For most people, there are only three phones you should consider buying right now: The Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One, or the iPhone 5.
All three are great phones.
And all three make a big deal out of how great their cameras are, especially HTC, which invented a whole new marketing term for the One’s camera. HTC calls its camera an “Ultrapixel” camera. Practically, that means the One’s camera sensor uses larger-than-normal pixels to draw in more light and provide a better image, especially in dark settings. The tradeoff is the pictures are a bit smaller than those taken with cameras that have a high megapixel count.
Samsung and Apple are a bit more conventional with the way they measure camera quality. The Galaxy S4 has a 13 megapixel camera and the iPhone 5 has an 8 megapixel camera.
But megapixel count is a relatively meaningless spec nowadays, especially on mobile phones. Megapixels only refer to the size of the image the camera produces, so unless you plan on printing out a giant poster of all your smartphone photos, you should be fine.
What’s more important in a smartphone camera is how its sensor handles different environments and integrates all that with its software.
We put each phone’s camera through the paces in four key areas. Here are the results:
Winner: The Samsung Galaxy S4 takes the best and brightest shots in well lighted areas.
Winner: The HTC One pulls in the most light in low-light settings. However, colours don’t look as good. It’s a tradeoff, but you’re going to get the brightest picture with the HTC One.
Winner: All of them! Each camera does a great job at taking still photos of quickly moving objects.
Winner: The Galaxy S4 has the best camera features built in. It’s also a lot easier to access them from a simple, visual menu that provides a clear explanation of what each feature does.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has the best camera experience. Its software is the easiest to use, and has some really clever and useful shooting modes. However, if you plan on taking a lot of photos in low light, you’re probably better off with the HTC One.