Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot-out

Two recently released high-end smartphones from Sony and HTC, namely the Xperia S and One X are both touted as top-class camera phones. Imaging specs are pretty impressive – the Sony Xperia S sports 12-megapixel “Exmor R” sensor, while the HTC One X has 8-megapixel shooter backed by dedicated ImageSense chip. Both are also capable of full HD 1080p video recording. Just megapixels-wise Sony should be a clear winner, however what isn’t that often mentioned hence well known, HTC lens has really impressive f/2.0 aperture (compared to f/2.4 in Sony) and also has just 28mm focal length. Is that a key for success? Read on (and see) to find out.

Courtesy of Handtec I currently have both Sony Xperia S and HTC One X at hand, so I decided to use that opportunity to carry out rather unscientific test of both cameras. Simply speaking, I’ve been wandering around with both phones and taking photographs of same objects. Nothing really fancy, just shots everyone would probably take while out and about. Nearly all photos were taken using “Auto” mode in both cameras, however in few cases I’ve chosen to switch off flash light. Each photo can be clicked to view full-size image.


Photo 1

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 2

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 3

Outdoor macro shot. I’ve noticed HTC struggles to focus close objects properly while Sony has no problems with it whatsoever.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 4

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 5

Indoor shot, taken at approx. 7am in the morning with blinds not even fully opened. This is where f/2.0 aperture starts making HUGE difference…

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 6

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 7

Another macro shot, this time round HTC managed to get focus right.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 8

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 9

Focused on bright light spell from outside.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 10

Focused on the wall edge above Mondeo on the right.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 11

Yet another macro shot – something Xperia S does really really well.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 12

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 13

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 14

Panorama mode. The Xperia S does rather nasty trick of downgrading output resolution which obviously impacts quality, while HTC does keep full resolution of all stitched photos.

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 15

Time for few shots supported by flash light. I’d say Sony does slightly better job…

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 16

Sony

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Photo 17

Sony, apologies for orientation – didn’t want to interfere with original image by rotating it afterwards.

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

HTC

Sony Xperia S vs HTC One X camera shoot out

Video sample 1

Full HD 1080p

Sony

HTC

Video sample 2

HD 720p

Sony

HTC

Conclusion

While I’m not a photography expert by any mean and can’t really judge on all fine details here, shots presented above clearly prove that the HTC One X sports quite amazing imaging kit and breaks megapixel myth into pieces. As mentioned, the real key to success here is not a number of megapixels it can handle but large aperture and low focal width of the lens used in HTC device. It allows capturing much finer details in relatively quicker shutter turnaround, also in low-light conditions. Xperia S perform quite well with outdoor shots, yet having smaller aperture struggles in darker environments without flash light. However, I’d say the most annoying problem with Sony shooter is substantial level of purple noise it embeds whenever lighting conditions are less than great. Sadly, level of noise is noticeable and impacts overall quality quite badly.

Other important thing to mention is usability of the camera in both smartphones. Unfortunately, the HTC One X does not have dedicated camera shutter button and also doesn’t support straight shoot from standby as the Sony Xperia S does. However, speediness of the HTC’s camera itself is superior to Sony’s. In my Xperia S review I praised its camera for quickness and accuracy and I still hold to that, however I need to say that HTC is even faster and more accurate! In fact, it is insanely fast – to the point where I initially wasn’t even sure whether it does set focus before taking picture at all! Mindblowing to say the least.

On a final thought I need to be fair – the Sony Xperia S is still pretty good camera smartphone and many people will happily use it as dedicated compact camera replacement. However, the HTC One X is even better and I think it’s safe to say that HTC One X is probably the best camera smartphone on the market at the moment. Period.

 

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  • Tim

     If I may – I’m going to disagree with you on this. True, the brightness and contrast are better on the indoor shots taken by the HTC but I’d say it’s producing more noise and jagged edges than the Sony. In outdoor shots the Sony is clearly picking up more detail too. I’ll give you the Purple noise issue – it’s a pain in the rear end.

    Low-light pictures taken under flash are better on the Sony – and that’s not to be sniffed at, as most people take low light images with the flash on.

    And having a decent macro mode is surely a deal maker or breaker, no?

    I do prefer the warmer tint of the HTC – but a swipe through Auto Correct on a PC can fix cold colours pretty easily.

    This is only my opinion, mind, but looking at your comparisson pictures, I thought the Xperia came out on top. Just my two cents :)

    • Gabriel

       Interesting Tim – it’s a tough call really based on the above photos. Also, many of the outdoor shots were taken in fairly overcast conditions, which never really makes for the best shots anyway.

      Interesting that the HTC got one macro but not another. Can’t you touch on screen to set it to focus on particular object?

      • Yes, you can. In fact, this is the only way to set the focus on something in particular, as without doing it it focuses on… well, I don’t know where exactly! Interestingly, that with that red letterbox I couldn’t get it focus properly despite trying few times, while macro shot on my stereo was focused spot-on on first try. Weird.

    • Hmm, perhaps you’re right with that low light + flash. I *personally* don’t like using flash too much, hence purple noise in Sony coming out too often.

  • Jim

    by the way xperia has 2.4 aperture

  • Asda

    I looked through all the images thinking, “wow, the Sony is so much better”, and then got to your conclusion that the HTC won!

  • Urfrensiva

    yo made d macro shots.,.,

    jst chek out.,
    in HTC yo ve focused on tyres.,.,!!!
    in Sony no focus on tyres.,!!!
    also in market place.,c d far objects in both pics., focus wer vary.,!!!

  • MP conter

    I’m not sure it makes a big difference but I think you only used 9 MP in the xperia shots. it shows on the picture ratio.

  • MP counter

     Looking closer in the photos the xperia s has more detail even though you’re only using 9 of 12 MP. Even in the panorama! The one x sometimes copes better with backlight and makes clearer colors though so I guess the winner is the HTC post processing and automatic setting team. It’s obvious that Sony goofed up their automatic settings.

  • V_info9

    please don’t edit the photos and say HTC is better, while in reality eve with edited pictures sony looks better. Please don’t misguide people with paid reviews. I have tested with HTC and Sony Xperia S. Its way ahead of HTC. Please Don’t misguide. HTC still uses the sony 8.1 megapixel old camera sensor.

  • Umairdon

    Htc one x is the best their is no way u can compare htc with sony its like htc is a car and u are comparing it with a cycle thats sony.sony should stop making phone because their shares in mobiles are bad.and v_info9 stop fooling around we can clearly see htc photos are better if you wanr to cry than go cry to your mama dumbb

  • Anonymous

    If I compare your pictures, Sony Xperia S is a clear winner. You have to keep in mind that you were shooting in 9MP.. For fair comparison you would have to shoot 12MP and HTC’s upsize to 12MP or XS’s downsize to 9MP, not to shoot at 9MP…
    Other thing is, if you look at picture 11 of majonez. Bokeh is absolutely awful on HTC.. Picture taken with Xperia has also nice depth of field.. Even if HTC has larger aperture.. Macro mode on XS is amazing. So another point for Sony.
    And second, you said that with HTC you have to first touch the screen to focus and then press the button on screen to take picture.. That means when you touch and it focuses you move phone a little and it focuses on something else… 
    On Sony Xperia S you can’t miss anything, just a little press on the camera button and it focuses where you want to and take the picture.. And if you want to touch the screen you can set it to touch and focus and it captures photo immediately.
    In terms of speed HTC has no chance compared to XS if you have your phone in your pocket walking down the street and want to take picture immediately. On XS picture would be taken before you would unlock HTC.
    If you ask me, Xperia S is clear winner.. Hands down to HTC for fast capture and burst(not very useful), but in other things there is no comparison to XS.

    • Anonymous

       9MP is just a cut-out, nothing more (4000×2,250 as oppose to 4,000×3,000), so image quality is not affected in any way. This is more about aspect ratio 16:9 or 4″:3. I have N8 and shoot a lot of 16:9 vs 4:3 images, believe me no difference in image quality.

      I agree with you that Xperia S is a winner.

      Cheers,
      Miki

  • sheytan

    That majo glass comes from Poland! Enjoy! :D

  • gadgetsnoopy

    I use htc one X on a daily basis and take photos of traffic while I’m continously moving myself. You have to touch the screen to start video in focus in htc then the only video is in focus other wise the video is out of focus. However if you have placed the camera in a stand and some large vehicle comes in front of your vehicle for a short while and subsequetly moves away the camera screen needs to be touched again to get focus back otherwise rest of the video will be out of focus . So much for the autofocus in htc one X . Probably it is the fault of the autofocus tech used by Htc, Sony uses different tech for autofocus and its pictures are immediately back to focus when the range chages.

  • Xperia S images look better in comparison.. Would like to know how you decided that HTC won!!