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Phones will cannibalize dedicated camera sales

updated 11:10 am EST, Wed February 24, 2010

Cellphone cams to reach over 5MP average by 2013

Cellphone cameras are on the verge of taking away significant sales of dedicated cameras for the first time, iSuppli said in a new estimate today. While the average camera on a phone had just 2.1 megapixels last year, that number is expected to more than double to 5.7 megapixels by 2013 and come close enough to full-size cameras that it cannibalizes entry-level still cameras. While resolution won't be the only factor, the analysts expect that new sensors, processing, flashes and other techniques will wipe out most of the existing quality gap.

Most of the transition is expected to start with Asian and European phones, where the audience is already more receptive to taking photos with a phone, but should eventually spread to other areas.

An average dedicated camera's resolution should also go up, from 7.6 megapixels last year to 13.9 megapixels by 2013, but this figure is already being challenged by the high end of the phone market. Phones like the Samsung Pixon12 and Sony Ericsson Satio already reach 12 megapixels and should become more commonplace as the cost goes down and image quality improves.

Image quality is poised to be an important factor this year even with relatively conservative companies like Apple, whose next iPhone may carry a 5-megapixel camera with flash.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Treuf

    Joined: Dec 1969



    First, get phone cameras behave like cameras (ie : zoom, wide angle, clear picture in dark situation, flash) and we will talk about it again.
    The biggest gap is the lens quality - and that will hardly be miniaturized enough to fit into a phone.

    The phone camera is fine and will become better for day do day pictures (like for posting your concert photos to youtube).
    But not to keep 'souvenires' or nice pictures for your album - a place where small cameras are becoming great compared to what was done 15 years ago (SLR were a must have then)

  1. Chris Hutcheson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not really

    I think this might be the case for the lower end point and shoot units, and for people taking snapshots, as long as folks want the added expense of some usurious cellphone contract.

    I'm also not sure how someone can categorize 5 megapixels as "coming close to full-size cameras" Perhaps if you're a leprechaun.

    For anyone interested in serious photography, though, seems to me a dedicated camera, with interchangeable high quality glass, will be the way to go for some time yet.

  1. Longwalker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Megapixels != Quality

    This article seems to be under the impression that megapixels = quality. That's simply not true. The race for megapixels is a marketing arms race used to woo consumers to the camera with the biggest number, rather than actually looking at images to see which takes better pictures.

    Having quality glass is the first step in achieving a good picture. Cellphones have the tiniest possible glass. Compare that to the huge lenses you see on pro photographers' cameras.

    Sensor size makes a huge difference, too. Not size in terms of megapixels but rather the physical size of the sensor. Larger sensors perform much better in low light. Camera phones typically have a sensor size of 1/6". Compact digicams typically have 1/2.5" sensors (6 times larger). Digital SLR cameras have sensors between 76 and 200 times larger than camera phones.

    Here's a pictures illustrating relative sensor sizes:
    Note that camera phone sensors aren't shown in the picture, but are much smaller than even the smallest shown.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Not really

    Of course it isn't going to replace a dedicated camera for serious photographers. But there aren't as many serious photographers out there. Most people just take pictures to take pictures for memories and the like, never knowing an F-Stop from their a**.

    However, phone cameras still lack most of the capabilities of a decent point and shoot camera. As Treuf said, phone cameras are great when you're out with friends and a moment needs capturing ("OMG, she is soooooo drunk! Take a picture of her!"). But if you're going anywhere that you know you want to take pictures, you're not using your phone camera. The pictures just aren't up to snuff for 'memories'.

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