Squeezing more from megapixels

Why it won’t matter if the next iPhone still has an 8MP camera

The iPhone 6s rumors are already beginning, and according to one analyst, the phone will continue to use an 8-megapixel sensor, just like the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets.

The Taipei Times reports that opinion from Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting, which was picked up by AppleInsider. At a time when competing phones are boosting the number of pixels their cameras capture from 13MP to 2oMP or more is that a problem? I can’t think of a single reason why.

iPhone 6 camera

Sure, for those who look solely at a device’s specifications, seeing a higher pixel count from the image sensor is going to jump out. But the days of buying a phone based on a printed spec sheet are waning, or at least they should be. The overall experience can outweigh pure power when it comes to mobile device: My choice to purchase a Moto X is an example that comes to mind immediately. I could have bought a more powerful phone or one with a higher-resolution display but those all lack some unique software features that make the Moto X a better handset choice for me.

And when it comes to the camera experience, it’s hard to argue against the one [company]Apple[/company] provides with its iPhone line. For a few years now, the iPhone has been one of the most popular cameras on photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, surpassing many dedicated DSLRs and mirror-less cameras. Simply put, the sensor in iPhones is more than good enough for the everyday, common user to get great images that are satisfying.

iPhone 6 camera image

Apple has improved the software and functionality of its camera with the latest round of iOS 8 updates as well. Aside from the panoramic mode that appeared previously, the iOS 8 Camera app has a new time-lapse mode and better editing options. I’ve seen some amazing time-lapse videos, not to mention simply stunning panoramics from iPhones. And those are just from amateurs; one of the best films at the recent Sundance Film Festival was shot with an iPhone 5s and its 8MP sensor, albeit with some external lenses and an $8 app.

Lumia 1020 pureview

Are there phones with better cameras than an iPhone? Sure there are, depending on the situation. Get yourself a Lumia 1020 if you want to take 41MP images to zoom in on minute details after taking the shot. If you prefer superb HDR shots, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is worth a look based on Gizmodo’s most recent cameraphone shoot-out. I could go on and on about how certain phones are a bit better in specific photographic situations. But the point remains: The camera abilities in Apple iPhones are generally good in a wide range of scenarios. And at 8MP, there’s a solid balance between quality and file size; helpful for that iCloud backup, photo sharing and your online Camera Roll.

Keeping the sensors down to 8MP on the next iPhone isn’t going to change that or the iPhone’s popularity when it comes to snapping photos. Besides, Apple could actually improve picture quality by using the same pixel count; it did so with the most recent iPhones by adding what it calls Focus Pixels for better auto-focusing in stills and video, and incorporating optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus.

Megapixels are one thing, but knowing what to do with them for stunning photos is something Apple excels at.

11 Responses to “Why it won’t matter if the next iPhone still has an 8MP camera”

  1. Rob Earls

    Suggestions for other articles..

    Why it wont matter if the next iphone has the same battery.
    Why it wont matter if the next iphone has the same resolution screen
    Why it wont matter if the next iphone has the same CPU

    Basically copy and paste this entire article, replacing the word camera..

  2. Regardless of the merits, Apple will enlarge iPhone’s sensor simply because of 1) the evolution of the industry standard, 2) the 4K video and cropping needs and 3) [most important] marketing opportunity.

  3. Thomas J. Romano

    Having a bigger sensor then 8mp helps for cropping photos. Just look at the lumia 1520 and 1020. IT also allows 4k video. the lumia 1520 has a neat thing where you just take 4k video and pick out the best 8.3 megapixel frame. The iPhone cant do that

    • mutinous

      Very true…. 8 mp is not enough when you have to crop a picture and let’s face it, most pictures you see on facebook should have been cropped. Apple just wants smaller pictures from its users. 1) Their phone can handle smaller pictures better and faster making the user experience better. 2) With iPhones , manipulating pictures on the web either uploading to Facebook, saving them to icloud, sharing through iMessage, SMS, MMS or email and even editing on such a small screen a small picture is way better.

    • a bigger sensor would mean a bigger phone and higher power consumption and given that an iPhone is not primarily a camera-centric phone, those compromises would make little sense for the average user.

  4. MagicMadjeski

    With 4K sets spreading throughout living rooms the world over, Apple HAVE to increase the sensor for 4K video recording. Also, whilst I agree that the iPhone is best for the average Joe taking snaps at Christmas, the lack of RAW support and no picture loss zoom actually makes it a very limited sensor!

  5. Cold Water

    This may be the millionth article written about why iOSland does not need an obvious, common feature that it will inevitably end up with. People have looked the fool for bold proclamations about multitasking, screen size, NFC, etc. but this is so much hedging that no statement is made at all.

    I agree that the current camera is fine, but be brave enough to admit that 8MP is at or near the end of the line.

  6. Peter A Wadsworth

    Why NOT up the pixel count at a time when high end DSLRs are moving to 40 and 50 MP, I don’t know why “good enough” should become Apple’s objective. The major benefit of more pixels is the ability to crop without losing fidelity. In the absence of a zoom lens (not digital) more pixels are the alternative way to get there.

    • Higher pixel count will mean moot for image quality if sensor size wasn’t increased as well, dSLRs that are moving towards 40mp tends to have full-frame sensors

      Unless the drawbacks of a small sensor with high pixel counts are resolved, sticking to 8mp is a better option in favor of higher image quality