The HTC One has the usual array of front and rear cameras. But let me put that aside for a second and talk about a interesting feature called Zoe. This is a third shooting mode that takes a three-second video whose frames you can selectively retain as stills. That way you can make sure you get the perfect shot. You can also create longer videos by stitching them together, or e-mail a short clip. This is a unique feature that sets this phone apart from the rest with the exception of perhaps the BlackBerry Z10.
Now back to the camera. Forget everything that you know about digital cameras because HTC has flipped that on it’s head. Meet UltraPixel. What’s that? Here’s how HTC describes it:
For years, a misconception among most consumers is that the higher the megapixel count, the better quality of images. Actually, the number of megapixels is only one of many factors that determine picture quality, with sensors and image processors each playing a critical role.
However, year after year manufacturers try to outdo each other with higher megapixels. How? By reducing the size of the pixels to cram more in, which often decreases image quality. That’s because the smaller the pixel, the less light each one collects. This results in more visible noise and other defects in both still images and video.
The more light a digital camera can capture, the more information it can record, resulting in better pictures in more varied conditions and lighting environments.
HTC’s approach is to offer larger pixels in the new sensor that can capture 300% more light than many of the 13 megapixel cameras on the market. Because larger pixels record more light and data, our photos display more shades and greater color accuracy.
Does it work? Yes. Here’s a few examples that I took along Toronto’s waterfront. Click to see them in full size:
These images are vivid and sharp. It’s better than the iPhone 5 by far. Now how about video. For that I went to the TTC Russell (Connaught) Streetcar Carhouse to shoot a video of TTC streetcars being rolled into the yard after their morning rush hour runs. Make sure to pick 1080P and go to full screen to see the quality:
Two things to note. One, you’ll notice that in the first few seconds the camera is trying to auto focus. Once it does that, the images are sharp and the colours are vivid. Second, the sound quality is excellent. You can pick up the sounds of the streetcars perfectly, the cars passing by, even the car radio which I had thought I had turned down to a level where you wouldn’t hear it. Impressive.
Now, let me tie up a few loose ends. The battery life is impressive. I got three days plus with a single charge. That includes heavy GPS usage and video and audio usage. Also, I would also say that even though the phone is easy to hold, I’d recommend a case as the phone has a nice finish and I think once you see it, you’ll want to keep it that way. Finally, with the exception of the BlackBerry z10, this is the easiest phone to set up an e-mail account on. The process took seconds and was painless. I was very impressed by that.
My final verdict? This is an impressive phone. It’s easily the best Android phone that I’ve tested. It is fast, it has the camera I’ve tested, and it has an impressive feature set. The only place where it falls down is in the navigation system. But other than that, this phone is from the top shelf. If HTC fixes the lack of Google Maps speaking the street names, this phone would be pretty much perfect. Now HTC does have challenges at the moment in terms of competing with Samsung and Apple. But with a phone like this, they won’t have challenges for long. They simply have to get the word out and I guarantee that people will by the HTC One in spades.