HTC One to receive software update in April to further improve camera quality? [UPDATE]

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.

Thanks, Steven!

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  • Tai Nguyen

    but HardwareZone.com.sg also said the night shot quality on the htc one is no better than other smartphone which is weird. all review I have read has the htc one soundly beat everybody else in low light situation. um……

    wonder if they mixed up the night shot of htc one with something else because the night shot that they posted for the htc one is even worse than s3, iphone 5 night shot.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Their opinion is still their own. From my own comparisons of lowlight shooting on the One vs iPhone 5, the difference is clear (see above image). Also, going by their before and after shots, I’d say the update drastically improved image detail. Even if they said the update made things worse (which they didn’t), I could see for myself that this was not the case.

      • HellG

        Their*

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Don’t know how I missed that. -_-

          • HellG

            *_^

  • Chrisrj8084

    Yes Chris I myself am impatiently awaiting the release and this news makes me even more excited. I was disappointed in the reviews of the camera in bright scenarios so I’m glad it’s a fixable update which should allow even more improvement from the dev community.

    Thanks for the info

    • abc

      I don’t know about you but honestly, neither the before or after pics look any good to me.

      • Xandersun

        Frodo Baggins just called, they need you back under the bridge.

        • Loren Cogar

          Frodo was a hobbit. Are you talking about the bridge in the shire near Bilbo’s? Why would they need him there? Mostly Hobbits use that as a good hide and speak spot, are you calling him a good hiding Hobbit? Or maybe you are talking about fishing under the bridge in which case you are calling him a fisherman Hobbit. I’m confused.

  • DavidB23

    There are no examples of bright light pics. All the samples I have seen in normal light are very soft; even fuzzy. I dont want a camera that has marginally better fuzzy low light shots when every picture is soft and or fuzzy.

    • No_Nickname90

      Thank you. That’s what I want to know. The Sun is always peaking it’s head around corners glaring it’s light all in Houstonians faces.

      I’m assuming that the camera will be just as good as other phones, except it can bring in more light for night time shots.

      • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

        It always performed well in low-light, but now HTC has gotten rid of their damn noise filter that made every shot look muddy. Props to them for addressing this issue that’s plagued Sense since the One X/S.

        • bluevoodo

          Didn’t Nokia also have to issue an update to the 920 because of the noise aswell when it first debuted?

          • Steven Bell

            Yea they did have this issue everything was very soft.

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            Yup! Thank god for software updates! :D

        • Lysodo

          Video recording at night is impressive.

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            Video recording is awesome because the video resolution is 1920×1080 and nobody zooms in or crops video. That was a really nice video though. Super impressive :O

          • Manny Subia

            Very impressive comparison indeed,……….thank you for the video! ……. I’m beginning to feel like I know what my next phone will be lol

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Well, you can see that the aggressive noise filter has been turned down drastically in the above shots. Daylight shots would yield the same result.

      We’ll make sure to take plenty of shots in broad daylight for you once we receive our US device in April. :)

  • surethom

    This look alot better, it like the Sony sensors of the past, the iPhone used the same sensor as Sony phones but the iPhone took better photos I will not purchase this until the update is released and real world samples are seen .

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I’ll keep you updated.

  • REVS

    ive still yet to see a camera better than my one s live and in person i dont care what your reviews say ive put them all head to head IPHONE 5 ,GS3,NOTE2 ,NOKIA

    MY ONE S OWNS …
    MY NEXUS 4 …NOT SO MUCH

    • NIGHTSCOUT

      Nexus devices are not top tier. OEM’s that can build decent specs at a basement low price, get the contract.

      • REVS

        well its by far the smoothest fastest running phone ive ever held …camera sucks but everything els is amazing

        • NIGHTSCOUT

          Yes, vanilla Android is by far better than any bloated UI.

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    The HTC One’s Camera takes the best lowlight pictures of any phone I have seen and that is including the iphone 5. There are so many phones with better cameras than the iphone 5, not even close. It’s great to see the new technology on the HTC One’s camera is going to pan out. I really want to see HTC do well with this phone. Everyone has their own opinion, I firmly disagree with HardwareZone, maybe they are just dumb or trying to sell iphones???? Apple needs to start spending some $$$ on innovation, not litigation.

    • smithj33

      There are very few cameras better than the 4S or the 5. I have tried many and compared many. You are fooling yourself if you believe otherwise.

    • http://twitter.com/slaguru slaguru

      You are wrong on this one Vinny. My HTC One camera is great in low light, but not a patch on the iPhone5 shots I get in normal use. I hope the update makes this better.

  • famished

    Why not just patch it before launch? Whenever that is…

  • KiwiBri

    well, this is great news. Camera is a major reason I use my phone. Doesnt have to be super megapixels.. just want a good image when I take the photo..

  • Jeff72

    Wake me when there is a HTC One – Nexus version

    • DavidVarghese

      You’re gonna be asleep for a long time buddy

    • Evaris

      That was a few years back, in fact I own my old Nexus One. Oh you mean this with stock android? Just buy the dev version, pop on stock Android, and there you go.

      • Tony Lai

        Yes, Dev version is probably the best deal for hTC One. 64GB for only $650.

  • HellG

    Let’s not send review units with pre-release software!
    Said no OEM ever…

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    It’s a 4MP. No matter how much you hype it up, it’s still a 4MP.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Sike173 Edwin De La Cruz

      Its not 4mp its 4 ultra pixels….which I heard is the equivalent to 32mp….

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        It’s also the equivalent of a Nikon and a Canon CMOS put together. FFS it’s a gimmick…..

        • DavidVarghese

          LOL nope. I think you’ve confused yourself between Samsung’s gimmicky camera features and HTC’s Ultrapixel camera…
          Imo, I don’t see the point in having 13 mp camera on my phone.. 2 mp is already 1920×1080 in size, and having a 13 mp camera would be ridiculous in terms of picture size. Also, to have 13 mp, the camera better be good (like DSLR quality) to produce any decent photos.
          I’d rather have a 4 mp camera with great sensors that the Ultrapixel technology has than a straight up 13 mp camera that can barely take any decent pictures.

          • NIGHTSCOUT

            Yet if the HTC had a 13MP camera, you’d be singing that 13MP tune… So many hypocrites…..Samsung has even more gimmicks, no doubt.

          • DavidVarghese

            I’d be singing an opera if it had Ultrapixel tech with 13 mp
            I think we gotta get hands on with the One to really judge the camera, but judging from the reviews and sample pictures, it looks amazing

          • Tommy Thompson

            So you would rather have a 4MP camera that takes muddy photos full noise not matter the conditions than a 13MP that takes great shots during the day and decent shots at night?

          • DavidVarghese

            Actually, I’d rather have a 4MP camera with HTC’s UltraPixel tech that already takes great shots during the day and decent shots at night, than a 13MP camera that can barely take a decent shot or compare to other phones on the market. A good example would be the Sony Xperia Z… Not the best camera out there, and the HTC One blows it out of the water.
            I have yet to see reviews about the Samsung Galaxy S4, so I guess we’ll have to wait on that

      • abc

        And the iPhone screen is “Retina.” It’s called marketing terms.

        And lastely, LMFAO at 32MP. That was really funny.

    • James E

      Why don’t you do a little research. It’s never been about the # of MP, it’s whats behind those MP that count.

  • smithj33

    On the one x+ you could just turn the sharpness to -1 and it turned the filter off and had no negative impact on sharpness.

  • Chetan Choudhari

    Pixel’s are visible Chris :(

  • http://www.techwrath.com.au/ Website Development

    this is a big improvement

  • Jack

    good that HTC send the updates now fast

  • Josh Paramore Hagan

    So even before it’s got a carrier release in the US, HTC is pushing updates? Great sign for things to come. It’s nice to see that they were taking notice and being proactive. That was really the only legitimate problem I was able to forsee with the phone, as the expandable storage and removable batter don’t matter.

  • Tommy Thompson

    According to Alex from Android Central this is an old update. total bunk.

  • Magnus100

    HTC missed the boat on this One in every way except for look, s. The Galaxy S IV is way better in every other department (pretty much)

    Waiting for the Galaxy Note III. HTC had the chance to shine, but it decided to shoot itself in the foot.

    • xanok

      I think you’re wrong here. The GS4 at it’s core is an amazing phone, and certainly a huge leap over the GS3 hardware-wise, but HTC’s new features on the One are truly useful things. Zoey and front facing stereo speakers are among other things that have real life use. Not to mention the build quality on the One looks superior to the GS4 as well. I haven’t seen a single unique feature on the GS4 that didn’t look gimmicky, and before both announcements, I had written HTC off.
      We can argue replaceable batteries and SD card slots til we’re blue in the face, but to me, SD card slots don’t matter if I have 64gb of internal storage and enough battery to get me through a 10 hour day at work.

      • ross608

        Replaceable batteries are not subject to debate. My phone at times come off the charger @6 and has to be useable right thru dinner @ 9-10p. An extra battery is a must.

        • xanok

          For you it’s a deal breaker, and that’s fine. For me, and most people in the world, it isn’t. I don’t know a single person that has a replacement battery for their phone. Again, this is one thing about the HTC One. Magnus100’s claim that the GS4 is way better in every department is ridiculous. The only thing better about the GS4 than the GS3 is hardware. Everything else is gimmicks. HTC is bringing new usable features to the table with the One and it’s a large upgrade over last year’s One X.

    • pattison

      469 ppi SLCD3 > 441 ppi AMOLED
      32GB > 16 GB
      Same processor, same RAM, almost identical battery size.
      One > GS4

      • Lord Desslok

        Depends on which specs you’re comparing. S4 vs the One:

        The S4 is lighter, thinner, has a larger screen, AMOLED (advantageous for vibrance, blackness, and viewing angles), larger and removable battery, microSD slot, 13 MP camera (overkill, and I prefer the “Ultrapixel” approach… but 4 MP is a little low for daylight photos), better CPU/GPU in some markets, DDR3 (the One reportedly has DDR2), and hover to touch.

        The One has slick metal chassis, stereo “BoomSound” speakers, “Ultrapixel” camera (f2.0 vs f2.2 on the S4), LCD (advantageous for color accuracy), and is narrower.

        On the software side, both have lots of nifty camera features. Both have crappy custom UIs (Sense, touchwiz). The S4 ships with 4.2.2 while the One ships with 4.1.2. The S4 has multiple modes for the AMOLED screen.

  • rampage1

    Camera looks great can’t wait to get thisphone

  • iPhart

    Updates, can not make this camera better than Samsung S4 camera. Forget it.