A complete history of the camera phone

Cameras in mobile phones are everywhere. Few of us will see the need to equip special equipment to take photos or videos, and the sales of digital cameras have fallen. But how did we get here? Let us look at the history of camera phones.

Samsung Sharp built the first camera phone

The first mobile phone with a built-in camera was manufactured by Samsung and released in South Korea in June 2000. The SCH-V200 turns over to display a 1.5-inch TFT-LCD, and the built-in digital camera can take 20 photos with a resolution of 350,000 pixels (ie 0.35 megapixels), but you must connect it to a computer to get the photos. The camera and phone components are actually separate devices located in the same body.

There is a strong argument that the first real camera phone was produced by Sharp and released in Japan by J-Phone (now SoftBank Mobile) in November 2000. J-SH04 can take photos, as shown in the picture on the right (from the Japanese website), the resolution is 110,000 pixels or 0.11 megapixels.

The real difference between it and Samsung SCH-V200 is that J-SH04 allows you to send photos electronically. This is a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2001. These comments are priceless.

First U.S. camera phone – Sanyo SCP-5300

In November 2002, the United States adopted the Sanyo SCP-5300 on Sprint, thereby adopting the crazy trend of Japan. It is priced at $400 and has a clumsy clamshell design.

With a 0.3 megapixel function, it can capture 640 x 480 pixel photos. The picture on the left is from this IGN comment. Sanyo SCP-5300 also has basic flash, white balance control, Selfie, digital zoom, and various filter effects such as sepia, black and white, and negative colors.

By the end of 2003, camera phones really took off in the United States, with more than 80 million units sold worldwide. We even reported on this trend by reporting that camera phones competed with DVD players in November 2003. The good news for consumers is that quality is improving and prices are falling.

1.3MP arrives with Audiovox PM8920

Continue to promote the trend of camera phones, Sprint released PM8920 in July 2004. It is the first mobile phone equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera in the United States, capable of taking 1280 x 960 pixel resolution photos.

Not only can you share these pictures wirelessly, but they are also sufficient for printing. It has dedicated camera buttons and various settings, including multiple shooting options for continuous shooting of eight quick photos and the ability to record your own shutter sound. The discounted price is US$150 (recommended retail price of US$299).

By the end of 2004, camera phones were all the rage. Canalys reported that more than half of mobile phones sold worldwide in the first nine months of 2004 had cameras, and two-thirds of all mobile phones shipped in the third quarter were camera phones. Leading is the Finnish manufacturer Nokia.

In 2005, Nokia N90 set out to push camera phones to new heights. It not only has a 2MP camera, but also Carl Zeiss optics, auto focus and LED flash. It’s best to remember the rotating screen, it gives the feel of a camcorder. This is a review of our Nokia N90.

Sony steps it up

Nokia’s main competitor in the camera arms race is Sony Ericsson. After owning Sony’s Cyber-shot digital camera brand, there are many good versions that intend to take away Nokia’s crown of camera phones, especially the Sony Ericsson K800i released in 2006.

A complete history of the camera phone

It is equipped with a 3.2MP camera with autofocus, image stabilization and Xenon. flash. The photo on the right was taken using a Sony Ericsson K790i model with the same camera.

Nokia naturally retaliated against models such as the 3.2MP N73, but in 2007, the feature phone reached its peak.

5MP in the Nokia N95

Samsung produced the first 5-megapixel camera phone, but the first phone that proved to be truly popular was the Nokia N95. It’s a chunky slider packed full of features, but none is as impressive as a 5-megapixel camera like Carl Zeiss lens.

It takes beautiful photos and can record video at 30 frames per second. In fact, 5MP has been a high-end standard for many years. Sadly for Nokia, the smartphone revolution is coming, and our review of the Nokia N95 lamented the lack of a touch screen.

A good camera is not enough to keep Nokia growing. To be precise, the original iPhone was launched a few months after the N95 was launched in June 2007. Its 2MP camera had no flash or autofocus function, and no video recording function.

8MP from Samsung

In 2008, Samsung i8510 (also known as INNOV8) held its first 8MP camera on the market, but in terms of design, Samsung copied the wrong company. This version looks like part of the Nokia N series, but these designs are gradually becoming unpopular.

Nokia followed closely with the N86, but LG introduced the first touch-screen camera phone with an 8MP camera. It is called LG Renoir.

The megapixel race is still going on, Samsung reached the top of 12MP with M8910 Pixon12 in 2009. Soon thereafter, Nokia N8 defeated Samsung in 2010 with the 16MP Sony Ericsson S006.

Smartphones stall the camera’s progress

With the popularity of smartphones, the race to improve the camera of mobile phones has stalled. The iPhone proved to be more important than the camera.

It is also vital for manufacturers to produce slim, attractive devices, and until then, truly powerful camera phones have seemed very clumsy. Some irritated commentators also tried to point out that the quality of a camera is more than just the number of megapixels. This series of photos taken by Lisa Bettany compares different iPhone models.

3D flop

Both HTC and LG tried to join the 3D trend in 2011 and released phones with dual 5MP cameras that can take pictures or capture videos in stereo 3D. It turns out that there is no real demand.

Most manufacturers seem to be conveying information. The focus has shifted to software features that provide additional value to people interested in photography.

The rise of software features for cameras

We have Photo Sphere provided by Google and Panorama mode provided by Apple. BlackBerry proposed Time Shift, HTC’s name is Zoe. We have also seen more filters and effects embedded in various mobile platforms, but these are basically things that apps have provided for a long time.

They are great for people who want to spend time in it, but most of us quickly forget these novelties. What we really want is an excellent fool function that can capture all the spontaneous glory in life.

Bigger and better

When HTC tried to convince us that its 4-megapixel HTC One camera was enough, Nokia was rekindling the battle with a typical ferocious attack. High-end smartphones such as Sony’s Xperia Z have a maximum pixel size of 13 megapixels.

Even Samsung’s camera-focused S4 variant, Zoom, has only a 16-megapixel sensor (although optical zoom is its main function). Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera. This is how it compares to the iPhone 5 (the photo on the left was incorrectly labeled as iPhone 4).

Whether we really need a camera in a mobile phone to be much better than it is now is still open, but you can say a lot of technology. The Chicago Sun Times publicly fired the photographer and expected reporters with iPhones to take photos themselves.

This may not be the wisest decision, but the fuss it caused focused more on the photographer’s skills than the equipment. It is not uncommon for professional photographers to use the iPhone, and it is a far cry from the most powerful camera phone on the market.

The future for camera phones

The Lumia 1020 looks set to be the best camera phone on the market for some time to come. It is worth mentioning that Nokia’s first 41-megapixel camera phone was PureView 808 in early 2012, but because it was stuck on Nokia’s old Symbian smartphone operating system (same as N95), the sales situation is not special.

The performance of Windows Phone is much better, but it remains to be seen how many people will be tempted. In any case, you can be sure that the camera phone war is not over yet.

In fact, things are only heating up. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom is coming soon, and Sony i1 may become a competitor later this year.