Galaxy S4 vs HTC One camera comparison — Mega vs Ultra

by: Elmer MontejoMay 10, 2013


Between a 13-megapixel smartphone camera and another with only 4 megapixels, which do you think is the better buy?

We usually lean towards whatever we think is higher or what appears to offer more. In this case, 13 megapixels — which the Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera has.

The HTC One and its 4-megapixel shooter seems to look like a limp, wimpy, soggy thing compared to that 13-megapixel monstrosity. But, does higher necessarily trump lower all the time?

In this camera comparison, take a closer look at the camera prowess of today’s latest Android smartphone giants — the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. (Or, jump ahead to the end of this post for a video comparison of the two phones’ cameras.)

Galaxy S4HTC One
Camera13-megapixel rear, 2-megapixel front4-megapixel rear, 2-megapixel front; UltraPixels
SensorBack-illuminated sensorCMOS BSI sensor
Image/video stabilizationDigitalOptical
Zoom capacity4x Digital zoom4x Digital zoom
Video resolutioncan capture up to 1920×1080 (Full HD) video resolutioncan capture up to 1920×1080 (Full HD) video resolution

Megapixels vs UltraPixels

The HTC One’s camera might look weak, but it has larger pixels than the Galaxy S4. HTC calls the larger pixels UltraPixels. These special pixels take more space on the camera sensor. That is why the HTC One only has a 4 megapixel camera. The Galaxy S4 may have a 13-megapixel camera, but its pixels are about half the size of HTC’s UltraPixels.

Image credit: HTC

Image credit: HTC

Sensors with large pixels capture more light, making images brighter and less noisy than on cameras with smaller pixels. And, with lower image resolution also comes smaller file size.

Image credit: HTC

Image credit: HTC

The camera’s megapixel count is only one of the factors to evaluate camera performance. There are other important factors, too, such as the camera sensor, image processor, image stabilization, zoom, etc.

Camera UI

To people who frequently take photos using their smartphones, the camera’s user interface plays an important role.


The Galaxy S4 camera’s interface is more akin to the Galaxy Camera’s UI than to the Galaxy Note 2’s camera UI. The interface is easy to navigate and most of the modes and settings are easy to find. Like in the Galaxy Camera, you’ll find two separate buttons for the camera shutter and for video recording. You don’t need to switch between video and photo mode anymore.


The carousel of mode and effect thumbnails particularly looks pleasant and makes it easier to find the shooting mode that you need. The filters and effects shade also morphed into mini thumbnail versions of the viewfinder.


On the other hand, the HTC One’s  camera interface strongly resembles that of some of its recent predecessors such as the One X. Only very few elements have changed. It’s a very clean, simple, and navigable interface.


The HTC Zoe toggle button has been placed prominently along one side to make it easily accessible. Unlike in the One X, however, the HTC One no longer displays labels for the built-in filters and effects. Thankfully, like in the Galaxy S4, you get separate buttons for photo camera shutter and video recording, so you won’t need to take extra steps to switch between photo and video mode.

In the next section, learn more about some of the camera features on the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, including photo effects and filter, photo shooting modes, video recording modes, and camera flexibility.

  • wireless

    WARNING: samsung fanboy review

    • nebsif

      Because and extra speaker and aluminium clearly make up for:
      4mp camera with less features, bigger dimensions yet smaller display, android 4.1, no notification toggles, no removable battery, no multi window, no air gesture and a ton of other features, and the most annoying one, ladies and gentlemen, big device with power button on the top!!

      yes, aluminium, totally worth it.

      May your days with an unscratched and dent-less HTC One last long, amen.

      • David Brymer

        mate dont be offended because with all them things u said, its speaks volumes that the htc one is still the better phone hahaha.and 9 outa 10 creditable websites say so. please dont be bitter and enjoy ur s3+ hahaha HTC ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP

        • nebsif

          Meh its like talking to religious zealots, no facts, comparisons or specs help.

          -Why is it better?
          -Because its just better! People say so!

          • David

            Sense is 1 of the best now. Being a lot cleaner and easier to use, every website say that. It destroys touchwiz fact. Far better speakers. The phone feels proper quality in the hand., ie not plastic, 4.7 inch not to big not to small. The new camera, zoe, blinkfeed. The battery which I got 39 hours and 8 hours screen time. It’s the very best looking phone out at the min, teckradar giving it 5 out a 5 :-) only the 3rd phone ever 2 get that. The 32gb storage to put apps games and music on from the play store, unlike the s4 where a sd card is useless now……. Not my words this is just wat I Keep reading from lots of sites and s4 users. I really could keep going on. And most of wat the s4 has I can download haha but I won’t because it’s all gimmick shit. And it’s not my fault that 9 out a 10 websites say it’s better and giving it full ratings, but that’s there jobs and there r getting paid well because there experts. On my last note though, when I buy an upgrade I really like people to notice that;-) , have u ever commented on the iPhone and how it’s always the same and never really changes haha because I bet u have just like 90 percent of android users. And Samsung are doing the same now :-) but to be fair at least the iPhone looks and feels quality. So put that in ur pipe and smoke it. Samsung have had the best phones in most people’s eyes the last few years and htc have finally beat them this time and you all just can’t take it. :-) :-) it feels amazing to say I own the best phone on the planet atm and it’s called HTC One. Enjoy ur weekend mate.

    • Bone

      WARNING: God must be a Samsung fanboy cause he made the world better suited for the GS4 sensors.

    • uu

      Pls just accept it.. people will laugh at how stupid hater u are

    • Abdul

      You can have a look here, how the One’s camera competes with SGS4’s in daylight situations.

      Color reproduction comparision:

  • David Brymer


  • Muderko

    I neither own an S4 nor One, but I think this is the best camera comparison out there! Great job.

  • amine ELouakil

    One of the few reviews on AA in which we see comparisons in many aspects of both phones camera in different scenarios, so that’s heading in the right direction in terms of reviews.

    BUT, there are many things that weren’t mentioned, and there are couple of mistakes in this reviews, especially in some conclusions, and I’m not going to list everything as it will take a comment as long as the reviews but I’ll mention a few just real quickly to prove my point.

    -When it comes to specs you mention that the One has a 2mpx front facing camera which is a mistake it’s 2.1mp camera
    -How an earth a camera enthousiast would prefere the inaccurate yet vibrant S4 colors to the One more accurate colors in different circumstances.
    -I suggest you to read the review from Anandtech, there are many technical aspect you didn’t compare or talk about, and one of them is the speed of taking shots.
    -Where the hell is the front facing camera comparison ???

    I can keep going, but I get the feeling that you are an S4 owner and you’ve got the One just for the review, and thus the judgement and review was imbalanced to begin with.

  • How can you say that Digital Image Stabilization on Samsung Galaxy S4 is better than Optical Image Stabilization On HTC One….Its totally a biased review..My kind suggestion to Elmer Montejo….
    Check the link below

  • How can you say that Digital Image Stabilization on Samsung Galaxy S4 is better than Optical Image Stabilization On HTC One….Its totally a biased review..My kind suggestion to Elmer Montejo….
    Check the link below

    • The One

      I agree,this review is totally biased. God knows how much Samsung paid them to tell that OIS isnt as good as Digital Image Stabilization.
      Every review i have seen bashes Samsung bcoz HTC one has a much better video performance due to OIS.

    • Andy

      By default, image stabilization is disable on the Galaxy S4. Maybe some reviewers forgot to turn it on, thus produced a shakey clip. On the HTC One, on the other hand, image stabilization is turned on all the time. I have both phones and I also observe the same findings mentioned above.

  • Gustavo

    I think, the pink flowers conclusion was wrong, I liked the HTC photo better. NOTE: I own a SGS3, but, the true is there and cannot be missed. Also, I believe only people who enjoy the oversaturation from Samsung’s AMOLED screens will actually prefer the S4 camera. To be honest, it is better in some aspects but NOT in 95% of them. I was expecting a less “fanboy” comparisson. I would still pick the S4, but! that is just my preference.

    • Carl Draper

      The GS4 in this test produced more natural colours than the One, which tended to over-expose images or make them over saturated, less realistic, and the GS4 always produced more detail because of it’s high MP.

  • Arsenal™

    IMO One’s Pics were better

    This is coming from a photography noob :D :P

  • Arsenal™

    The heating effect has been in all the HTCs i have owned

    The Desire S, One V and One S all get alarmingly hot when playing intense games :S

  • EKfine

    this is like ios vs android and its getting out of hand! stupid fanboys we’re on the same boat!

  • EKfine

    htc one shots looks so blurry..

  • deadsingh007

    Amazing review man……Thanks alot..!!!!!!!!

  • bob

    Some of the specs you have for the GS4 are not true… It does not record slow motion in HD.. This is false.

  • Matt V

    gs4 clearly had more color.. So thats a win, regardless of the fact that the colors were blown out, oversaturated, and unrealistic.. lol.
    I’m also assuming this wasnt done on an international version of the one, that has the camera update already in place. You know, the one that almost doubled the amount of detail in the One’s camera. So this whole thing is kind of a worthless comparison.

    • amine ELouakil

      It’s not a win at all, the One picture are more accurate, they represente the reality, you want to take a picture that show you more color or want the most geniun reproduction? if you want vibrant image use a filter.

  • MariaxNY

    this is a Samsung paid website we all know this

    • Carl Draper

      Really? Have you read the article and looked at the photos and videos, it came across as very balanced and objective to me.

    • xoj_21

      did u see pictures?

  • annonym

    may i know the firmware version of both device when you reviewed the units?

  • was this review comparison done after the HTC One OTA update which improved the camera quality?

  • Not an opinion it’s a fact

    Samaung is much better then hTC I would rather buy an anolog phone than wasting money on hTC .
    I think that hTC has some good design but, it’s having a lack of technology.
    It’s 2013 hTC!!!!

  • Dey

    Not true s4 has more image post processing functions. One has all of them mentioned above.. Just use drag and drop to customize… They are a bit hidden:)