HTC One A9 – Camera
Cameras have proved problematic for HTC of late. The One M9’s unit fell well below expectations, so there’s a great deal riding on camera featured in the One A9. On paper it has everything it needs to succeed, including RAW support, which it does to a degree,. However, it still falls short of the standards set by the leading brands.
The basic setup sounds promising. You get a 13-megapixel back-illuminated, or BSI, sensor with an f/2.0 aperture lens. It also includes optical image stabilisation, to help shooting in low light.
The A9 rarely has problems in good light and produces some nicely exposed shots
Macros and portraits benefit from punchy colours and plenty of detail
In most situations it’s a fine camera. It captures plenty of detail and its native dynamic range is decent, although not outstanding. It’s fast to focus and quick between shots, too. In these respects, it’s everything a modern smartphone camera ought to be.
Below: Two shots taken with HDR using different exposure points
There are issues, however. For whatever reason the HDR mode seems strangely subdued. I struggled to achieve good results, producing shots that were barely distinguishable from non-HDR ones. It also lacks auto HDR, a common and particularly useful feature of top-end phones.
This flower ought to be a deep red but it appears lighter with flecks of magenta
The camera can’t cope with this bright red flower at all, so the detail is totally destroyed
Colour accuracy is best described as so-so. The One A9 seems to struggle with strong red colours, which can be seen in the images of red roses. In places, they look magenta and the colours are sometimes totally blown out.
Some low-light shots look great
This shot is usable, but the sky appears very noisy
Bright street lights cause serious issues with lens flair
Low light ought to be a strength given the camera’s specs, and the One A9 does produce slightly brighter shots than the iPhone 6S in the same conditions. However, this often comes at the cost of obvious and distracting noise.
The lens also suffers significantly from flair, where bright lights distort. This is annoying if you’re shooting at night, for example, since bright street lamps can ruin practically all of your shots.
Such niggling issues would be tolerable on a genuinely mid-range phone, but the One A9 isn’t priced like a mid-range phone. Remember: you can buy a Galaxy S6 for less SIM-free in the UK and get similar deals on contract.
The front-facing camera is better, though. It seems to work well in low light, so you can get a decent shot in most situations. It’s just a shame that the main camera is so hit and miss.