Still photography comparison - HTC One vs Nokia Lumia 920

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PocketNow seems to be the first major web site to get both a Nokia Lumia 920 and a HTC One (both with optical image stabilisation and imaging pretensions) in the same place at the same time and take some meaningful low light photo examples. We have our own HTC One (running Android, you may remember) arriving tomorrow, so do watch this space for more detailed comparisons in due course, including against the Nokia 808 PureView. In the meantime, here's my analysis of three of the example photos, chosen for the ease of comparing detail...

In each case, I show the full scene (as shot by the Lumia 920) and then crop in to roughly the same level of content/detail, HTC one crop on the left, 920 crop on the right, in order to more readily compare the two smartphones.

Here's the first scene:


Crop comparison

Now, the theory behind lowering the pixel count on the HTC One was to decrease the amount of digital noise, but if there's a difference in noise between these shots then it's marginal. Most importantly, the Nokia Lumia 920 simply produces better colours and better detail.

It's worth noting that although the Lumia 920's pixel sites (on the sensor) are smaller than in the HTC One camera, the optical image stabilisation (for just such handheld shots as these) is far more accomplished, and this possibly also has a bearing here.

Here's the second scene:


Crop comparison

Again, you could argue that the HTC One photo has slightly less noise, but it's also darker, less colourful and less detailed, so it loses to the Lumia 920 by most metrics that a user might prize.

Here's the third scene:


Crop comparison

Now, ignore the people in the scene - they'll be moving within each shot and moving far more between the two shots. So, look instead at some of the details. The front wheel of the wheelchair is a good example, having a lot more detail in the 920's photo. Also, look at the yellow sign - the HTC One image suggests a broad band of red at the bottom, while the 920's image shows it to clearly have two distinct red bands.


If it seems like I'm beating the HTC One camera up a little too much, then remember the marketing claims at its launch, with one infamous infographic poking fun at the Nokia 808 PureView, saying its large megapixel array 'won't help at all'. When a competitor takes aim at the (by far) dominant device in a genre in such a fashion then it deserves to have its claims tested to the hilt. Which is what I intend to do in the coming week, here on All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone.

You can grab all of PocketNow's photo examples in their article here