Yes, I obtained myself the HTC One. It is my second HTC phone, the first being the Nexus One. I don’t usually like HTC as in the US, they don’t sell their phones unlocked (Nexus One being the exception, sold by Google). However, looks like HTC is changing their ways, by offering their latest flagship, the HTC One, unlocked, straight from their own website. And unlike Apple that delayed their unlocked iPhone availability in the US to push people buying from the carriers, HTC is making the One available pretty much at the same time as the carriers. This is quite unprecedented, as most phone OEMs are only selling their handsets locked with the carriers in the US. HTC finally joins Apple, Sony, and Google, in selling unlocked handsets.
Aside from being unlocked, one of the most talked about feature of the HTC One is its camera, namely that it’s just a paltry 4MP. Considering how other phones are pushing 8 to 13MP cameras, it’s actually refreshing seeing HTC taking a different path. Despite being 4MP, the One’s camera has a much larger sensor than most phones, 1/3″. That is nothing in the world of digital camera, but in phones, it’s quite “big.” Having a bigger sensor means more light exposure on each pixel, thus better low light sensitivity. Of course, lay consumers will balk at four megapixel, so HTC is branding it as “UltraPixel.” In most HTC One’s marketing material, you won’t see 4MP being mentioned anywhere.
Why the gear switch from the megapixel war? Consider the most common usage of smartphone cameras. Most of the time, they are used in low-light situations (indoor social events, parties, etc), the worst situation for a camera with such tiny sensor and cheap optics. Also, most of the pictures are posted online, in social networks, where they are resized to less than 4MP at best, with most are around or less than XGA resolution. Not many people are going to print the picture taken by their 13MP smartphone camera into a poster. HTC recognize this, thus the focus on low-light capability by sacrificing the resolution.
I’m going to do a completely unscientific comparison between the HTC One camera and carious other devices.
First contender is the iPhone 4. People now talk about 8 to 13MP camera and laugh at HTC One’s 4MP, yet just a few years back, everybody was praising Apple iPhone 4’s 5MP camera. The iPhone 4 is still available for sale from Apple. Second is the Nexus 4, the reference Android handset from Google. It didn’t receive good reviews for its 8MP camera, but for $349, you get a 16GB unlocked stock Android phone running the latest OS. Not too shabby for the price. I also include a cheap Samsung flip-style camcorder that I bought from Costco a while back for $100, the Samsung HMX-W200. It is designed to be a flip-style camcorder, but has picture taking mode at 5.5MP. And finally, I also use the Canon S90, a compact camera that propelled the enthusiast high-end compact category. It’s old, uses an old CCD sensor compared the latest CMOS ones in the S100/S110, but it’s still a good size sensor for a compact, 1/1.7″ at 10MP.
First test is indoor, with some natural light going in. All pictures are straight JPEG from the devices, resized with iPhoto. No other post processing done. Now, count up your sins! 😀
Well, we can already see the advantage of the HTC One, Read the rest of this entry »