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HTC M7 saying goodbye to megapixels, hello to Ultrapixels?

The HTC M7, widely believed to be unveiled at a press event this month, may not measure its camera resolution in megapixels. Would you believe “Ultrapixels”? That’s the word from Pocket-Lint, which quotes sources familiar with the matter saying the smartphone will have not one, but three camera sensors for images:

The new camera will instead be made up of three 4.3-megapixel sensor layers that are used to combine into a single resulting image. Three lots of 4.3 may add up to around 13-megapixels, but images from HTC’s latest won’t be output at that larger size.

The technique, similar to that used by Sigma in the Foveon X3 sensor, means that three lots of data can represent one final pixel. All that extra data can be intelligently “combined” to generate a crisper, cleaner image and, in the case of the Foveon sensor, better colour accuracy.

I’ll be at HTC’s press event taking place in New York City in a few weeks, so perhaps I’ll get a chance to see for myself if this rumor turns out to be true. And it wouldn’t surprise me if it does.

Although HTC gained much market share and profit by embracing Google’s Android(s goog) operating system early, it later succumbed to Samsung’s rise, thanks to that company’s loaded line of Galaxy smartphones. To compensate, HTC has tried (and generally failed) to stand out from the crowd with some key features: A new ImageSense camera chip and an investment in Beats Audio.

HTC doesn’t have the market dollars of a Samsung, so in order to remain in the market, it must find ways to be different. A camera solution such as the one Pocket-Lint’s sources describes is one possible, and feasible, way to do so.

10 Responses to “HTC M7 saying goodbye to megapixels, hello to Ultrapixels?”

  1. Agree with Val. Seriously HTC, get your act together! Had to ditch you guys for a S3 just because of SD cards and removable battery. The One X is an overall better design, but without the basics its useless.

    HTC, please think about who the audience is and design the product for them. Majority of Android users love their freedom, and thats why they select the OS platform in the first place, taking away flexibility doesn’t align with the philosophy. Give us back the control and we will be back :-)


  2. Timothy Poplaski

    If HTC really wants to stop losing market share, might I suggest five things?

    1) Give a damn about customer service, and realize that consumers, not carriers, really are your customers.
    2) Updates, or at least provider driver support to the Dev community so THEY can provide updates. What early adopters love, early adopters recommend. Embrace XDA!
    3) No more sealed batteries
    4) MicroSD card support

    And if they want to really be brave, 5) a phone that’s designed to be docked, cased, and otherwise accessorized… and then release said docks, cases, and accessories at REASONABLE PRICE POINTS!

    Sure, a super high quality instant-on camera that always takes PERFECT shots would be great…. but I’ll give any of the above priority over it when I next buy a phone or tablet.

    • Having done business with HTC and T-Mobile as an ISV, I can say that the carriers are absolutely their customer here in the US. Phone manufacturers aren’t going to be the ones to turn that around.

      Why are the big carriers still gaining customers? Why are people not flocking in droves to T-Mobile or MVNO’s?

      The problem for the OEM is that proprietary network providers keep growing. It is those proprietary network providers that are purchasing devices from the OEM. Convince your friends and neighbors, to convince their friends and neighbors, to support devices with open standards that you can take from network to network at a month-to-month rate.

      If all carriers played by that rule, the carrier with the best bang for the buck would have the highest number of subscribers, until someone else came out with a better deal. It would be a liberated free market.

      The only drawback would be that cellular technology growth might slowdown. If many providers offered the same plans at the same rate, equally providing the best value, no single company alone may be able to take the risk to upgrade their networks. You may then require the FCC to enforce Congressional legislation to sunset existing network infrastructure and to replace it with on a timetable, like EPA ratings on automobiles or digital TV broadcasts.

  3. Johny Doe

    If anyone has shot with a Sigma they know the abilities of a Fovean sensor. I cant wait to see color saturation and low light low noise that will come out of this camera.

  4. As it seems the M7 will not have the SD card slot again. Even though all of this technology is great but seriously, I’ll probably then wait for Samsung, the SD Card is just a deal breaker now, I have the HTC One X and not having the SD Card slot is just not working out. Damn HTC, why you no listen to your customers? haha.

  5. Steve Litchfield

    That doesn’t make much sense, I think. How would light get efficiently to the sensors behind? FAR better to go down Nokia’s PureView route (as on the Nokia 808) and simply have a bigger sensor IMHO. 8-)

    • I like how they pretend that this is something new. Before CMOS allowed sensor densities to get to the point where it didn’t matter anymore, having 3 CCD’s in your camcorder was the only way to get decent color in a handheld.