You can’t work for a site with that name review geek without gaining practical experience with a lot of smartphones. But every time a new budget phone crosses my path, I get more and more frustrated with a silly trend. These affordable phones all have three, four, or even five cameras, but they can’t take a halfway decent photo.
Low-cost manufacturers sacrifice camera quality just to say, “Look how many cameras there are in our phone!” It’s a terrible situation that doesn’t benefit customers, and it could all be solved by downgrading these phones to just one good camera reduced and focused the money on quality.
Why do cell phones have so many cameras?
Twenty years ago, people started realizing that their flip phones could replace a point-and-shoot camera. Sure, flip phone cameras didn’t take the best pictures, but they were incredibly handy. And after a few years of technological advances, cameras suddenly became one of the biggest selling points for cell phones.
It’s been over a decade since the first smartphone came out, and camera quality is still the focus of almost every phone ad. I would argue that phone camera quality is more important than ever since there aren’t many ways to make modern phones stand out.
This demand for high-quality cameras has pushed manufacturers into an interesting trend. Manufacturers are now putting multiple cameras in phones, each with a specific purpose. And honestly, it’s a great idea. Some phones now feature standard, ultra-wide, telephoto, and macro lenses to suit a variety of shooting styles and environments.
When you buy a high-end phone with multiple cameras, you can be sure that every lens will take high-quality photos. Having on-demand access to all that hardware is an amazing convenience — unless, of course, all the cameras suck.
Most new budget phones come with three or four terrible, terrible cameras. It is one of the most bizarre trends in this market and brings nothing to the customers. But here’s the thing; Manufacturers cannot join the multi-camera trend without sacrificing camera quality. It’s a very simple compromise.
Additional cameras increase manufacturing costs
In order to make great phone cameras, manufacturers have to spend a lot of money selecting valuable parts, going through R&D and hiring talented workers. In the world of $1,000 iPhones, this stuff pays for itself, but budget phone makers have to cut corners.
Compromising isn’t always a bad thing – it’s the reason we have cheap phones in the first place! But when a manufacturer decides to cram four cameras into a $200 phone, they can only make stupid compromises. Resources are becoming scarce, resulting in things like inferior camera hardware or an unfocused R&D process. We end up getting some crappy cameras in an otherwise decent phone.
I should clarify that this isn’t just a hardware thing. Some cheap phones have huge camera sensors that must take great photos! But software seems to be a bit more important. Without good software, photos look washed out and discolored. The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is a great example; The huge 64-megapixel camera takes some of the dirtiest photos I’ve ever seen.
Brands like Google and Apple are masters of software, which is why iPhones and Pixel phones use relatively small camera sensors. The iPhone 13, for example, has a 12 MP main camera. But it takes amazing photos because Apple spends a lot of money developing computational photography algorithms.
Obviously, small brands don’t have the money to beat Apple or Google’s camera software. But budget phones don’t need perfect cameras; You just need cameras that consistently take good photos. It’s clear these brands just aren’t spending money on the right stuff – so what’s the solution?
A good camera is all we need
Rather than stretching a small budget to fit four cameras into a cheap phone, manufacturers should focus on making just one good camera (and a decent selfie camera, of course). This gives companies more money to invest in hardware, software and optimization.
At first, the results of this scheme might not be all that impressive. However, a low-cost manufacturer can reuse the same cameras in multiple phones, extending software development over several years. This is what Google and Apple do with their cameras and it seems to work pretty well!
I admit that using only one camera in a phone has its downsides. You can’t take an ultra wide shot without an ultra wide camera and so on. But I’d still rather just have a good camera, and realistically some people don’t even know how to use the extra cameras on their phones.
Also, some brands have successfully tested the one-camera strategy. One of the best budget phones ever, the Google Pixel 3a only has one rear camera. And while Apple’s iPhone SE is regularly thrown under the bus, people usually complain about its dated design, not missing lenses.
Is it getting better?
It’s clear that budget manufacturers should focus on substance, not looks. This is what customers expect and need from their phones. But I doubt this situation will change anytime soon, as any attempt to fix the issue could hurt a manufacturer’s bottom line.
Phones aren’t free, and neither are phone plans. However, a phone is basically necessary if you want to maintain an income, a home and other necessities. Suffice it to say, people don’t want that money to go to waste – they want a decent phone!
Here’s the problem; Learning phones takes time, and the knowledge gained is constantly outdated. The average person just buys a nice looking phone when their old one stops working. Taking the time to read up on this stuff would be a waste.
If you don’t know much about phones and need a new one right away, you’ll take things at face value. And that includes the cameras. From a business standpoint, just putting a camera in a phone is a dumb idea, because that phone is going to look like a rip-off sitting next to the $200 handset with a massive four-camera hump on its back.
While this may not be the most profitable stance, I really hope manufacturers ditch the multi-camera trend and focus on quality. But I’m not optimistic.
If there is a bright spot, then camera quality will slowly improve across the industry. Affordable phones of the future will take better photos than today’s iPhones. At least that’s what I hope!
This article was previously published on Source link