HTC One vs LG G2 Low-Light Camera Performance Shoot-out

The HTC One has, undoubtedly, been the best smartphone to be released this year that can take some stunning low-light photos. The combination of its 2.0u size pixels, F/2.0 aperture and OIS means the camera sensor can suck in more light than other devices. Even the almighty iPhone 5S does not stand a chance against the One’s 4MP ‘UltraPixel’ camera. 

It is only the Nokia Lumia 925 and 1020, with their OIS and a bigger sensor for the latter, that challenge and surpass the One’s low-light camera performance. The LG G2 is among the selected few handsets in the Android world to feature an OIS enabled camera. Unlike HTC, LG has not comprised on the resolution of the sensor and the G2 comes with a 13MP sensor with F/2.4 aperture.

Initial reviews of the LG G2 have praised the phone’s camera performance and ranked it among the best in the Android ecosystem. So, how does the G2’s 13MP OIS camera stacks up against the paltry 4MP ‘UltraPixel’ on the One? Read below to find out.

First and foremost, I am not going to go pixel peeping to see which camera performs the best and decide a winner on that basis. Low light situations are already very challenging for current smartphones, and they are barely able to produce usable photos. If you want to do pixel peeping in low-light photos, you are expecting too much from a phone’s camera sensor.

The first photo below was shot from a distance of 100cm with the Night mode enabled on both the devices.

HTC One low-light comparison photo
HTC One low-light image #1


LG G2 low-light comparison image
LG G2 low-light image #1

Both the images above were clicked from the same distance, and any difference you see above is purely due to the differences in the camera sensor and lens of the devices.

The LG G2 image might look bright at first glance, but look at it on a monitor and you will realize it is very smudgy and fake. LG has gone way overboard with their sharpening algorithm here. The HTC One’s image in comparison is less bright, but looks more usable to me. The One’s image actually represents the correct amount of light being reflected from the street lamp nearby here.

For the pixel peepers out there, the G2 wins here. It is impossible to read the text right below the ‘Chromecast’ on the One’s image, which is somewhat readable on the G2’s image.

HTC One Low-light image #2
HTC One Low-light image #2
LG G2 Low-light image #2

The above images again show the same result. The image from LG G2 has more details (you can read the house address right above the post box), but the leafs in the photo look very smudgy.

From what I understand, it looks like the G2 is actually taking two images, one with a higher exposure and the second one with a lower exposure and combines them for the final image. This is similar to the Night mode seen on Samsung’ Galaxy S3, S4 and the Note 2. Again, this is just my theory on the basis of the ‘Processing’ pop-up that comes up after clicking images using the Night mode on the handset.

The One’s image, on the other hand, looks more real with the right amount of brightness even though it lacks details. While both the images are near unusable, I would still prefer the One’s image to that of the G2.

Before you jump to a conclusion with the above images about which phone to buy, keep in mind that the 4MP ‘UltraPixel’ camera on the One has been tweaked for low-light performance. The G2 performs decently in all situations, and will almost always perform much better than the One in daylight photos.