How the HTC One's Camera Bucks the Trend in Smartphone Imaging

Interesting for two reasons: the manner in which cameras are compared, and the final reversal of the mpixel race. Much better to have good sensitivity in fewer pixels than poor sensitivity in lots. Or, a few gems are worth a lot more than a pile of...


How the HTC One's Camera Bucks the Trend in Smartphone Imaging

Now that we’ve seen the HTC One camera announcement, I think it’s worth going over why this is something very exciting from an imaging standpoint, and also a huge risk for properly messaging to consumers.

With the One, HTC has chosen to go against the prevailing trend for this upcoming generation of devices by going to a 1/3.0" CMOS with 2.0 micron pixels, for a resulting 4 MP (2688 × 1520) 16:9 native image size. That’s right, the HTC One is 16:9 natively, not 4:3. In addition the HTC One includes optical image stabilization on two axes, with +/- 1 degree of accommodation and a sampling/correction rate of 2 kHz on the onboard gyro. Just like the previous HTC cameras, the One has an impressively fast F/2.0 aperture and 5P (5 plastic element) optical system. From what I can tell, this is roughly the same 3.82 mm (~28mm in 35mm effective) focal length, slightly different from the 3.63 mm of the previous One camera. HTC also has included a new generation of ImageChip 2 ISP, though this is of course still used in conjunction with the ISP onboard the SoC, and HTC claims it’s able to do full lens shading correction for vignetting and color, in addition to even better noise reduction, and realtime HDR video. Autofocus is around 200ms for a full scan, I was always impressed with AF speed the previous cameras had, this is even faster. When it comes to video HTC apparently has taken some feedback to heart and finally maxed out the encoder capabilities for the APQ8064/8064Pro/8960 SoC, which is 20 Mbps H.264 high profile.

HTC One Camera Specifications
Device HTC One
Sensor Size and Type 1/3" BSI CMOS
Resolution 4.0 MP 16:9 Aspect Ratio (2688 x 1520)
Focal Length 3.82mm
F/# F/2.0
Optical System 5P
OIS 2-axis +/- 1 degree, 2 kHz sampling
Max Capture Rate 8 FPS continual full res capture
Video Capture 1080p30, 720p60, 720p30, 1080p28 HDR, 768x432 96FPS
H.264 High Profile, 20 Mbp...