Are Smartphone Makers Getting Too Camera Happy?
Little by little, smartphone manufacturers are doing their best to turn the army of smartphone-toting consumers into a band of full-blown mobile photographers. As our devices today struggle to push their technical feature sets any further, manufacturers have made it clear that they’re in a race to create the most over-the-top smartphone camera system known to man.
To be fair, smartphone cameras have come an incredibly far way since they were first introduced a little over a decade ago. Single lens systems with single-digit megapixel counts and digital zoom have been replaced by multi-lens systems that are capable of optical zoom and more shooting modes than I care to count. It’d be a legit argument to say that these devices have become camera-first products that happen to support a ton of apps, and can make phone calls and send texts. Just think about what most of the reviews of these devices tend to focus on these days: it’s all about comparing the picture quality of the latest phones from Apple, Google, and Samsung.
But is this camera arms race getting out of hand? Possibly.
Leaked images of the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy A9 phone reveal that the device may feature four different cameras on the back of the device. It became almost standard in 2018 for Android phones to feature three-lens systems. But this latest entrant from Samsung will supposedly include an ultra wide 8MP lens, a 10MP telephoto lens, a 24MP main camera, and a 5MP depth lens—all on the back. So you’re probably looking at five or six camera lenses total when you factor in the one or two lenses likely to be featured on the front of the device.
Credit: Twitter, @evleaks
But that’s not even the craziest smartphone camera system that’s been reported on this year. Back in August, digital imaging startup Light—which has a 16-lens camera in its arsenal—announced plans to drop a nine-lens, 64MP smartphone sometime before the end of the year, likely in partnership with a major smartphone manufacturer. That product doesn’t have an official price tag, however, according to a Washington Post report, it could set you back close to $2,000.
Seeing and reading that kind of smartphone news is exciting and creates a sort of “Wow!” moment. But, more so, I’m left wondering why. Why is a nine-lens smartphone—or even a four lens one—necessary? Do we really need to see that much detail in Aunt Sallie’s homemade pasta salad that you know doesn’t taste nearly as good as it looks, but you damn well better take a spoonful at the family get together otherwise you’ll never hear the end of it between now and the Christmas get together? Spoiler: No we don’t.
I think what I’m really struggling with, with these higher-end camera systems is trying to understand who the target consumer is. Smartphone manufacturers certainly must be thinking beyond the typical user when developing these incredibly advanced systems, because a majority of users are never going to get the most out of these camera systems. It may be an overgeneralization, but the typical user finds themselves in a situation where they need to quickly get their phone out and capture some moment quickly.
So, why then? Is it a bunch of smoke and mirrors to get users to forget about the fact that these are phones? Is it a pure revenue play in order to drive up the price of the smartphone even further? Anyone? Buehler?
What We're Reading
- Tired of conforming to what other smartphone manufacturers are putting out and spending $1,000? MAKERphone has an $89 build-your-own smartphone for you. (Mashable)
- Beats adds new colors, gold accents to the Studio 3 wireless headphone lineup. (techradar)
- Samsung reportedly dropping the headphone jack from its 2019 Galaxy phones. (Tom's Guide)