Focus on the camera, mobile devs: 48MP shooters about to become the sweet spot

5G is messing with the market and keeping less-capable cameras snapping at the heels of 108MP monsters

Developers focussed on smartphones can assume that most of the devices on the market have at least a 13-megapixel camera, and that almost 40 per cent of them have a 48-megapixel monster to play with.

So says analyst firm Counterpoint, in its Smartphone Camera Tracker for Q1 2021.

The firm found that 25.5 per cent of phones shipped in the quarter had a 13MP rear-facing camera, with 24.6 per cent offering 12MP and 39.7 per cent of handsets packing 40MP or more. In fact 23.1 per cent of all handsets in Q1 offered 48MP image sensors

By year’s end, Counterpoint predicts 49.8 per cent of the market will offer 40MP-plus cameras, and 48MP shooters will be the single largest grouping, with 26.4 per cent of the market.

For front-facing selfie-shooters, the sweet spot is the 8MP mark, found in 23.7 per cent of devices sold in Q1 and, according to Counterpoint forecasts, likely to dip to 19.9 per cent by Q4. The winner will be 32MP sensors, which are due to grow market share by four points from their current 12.6 per cent share.

Counterpoint attributes the improvement in cameras to slowing growth in component prices. That Samsung’s high-resolution sensors made it into new hit handsets – the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – helped to haul up averages across the industry.

Huawei’s troubles dragged numbers down, as it favours 50MP cameras but simply shipped fewer devices.

Another factor that drags on camera configuration is 5G. The parts for the new standard cost more than 4G kit, so mobe-makers sometimes resort to less-capable cameras to keep overall costs down. ®

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