When the HTC One was first announced, the Taiwanese manufacturer made a big hoopla over the handset’s “UltraPixel” camera tech with a sensor that was able to catch 10x’s more boomfeeds or something like that. Of course once the internet got their hands on the international version of the device, the reviews came pouring in: yes, the ultrapixel camera captured awesome low light images (better than the competition), but in brightly lit environments, shots were simply “meh.” The reason? HTC’s gratuitous use of noise filtering in their images.
This is just an extremely low light comparison between the HTC One (left) and the iPhone 5 (right)
I’ve seen this myself in a few camera tests when shot up against the iPhone 5 (see below image). Like everyone else has said in their reviews, the One performed much better in low-light. The only issue was in normal lighting when an image was cropped or zoomed in, the quality could only be described as “muddy” or simply less detailed. Of course, the HTC One’s incredible crisp 1080p 4.7-inch display didn’t exactly help matters (or reviews).
So, was the “ultra pixel” camera really to blame? Not the hardware. The cause for these soft images has always been nothing more than a software issue, something HTC could easily fix in a software update. The good news? It looks like they have. While testing out the HTC One’s camera prowess, HardwareZone.com.sg has gotten hold of an official update for the HTC One that addresses Sense’s camera quality (all their devices have suffered from this same issue, mind you). The update gets rid of the excessive noise filtering, bringing about images that are much more sharp and crisp. Taking a look at the before and after pics are like night and day. It’s hard to believe both shots came from the same phone. What a difference an update makes.
Unfortunately, the HardwareZone did notice some inconsistencies. ISO 100 all the way up to 400 were nice and sharp but at ISO 800, things got muddy once again. What’s even weirder is ISO 1600 was sharper and had less noise than 800. It seems HTC still has a little more work cut out for them, something I’m sure they’ll nail in a future update in time for the phone’s US release this April. This blogger officially went from hyped to somebody-please-stop-me-from-importing-the-UK-One in a matter of seconds.
UPDATE: It looks like HTC has once again reached out to the photo site who supplied the information in this article. Apparently, the site initially received an HTC One running “pre-production software.” They supplied them an updated device running the commercial firmware and that’s the reason for the discrepancy between the images. Despite reviews stating otherwise (possibly running the older software version), the detailed images you see in the “after” shots reflect the image quality from the latest software build and Ones already on the market.