now seeing the smartphone-camera experience being taken to the next level, and will see a significant improvement in the 2014 wave of smartphones starting with the Nexus 5.

David

Jnorton2724 says:

Galaxy S4 has a great camera.

Royukp1 says:

Nice shots of Manchester Alex

MERCDROID says:

Thanks for the great write-up and photos, Alex!!

codehut says:

+1 I really enjoyed this article.

sk8trix says:

Ive gotta say ive used both phones and theyre both amazing the cameras are different and while one is better for night pictures and one more aimed at detail theyre both good its a hard choice and I will say my only reason why I stuck with samsung and didnt get the HTC ONE is mainly dues to other reasons them being the non removable battery and memory but if it werent so I might have chosen the HTC one this time around.It all comes down to personal prefference

They both look good to me. I don't really see the noise in the daylight HTC photos that is talked about quite a bit in this article.

I don't like that the one choose a wide format for the camera. That makes no sense to me as it makes composition difficult for most subjects, portraits in particular.

I wish the one was as good as the S4 in good light, but it isn't. Still good, but not as good.

I like the one's colors better.

I think for me it comes down to how I will use the phone camera. Most times it will be indoors in moderate to poor light.

I have a DSLR and a SonyRX100 if I am traveling and going to be taking scenics or photos of landmarks. But having the phone in my pocket for pics of my daughter when she is being cute, the One is the better choice for me, and is a big part of why I chose the one over the S4.

Both are pretty fantastic and you can't really go wrong with either.

PJMAN2952 says:

I never knew that the camera on the HTC One was so bad! I'm glad that I'm getting the Galaxy S4. The pictures are a lot crisper and sharper and the macro pictures looks a lot better on the Galaxy S4 than it does on the HTC One. The pictures from the HTC One are grainy.

snowman says:

The HTC ONE camera is absolutely fantastic. Went fishing today and would love to post my Zoe's, Video Highlights, and pics! I won't at this time. But the camera is amazing compared to any other phone I've had! The Samsung can't compete in this arena. IMO! Don't buy the Samsung Fanboi hype! Try a One!

wilfreb says:

The GS4 camera is unbeatable.

prediscover says:

Typo:

"..that of the HTC One, in fact. It ***has*** the potential to capture..."

turb0wned says:

Now do the comparison with HTC's newest 1.29 update.

Alex Dobie says:

From the article --

That's why we've prepared a few direct comparison shots from the European HTC One (on the latest 1.29 firmware) and the international Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505). 

rovex says:

Without telling us exactly which version of 1.29 it was running we cant assume its the best one. Not all 1.29 firmwares are created equal..

jebabcock says:

Just my two cents... The One is obviously going to be quicker since it is only 4 megapixels... this means the size of the file is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller. Unless the One has some severe issues it should blow the gs4 out of the water. Gs4 owners most likely have the option of dropping the resolution to speed up these times though. Id be interested to see 4mp pictures on the gs4 compared to the one both in relation to speed and quality.

DaVince says:

The title implies Megapixels vs. Ultrapixels.

I would too. That would be interesting to see if it helps the S4 in low light and responsiveness.

DaVince says:

Tests like these should be done by 2 people holding the phone on top of each other (or side by side), aiming at the same subject, and firing the shot at the same time.

GadgetGator says:

Usually I would agree, but not when one is a wide angle and the otHer is not. The metering it totally different making comparisons difficult.

wickedcontra says:

yeah the s4's are better pictures.

MidMoMonkey says:

How can you compare cameras without comparing video? The HTC One has phenomenal video quality. The 2-axis optical image stabilization and those giant pixels make all video clips super smooth and the low light videos are amazing. I've never used the gs4 but the HTC One video is better than any other phone I've used by a large margin. A 13 megapixel sensor doesn't help you with 1080p video but ultra pixels and OIS do. I absolutely love the Zoes and it's the smooth, rich video that make them look so good.

jnt_ip says:

The videos and OIS definitely should've been mentioned as the One really excels here - but the S4 is great as well.

I will say the S4 picks up sound a lot better than the One. The One isn't bad, but videos that I take with it have to be turned up full blast to match the volume of the same videos taken on the S4 at half volume.

stopsign002 says:

While I believe the S4 takes technically better pictures in the day, I HATE the saturation. The coloring to me is just completely off on the S4 (besides the moss picture which is fantastic). For all the HTC One's cameras failings (which aren't much), I really like the more realistic colors better

tooicecool says:

how often do you even take low light shots ? logically if u cant see, you won't take a picture

GadgetGator says:

Low light doesn't mean NO light. There's plenty of times when you might want to take a shot in a bar or restaurant, or of your kids and pets indoors at home with less then optimal lighting.

scaots says:

Aside from the fact that you get less detail from fewer pixels (but 4MP is probably enough for most phone shots anyway), I would say that the HTC One does a great job except in shots with high contrast. Bright lighting in low light shots does not show well and in shots with dark expanses it overcompensate and washes out bright areas. They might actually be able to improve that some through SW. In general, I prefer the look of the shots from the One aside from high contrast situations.

The aluminum really brings out that premium picture quality. Jk. What I will say is that they both have good cameras but I am disappointed in the One because it's one of the few highlights of this device and even though you may argue it's better than the S4, they are so close that we can even have argumenta like this. Frankly, after personally testing out the One, pictures usually seem a little washed out. Samsung must have done something other than just put more MPs in their camera because if you compare this to say, the Optimus G, you'll find the S4 to be more vibrant amd detailed than the 13 mp Optimus.

mastamatt343 says:

I'm curious to compare shots from last year's One X to the s4, as it would be a more apples to apples comparison.

OLD_HATCH says:

same here as per my comment above

chuckh0308 says:

Interesting that you say the GS4 has shutter lag. I don't notice any lag with the Note 2. Maybe the extra MPs made things slower?

medo94 says:

Nice, HTC ONE wins :P

Bobbled says:

Wow, what a detailed comparison for both most-in phones of the moment.

I personally like HTC's camera mainly because I thrive at night and I love a camera that could capture well in the dark.

The Zoe function of HTC is also a winner for me. HTC overview

rovex says:

Anandtech disagrees. Its review of the One camera showed whats its really capable of. HTCs problem is that the default settings are rubbish, but with just a little adjustment and care the images improve enormously. Hopefully HTC will take that on board for a future update. Its really just about settings. Th best images come from a sharpness setting of -1 and the use of 'touch to capture' rather than using the shutter button.

Personally I find most shots are too dark in the mid range, a little adjustment in an editor brings out the detail and prevents that 'over dark' ground, as seen in that shot of the house. All the basics are there, better colours, faster shutter etc, its just need a little fettling.

The S4 seems like the S3 to me, the colours are way off, focus isnt always that good, but if it gets it right, its brilliant. The problem is it doesnt often get it right.

tohio says:

Excellent comparison article Alex. But you had to know that no matter what the results many people would resort to anecdotal information to claim their phone was the best. You can lead a smart phone owner to facts but you can't make them accept them.

zMastaa says:

This is the first time i've seen a mobile camera shoot out in my own city, this review just became personal lol.

keleko81 says:

I used to work in that 3 Store when I lived in Manchester, I helped set it up.
I think overall I prefer the HTC One.

rovex says:

Just which HTC One firmware was used in this review? saying 1.29 isnt enough because the camera was further improved by later revisions within 1.29. The best revisions are 1.29.401.12 and .13, there is a later .16 that is better again.

Alex Dobie says:

1.29.401.12. That's the only one that's gone out officially, as far as I'm aware. .13 or .16 might be for other regional and carrier variants.

rovex says:

no, both 1.29.401.13 and 1.29.401.16 are out there officially. Both have improvements in the camera over .12

this review is not honest i smell big Samsung bucks paid. because i have the htc one and my sister has the s4 and my htc one takes better pictures in day and night.

OLD_HATCH says:

Really..... You must not visit this site or listen to the podcasts because there is much ONE love here. "Samsung Bucks" lol

It all comes down to what you value and how you use the cameras.

For me, the biggest frustration with any camera is low light performance. Even using my DSLR with a f1.8 lens, I always have to struggle to fight with shutter speed vs. ISO to get shots I want (other than in good lighting)- my DSLR is a 20D and it's noise at higher ISO is not as good as current models, but still...

Additionally, I like my photos to have good color balance. If right out of the camera they look a bit dull compared to oversaturated shots, that is ok, becuase I can tweak a flat file much better than one that has been oversaturated and has off colors.

For me, I am willing to work a bit to get a better picture.

For these reasons, I prefer the One.

For others, they may just like to point the phone and take a picture and love to see the bright colors and as much resolution as they can get, more ability to crop, and perhaps better general shots in good light without thinking about exposure/dynamic range/controlling blown highlights etc. Low light may not concern them.

For those reasons, they may prefer the S4.

Now, there are issues I don't like about the HTC camera.

I don't like the 16:9 frame. I think that was a mistake. Since the lens produces an image circle, a thin rectangle sensor wastes a large part of that circle. This has implications for lens size and camera size within the phone as well. The 16:9 format makes composition difficult, particularly for portraits, but also for other scenes, as you have to include much more in the shot than the subject. You can crop it but then you are not using the full 4mp. Much better would be a square sensor with ability to crop to 16:9.

I think the One has disappointing dynamic range - blown highlights are common. That shouldn't happen with the bigger pixels,so maybe software can improve this.

I think the one's setting menus are not very good. I would like onscreen controls of ISO and Exposure compensation. I would like direct control over shutter speed as well. Perhpas we will get some of this with software - but I am not holding my breath.

Finally, why can't they let us get the Raw data? Let me get the file before they have run it through the clumsy NR/Sharpening routine. I can do a better job of applying NR and sharpening tailored to each shot than can HTC applying it in a compromised way to all shots. If either phone did that, the crediablity as a shooter's phone would be through the roof. Perhaps that will be hacked someday, but not likely.

Anyway, pick which one fits your needs and enjoy. They are both miles ahead of where we were a year ago.

akarol says:

So basically the only claimed advantage of the HTC One over the GS4 is not really an advantage at all. HTC once again has managed to come short. What a shame. :(

Obviously wrong.

waterbound says:

Most reviews that you have read are actually close to 50/50.
Either way, reviews matter for those getting ready to purchase a new phone right? Well, I am... and guess what swayed my opinion before trying in he stores?..That is where the feel and overall opinion is made which is why I will soon purchase the ONE. I will say that the GS4 is very nice and nobody would be shorted either way.

Galaxy s4 pics do not look over saturated in movie mode...

rovex says:

On the phone no, off it they still do.

Oh ok

denisten says:

Dear AC guys, I love the way you review all the tech around, but please take a several photo classes in your place! I mean, you can't just point and shoot to write such an article about cameras.

Camera is a tool, but a photographer is a master. Please make your photo tests more interesting. For example: shots of fast moving objects (dogs, carousel, plane, kite, water, fire), shots of water drops on grass, frosty keys with ice, night signage, a toy (dinosaur, viking, some object with texture).

I'm a fan of mobile photography since Nokia N95, and I believe that mobile cameras are very important tool in sharing your life moments. I'm always ready to capture interesting moments around me.

Please see my album to see samples from my various mobile phones: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.529522907091394.1073741825.100...

tohio says:

Vikings have texture?

Jason Price2 says:

Wow, we sure have a lot of professional photographers in the house. Let's face it, any real photographer would laugh at having to use any phone as their main camera. They are great in need it now situations and for the average person to look back on for the memories. Both these phones do that well overall. If the camera is your priority, then daylight=S4 and nighttime=One.

NEmickeyfan says:

I totally agree....any serious photographer would certainly not use their phone as their main camera. I would guess that most pictures from a phone are taken by those who don't want to do any post processing... just point, shoot, and share. For that reason, the GS4 is probably the best bet for the casual photographer. When I look at the comparison, I see GS4 pictures as a bit over processed... and the pics from the HTC One as more realistic with potential to be processed more successfully.
Neither is ideal, but each phone's camera has their strengths and weaknesses.

Even with my DSLR, I use different lenses for daytime and nighttime shots. It seems a bit unrealistic to expect the same type of results from a phone camera... at least at this time. Maybe someday?

tsmith35 says:

It's true that professional photographers would (and, I'm sure, do) laugh at using a phone camera for photos, but as a camera salesman told me a long time ago, "the best camera to choose is the one you'll have with you when you want to take a picture".

I have a nice digital SLR and a couple nice pocket cameras, but I don't carry them around with me all the time. Oftentimes, when I see something I want to photograph, I only have my phone with me. I suspect that's true of most people who aren't planning on taking photos on any given day.

It's unfortunate that the Sprint S4 only has 16gb internal and no way to move apps to SD. I like the photo quality of the S4, but I do use a lot of apps, so I'm hoping Sprint brings out a 32gb version of the S4.

As for the One's lack of focusing flash, HTC could correct that with a firmware update. I don't know if they will, but it would help out.

osamaelgabry says:

s4 wins

Ben Ji says:

I'll take the sony 13MP lens over the Omnivision 4 MP camera. THat's what it boils down to.

jnt_ip says:

I want to love the One's camera vs. the S4's, I really do. I have both and can't settle on which to keep. But I simply keep getting better photos on the S4, in ALL scenarios, even low-light. Let me explain and maybe someone can shed some light on what I'm doing wrong... or maybe getting the 1.29 update on my Tmo One will help, don't know.

It seems as if the One's low-light advantage only comes into play within a certain range of low-light. On the light end of that range, well, it's light. :) But on the dark end of that range, there's a point where it's too dark for the phone to do much with, even if your naked eye (albeit, adjusted) can still see some things. Therefore, the One then uses the flash.

But that's where I'm running into issues. Since the One doesn't light up the flash to focus on flash-based shots, 9 times out of 10 (literally) they come out blurry and completely out of focus. Meanwhile, the same shots with the S4 are effortless - point, shoot, it auto-focuses with the flash and takes a great, crisp flash-based shot. It seems that the low-light range I mentioned above is pretty exclusive, at least in my usage so far over the past week. In other words, rarely have I hit that sweet spot where the One's low-light really helps. Plus, even with good low-light shots, the S4's flash-based shots still come out more crisp and focus better and shoot faster.

So again, I'm simply not seeing the advantage of the One's low-light performance a majority of the time. And I love the One... and want to love it's camera... and want to love how HTC is trying to buck the trend here. So if I'm missing something or doing something wrong, please enlighten me! (I know, the 1.29 update probably helps with *some* of this - but from what I've read, it's mostly a color balance and sharpness improvement... not a autofocus/flash change).

Alex Dobie says:

If it's Tmo US you're talking about, its firmware already has the camera tweaks that came in 1.29 for the European version, as do the ATT + Sprint versions.

jnt_ip says:

I've seen that mentioned, but no proof, got a source? Would be great to find out for sure, as my pictures are resembling a lot of the before pictures I'm seeing in comparisons before and after the 1.29 update.

Alex Dobie says:

Email from HTC.

jnt_ip says:

Well then that doesn't help the One's case. :)

rovex says:

No HTC is confusing the issue. Its only officially acknowledging that the updated camera is on 1.29, you can ask them all you like about .12 and .13 (or .16) but they only tell you that all 1.29 firmware are improved. This is true, but not all 1.29 firmwares are equal.

Any firmware older than 1.29.XXX.11 is using an inferior camera, the higher after that the better the camera gets.

rovex says:

Autofocus sucks on all camera phones, use touch to capture and in low light enable HDR, its easily the best mode for low light.

yuojns ujukp says:

The evidence is right in front of us, HTC One has the better camera. I admit, some shots are better with S4, but in majority of them, HTC One pictures look more true and real vs. GS4 look like they've been through a contrast filter or just look faded. And not only that, it's a much better phone than Galaxy S4.

Galaxy S4 is nothing but over-hyped...it's a crap phone with OS modified to be more laggy and unstable. But I have to give it to them, if I had a $10 billion marketing budget, I would've made it just as successful - just run some ads and show some magic before the launch and make people pay $600 for a piece of plastic with worsened Android OS.

jnt_ip says:

At least the GS4 can take shots in the dark... the One won't flash to focus, and inevitably is completely unable to take photos in dark situations because it can't see what to focus on. The more I use the One's camera, the more I'm finding situations that are frustrating, despite its benefits. The S4's camera has never caused me any frustration.

jnt_ip says:

I'll also add that yesterday I was at the park with kids, took a few shots that were beyond 10 feet, and even if the colors were a bit off (which they weren't in this scenario), the shots were crystal clear and could be cropped by quite a bit and still looked great. HTC and all the reviewers are downplaying the need for higher megapixels, but for us at least, I find that we actual need them more often than not. As I stated above, I want to love the One, but the camera is causing me frustrations more often than not due to some of these weird idiosyncrasies.

tsmith35 says:

Though I’ve been thinking hard about upgrading to the S4 on Sprint, I simply can’t stand the thought of being stuck with only 16gb for apps. Apps2SD does not work on the Galaxy S3 or S4, so all apps must be crammed into internal memory.

After reading all the reviews, looking at One vs S4 photo galleries, checking out battery life, signal strength and the rest, I decided on the S4. But not at 16gb. I’ll wait another few weeks to see if Sprint makes a 32gb S4 available. If not, I’ll go with the One, which is still an excellent choice.

I think it’s kind of stupid to put a tiny amount of memory in a modern phone when memory is dirt-cheap right now. On top of that (and all brands are guilty of this), the incremental price difference for higher-memory models is much higher than the cost of the actual memory itself. The 16gb memory in the S4 is estimated to cost 28 bucks. The 32gb version adds about 20 bucks to that. Why hobble the S4 with 16gb?

So, time to wait.

Kevin Salt says:

Quite often reviewers use phone cameras with their default settings and comment on the results. This is valid, since most buyers of the phones wouldn't even know there was such a thing as software sharpening. On the other hand, apart from the mindless fanboys who pop up everywhere, most of the people who read articles like this one DO know about sharpening etc. and would be pleased to know that all the basic rendering algorithms are accessible in a low level menu on the HTC One.

The reason I mention this is because, for some odd reason, the software is set up to aggressively sharpen the image on the One (just as it over-saturates on the SG4). The simple act od pulling the HTC One sharpening level back to -2 makes a tremendous difference to the (already low) pixellation, halos and other sharpening artifacts.

Try it if you have a One. I really does improve image quality in more challenging situations.

jnt_ip says:

When I change it to -2 I can't seem to get a decent focus, it always turns up, at a minimum, ever so slightly blurry...

john2910 says:

i always use sharpnes -1..maybe i try someday -2 also....

David Nadar says:

I bought s4 & my brother bought htc one & i think I hv made a big mistake in buying s4, I should hv gone for the one. I decided to buy s4 bcoz I thought that it has so much excellent features like air gesture, smart pause, smart scroll etc, but after using i found out that none of these features works properly, it sometimes work & sometimes doesn't. More over the price of s4 of 16gb is the same of the 32gb htc one & not only with this out of the 16gb the system eats out 7gb only 9gb gets for use whereas in htc one my brother gets above 25gb. And the biggest drawback of the s4 is that i can't move the apps to sd card. Even though the s4 has a little bit faster processor, it doesn't run as smooth as the one. The camera quality of the s4 is good but sometimes it gives over saturated colors and in low light it gives very poor quality photos whereas the htc one is excellent. Inspite of having only 4mp, the htc one gives excellent image quality. I can say that if htc has used a 13mp camera insted of 4mp then it would hv been the greatest & best camera phone ever. I last thing when i took both the phones in hand, the htc one gives a rich look whereas the s4 looks like an ugliest thing in ur hand just like of an some cheap phones. I m going to replace my s4 ASAP.

David Nadar says:

I bought s4 & my brother bought htc one & i think I hv made a big mistake in buying s4, I should hv gone for the one. I decided to buy s4 bcoz I thought that it has so much excellent features like air gesture, smart pause, smart scroll etc, but after using i found out that none of these features works properly, it sometimes work & sometimes doesn't. More over the price of s4 of 16gb is the same of the 32gb htc one & not only with this out of the 16gb the system eats out 7gb only 9gb gets for use whereas in htc one my brother gets above 25gb. And the biggest drawback of the s4 is that i can't move the apps to sd card. Even though the s4 has a little bit faster processor, it doesn't run as smooth as the one. The camera quality of the s4 is good but sometimes it gives over saturated colors and in low light it gives very poor quality photos whereas the htc one is excellent. Inspite of having only 4mp, the htc one gives excellent image quality. I can say that if htc has used a 13mp camera insted of 4mp then it would hv been the greatest & best camera phone ever. The battery of s4 drains very quickly, it doesn't even last for a day & compared to that the one lasts for longer duration. More over the s4 lags from time to time, most of the times i hv to remove the battery and put it back and on it. The last thing when i took both the phones in hand, the htc one gives a rich look whereas the s4 looks like an ugliest thing in ur hand just like of an some cheap phones. I m going to replace my s4 ASAP.

David Nadar says:

I bought s4 & my brother bought htc one & i think I hv made a big mistake in buying s4, I should hv gone for the one. I decided to buy s4 bcoz I thought that it has so much excellent features like air gesture, smart pause, smart scroll etc, but after using i found out that none of these features works properly, it sometimes work & sometimes doesn't. More over the price of s4 of 16gb is the same of the 32gb htc one & not only with this out of the 16gb the system eats out 7gb only 9gb gets for use whereas in htc one my brother gets above 25gb. And the biggest drawback of the s4 is that i can't move the apps to sd card. Even though the s4 has a little bit faster processor, it doesn't run as smooth as the one. The camera quality of the s4 is good but sometimes it gives over saturated colors and in low light it gives very poor quality photos whereas the htc one is excellent. Inspite of having only 4mp, the htc one gives excellent image quality. I can say that if htc has used a 13mp camera insted of 4mp then it would hv been the greatest & best camera phone ever. The battery of s4 drains very quickly, it doesn't even last for a day & compared to that the one lasts for longer duration. More over the s4 lags from time to time, most of the times i hv to remove the battery and put it back and on it. The last thing when i took both the phones in hand, the htc one gives a rich look whereas the s4 looks like an ugliest thing in ur hand just like of an some cheap phones. I m going to replace my s4 ASAP.

john2910 says:

i think its 50-50..

Bright sunlight the galaxy s4 wins
Less light like indoors the htc one wins...

But if you look at the full-size sample shots the htc one isnt bad at all in bright sunlight..Only the samsung galaxy s4 is better...

But i like the wide lens and the real life look off the photos of the htc one..
The galaxy s4 looked more processed(very digital)..

But if the htc one also had 13mp but ultra pixel camera you were in heaven..

I tried both phones at my work it was a hard decision..but the look... the sound from the stereo speakers.. and recording mic of the camera(great for recording concerts) did me went to buy a htc one..

tsmith35 says:

I browsed back through the thousand+ photos I have taken with my current phone, and the overwhelming majority of them were made inside, often in low light conditions. I guess I just don't go outside as often as I should (the curse of being an engineer).

Many of my photos were purely mundane: the model number sticker on my fridge, a quick photo of a grocery list, the order # of a rug I was thinking of buying, the dog sleeping on his back with his tongue hanging out, my daughter clowning around in a school hallway after her choir concert, screen shots of computer or operator control screen errors, and so on. Just everyday stuff.

What about the beautiful landscapes, reflections of the sun off of a lake, snapshots from the top of skyscrapers, people flying amazing kites, and all the rest? Well, I have a handful of those kinds of photos. Just a handful.

As much as I'd like to try an S4, it probably won't happen. Samsung and/or my carrier chose to limit the phone to 16gb of memory, so all of my apps must live entirely in that space (there is currently no way to move apps to SD on either the S3 or S4). To truly appreciate the 13 megapixel S4 camera, one must have sufficient light available, and that just doesn't happen very often in my life.

philhendy says:

I am not a prolific picture taker, that said the One does not handle bright scenes well. But as the previous post says in most of my use cases the majority of my pictures are taking in less than bright sunlight and in those cases the One's low light capabilities win out. I think the galling thing for most One owners is that if the bright daylight performance was a bit better this whole thread would be redundant. Let's hope HTC can produce an updated camera app to improve day performance as the phone in all other respects is generally superior to the S4.

tsmith35 says:

I found, from experimentation, talking to HTC and digging around on the web, that the problem seems to present itself in any high contrast situation that includes a bright spot. HTC confirmed that they are aware of the problem and attempting to correct it via software/firmware.

I also found a statement about the issue from T-mobile: http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-6314

DjiNN89 says:

Hello to everybody!

Im from Slovenia, so im sorry for my english in advance. :)
At the moment I have galaxy ACE, and I wanted to replace him with S4...
But than I saw HTC one and how everybody recommends him.
I have compared them both and cant deside which one is for me...cause on s4 I love the huge screen, excelent camera (I just love to take pictures and videos), and the fact Im used to samsung with my ACE but on HTC one I love the speakers, shape, and screen color/detail.

I HAVE A QUESTION FOR EVERYBODY WHO HAVE S4 AND HTC ONE.
DOES IT BOTHERS YOU 'THE CLOSE UP' ON S4 CAMERA?? BECAUSE I CAN SEE THAT HTC ONE HAS THE WHIDER CAMERA...IF I TAKE A PICTURE OF SOMEBOY 1METER FROM BOTH DEVICES IS THE PEARSON ON S4 TO BIG? AND DOES IT BOTHERS YOU??
And how do the games on both devices appear?

at the moment im 50%:50% please try to help me

THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Just my 2 cents. All galaxies including the s4, have both lag and shutter lag. Octa core or not, every 30secs or so the s4 will do a little "stall" and have to catch back up with itself.

Critzzone says:

Personally, I'd pick the HTC One for the camera just because, whereas the other smartphones' cameras fail on low-light conditions, the HTC One doesn't dissapoint.
If I'd want to print images and put them in a frame, then I would just buy a 1000$ camera, I don't need the extra 9MP from the S4.

tulpje rose says:

This article and discussion makes it even more difficult for me to decide which one to buy :(
I love HTC but I don't like the fact of the missing sd slot.
I am wondering; with all this talk of the cameras on these phones; what about the quality of filming on both phones?
Has anyone tried this on both phones and what was the difference?

MrSwizZz says:

Lol what a wack comparison.
Learn to use the HTC One campera properly. After you learn to use it, then take pictures and you can compare.
If you touch a white area on the screen, the brightness is going to be lower, if you are gonna touch a dark area on the screen, brightness is going to be higher and thats why in some of your pictures you say HTC One camera is "too bright" because you dont know how to use it properly. If Light is HTC's only issue against SG4, you can easily just fix it by trying out a few times see how the brightness system works and then you can take more quality pictures than SG4 in daylight and in the night as well :)

Edit: When light is not an issue, I see the HTC has always higher pixels than samsung. It can take a wider picture(you even have a panorama option).
It can't zoom a lot that is true but I dont see the reason to zoom in to see Manchester's Hall window other than testing purposes, so I think HTC's zooming capabilities shouldn't necessarily be a disadvantage.
Also look at HTC One's "ultra pixel" against SG4's megapixel and compare senzor-sizes.
In the end i prefer: higher (pixel) quality, wider images with panorama options, better pictures in night and daylight(learn to use it!!!) rather than more and useless zooming capabilities.
Just my 2 cents

thegrants82 says:

Had them both and GS4 has the better camera, this review is very HTC biased.....