Evolution of Phone Camera: From 0.1 Megapixel to Triple Lens 40 Megapixel Camera

Updated: May 30, 2018

This days, Camera is just inseparable part of our daily routine. There are approximately 2 Billion smartphone users at present. And according to report from some websites, recent forecast shows that more than trillion photographs were captured by mobile phone last year. That gives normal of 3 Billion photos taken daily which is simply stunning figure which is expanding at quick rate.


Phone camera is used everyday by people for almost everything from capturing memories to business. These cameras play an increasingly significant role in photography, for instance the principle news pictures covering the 7 July 2005 London bombings were taken by general public and not by proficient news groups. However the utilization of camera-phones can likewise be manhandled prompting attacks of privacy and different types of socially inadmissible conduct.


The technology behind Camera has grown at fast rate over past decade which has evolved the camera on phone from just Nothing to Triple Lens Camera and has enabled the Mobile Phone users to take photos very much near to a Professional Camera. So from here we look how Camera on phones have developed and gave this capable device to humankind to have the capacity to catch anything, anytime and anyplace.


2000 : J-Phone ( 0.1 Megapixel Camera)

Sharp J-Phone (Wikimedia)

J-SH04 was first the first commercial phone with camera which was made by Sharp and J-Phone( now SoftBank Mobile). It had 0.1 MP camera which was more in that days and release of this phone was beginning of camera phone evolution. This was the first phone with camera available for purchase, but there were phones experimented with camera before this phone which were not available to public.


Now all the manufactures started giving camera on phones. In 2002, Vodafone remodelled Sharp phone into GX10 for European market followed by Sprint with Sanyo 5300 in US market. By the end of 2003, nearly 80 million phones with camera were sold worldwide clearly showing the increasing need and trend of phones with more powerful and cheap cameras.


By 2003, Sprint releases Audiovox PM8920 first phone to feature 1 Megapixel camera while some say it was KDDI released the first CCD 1 megapixel camera phone, the Casio A5401CA.  In 2004, Sony Ericsson released S700 with 1.3 MP camera phone which was quickly covered by Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and others.


Then in 2005, Sony Ericsson released K750 which was first phone 2MP camera with autofocus which also had capability to record video. Now it was turn for Finnish manufacturer Nokia who came with N90 which had 2 MP camera, Carl Zeiss optics and LED flash. Now there was more hunger for Megapixels which gave rise to the megapixel race.

Nokia N90 (Wikimedia)

Sony Ericsson soon came with K800i, which featured 3.2 MP camera with autofocus, image stabilization and xenon flash (brighter flash than LED flash). Nokia then marched with N73 with 3.2 MP camera followed by N93 with 3X optical zoom. In 2005 Nokia became world's most sold digital camera brand. With next year the half of the phones had cameras in them.


Nokia N95 (Wikimedia)

Nokia came up with N95 which had 5 Megapixel camera with carl zeiss lens which really was impressive and it could record video at 30 frames per second.


2008: Year of 8 MP Phones

By 2008, the Megapixel battle was in full swing now that Samsung entered the race with introducing first 8 MP camera ever i.e. i8510. Nokia soon released N86 with 8 MP camera. But LG came with first ever touch screen phone with 8 MP camera called LG Renoir.

LG Renoir (Wikimedia)

In 2008, Nokia alone sold more camera phones than Kodak sold film-based simple cameras, thus becoming the biggest manufacturer of any kind of camera.


Samsung once again launched the first 12 MP camera with xenon flash known by M8910 Pixon 12. Sony Ericsson released Satio with same camera. In 2010, the number of phones with camera reached billion and even cheapest phone came with camera. Now the time was for Nokia, which banged the market with N8 with 12 MP camera, carl zeiss lens and xenon flash with large sensor size of 1/1.83" which is even considered large for today's phone. It captured photos with great detail for the time and had the best camera for that period. The device marked the beginning of camera phones that were close to DSLR.

Nokia N8 (Wikimedia)

Not only Megapixels, but other software features for camera were improved a lot. Manufacturers gave different modes for shooting like panorama, photo sphere and also gave various filters and other stylistic effects.


2012: The King's Arrival

After N8, Motorola and Toshiba tried to beat Nokia with 13 MP phones but

Nokia soon released the king of camera phone - Nokia 808 PureView with 41 MP camera, 1/1.2-inch sensor and a high-resolution f/2.4 Zeiss all-aspherical one-group lens. Its sensor size was big than even today's phone like Google Pixel, Sony Xperia XZ premium and others. Again in 2013, Nokia in its windows phone Lumia 1020 gave 41 MP camera which had reduced sensor size than Nokia 808, 3- Axis optical image stabilization and many improvements. These two phones clearly won the battle of Megapixels and were best camera phones out there of time.

Nokia Lumia 1020 and Nokia 808 PureView (Wikimedia)

Even it had highest number of resolution than any other phone it cannot be the best camera phone because the sensor size was much small as compared to its resolution. Before Lumia 1020, Sony gave Xperia Z with 13 Megapixels and Samsung released S4 variant Zoom with 16 MP camera and 10x optical zoom. After in 2014, Panasonic reveled Lumix Smart camera CM1 with Leica lens. Apple also gave really good cameras with iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S. It had lower Megapixels than other but it had bigger sensor with more each bigger pixels which made big difference.


By the time, the new trend was growing called "Selfie" which is the portrait of person snapped by himself. People started taking iPhone seriously after iPhone 4 was launched with 5 MP camera which was great and for first time wide number of users were able to use its VGA front camera on it to videocall with Facetime.


First the manufactures were improving rear cameras a lot and gave new features but due to growing trend of front cameras, they had to be evolved which began the ultimate competition of both cameras with new features, stabilization, various modes and much more. With the HTC Desire Eye in November 2014, also called selfie phone with both front and rear camera with 13 MP sensor giving other brands rise to develop more phone with higher resolution front camera with always different features.


In March 2014, HTC launched One M8 with two cameras, the first with 4 MP camera and second was 2 MP depth of field sensor for making photos crisp. HTC put its custom sensor inside M8 which it called UltraPixel to provide better color accuracy and took more good photos. Technically it was not first dual camera phone. Before this Samsung in 2007 released SCH-B710 with dual camera, in 2011 LG thrill 4G and HTC Evo 3D with same dual cameras to capture 3D parallax effects and filters.



At the end of 2013, Acer launched the first camera ever to record in 4K resolution. It was clear that users needed more and more capturing power at their palms like never before. After this other manufactures also gave camera to shoot with 4K capabilities. In 2014, OnePlus One was launched with Full 4K recording followed by other best phones of 2015 like LG G4, Apple iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy Note , Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9, Blackberry PRIV, Nexus 6P, Sony Xperia XZ Compact and many others. LG V10 released in September 2015 had powerful features for manual control of video recording which was not offered in other phones.


2016: Beginning of Dual Rear Camera Phones' Age

Samsung in March 2016, introduced Galaxy S7 with 12 MP camera and f/1.7 aperture which produced good quality images and better low light performance. Next month it was time for first Dual Rear camera phone, LG G5. It used one 16 MP camera and other 8 MP camera for wide angle shots which has never been possible on such scale with any other phone present. This was starting for other brands to focus on Dual Camera phones.

LG G5 (Wikimedia)

Soon after LG G5, Huawei launched P9 with dual rear camera both with 12 MP cameras and offered bokeh (depth of field) effect. It can also shoot videos at 60fps in 1080p. Manufactures also drastically improved front cameras with different features, filters and increased field of view for wide angle shots.


The time was for Apple to launch iPhone 7 Plus with dual camera setup both with 12 MP camera, one with 28mm f/1.8 and second with 56mm f/2.8 lens. This offered finest quality images of the time with depth of field effect and second camera was a telephoto lens that offered optical and clear zoom of 2x. This changed the market and when Apple makes something others have to compulsory adapt that feature to follow the trend.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Wikimedia)

LG released V20 with better manual control over video recording than V10 with dual camera of 16 MP and 8MP. Later in 2016, Google launched Pixel and Pixel XL with 12 MP camera and it proved itself to the best camera on android phone without dual camera setup and offered stunning photos due to its better software processing and powerful Electronic Image Stabilization.


2017: More Better Cameras

The Year 2017 was full of phones with camera better than one another and made it hard to tell which had the best innovation. Everyone provided different features for different features. 2017 saw more and more improvements to camera of phones which bought users near to taking professional level photographs.


Starting with LG G6 which offered dual camera lens both of 13 MP and different apertures for taking wide angle shots. Samsung still used single camera of 12 MP on Galaxy S8 and S8+ with improvement than S7 and featured better nice low light performance and portrait mode like others. In June, Sony banged market with XZ premium with 19MP camera but the main thing was to feature first super slow motion video recording capabilities on smartphone up to 960fps. Although many other phones offered slow motion at 240fps but Sony was first to provide such feature.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium (Sony)

Now Samsung has to go behind the trend of Dual Camera with Galaxy Note 8 giving both camera with 12 MP sensor which gave function of optical zoom to 2x. Soon LG released its best camera phone yet with advanced video recording capabilities. LG V30 also has dual camera setup of 16 MP and 13 MP which was known for shooting videos in RAW format with Cine log and other features gave great ability to creators to give more professional look with smartphones. LG used dual camera setup for wide angles shots and others gave telephoto lens. HTC came with U11 with single camera of 12 MP Sensor and 5-axis image stabilization. It used single camera but produced great quality photos and competed strongly with these phones.

Apple in September launched announced the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. iPhone X has dual 12 MP camera sensors offering telephoto zoom of 2x and the main innovation was with the front camera that features 7 MP TrueDepth camera that has technology to capture photos with specific depth of field and lighting effect in HDR. For the first time in front camera it was possible to capture video up at 240fps and had advanced face detection for Face ID and Animoji. Coming up was Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both having same cameras. Google still used single camera of 12 MP and this with optical image stabilization. Despite of using single camera, it still produced the photos than any other phone present and was ranked best android camera phone giving tough fight to Apple in 2017. This was possible due to better software and HDR+ processing though it didn't have power like iPhone X and iPhone 8 to shoot 4K at 60fps.


Nokia in October was back again with Nokia 8 with dual camera of both 13 MP with carl Zeiss optics like before it gave in its older phones. In November Huawei launched Mate 10 Pro with dual camera of 20MP and other of 12MP with Leica optics offering 2x zoom. This phone was praised due to fine images it captured and was in competition with iPhone X and Pixel 2.


2018: Phones with Advanced Cameras than ever before

LG in starting oy year reintroduced V30's another model called V30s ThinQ with A.I. Only difference this time was A.I that analyzes what you are shooting and applies best settings possible for good photos. But still A.I will take time to fully modernize phone cameras of today.


Huawei in March announced P20 Pro with whopping Triple Lens Camera of 40MP, 20MP and 8MP giving telephoto zoom of 3x. Clearly, this phone embarked a new phase of camera and maybe all future phones would follow this if hunger for camera lens in phone grows. In fact, the creators of Lumia 1020 with 41MP were working with Huawei and it makes sense that they designed a 40MP phone with best quality photo capturing abilities at present.

Huawei P20 Pro

In April, Samsung launched S9 and S9+. This time Samsung introduced dual camera setup in S9+ with variable aperture which took mind blowing images and was the second best camera phone until now according to DxOMark behind Huawei P20 Pro and some say it is first. It comprises of both 12 MP camera with telephoto zoom of 2x and aperture of one with f/1.5-2.4 and other with f/2.4. Sony also announced powerful camera in Xperia XZ2 premium with dual camera of 12 MP and 19 Sony packed dozens of new features in its camera with powerful sensors for processing images better than ever from shooting 960fps in 1080p to extreme low light performance. But this phone is yet to hit market, so there are not enough reviews for it.


At last, we are reaching to end of this long history. We saw camera changing from exceptionally basic camera to multifunctional triple focal point camera with phones changing to smartphones. Over a decade ago, there are regular new advancements going ahead with full scale explore on making camera on phones professional. Yet size to do make a difference in camera, the greater the size the better it gets because of its sensor. Discussing today, the market is swarmed with dual camera phones and others marking as selfie camera phone concentrating on front camera however in this story I just incorporated the camera that I thought were worth and imaginative that drove different brands to enhance and helped technology to reach to its next level. There are part of phones out today that give users capacity to capture the moment in the way they like and furthermore there are people who utilize phone camera to acquire their day by day living. It has quite recently assumed control everybody lives getting to be indivisible piece of our everyday life.


Future of Camera in Phones

The rate at technology is much faster than we think. In future manufacturers will always try to take them to what we call DSLR level, packing every feature that professional camera offers still keeping it handy. Also, A.I will take over camera too for making everything automated and also giving users ability to take full manual control of camera. There will better face recognition, scanning 3D models and eventually preparing for AR. Phone able to capture 360 videos may might come as well with advanced slow motion capabilities and enhanced special effects and filters. But we cannot tell how far we are from that as know one can predict the future but technology is just moving and moving forward to try getting everything that people want!

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