HTC One – The UltraPixel Camera Explained

The HTC One features a revolutionary ‘UltraPixel’ camera, but what does this really mean and what can we expect from it?

The HTC One caused a stir when it was unveiled recently, and for once, not all of the buzz around it was due to the incredible processor (a fantastically fast next-gen Snapdragon 600) or the pin-sharp 1080p screen, which comes in at 4.7 inches, making it sharper than rival 1080p phones such as the Sony Xperia Z.

No, a large part of the buzz was down to the camera inside the HTC One, because it’s ‘only’ a 4 megapixel camera. You’ll note, however, that the ‘only’ is in speech marks, and there is a very good reason for that.

That’s because the HTC One uses what manufacturer HTC calls an ‘UltraPixel’ camera, and its that part which makes the camera so special. While it may be ‘only’ a 4 megapixel camera, it’s a 4 megapixel camera where each individual pixel on the image sensor is roughly three times bigger than on a standard image sensor; the image sensor itself takes up roughly the same amount of space as a 12 megapixel sensor would take up, and while its resolution is a lot lower, it can capture roughly the same amount of light as that larger sensor. The end result is a camera that performs exceptionally well in low light conditions, something that’s also aided by the optical image stabilisation built into the phone, a feature only previously found on the Nokia Lumia 920.

But why did HTC choose to use a 4 megapixel sensor in the HTC One?

It’s partly down to the sheer size of the sensor, which takes up about as much room, physically, as a 12 megapixel sensor. HTC could have made the camera bigger, but it would have increased the size of the phone considerably. There is another reason, however, and it’s one that can be gleaned by looking at the HTC One’s other features.

The concept of sharing things is built into modern smartphones, and this is especially apparent in the HTC One. It’s not unreasonable, in fact, to say that the HTC One is built around online interactions, and sharing. Once seen from this viewpoint, the 4 megapixel sensor makes a lot more sense.

Put simply, the UltraPixel sensor captures incredible amounts of light, which leads to better photos, while the proportionally lower resolution of the output images keeps the file sizes a lot smaller. As such, the HTC One produces smaller photos, that won’t use as much of your data allowance when sharing them, but which look better than every other photo taken on a 4 megapixel camera.

The UltraPixel camera, then, is a camera designed around the concept of sharing your photos online, and when viewed through that lens (no pun intended, although it does also include a very impressive lens), the HTC One’s camera makes perfect sense.

To put it simply, if you like to share your photos online, via Facebook, Flickr, or one of the myriad other photo sharing services, then this is the perfect phone for you!

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