The smartphone industry has been developing since the 2000s. While the cameras on the phones were a very special and expensive feature in the early 2000’s, after the 2010’s, there were no smartphones left without cameras. Until 2018, smartphone cameras were shrinking from high megapixel to 12MP, while after 2018, high MP camera popularity started. Nowadays, a smartphone with a 12MP camera is seen as an entry-level phone. So is the next trend big camera sensors?
Nokia introduced the Nokia 808 Pureview in 2012. From those years until almost today, the smartphone with the largest camera sensor was Nokia 808 Pureview. Nokia 808 Pureview had a sensor size of 1/1.2-inch. On 2014, the Panasonic Lumix CM1 smartphone was the first Android smartphone with a true 1-inch camera sensor powered by Leica and Sony. From 2014 to 2021, there was no such camera development in smartphones.
The 1-inch camera sensor trend started with the Sharp Aquos R6 since 2021. Since there are fewer and fewer new camera improvements to be made, manufacturers have decided to use large camera sensors. After Sharp, Leica announced the Leitz Phone 1. These devices also had same 1-inch camera sensor. The Leitz Phone 1 had the same 20MP sensor as the Aquos R6. The Leitz Phone 2 had a 47MP 1-inch sensor, which is the same as the Aquos R7.
Leica collaborated with Xiaomi and released the Xiaomi 12S Ultra instead of releasing the Leitz Phone 3 in 2022. This device had a 50 MP 1-inch camera sensor. Then Vivo, Xiaomi and OPPO also started using the new 1-inch camera sensor on their smartphones. Currently, only Sony makes 1-inch camera sensors. Recently, Samsung announced that it started working on 1-inch camera sensor.
So what happens next? Years ago, we used to stare open-mouthed at iPhone and Google’s cameras. Now all phones have advanced HDR features and superior software technologies. In a few years, there will be more and more phones with camera sensors close to 1-inch. Smartphone cameras will become much better than today and will compete with digital cameras. Even if it is not 1-inch camera, it seems that we will say goodbye to small camera sensors like 1/2 inch, which used to be in almost all smartphones. As the size of smartphones grows more and more, it is easier to place 1-inch cameras on the phone.
Photos always have more detail when taking with large camera sensors. A 12MP camera with a 1-inch camera sensor is much more detailed than a 108MP camera with a smaller camera sensor. What matters in cameras is the sensor and pixel size. Get ready for a new revolution in camera features in the coming years.