HTC laughs at Nokia camera tech, plans to launch "Ultrapixels" in new camera experience

HTC has mocked Nokia's PureView technology and the rumoured 41 MP super-camera phone that's set to be unveiled this year. While HTC has produced hardware with great optics (the HTC TITAN springs to mind), we can't help but wonder if the company can outdo Nokia's progress. So what's the deal? Forget Megapixels. HTC is talking Ultrapixels.

In an article on the HTC blog, the company mocks Nokia's PureView experience and states that this year will see HTC unveil a whole new camera and sound experience. This is fairly exciting indeed, especially if we're to see such advances in its Windows Phone line-up. Further advancement in competition drives innovation, and with how HTC is performing financially, it needs to pull something out the bag.

HTC Ultrapixels

HTC's much-rumoured M7 smartphone is set to be the first device the company shows off its new technology on. According to sources who have informed Pocket-lint, HTC plans to install a new camera in its flagship Android smartphone. The device will sport three 4.3MP sensor layers to give a resulting single image. While the 3x4.3 may add up to 13MP, it's said that images produced by HTC hardware wont be saved at that size.

The technique to be implemented by HTC is similar to what's used by Sigma in the Foveon X3 sensor. This enables three times the amount of data representing a single pixel. This surplus of data can be "intelligently combined" to generate crisper, clearer images with better colour accuracy - well, that's the expectations anyway. The question is: can HTC deliver? 

It's similar to how Nokia handles image data with the camera in the 808 PureView, opting for a more conventional sensor structure and using surrounding pixels to render one equivalent in the final product. HTC is said to be going with the multi-layered approach. The Ultrapixel sensor is believed to be a highlight feature and selling point of the new M7 Android smartphone. 

PureView 808

Nokia's PureView 808 smartphone

HTC also has to tackle the perception that some consumers will view a 4MP camera as a step back compared to what's available on competing hardware, which is also where the Ultrapixel branding may come into play. So HTC is basically remarketing the megapixel. Will the company be successful in drumming up more custom? That'll have to be seen when the M7 smartphone is released along with any future Windows Phones that sport similar technology. 

Nokia isn't holding back either, which is where the competition really steps up. The Finnish company is also looking set to expand on its PureView camera technology with its next generation of Windows Phones - particularly the flagship device that's said to sport new optics for a better experience and end result.

The focus is shifting to the camera more with each iteration of hardware, but one has to remember that we're talking smartphones here. Actual mobile devices that enables one to contact someone using dark magic. It's always wise to carry a half-decent shooter around should you feel like taking some snaps of wildlife, landscape and whatnot.

Source: HTC (opens in new tab)Pocket-lint; thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • As a professional photographer, I say, bring it on!  I love Nokia Pureview tech, but competition only means better things for us!  I hope HTC knocks this out of the park!
  • Which do you think will come first: HTC brings an utrapixel to WP, or MS brings us PhotoSynth?
  • Lol, sad but funny I gave up on photosynth
  • What is so special about that app
  • Panoramic photos with zoom
  • 360 degree photos.
  • Its not just Panorama, its multi stiched shots together giving you more aggregate pixels of a given scene or object.
  • I think MS is giving Nokia's panoramic app some time to be in the spotlight before they release Photosynth. It will come any day now.
  • But do three crappy pictures combined into a not so crappy picture beat out one oversampled picture? I hope HTC has great sensors for EACH.
  • Try to explain that logic when someone asks you about your camera and you have to ramble on about how it 4mp but not really because they like sewed a bunch of smaller sensors together to.....then you go, oh..i don't what you're saying but mine has a 41MP sensor, a Carl Zeiss lens with Pure View technology and OIS.
  • "Retina" comes to mind. Tried countless times to explain to people that "Retina" is just a marketing term and many manufacturers now make displays with very high pixel density -- even higher than Retina. "But Apple has Retina display TECHNOLOGY" is what I got in return.
  • LOL! I know that's the way apple people thinks. If you rename retina with shit technology they will believe it also.
  • With the way Samsung dominates android is it really wise to try to release more hardware on a platform they have essentially failed at gaining traction in? You would think they would take this opprotunity at taking back some of the windows phone market share, As well as drive customers away from android to create bigger profit?
  • Problem with that is Android is well known and well established, so if you get people from Samsung to HTC, the users won't have to get used to a new ecosystem, unlike of they changed from Android to WP, or even BB10 (since they finally released their latest and greatest as well)
  • Yeah but it isn't as if HTC is well established in android. Few people I know buy them. If it isn't Samsung it isn't good is the experience I've been met with. But people took notice of their designs when they made windows phones
  • Don't discount Sony and lg in android, competition is intense
  • Sony maybe LG pfft
  • What?! LG is turning a profit and coming back in a huge way with the release of the Optimus G. They are gonna be a contender moving lets also think about something here..they are being dominated even worse in the wp world by Nokia and that market share is small as is so they are not making money with android which has a much larger market share then wp, so how much do you think they are making with windows phone? Android has more profit potential in their eyes since its more flexible for them to innovate in hardware and software. Not to say wp is not a great choice but just look at it from their perspective.
  • Everything I've ever owned from Lg has blown in a big way. I feel sorry for anyone daring enough to purchase from them. I don't really care if they support WP or not because judging from their appliances and smartphones all the would do is mess things up. LG sucks.. I know that doesn't negate your points but that's just how I feel.
  • The Quantum does not suck. I also had a dishwasher from them that was almost totally silent. Maybe you just need to stop buying their low-end stuff.
  • dont yell at me :( i dont buy their cheap stuff cuz all their stuff is cheap! HAH take that! lol i cant speak personally on the quantum but it is a windows phone and i expect it worked better than my lg android phone that i hated with the passion of 1000 suns... and by da way by da way ita was not da cheap stuff it was like a 1000 dollar washer...
  • LG should stick to making dishwasher instead of phone. My friend had an Optimus and didn't even lasted a year and decided to retire.
  • you ment ac units :D
  • Yes because referring to his LG dishwasher. he he he
  • They make great Washers and dryers too. I've owned a pair for a number of years now and they are great. :)
  • Same experience.  An example of a horrible, horrible smartphone that I owned... the LG Incite.  WM nonetheless, but the entire phone was a POS in the hardware department.  And granted the hardware back then on a smartphone was pretty meh...something just wasn't right -hardware and software were not optimised for an enjoyable experience at all.   Oh man, I still have mine (imaculate as ever) as it's the only phone I haven't been able to  resell right after upgrade time. 
  • New smartphone users are the target market for WP not current users. MS always shows the advantages of WP over its competition to keep new users from choosing other platforms as their first smartphone,, not to convince others to switch,, although it may seem that way. Think about it.
  • i would assume that customers are the target, not new, and not converts. at this point they are not making a dent in the android market why not take it where they know they could at least attempt to be noticed. the bold designs of the 8x and 8s are fantastic but by cheaping out on memory and etc... they take away some of that luster. they could have a huge hit and windows phone could have a stand out feature as a whole with nokia and htc bringing awesome camera tech that could be the way they push the market to innovate and people will recognize where to go for camera phones.
  • I agree, but there is no need to try to pull users from other platforms. That approach will fail. There is still more dumb phone users who have yet to switch to a smartphone who are the target market.. But, you're right because I've been saying that HTC needs to focus on WP more, and Android less in the coming years.. It seems to be working for Nokia right!.
  • "But, you're right because I've been saying that HTC needs to focus on WP more, and Android less in the coming years.. It seems to be working for Nokia right!." thats all im saying.
  • Its amazing really that the third most profitable mobile phone company was Nokia (I think - roughly right at least).
    Just sticking to Windows phone and their own feature phones they beat LG, Motorola, Sony and HTC in profits.
    As for Samsung and the Android ecosystem, they make okay phones, but where they excel is in advertising.  Just with technical specs alone the One-X and the SG3 should be fairly close in sales numbers, but yet they are far apart.  So I think partly that HTC are been poor at marketting, but they also have been poor at support in the past.
    My guess is they'll continue to focus on Android this year giving the WP ecosystem to Nokia, while Samsung will continue to trounce them in Android as they focus on their galaxy lineup and neglect the ATIV offerings.
  • The more the merrier! But here's hoping this technology is baked into a Windows Phone device.
  • But given that Nokia is doing some work with graphene I think they'll win the race.
  • Just yesterday i read an article stating HTC would be targeting low end phones moving forward?
  • Yeah that's what I though as well...i certainly hope they don't mean low end windows phones...
  • iOS=APPS Android=Diversity Windows Phone=Camera
  • IOS: simple/elegant. Android:cutting edge/diverse hardware. WP: all of above
  • All of the above is generous don't ya think?
  • Nailed it.
  • Or to put it another way...iOS old and boring, Android virus ridden pox, Rim desperate, WP None of the above.
  • ^ this
  • Nailed it!
  • Lmso
  • What you are laughing your socks off? Or shirt?!
  • I wonder if this works like Sigma's FOVEON technology. If so, Nokia will be greatly challenged for their best smartphone camera throne.. What I meant to say is if it works EXACTLY like Sigma's because Sigma currently owns the patents for a 3-layer sensor design. Sony and Canon have also been patenting alternatives to Sigma's offering, so I wonder how HTC implements similar technology.
  • It will be hard for HTC implementation to beat Pureview 1.  Reason 1: Loseless zooming, Reason 2: Large sensor.   As Nokia kept saying it's not about the number of pixels but what you do with them.
  • Great points but I don't think the size of the sensor will be a deciding factor in final image output. Look at the comparisons between Sigma's DP2M vs. Nikon D800 with great lens attached. In some cases the DP2M out performs the D800 in final image. So it seems that it'll be the same argument in the mobile space with Nokia beating HTC's offering in terms of noise, because of the sensor size, and HTC beating Nokia's offering in terms of detail. However, the lossless zooming, for whom it may benefit, will be a huge advantage. You might even be able to do some wildlife shooting with something like that. Some interesting times ahead of us.
  • How does the 808 Pureview camera work? I found this video and I seem to be a little confused. 
  • Isn't the Foveon, despite the wonderful colours it produces, have terrible high ISO performance ?
    I imagine the problem will be even worse with phone camera that will be handheld and used in dim indoors.
    Except if HTC find a way to do better, and may Sigma can do the same :D
  • And the 8X camera is better than the 920's? LOL!!
  • Sarcasm I detect
  • Yes
  • Yes for indoor shoots, 8x is better than,920
  • I've found that they are about the same in doors
  • Maybe well lite indoor photos.
  • I don't take dim indoor photos :)
  • HTC bags on WIndows Phone partners and wonders why they get no sympathy when their financials fall through the floor.
  • Android phones are mostly well known for their hardware and faux customization. When camera comes up, Nokia will always be linked to this. Not even the camera will save HTC once GS4 and eos comes out.
  • HTC laughing at Nokia.. Really? :D
  • Exactly. Are they high?
  • HTC is high but their financials are low...I guess not low enough to be their "buzz kill".
  • I would like to wait and see! Nokia is a tough player, I dont think HTC did a wise move, espically if Nokias new smartphone beats HTC! No one would ever trust or believe HTC
  • Imagine if HTC's new phone can't even beat the Lumia 920. And I really think it won't because 4 sensors won't allow for OIS. A phone without OIS will never be on par with Lumia 920.
  • So funny.  HTC needs to, first, try to out do my N8!  I'd wager that my N8 can take better photos that the Titan II.  No doubt, sites like GSMArena and PhoneArena will be right there doing comparison shots - can't wait!
    The irony is, HTC put out a 16MP Titan II, then turn around and say that MP won't help much...why bother, HTC?
  • I know right. Hehehe. Maybe they should look in the mirror.
  • First thing samsung will surely lift the technology and sell more galaxy crap. Second thing is Nokia is a better company than HTC in the windows phone market. HTC should concentrate on bringing down samsung first. 
  • Not gonna happen
  • I wonder whether Nokia or HTC will win this race. Exciting times!
  • They are talking about 808 PureView, not Lumia 920 "PureView". 
    I think this is a bad mistake by HTC. 
  • I do as well
  • Like I said, I don't think 4 sensors will allow for a floating lens and therefore no OIS. HTC might be creating a hype that they won't be able to back up.
  • Difference here being we know for sure Nokia will bring their best tech to WP but as usual HTC is pushing android as their star OS. Better make plans to go with the droid if you want the best of HTC.
  • Yup
  • I agree and disagree....I mean maybe under the hood they will out tech them and I'm an android fan but I truly wish they had more designs like the 8x because that's one beautiful phone. I think with the new NT kernel htc will be able to open the throttle a bit wider for better innovation on the wp end. 
  • Aren't they essentially rewording what nokia said last year about Megapixel count not being the be-all-end-all of camera quality when mocking the 41mp PureView camera? Ultrapixel definitely sounds like a purely marketting term, invented so people percieve it to be better than a Megapixel, as we all know "ultra" is better than "mega", despite the fact the "mega" in Megapixel refers to "million" in the same way Megabytes and Megabits do while "ultra" is effectively meaningless. I guess they can't use "Gigapixel" though, as they obviously aren't going for billion pixel images. Either way, they're going to have to pull something "ultra" out the bag to trump Nokia here, the Finns already have shown their tech beats out any other mobile phone camera of equel pixel density. If they add the 41mp PureView sensor to the other PureView tech from the 920 it's going to be a mindblowing combination.
  • That is the most sensical thing anyone has said so far :)
  • They're also entirely misrepresenting how the PureView tech works on the 808.
    I mean, I'll be interested in seeing the results of this, I've heard good things about the Foveon technology, but still.
  • Exactly right with the misrepresentation. They're essentially trying to purposely misguide consumers into thinking Nokia are increasing the pixel count for marketing buzz at the expense of image quality. Only interested techies will understand that it's all about the oversampling.
  • @freerider189 Plus one :)
  • My god thank you for this, i dont understand why people fall for crap like this.
  • Foveon is to Bayer what rgb is to pentile. Except bayers are even worse because they are really 1/3 the advertised resolution where pentile displays are 2/3 the advertised resolution. Foveon sensors are amazing its just been a shame sigma has trouble designing a high end camera around it. The design actually makes a lot of sense for smart phones because you can way more detail with a smaller sensor.
  • And for a smaller sensor I assume it wouldn't require as much R&D as Sigma's, which is an area where Sigma has struggled in. Here's to hoping that HTC's offering is similar to Sigma's and here's to hoping that the said phone is released on windows phone platform also..
  • Can't stand HTC and the way they act. Competition is good but a camera gimmick isn't going yo save them. Glad to be proved wrong though...
  • Pretty bold from HTC. we'll see
  • Sorry HTC no one is leaving Nokia for an HTC trash phone
  • So...this will be released for WP first as guinea pigs, and then off to android? Not very impressed with a company sinking fast with poor customer support
  • Amen brother.
  • Actually no. the M7 (Android) is rumored to have the new "ultrapixel" technology in it.  It is going to be released Feb 19th. 
  • Taking an awesome winphone design to android is lame
    This is what I posted on Engadget yesterday:
    Here is what I found after digging into HTC's infographic. 
    They are referring to this article from Gizmodo when Nokia announced 808.
    At that time, ofcz Gizmodo was ignorant and downright stupid not knowing the potential of 808. 
    Since then,  after its release, Gizmodo has realized their stupidity and have praised 808's camera capabilities in every article. Example:
    If you do a search on Gizmodo's website, you will find nothing but praise of Nokia 808 camera after it was released to market. 
    So there you go. HTC's marketing bad tactics are exposed now. :)
  • Gizmodo...such a laugh in the tech journalism world. 
  • Oh NO! 
    HTC will hack the camera drivers the same way they did with audio. 
    Let me quess... Camera apps will no longer function on new HTC windows phones. They are gonna brake the camera API the same way they did with  XNA audio volume.
  • I admit my HTC Trophy takes great pics from 5mp but the audio is terrible. 8x may have change that & would expect them to compete with one another for better technology concepts. Unfortunately I will be buying the new Nokia"Laser" having had a taste of the 822.
  • Sorry but you must not know what great pics are.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Trophy.  It's the best phone I've had yet and is even better now with 7.8 installed.  But the camera on it is far from great.  The 8X takes better photos than the Trophy but I still wasn't overly impressed with the results there either. That said...  I am looking forward to see what new camera improvements both Nokia (primarily) and HTC can push out.  I do however think Nokia is going to win that fight.  HTC just seems so inept lately.
  • Your Trophy took great pictures? I was almost ashamed to use my Trophy as a camera since it performed so horribly. How did you get it to take great pictures? I like my Trophy, but after taking a few pictures with it I swore as long as Verizon got some non HTC Windows Phones so would I. I mean the build quality was excellent and I love my phone, but I don't even use the camera unless there are no other options at all. My old feature phone took better pictures when I used it. It might have been me shaking though, which is why I too will be all over the "laser"
  • I would have to branch a little further out and say, most HTC phone cameras -as well as some other OEM cameras really do offer a poor photograph experience. It wasn't until I started doing research on Nokia's optics that I realized that a camera on a phone didn't have to be a bad experience.
  • I wonder of with three different sensors, it would be possible to shoot 3 photos with different exposures, to get a real HDR image with a single shot for the user :D
  • That's not how a Fovean sensor works. It essentially is 1 sensor that has a red, green and blue layer instead of cramming 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue segment into each pixel on 1 layer. You only get 1 image from each exposure, it just means colours are recorded more accurately (less noise).
  • I feel its a mistake to lead with android first, DESPITE the fact that it has the largest market. I think it's because of the size of said market that it would be wiser to get the most amount of users from Windows Phone and then just get the masses on android...I mean if these OEMs really thought android was a sure bet, then they could afford to lead in the "minors" first :/
  • Whatever HTC why wait why isn't it out now? Exactly! Shut up or step up.
  • A fancy sensor doesn't give you a good photo anymore than a good camera body will give you a good photo. You need a good lens, good processing technology and autofocus that works well. The 808 is proven, the HTC is not. I don't trust HTC to build anything competitive.
  • As for gizmodo. Forget IT and tech blogs and look at Proper camera reviewers.
  • Nothin but luv for new camera gear!  But HTC, like Nokia, has had problems with its first gen new camera technologies, so I bet the second models with these exciting new technologies will be the ones to own!
  • Nokia all the way.... HTC should innovate not just compare and imitate...
  • I am really liking the camera advancements on phones. Now, if only Facebook didn't compress the crap out of everyone's photos....
  • Instead of flucking mocking one another, how about focusing on bringing more features and apps to the platform as a whole.....
  • It seems like HTC is a sinking ship!  This coming from a long time fan boy, I am switching to Nokia very soon! 
  • been with HTC ever since the 8525 when Cingular was running the boat instead of AT&T. I have to whole heartily agree with you here. My eyes are now open to the true "innovation" that Nokia brings us. It was cool to have the HTC Titan back in the day (as it was HTC's first ever phone with a screen size that big)...but now, since the market is now becoming plagued with monstrosity screen sizes now, its no longer "the next big thing." So I am moving forward...
  • So first these idiots say they have Samsung scared, then they have a PR fiasco pulling the site that hosted ROMs for Android and now they try to poke at Nokias cameras?
    HTC is delusional. 
  • peter chou is wilin!
  • It seems as if the WP manufacturers are heavily focusing on camera abilities, as they must see that it is a way to attract users to their hardware and the WP ecosystem.  Microsoft must back these manufacturers and focus on getting developers to complete the brand identity with getting the likes of instagram and snapchat to get apps on the system otherwise its just a wasted effort for Nokia and HTC to batlle.
  • Unless HTC also introduces OIS, I dont care if it has 10 gigapixels
  • Umm... Isn't 13 less than 41? And no OIS?
  • Forget pixels, we need better optics.
  • this. this. this. megapixels mean nothing, i dont care how big my pictures are.
  • No matter how good the camera will be. It's Android so the phone sucks anyway.
  • Yeah we do but no we don't for reasons not tied to this topic
  • Had HTC Titan 2. Phone was terrible. It would just intermittently decide that it could not send text messages. When I received a message with any attached pics, I would need to restart phone before it would let me view or download pic. I'll stick with the Lumia. Has worked flawlessly. (I do miss my Pre3 with webOS though)
  • Idk. Being frank, I don't think this will come to WP anytime soon. HTC is usually Android 1st WP 2nd. And if WP is 1st, they give the better hardware to Android.
  • HTC telling me they can beat Nokia's cameras is like telling me pigs can fly. It's all the optics and SIZE od sensor that's important instead of pixels. They should know their place. All HTC's Peter Chou have been doing is talking big saying Samsung is scared and showing optimism while their profits and revenue are going downhill. I wonder if Peter Chou's mental state has broken down to the extent his imagination skills has taken over. 
    With the kind of smartphones HTC is making, they will be making losses soon. HTC Butterfly having 2020mAh battery is a joke, they never learn from mistakes, and their upcoming flagship M7 will have a battery no bigger than 2000mAh despite the monster specs. Titan II was the best example of more pixels but shittier photos. 
  • I'm not sure i understand why everyone is so concerned with Megapixels. I dont really care how big my pictures is, if they can give me a 10 mp dslr in my phone that'd be an achievement. I know how ridiculous this sounds esp because dslr mechanics are bulky, maybe they could do something like sony did with their alpha NEX. Screw mp, i want better light gathering!
  • Still not good enough to switch from windows phones. I have an HTC Trophy right now. But soon I'll be switching to a Lumia 822. That is if they don't come out with something better by April. I'd love pure view tech with removable sd card. Still this isn't enough to convince me to switch to HTC with android. I like my windows phone. And I don't think it can do anything that an android can't do.
  • I honeslty give zero fucks about HTC and will never buy another HTC product.  The HD7 is the last HTC anything anyone I know will own.
  • LOL. Nokia has Carl Zeiss on their side.. It's all about optic and sensor quality.
    Let's just wait for MWC, and who knows, maybe HTC partnered with an optics manufacturer.
  • Kindly disagree with "one reviewer" on the 808 PureView's camera!
  • This is exciting!
  • It's good to see HTC is bringing the competition to Nokia by means of a camera war. But why not try to be more dedicated to consumers in likes of Nokia. Bring more exclusive apps, OS updates (even the venue pro has 7.8), fix the bad call quality on my Titan that everyone complains about. The list goes on in my book. I love the idea of HTC brining a new tech camera, but I one for can't imagine buying another HTC WP as long as Nokia is around. That's just my 2 cents.
  • Lol after owning a windows phone 8x as well as many HTC android phones, I have to say I seriously doubt Nokia has much to be concerned with. I consider this to be one of the many promises HTC makes and at best does average on.
  • Good to see someone challenging Nokia for cameraphone tech (and of course, let's not forget that while techincally inferior iPhone is still a very good snapper). But Nokia has HEAPs of tech and experience in imaging, with market-leading products featuring supersampling and OIS. Combining the tech is definitely feasible, and if they do it with a WP8 flagship clad in aluminium like the N8 ... droooooool
  • This brings back memories of the HTC One X presentation at MWC.  "The best camera on a mobile phone" they said, the next presentation was the 808 pureview.  I'd imagine the next iteration will be the same and the Nokia are not shaking in their boots.
  • I never owned a Nokia or a HTC smartphone, in fact this is my first Samsung Smartphone. I love my new ATIV S is perfect for me with the biggest display 4.8" and biggest battery 2300mAh + micoSD up to 64GB, weight only 135g very good well balance smartphone. My last two Windows Smartphone's were from Motorola & LG most likely never buy from again! - MOTO Q 9c "WM5.0" to v6.0 to v6.1 - LG IQ GW825 "WM6.5" Coming from WM6.5 to WP8 I appreciate Windows Phone platform very much. Good to hear every one loves there new Nokia, HTC, Samsung WP8 phone's. Arguing about your phone is very healthy and brings more information out to light. Competition is healthy!
  • I don't mind HTC coming up with new marketing terms for their camera technology even if it already has a real name.  What I don't like is this term "Ultra Pixel" because now I will have to explain to my usually less technically savvy friends that ultra pixels do not mean you are getting more pixels then mega pixels and is instead something completely different.
  • I honestly think that camera technology is the only thing really making this OS stand out. Making the M7 contain UP would destroy WP in terms of competition. People go to WP cuz of camera buttons and functionality and simplicity. Introducing a new camera technology into an Android phone would overshadow all of WP's signature ideals.