Galaxy S4 vs HTC One camera comparison — Mega vs Ultra

May 10, 2013

    Phone heat

    Your phone heats up when doing intensive tasks such as taking photos or recording videos. But, in my testing, the HTC One generated an unusually high amount of heat. I was caught by worried surprise when, after recording video for a few seconds, my HTC One heated up. Although not enough to burn the skin, it was hot enough to be noticed and to make me feel uncomfortable.

    one-aluminum-back-20130508_223854_HDR

    Perhaps the aluminum unibody of the HTC One is the reason for the heat. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, and the internal heat could have been conducted to the chassis for faster dissipation or cooling. It may not be a cool idea to enclose the HTC One in protective casing because doing so might trap the heat inside and damage the phone. But, then again, that’s just my ignorant speculation.

    In contrast, the predominantly plastic Galaxy S4 has some good insulation. I barely noticed the phone heat up as much as the HTC One while using it, even for video recording.

    Image quality comparison

    Some hastily judge the Galaxy S4 to be the clear winner in the camera department, mainly because it has the higher number of pixels. But, the proof is in the pudding, so we compared the photo and video output of both phones to find out which phone’s camera gave better images.

    Studio shots

    In this set are photos shot in a studio setup where lighting was artificial but adequate, controlled, and uniform for all photos. Flash was not used. The image size/resolution was set to maximum on each phone (i.e., 4 MP on the HTC One and 13 MP on the Galaxy S4).

    The photos in the first batch below were shot with auto ISO sensitivity.

    Galaxy S4 -- studio shot, auto ISO

    Galaxy S4 — studio shot, auto ISO

    HTC One -- studio shot, auto ISO

    HTC One — studio shot, auto ISO

    At maximum image resolution, the HTC One produced a 2688×1520 (4 MP) photo with 16:9 aspect ratio and wider field of view. The Galaxy S4 produced a 4128×3096 (13 MP) photo with 4:3 aspect ratio.

    On Auto ISO, the HTC One decided to set its ISO to 125 and the Galaxy S4 to ISO 50. The HTC One captured a photo with somewhat subdued colors and greenish tint (or somewhat bluish on another computer monitor). The Galaxy S4 produced a sharp and vibrant image with a lot of detail.

    Next, we manually set the two phones to use ISO 100. The following shots were still taken in our studio setup:

    Galaxy S4 -- studio shot, ISO 100

    Galaxy S4 — studio shot, ISO 100

    HTC One -- studio shot, ISO 100

    HTC One — studio shot, ISO 100

    The differences in this batch are similar to the previous batch. The Galaxy S4 still produced a richer and more vibrant photo than the HTC One. The head of the green Bugdroid on the HTC One photo, however, was slightly clearer and less washed out than in its auto ISO version.

    The next set of photos below was shot at ISO 800:

    Galaxy S4 -- studio shot, ISO 800 (max setting)

    Galaxy S4 — studio shot, ISO 800

    HTC One -- studio shot, ISO 800 (though reported ISO is only 125)

    HTC One — studio shot, ISO 800 (though reported ISO is only 125)

    The Galaxy S4 still managed to produce a richer and more vibrant photo than the HTC One. However, noise has begun to appear on the S4-captured image.

    The quality of the HTC photo appeared to be similar to its auto ISO version (which was captured at ISO 125). According to EXIF data, the ISO speed rating actually used for this photo was still ISO 125, even if we did manually set the HTC One to use ISO 800. The HTC One’s image is still subdued and has a greenish tint.

    Below is the last batch of studio shots. The Galaxy S4 doesn’t have ISO 1600, so we just used the ISO 800 photo (maximum ISO on the S4) to compare with the HTC One photo shot at ISO 1600 (maximum on the HTC One).

    Galaxy S4 -- studio shot, ISO 800 (max setting)

    Galaxy S4 — studio shot, ISO 800 (max setting)

    HTC One -- studio shot, ISO 1600 (though reported ISO is only 125)

    HTC One — studio shot, ISO 1600 (though reported ISO is only 125)

    Unfortunately, the HTC One still refused to respect my manual setting of ISO 1600. I did set the correct ISO level, but according to EXIF data of the output image, the phone still used ISO 125 to grab the photo. So, the resulting comparison is just like that for the batch of ISO 800 photos in which the HTC One still adamantly decides to use ISO 125.

    As far as shots under controlled lighting are concerned, I personally find the Galaxy S4 performing better than the HTC One. For one, the Galaxy S4 consistently produced bright, color-rich, sharp, and vibrant images across various ISO settings. It respects my instruction to manually use a specific ISO rating, too.

    Indoor shots

    The Galaxy S4 seemed to have bested the HTC One in a setting with controlled and adequate lighting. We wanted to find out how the two phones perform in dim lighting indoors. For our indoor shots, both cameras were set to highest image resolution and auto ISO.

    The first batch of indoor photos below was taken in Auto or Normal Mode and without flash. A little amount of natural light from outside was available through the open windows, but not direct sunlight.

    Galaxy S4 -- indoor shot, Auto Mode, auto ISO

    Galaxy S4 — indoor shot, Auto Mode, auto ISO

    HTC One -- indoor shot, Normal Mode, auto ISO

    HTC One — indoor shot, Normal Mode, auto ISO

    The HTC One’s image came out brighter and less noisy than the Galaxy S4′s image. The HTC One’s UltraPixel technology may have been responsible for the brighter image. But, with regards to detail, I can definitely see more detail on the Galaxy S4, specially if you look closely on the rough-textured background, which appeared smoother on the HTC One photo but sharper on the Galaxy S4 photo.

    This next set of indoor photos was shot in Auto/Normal Mode  with flash enabled.

    Galaxy S4 -- indoor shot, Auto Mode, auto ISO, flash active

    Galaxy S4 — indoor shot, Auto Mode, auto ISO, flash active

    HTC One -- indoor shot, Normal Mode, auto ISO, flash active

    HTC One — indoor shot, Normal Mode, auto ISO, flash active

    I usually avoid using flash because it alters the colors of an image. In the photo set above, the Galaxy S4 gave off a bluish light that sprayed blue tint on the subjects. The HTC One gave off yellowish light and gave the photo a yellowish hue. Both photos captured the subjects clearly, but the flash seems to be isolated to the center of the field of view.

    Here’s the last batch of indoor photos, captured in Night Mode:

    Galaxy S4 -- indoor shot, Night Mode, auto ISO

    Galaxy S4 — indoor shot, Night Mode, auto ISO

    HTC One -- indoor shot, Night Mode, auto ISO

    HTC One — indoor shot, Night Mode, auto ISO

    The Galaxy S4′s image came out brighter and clearer than HTC One’s image; the Galaxy S4 seemed to have properly evened out the exposure. If you look back to our first set of indoor images (Normal Mode, no flash), the HTC One’s photo was actually better on Normal Mode than this one on Night Mode. In this set, the HTC One’s image is a bit dull, too sharp, and grainier than Galaxy S4′s photo.

    For indoor shots and for shots in dim lighting conditions, the HTC One seems to work best in Normal Mode against the S4 in Auto Mode. But, the Galaxy S4 also appears to provide better images with Night Mode enabled against the One with Night Mode enabled. Flash photography on both phones captures clear photos but result in some yellowish or bluish hue or tint.

    In the next section, continue reading about the image quality of outdoor shots made by the HTC One and Galaxy S4 for both daytime and nighttime shooting.

    Comments

    • 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.

        http://www.gsmarena.com/piccmp.php3?idType=1&idPhone1=5371&idPhone2=5313&idCamera3=30003

        Color reproduction comparision:

        http://www.gsmarena.com/piccmp.php3?idType=3&idPhone1=5371&idPhone2=5313&idCamera3=30003

    • David Brymer

      HTC ONE EVERY TIME.

    • 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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sumitranjan1991 Sumit Ranjan

      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
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6747/htc-one-review

    • http://www.facebook.com/sumitranjan1991 Sumit Ranjan

      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
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6747/htc-one-review

      • 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?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Hueyyyyy Huey Nguyen

      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:)

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