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Flagship smartphones camera shootout: HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

|May 16 2014 |Android Phones, Android, Samsung, Sony, HTC

"Here are camera samples from the latest Android flagships for you to decide which really flaunts the best shooter"

Are you enticed by the jargon-filled claims of smartphone makers for the camera superiority pertaining to the newest flagship Android smartphones? If yes, we have put together the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One (M8) and the Sony Xperia Z2 in a head-to-head comparison of their camera prowess in an effort to bring out the best among the rest.

HTC One (M8), Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2

We tested the cameras on these smartphones in a variety of conditions to check out which one offers the most flexibility while offering the best image quality. None of them were perfect, and each has its own pluses and minuses. It'd be up to you to decide which camera is the best for you, and therefore we have provided unaltered*, unprocessed images straight from the three smartphones. All the images displayed here were captured using the auto mode in the highest available widescreen resolutions, barring a few additional settings like HDR and flash on or off, which we've indicated alongside. Since the Sony Xperia Z2 shoots in lower resolution in its Superior Auto mode, it was set to the highest widescreen resolution supported by its camera, i.e., 15.5-megapixels. 

*Please note that all the images provided here feature full resolution, which can be viewed by clicking on the thumbnails. Doing so will open the full-res image in a new tab.

Long shot

Samsung Galaxy S5 (1) HTC One M8 (6) Sony Xperia Z2 (1)

In long shots, the Sony Xperia Z2 offers best overall results as far as colour reproduction goes, but when it comes to sharpness, the image captured using the Samsung Galaxy S5 turns out to be the best, having the least amount of pixelation.

Long shot with HDR

Samsung Galaxy S5 (2) HTC One M8 (8) Sony Xperia Z2 (1)

The ISOCELL sensor on the Galaxy S5 really makes a huge difference in the HDR mode by boosting the best colour range overall, while the HTC One (M8) tends to lose a bit of contrast and adds a yellow hue to images. But for some strange reason, the Sony Xperia Z2 showed no difference. The Sony Xperia Z2 that we received was a pre-retail unit, hence it gets a slight benefit of doubt.

Close-up

Samsung Galaxy S5 (9) HTC One M8 (18) Sony Xperia Z2 (7)

The HTC One (M8) with its bigger sensor size definitely gets an edge over the other two, offering more vibrant colours and saturation levels. The Galaxy S5 follows a close second with good overall results and ample clarity.

Colour variance

Samsung Galaxy S5 (12) HTC One M8 (23) Sony Xperia Z2 (9)

Colour accuracy seems to be the specialty of the Galaxy S5 and it shows no bias while offering ample brightness for the subject as well. The Sony Xperia Z2 also beats the HTC One (M8) as the image captured offers better contrast and brightness levels.

Sharpness

Samsung Galaxy S5 (6) HTC One M8 (14) Sony Xperia Z2 (5)

Both Sony as well as Samsung are at par in terms of sharpness, but the HTC One (M8) loses the fight here because of its lower pixel count.

Colour tone separation

Samsung Galaxy S5 (4) HTC One M8 (10) Sony Xperia Z2 (2)

The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers considerable difference in colour variance and as we mentioned earlier, it is one definite forte of the device. While the HTC One (M8) tries to offer results at loss of sharpness but still fares better than the Sony Xperia Z2.

Colour saturation

Samsung Galaxy S5 (15) HTC One M8 (25) Sony Xperia Z2 (11)

Indoor photography that involves a lot of colours is best handled by the Samsung Galaxy S5, followed by the Sony Xperia Z2 doing justice to colour variance and brightness levels just about right. The HTC One (M8) on the other hand, returned slightly darker images.

Contrast levels

Samsung Galaxy S5 (5) HTC One M8 (12) Sony Xperia Z2 (3)

Both the Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One (M8) don't offer images as sharp as what the Galaxy S5 offers. All in all, the detail as well as the neutral colour tone offered by the Galaxy S5 makes it a clear winner here.

Low-light shots

Samsung Galaxy S5 (32) HTC One M8 (4) Sony Xperia Z2 (26)

Low light photography is a clear stronghold of the HTC One (M8) and with its bigger pixels, it rarely requires a dedicated flash. Both Samsung as well as Sony offer similar results, with Samsung Galaxy S5 having a slight edge over colour reproduction.

Low-light shots with flash

Samsung Galaxy S5 (22) HTC One M8 (35) Sony Xperia Z2 (21)

Now this is one area where the Sony Xperia Z2 emerges as a clear winner, and that too with flying colours. Sony's engineers have done a good job by offering a neutral tone flash that preserves the image rather than adding an unnatural hue to it. Sony is closely followed by the HTC One (M8), while the Samsung Galaxy S5 trails towards the end.

Long shot in night mode

Samsung Galaxy S5 (43) HTC One M8 (38) Sony Xperia Z2 (33)

Slight change in lighting conditions does a lot of good for the Samsung Galaxy S5, and in long shots taken during night, it does a good job. However, it is not good enough so as to defeat the HTC One (M8)'s UltraPixels featuring larger pixels, which seem to be a great addition for night or low-light photography.

Wide shot

Samsung Galaxy S5 (8) HTC One M8 (16) Sony Xperia Z2 (6)

When it comes to shots with multiple points to focus on , the Samsung Galaxy S5 offers the best sharpness, colour variance and contrast levels, while the HTC One (M8) tends to offer darker images that brightness. The Sony Xperia Z2 disappoints with pale-looking images and average sharpness.

Conclusion

Keeping it sweet and simple, we feel that overall, the Samsung Galaxy S5 offers the most versatile shooter. The HTC One (M8) also has a slight edge over Sony Xperia Z2 when it comes to camera quality and colour capture, but having said that, we also know that the UltraPixel camera on the HTC is good mainly for viewing images on the device iteslf, and if you are planning to blow the images up or get some posters made, try to give it a miss.

However, the decision is entirely yours and a certain aspect of a particular shooter may appeal better to different individuals. If you're still confused, do check out the images again and try them out in full resolution. Maybe that will clear out any remaining doubts regarding the cameras on these flagship Android smartphones.

Nitansh Rastogi contributed to this report.



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