Windows Phone Camera Faceoff: Nokia Lumia 920 vs HTC Titan II

The past two generations of Windows Phones have produced two innovative cameras. The 16mp camera on the HTC Titan II and the 8.7MP camera on the Nokia Lumia 920.

Both cameras are similar in that they use a back lighted sensor (BSI) that gives both cameras an edge with low light photography. The Titan II has the greater resolution and digital stabilization. The Lumia 920 has a faster lens (f2.0 vs the Titan's f2.6) and optical stabilization.

But does one of these Windows Phone camera giants have an edge as far as image quality is concerned?

A few more spec comparisons before we get into the nitty gritty.

  • The HTC Titan II has a 16mp BSI sensor with digital stabilization. The Titan II utilizes a 28mm f2.6 lens.
  • The Lumia 920 has a 8.7mp BSI sensor with optical stabilization. The Lumia 920 is fitted with a Carl Zeiss 26mm f2.0 lens.

The Titan II has the edge with regards to menu controls that include scenes, effects, smile capturing, face detection, resolution, white balance, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, ISO, red eye reduction, image stabilization, metering, and flicker adjustment. The Titan II also has Panorama and Burst modes.

The Lumia 920 pales in comparison with controls over scenes, ISO, Exposure compensation, white balance, aspect ratio, and the focus assist light. You do have access to a panorama, cinemagraph, and smart shoot features from Nokia that are accessible through the camera's lenses feature.

While the HTC Titan II has the most flexibility with regards to settings and resolution, the Lumia 920 has one advantage that is tough to beat, optical stabilization. While the Titan II does have digital stabilization it is not as effective as optical stabilization. Digital stabilization basically boosts the camera's ISO to allow for a faster shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the less influence camera motion has in blurring your photo.

Optical stabilization on the other hand is more mechanical in nature. Springs, motors or other form of mechanics stabilize the sensor. The end result is that slower shutter speeds can be used and motion blur caused by camera movements reduced if not eliminated. Optical stabilization isn't going to prevent motion blur if you're jumping up and down but deals more so with movements caused by breathing, hand fatigue or other slight movements.

Now to the image quality. We captured the test photos from both cameras using the default settings except one, the aspect ratio on the Lumia 920. We set that to 4:3 to match the aspect ratio of the Titan II.

HTC Titan II (left) and Nokia Lumia 920 (right) Outdoor Test Shot

These two Windows Phone cameras are solid performers. We'll give the Titan II and edge with regards to sharpness but the Lumia 920's images were better exposed and slightly warmer with better color. However, the Titan II did handle some indoor lighting better with warmer tones (check the indoor lumber shot).  But this isn't uncommon for different indoor lighting types to effect the white balance of cameras differently (see the change in the indoor lamp shot).

HTC Titan II (top) and Nokia Lumia 920 (bottom) Indoor Test Shot

HTC Titan II (left) and Nokia Lumia 920 (right) Indoor Test Shot

Outdoor shots were nice with both cameras but I did find the Titan II had trouble with exposure at times.  This wasn't a consistent issue but appeared every now and then.  The bright sun created a glare on the Gnome but the white light globes had no glare.  Colors were across the board warmer and more accurate with the 920.  While the Titan II performed like a trooper, the colors appeared more cooler with a touch of a blue color cast present.  Nothing critical but noticeable.

HTC Titan II (left) and Nokia Lumia 920 (right) Outdoor Test Shot

HTC Titan II (bottom) and Nokia Lumia 920 (top) Outdoor Test Shot

Low light photography was a tough one to judge. Both cameras have BSI sensors that pulls in more light. The Titan II performed really well indoors but at night, you can see the advantages the 920's optical stabilization has. There was less blurring with the 920 at night than with the Titan II.  An interesting observation with these two cameras and night time shots, the Lumia 920 shot the below photo at ISO 800 and a shutter speed of .3 seconds.  The Titan II on the other hand shot the same photo at ISO 1015 and a shutter speed of 1/7th second.  The optical stabilization clearly allows the 920 to use slower shutter speeds without the need for higher ISO speeds.

HTC Titan II (bottom) and Nokia Lumia 920 (top) Night Test Shot

Even when light is more ample, the Titan II relies on higher ISO ratings.  This next shot was taken with the 920 using ISO 640 and a shutter of 1/6th second.  The Titan II used ISO 1015 and a shutter speed of 1/7th of a second.  Even though the Titan II has the BSI sensor it relies on higher ISO levels for night time shots.  It works but the higher ISO could generate more image noise (or grain) that could cause a decline in image quality.

HTC Titan II (bottom) and Nokia Lumia 920 (top) Night Test Shot

Based solely on the camera, it was a difficult choice between these two cameras. Image quality was good on both and the Titan II has the edge with regards to settings and sharpness.  But the optical stabilization on the Lumia 920 was the determining factor. We still think the world of the Titan II's camera but the OS is an innovation that really sets a camera apart and gives the 920 an edge over other Windows Phone cameras.  The slight softness we see with the 920 can be corrected.  Motion blur that the lack of optical stabilization causes can't.

Is it worth moving from the HTC Titan II to the Nokia Lumia 920? I don't think you can make that choice based solely on the camera. You would have to consider the differences between Windows Phone 7 and 8, the differences between how HTC and Nokia on how they support Windows Phones, and design features. The best answer we have is that if you're moving from the Titan II to the Lumia 920, you won't be disappointed with the camera's performance.

HTC Titan II (top) and Nokia Lumia 920 (bottom) Indoor Test Shot

HTC Titan II (left) and Nokia Lumia 920 (right) Outdoor Test Shot

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • Hmm the camera has close enough quality but still 920 wins
  • It's true. The 920 clearly wins, but not maybe by such a long shot as one might expect.
  • depends. for low light photography, optical IS is simply years ahead.
  • You kidding? Daylight shots were close, but the 920 absolutely kills the Titan II in low light. The 2 night shots of the building says it all. In the first shot, the 920 was able to draw in much more light that you can see far more details. And this is despite the Titan II using a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/7s which results in a motion blur. So pic 1: 920 captures a great photo, while the Titan II's shot was garbage - dark and blurry. The second night shot is not as disastrous for Titan II, but again the camera shake is very obvious. The 920 still takes a nice pic with more details and less motion blur. The 920 wins hands down, I just don't understand why the author said it is a "tough one to judge". Seriously?
  • we never would've though a few years ago to ever see a nokia fan boy
  • Really? You just decided to make an account, just to make this insightful comment? Nice try, troll.
  • Who's "we" exactly? Care to elaborate?
  • This comment should say 920 wins because it's Nokia
  • Why? Do you think HTC Titan2 has better camera than Lumia 920?
  • In some areas yes but in others its a tie
  • I dunno, I think the Titan looks absolutely horrible in comparison to the Lumia 920.  Personal preference though.
  • I'd day the Lumia is the clear winner in night shots. Otherwise, it's a wash.
  • Should the last image set be HTC Titan II (top) and Nokia Lumia 920 (bottom) instead of the (left/right) notation ?
  • Nokia camera will get even better I still think once they released some updates
  • ^^^^^
  • Thanks! My wife & I have been waiting to see a comparison like this!  We're trying to decide if we should get 920s to replace our Titan IIs.  Camera operation & performance was a big question/factor.  I think we'll go for 920s, but probably wait a little while to see if Nokia releases an update for the softness & if they add a few more options to the camera software.
  • I'm actually impressed that the HTC did that well. I figured the 920 would destroy it. It definitely beat it, buy not by as much as I figured. Again though, can we please see some ACTION shots?
  • Lenses are one of the few things in wp8 I think is broken. I like the idea of hitting a button to get to special features/abilities for the camera but I don't like that they install as separate apps in my list. The goal of WP is to be less cluttered not more. And I know someone's going to say "yeah, that's why you have your live tiles and front customization." customers don't think that way. Panorama and bust should be standard in any camera/os at this point. I shouldn't have to have a separate app like in Nokia. I get cinemagraph being a separate thing (although don't get me started on the fact that sending those images doesn't work as a moving image on the most popular phones in the world because they don't support gif.). Meh, sorry about the rant.
  • I never realized lenses install that way.  I always open my camera and hit the lenses button.  i find it works much easier that way.
  • Burst mode is pretty crappy on smartphones. Just take a phone with a fast burst mode like the HTC One X or GS3, and compare the resulting shot vs a standard photo taken with a single shot on the same phone. When viewed close up the burst shots will have loads of noise and artifacts compared to the one-shot.
  • Looks like AT&T users win... (-verizon Trophy User...)
  • Sorry to say, but I'm a Verizon loser that's going to win shortly bcuz I'm leaving for AT&T when my Cyan 920 arrives. So sick of Verizon. :/
  • Hands down in low light for Lumia 920. The difference in detail  is amazing especially in the night shots. You can see the texture of asfalt, grass, brickwall in 920 shots. In Titan 2 shots those are just blurry. And thats 8.7mp vs 16mp. I guess the megapixels dont matter that much after all. Another thing I noticed is the HUGE glare in Titan 2 shots from the street lamps compared to Lumia 920. Also around "Chestnut Lane" its completely glared white in Titan2, where as in 920 you can see detail much better. Day light images are difficult to judge. I would love to see comparison between DSLR(for comparison) vs. Lumia 920 vs. Titan2 vs. "name your device", + give us the images in full resolution or atleast 3mp+. Those 0.5mp pictures are too small.
  • The Nokia is failing on the indoor shots... But wow, there really is no competition on low light
  • So, how does Titan2 beat Lumia 920 in indoors shots exactly?
  • Good article, but the fact the 920 and titan 2 kept changing postions from top to bottom was annoying.
  • Yeah Lumia 920 camera totally own the Titan II.
    Not impressed by Titan II since it only offer high megapixel number but the same does not apply with the quality.
    HTC is and will never known if you talk about image quality.
  • Care to clarify that comment? I like the 920's indoor shots better.
  • If the pictures were not annotated would be interesting to see reactions.
  • Must be just my eyes, but I don't SEE the "softness" in the 920 that is mentioned. At most, it appears to me that the "aperture" is more open (in the gnomes shots) and that causes shallower depth of field.  And THAT causes the background to look more blurry.  That sort of thing is why there needs to be MORE control of all the aspects of the camera.  Put the easy common things on the main menu and add an "advanced" button that let's the user CONTROL the settings.
    Otherwise, unless you zoom in on the pixels, I don't really see any softness.
  • Yeah once Nokia gives us camera control, if they ever, the 920 will be hands down the winner.
  • I switched from the titan 2 to the L920 and I loved the titan. My wife has my old Titan now which means I still get to use it.
  • The 920 wins, but barely. Since they are touting it as the best camera in the history of cellular phones, and the T2 holds it own. I'm gonna give the T2 the win. I take more outsided/lighted shots than I do low light shots. 
  • Nokia isn't touting that the L920 is the best camera in the history of cameraphones; however, they are touting their low light performance and video recording, and clearly in this area, it wipes the floor with the Titan II. 
    Now, the Nokia 808 - that is the best camera on a phone in the history of camera phones, with my N8 being a very close second :)
  • You know that there is some real WP8 trash on the market when you have to compare the 920 to a WP7- previous generation device.
    It's time to raise the bar.
    Time for the ATIV.  Time for the Verizon Nokia 922.  And CLEARLY time for the Microsoft Surface Phone. 
    It would be wonderful to see these devices by CES 2013.  My fingers are crossed.
  • Have you seen the hands on review of the ATIV? It looks ok, but still the same look really, also its nothing special with the camera or really the entire phone, the best comparison videos I've seen were between the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 920.
  • I hate my Titan 2. Many issues I never had with my 2010 Focus.
  • Ok. Good for you. Why didn't you return it in that 30 day time period?
  • I've had my Titan II for almost 5 months now. I've never had any problems with it. You should get your's checked out.
  • Ha I know by checked out you meant maybe warranty or reset, but I read it like someone getting their car checked out because the engine light was on.
  • They all have at least a 1 year warranty.
  • Its also interesting to notice the difference in the screen between the screens in the two phones.  I looked at stock images (images that are in the Gallery when you buy the phone) and compared them.  The 920 has a much sharper screen than the 8x.  I almost bought the 8x because I loved the form factor, but once I got a good look at the screen comparisons, changed my mind.
  • Erm no it doesn't....
  • Once Nokia releases that patch for sharper images, the 920 will be SO much better. It is good already too. :-)
  • Doesn't the 16 mp allow for more lossless zoom? Or what are the 16mp for?
  • I love my Titan II and have been waiting for this comparison. I'm happy to see that I'm not gaining too much by moving up to the 920 (except for low light), especially since I don't want to move down in screen size. I'm now comfortable just waiting for the 7.8 update.
  • Why do you switch the top/bottom placement convention between HTC and Nokia back and forth several times throughout the article?    
  • The picture positioning and labels in this article are so confusing. Just keep HTC Top/Left and Nokia Bottom/Right or whatever, and some are labelled left/right yet appear in a top/bottom format.
    I don't know if I'm just cranky this morning but the typos and format errors all over this site this morning are getting to me.
  • I seriously have yet to notice any softness with the 920. My issue is with colour reproduction with at times a blue/green hue and it fails with pink seemingly. Other than that it seems perfect to me.
  • overall I prefer the 920, I'm slightly surprised the 16MP cam shots seemed to be lacking in saturation and contrast in most pics.. guess it just provese that MP isn't all there is to digi-cam shots.
  • It's just telling that Nokia can produce equal and in some cases much better photography results with a camera sensor half the size of the Titan II. Add in OIS and I think the winner becomes much clearer.
  • Indeed.
  • Nokia has succeeded in deprecating the sun.  Too bad the competition is iPhone.
  • Sorry we are not interested in purple pictures..
  • Why was zoom not compared? That seems like a bit of an oversight when comparing these types of cameras. If that was intentional I withdraw my comment.
  • I would also like to see a comparison of the zoom/cropped images.
  • I loved my TITAN and my T-II, & unlike what someone else said HTC stepped it up and they were better cameras than my Focus and better phones overall. The T-II didn't seem to benefit much from the 16mg sensor but the options were fantastic. That being said my 920 is better camera overall with fantastic video, low light, and at least on par day shots.
  • The One thing that is not being touted enough on the 920 is its fantastic display and its ability to show great detail in bright daylight. I had doubts about it in the store but after it set in it is absolutely amazing. Not only is it crisp and sharp with great colors and contrast it will let you watch a movie in direct sunlight... Never seen anything like its sunshine performance... It should be mentioned more.
  • Daylight pics Titan
    LowLight pics 920
  • Captions are inconsistant. Please verify and rearrange in the same direction, and make sure that they are from the correct camera source. Thanks.
  • One of the things I love about my TII camera is being able to crop it down and have good detail.  It's amazing what I can see in the picture even if I take it from a fair distance.  Also, they make pretty good wallpapers because of that detail. Any chance we could have some full sized images to compare?
    Also, I think it might be fun to upload some pictures and not tell us what camera it's from. Then, you can release the results and answers in a subsequent article. It would be a cool experiment lol
  • phew, looking through the pictures in this article made me feel like AVGN playing Top Gun, speed up, speed down, left, right, up, down
    great comparison though :D
  • Okay... next comparison I'll have consistency in photo placement (which should be this weekend with the 8X/920 comparison).   Thought by mixing it up a little you'd judge the photo first then look where it came from....
  • How about the front facing camera? Did you compare those? Lumia 920 seems to have a bug. it doesn't seem to focus at all
  • Probably the Samsung Ativ S is the Windows 8 phone to beat. From all the review it is the best windows phone and has advantages like removable battery and memory.
  • All phones(HTC 8x, Lumia 920 and Ativ) have their own advantages. What features count is matter of personal opinion/preference. In my opinion, and what i've read from the forums/comments from other people, Ativ takes the last spot of those three. 8X and Lumia 920 seem to excite the people most.
  • Because the ATIV probably wont come to the USA maybe only Verizon exclusive. And who doesnt like removable memory and battery and 4.8 inches of screen beauty? And i think it is most people in the USA dont even know about the Samsung Ativ thats why it takes last spot but in reviews the 1st Spot.

  • Well, while we are on topic of camera's, here are just some quotes from review above about Ativ S camera; "not blown away", "no fine details", "brightly lit areas over exposed", " not as good as top camera phones out". I also failed to notice where in the review Ativ was touted as no 1. windows phone. I'm not saying its a bad phone, but for me Samsung just seems really uninterested about wp8 platform and supporting it.
  • Well in the first review he clearly says that the ativ s is the windows phone 8 to beat and future will see if there will be a different windows 8 phone that will. u need to realize that review was made when the lumia 820 920 and 8x 8s where already availble for the most part so yeah that says a lot. 
  • No. He really doesn't say its the phone to beat. Now you are just stretching. Here are some quotes that were closest saying that; "So does the Ativ S offer viable alternitive againts leading Android devices? In a word, yes. The handset really brings out the very best of WP8.", another "However, if you are seeking for timeless design and understated class, the samsung ativ s should be the first on your windows phone 8 on the list". All he talks about is its design and class, and viable alternative to Android. Jeez. What you need to realize is that, Ativ s was the first WP8 phone announced, and 8x and 920 were reviewed AFTER Ativ s at Phones4u. Ativ s was the first wp8 to be reviewed at phones4u.
  • Ok i stand corrected but i still dont like all those iphone copy cats. No removable battery or memory this is just bull. I know what a pain it is when the battery goes bad. need to send the phone get it replaced the battery instead just going in a store swap the battery and done. so much better or if the memory isnt enough or also goes bad same damn issue. instead pooping in a new memory card nooooo i have to sent it in to get it swap, freaking annoying. Not an option if u need ur phone. This Iphone copy cat shit needs to stop. thats why the nokia 820 is actually the better phone then the 920. 
  • A couple things not mentioned in the article:
    1) The author did a very good job at standing perfectly still during the photo shootout, but we all know in the real world, people are going to be shaking and moving, making the Lumia 920 even better!
    2) The different camera lenses available like cinemagraph, CNN lense, and smart shot are all really great features available on a Lumia 920 that are not on the Titan II.
    Lumia 920 wins this photo shootout by a large margin, imo.
  • And yeah they might not seem so interested in windows 8 but like with the focus s samsung does deliever one of the best phones once again. Without forgetting the importance ABOUT REMOVABLE MEMORY AND BATTERY AND 4.8 screen and a 100 euro less price tag then the Lumia 920. And to be on topic. The Titan 2 pictures seem to look better then the lumia once in light but way worse in dark. To be honest the 16 Mega pix camera is surprisingly worse or just on paar with an 8 mega pix camera. Thats pretty bad actually.