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MWC Report Part III: camera & video tests of four just-announced high-end smartphones

Let me continue (previous article: MWC Report Part II: EXCLUSIVE: Nokia PureView 808 resolution tests!) with my systematical tests of four high-end Android ICS phones, all sporting true (not the PenTile joke of Samsung) 720p resolution screens I've conducted here in Barcelona, at MWC. (Personally, I, who has spent hundreds if not thousands of bucks on iOS and Symbian apps, don't want to invest in another ecosystem so I won't purchase any of them – now that Windows Mobile is, unfortunately, no more, I prefer the iOS + Symbian dual setup: that is, iOS for apps, games & tablets and Symbian for phones & cameras.)

HTC One X (Engadget article HERE): in addition to the still shot, I've only made a 720p video. (It was only at home that I've noticed I've got a 720p video instead of a 1080p one.) In still mode, the resolution is around 1300 lph (good for a 8 mpixel shooter); the 720p resolution is around 650 lph (average-to-good).

A big problem with the camera is that, while HTC advertises the camera as a 28mm one (which is a nice wide-angle), in reality, the 720p mode zooms in to around 43 mm – in exactly the same way as the iPhone 4S. (See my explanation for this HERE.) I'll tomorrow re-test the 1080p mode; hopefully, it offers a wider field-of-view. Otherwise, the camera can only be used for video in a pretty restricted way (some activities just can't be shot because of the narrow FoV) – as is the case with the iPhone 4 (without my hacks) or the 4S.

 

The test shots / grabs (click the links for the original shots / videos / framegrabs; note that they vary in size between 2 and 16 Mbytes!):

Still test (with the original EXIF data - check it out for the ISO, the f etc.)
Video framegrab (again: it's 720p only!); source video (original video file I've grabbed the best frame from)

 

UPDATE (03/04): I've tested the 1080p mode as well. It has a slightly wider field-of-view than the 720p mode of around 35-36mm equiv., which means it's more usable in everyday situations where as wide a FoV as possible is preferred. However, it's still a long way away from 24-26mm equiv. of truly wideangle cameras; for example, the Nokia 808 shooting in video mode.

The resolution in 1080p is around 900 lph in both dimensions, which is certainly much better than that of the Fujitsu and the Sony models (see below), but is somewhat weaker than that of the LG Optimus 4X HD. Framegrab; original video file.

LG Optimus 4X HD

In addition to their Galaxy Note-alike, LG's other big announcement was the LG Optimus 4X HD. (See for example THIS Inquirer quick review for more info.) The 1080p video is extremely sharp: the horizontal resolution is around 900 lph, the vertical about 1100 (!). Actually, if you check out my framegrab, you'll see there's some color moire, showing the camera has almost no anti-aliasing filter, also distributing to the very good resolution.

There are some issues with the camera of the 4X HD, though. First, the sensor is very noisy. Second, it can't firmly focus to subjects closer than about 25-30 cm – the focus will continuously “hunt” (albeit this may have been caused by the little light on LG's booth). In this regard, it behaved far worse than the rest. I couldn't make a single(!) still shot – not even at the (compared to the 4:3 screen ratio, larger) distance otherwise corresponding to 16:9 frame ratio. That is, you can safely forget this handset if you take close-up or low-light shots. Which is certainly a bad thing, as it records excellently detailed videos.

Video framegrab; source video file

Fujitsu Arrows

Fujitsu has, now, provided working units of the Arrows introduced on CES; then, still as a non-user-operable phone. The test results are as follows:

- the stills performance certainly doesn't show the phone has a 13.1 Mpixel sensor. The true resolution is, actually, smaller than that of even the 8 Mpixel (!) HTC One X. (See above.)

- the 1080p video resolution is absolutely horrible: around 600 lph. In a word, you must avoid this phone, should you want to shoot videos / shots!

Still test
Video framegrab; source

Sony Xperia NXT S

This high-end phone has also just been announced (dedicated IT Pro article HERE). The camera performance is as follows:

- the stills resolution is, for a 12 Mpixel sensor, average at around 1600 lph
- the 1080p video resolution is very weak at around 600 lph both horizontally and vertically.

Still test
Video framegrab; source file

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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.