OnQ Blog

Smartphones Gain on Compact Cameras

Mar 22, 2012

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Guardian reporter Jean-Louis Gassée issued some free advice for the camera industry today: make your products more like smartphones, or you’re history.  His prophecy is delivered in a story bluntly titled “Compact cameras die in a flash thanks to smartphones.”

In it, he discusses how the image sensors in smartphones have gotten so good they’re starting to replace compact cameras -- something we've thought about as well

To break it down a bit, a compact camera is typically defined as pocket-sized, costing less than $500, with an optical zoom. In these cameras, the image sensor is the digital equivalent of film. Most of the time, the bigger the image sensor, the better the quality will be. 

The main reason why smartphone sensors used to be so low-quality, was because it was absolutely crucial for them to be small.

But all that has changed as sensor technology improves. Devices such as the HTC Titan II can now snap photos rivaling some of the best compact cameras, despite having a smaller image sensor. Another example, is the upcoming Nokia PureView 808, which will feature a compact-camera sized image sensor that can produce a shocking 41 megapixel image. Another win for smartphones is handy photo editing, effects, and processing apps, along with easy ways to share photos, Gassée points out.

But the camera industry refuses to roll over and die. Canon recently launched a shooter that has built-in Wi-Fi and a corresponding app for your iOS devices. Once the app is installed, you can wirelessly transfer photos between your camera and phone or tablet. Polaroid introduced a 3x zoom camera that runs the full Android OS. Another example is Samsung, which recently announced tentative plans to bring an Android camera to market.

Qualcomm project Manager Tim Yates recently hosted a seminar on the Snapdragon S4 processor's camera capabilities. He describes how the processor’s components produce computer power that increase image quality and speed for apps. Like Gassée, he suggests that soon the smartphone industry will be setting the market standard, rather than the once-king compact camera industry. 

What do you think? Will you ever ditch your point-and-shoot for smartphone-only photography? 

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

PJ Jacobowitz

Staff Manager, Marketing

©2021 Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its affiliated companies.

References to "Qualcomm" may mean Qualcomm Incorporated, or subsidiaries or business units within the Qualcomm corporate structure, as applicable.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm's licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm's engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses. Qualcomm products referenced on this page are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Materials that are as of a specific date, including but not limited to press releases, presentations, blog posts and webcasts, may have been superseded by subsequent events or disclosures.

Nothing in these materials is an offer to sell any of the components or devices referenced herein.