Anyone looking to purchase a phone on AT&T has a solid choice from either HTC or Samsung, the two best Android smartphone makers. Both the One X and Galaxy S III feature solid cameras that greatly improve on the options previously available from these manufacturers. The software is intuitive, the images seem crisper, and the final product is high-quality.
But which phone is best? Here’s a little unscientific camera shootout between AT&T’s top two phones to see if the One X or Galaxy S III should be crowned as the best smartphone camera for Android fans on AT&T.
NOTE: The Samsung Galaxy S photo and video samples are always shown first, followed by the HTC One X.
The HTC One X has some clever features in its camera software. Newly standard options like panorama, HDR photography, and burst mode photos are all present, but they aren’t the most impressive aspect. The interesting feature is that someone can record video and tap the shutter button to capture a snapshot without interrupting video recording. There are also some fun filter effects that can be applied to change the color or field of focus in an image.
The Galaxy S III also has a long list of scene mode options, including the ability to focus on sports, sunset/sunrise, candlelight, panorama, HDR, and backlight to help improve capture when someone stands in front of a great deal of light facing the lens. The key feature here is the optional voice command. The GS III can be set to take a picture whenever someone says ‘shoot’ or ‘cheese’ out loud, which can be incredibly useful for group photos or self-portraits.
The core features and options are identical on both phones, but one negative for the Galaxy S III is that it cannot snap a photo while recording a video if anti-shake is enabled. Aside from that, the Galaxy S III software is easier to manage and has a lot to offer. Adjusting settings is faster on the Galaxy S III than the One X, and users can customize settings further by choosing which shortcuts appear on screen. The simplicity and ability to customize the interface puts the GS III ahead.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S III
This one is short and very easy to pick. The Galaxy S III has an above average 1.9 MP front-facing camera that takes clear photos and works surprisingly well for capturing video or making video calls. The 1.3 MP camera in the One X simply cannot compete.
Winner: Galaxy S III
The One X and Galaxy S III, both packing 8 MP cameras, constantly jockey for position as best shooter. In daylight, the Galaxy S III seems to do better because it captures more light and detail in photos. The One X comparatively tends to look like it has more contrast in images, so there’s a darker tone than what one would hope to see. The GS III occasionally is too bright, but it mostly performed best outdoors.
Indoor photos may be a different story. The One X contrast actually looks good under fluorescent lights, and it does a better job of capturing images indoors. There are cases where the saturation in the One X works to its benefit to produce photos that while not as bright have more color and detail.
Sadly, there’s no clear winner here. The One X performs better in some low-light situations, but the GS III does a better job at auto-focusing close-ups and macro shots. Neither device is perfect, so it’s a back and forth battle. I personally prefer the brighter performance of the GS III, but which is best depends on where you take photos most – outside or indoors.
The Galaxy S III’s front-facing video capturing is among the best I’ve seen on any device, but the rear camera isn’t as much of a genre-leader. Picture quality looks exceptional, however, the camera constantly refocuses when recording moving objects and can be jittery unless someone stays perfectly still – even with anti-shake enabled. Speaking of which, don’t use anti-shake because it is too aggressive and leads to distracting videos.
In the case of the One X, video quality is silky smooth thanks to a solid HD lens that shoots 30 fps. The same issues of contrast and deep blacks play-out in video, but they are not as pronounced or noticeable. There is some shakiness if users are not still, but the anti-shake option on the One X stabilizes the camera and doesn’t lose focus or bounce around as much as the Galaxy S III.
Choosing between the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III for camera purposes is one of the safest decisions you’ll make this year. Regardless of which phone someone purchases, the camera will most likely be better than their current device.
Still, a decision has to be made, so it all boils down to how important video is to someone. The One X noticeably outperforms the Galaxy S III in video capture, so that might be the way to go if you place a premium of video quality. However, the overall score of taking photos with the rear or front cameras, as well as the ease of use and extended functionality of software, is in the Galaxy S III’s favor. For that reason, I’d say the Galaxy S III takes a slight edge as the best camera on an Android phone available at AT&T.