All about HTC UltraPixel (Part 1)

OK, I finally decided to write this. As you may already know, I have been holding on to a HTC One for a few weeks now. And I have also written what I like about the smartphone. Now, I think it is time to talk about the UltraPixel camera that HTC claims that it sets apart from its competitors. This will be a lengthy post.


Beneath the UltraPixel Camera

So, what is beneath the lens of the HTC UltraPixel camera. Check this out.


To get good pictures/video, there are a few things to take note: –

  • Aperture (the lower the better)
  • Sensor size (the bigger the better)
  • Image Chip
  • Lens (lens is important to avoid flaring and etc when light falls onto it)

And recently, another “Must Have” for Smartphone is the OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer). HTC One has incorporated it into the UltraPixel camera.

OIS is important when taking video. For HTC, it uses OIS for both picture and video too.

UltraPixel compared with Standard Pixel

HTC coined the word UltraPixel to set itself apart from competitors in chasing the MegaPixel dream. Basically, what HTC has done is maintaining the sensor size at 1/3-inch (for most smartphone), limiting the megapixel at 4MPX and thus providing a larger pixel onto the sensor.

With a larger pixel, it will be more sensitive to light. Here is an illustration.


Please DO NOT get this wrong. The image above is NOT the sensor size. It is just the PIXEL SIZE. HTC uses a bigger PIXEL (2um by 2um) to cover the same sensor area as compared to other manufacturers (who uses 13 MPX or 8 MPX).

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So, on a HTC One, you can only get 2688 pixels by 1520 pixels (16:9 ratio) or 4,085,760 pixels (or 4 MPX) on 1/3-inch sensor. On Samsung GALAXY Note 1, you can get 3264 pixels by 2448 pixels (not 16:9 ratio) or 7,990,272 pixels on the sensor.

HTC choose to value pixel size instead of resolution. Here is a chart of other manufacturers and their smartphone camera pixel size.


Comparing Resolution

In order to get quality pixels, HTC decided the resolution to be at 4 MPX. It might be ok for sharing the pictures on social networks or to print at 4R size. Once you enlarge it, you can see that resolution plays a part.

Here is an example I can show you on how resolution also plays a part.


Both picture were taken at similar distance and PAINT (for Windows 7) was used to zoom in to the content and using print screen function, I capture the results. Here is the reduced size picture showing the original pictures.

From HTC One


From Samsung GALAXY Note


Do note that this test is NOT done under controlled environment. Both phones have different viewing angles and lighting condition had to be adjusted for both to see the wordings. Some may feel that the distance seems further for HTC One. I can see that they are both taken at similar distance.

The reason for showing you this is because of a personal experience I had with the HTC One. I needed to scan a picture with small and faint wordings using CamScanner. However, after cropping and enhancing, I was not able to the wordings at all.

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But when I switched to Samsung GALAXY Note, I am able to see the wordings clearly. Do note that this does not mean that HTC One camera is no good. It only means that resolution is still resolution. The more it is, the more content it can capture. However, with current smartphone sensor, it will be stretching the quality of the picture (which I believe HTC does not want) at the expense of resolution.

Picture quality of HTC One

I have to admit that HTC One is very good when it comes to dimly lighted condition. The food pictures that I had taken with HTC One is really nice.


Here is another one.


In some pictures, you can clearly see the depth of field (DOF) at work. So, when taking pictures with HTC One, do focus the camera at your subject properly. However, some might feel that HTC One has “softer” pictures. I believe it is largely due to resolution.

This is one part 1 of HTC UltraPixel. I will be talking about the rest of the UltraPixel features in another post. Let me know if you need more information.