Comment: Android phones have become too camera focused

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Deep Sea Blue

In a world where social media rules, it’s not shocking that arguably man’s best companion, a smartphone, has to be the best when it comes to photography.

Gone are the days when one would be forced to walk around with a digital camera in order to capture top-notch photos when out on a road trip or camping. Today, smartphones ship with some of the best cameras on the planet, but this doesn’t mean they are about to kill digital cameras. What this means is that you no longer need to carry a phone as well as a digital camera when you hit the road because a smartphone does even more than a traditional camera can manage.

Even though digital cameras still rule the world of photography, there are lots of hassles involved when using a dedicated camera. The photos and videos captured are stored on a microSD card. To share these moments with friends on social media, you need to manually transfer them to a PC first. In the case of a smartphone, the files are stored on the device, which means they can be shared right away. In fact, thanks to apps such as Instagram and Facebook, it’s possible to share live moments with friends.

With a smartphone you can still make calls and send texts as usual as well as instantly share moments on social media in qualities of up to 4K, something we were used to seeing on digital cameras. Any attempt to share these moments in poor image or video quality will attract all sorts of trolls and no one wants to be a victim of social media humiliations because they can be hard to come back from.

Smartphone makers are well aware of this trend and to ensure that no trolls come your way, they have elected to drive more efforts in the camera department. Today, look at most smartphone reviews, especially video reviews, and you’ll notice that a huge chunk of time is spent on the camera department. A while back, very few people were buying an Android phone for the sole reason of taking great pictures, but today, cameras seem to account for a significant portion of a phone’s value.

While the focus on cameras is not bad at all, the massive resources being driven into the department mean that other basic phone functions are overlooked. For instance, someone on Verizon would have been open to purchasing a OnePlus 5T, but the phone is not supported, yet Sprint is. Reason being the phone only supports one bit of CDMA spectrum, but hey, we have the likes of Motorola with phones that support all four U.S. major carriers. And no, it’s not just OnePlus 5T, there are lots of other devices out there with this or related problem as well.

OnePlus 5T

The dotted carrier support of many phones has often resulted in poor call and signal quality in some areas, but this seems to be a non-issue for many as long as the camera quality is up there. I want to have a quality camera on my smartphone, but not at the expense of call or signal quality.

Another thing that rarely pops up is the manageability of smartphones. Today, it’s easy to bump into all smartphone sizes, including devices with screen sizes close to those used on tablets. Again, the aspect of social media comes into play. When scrolling through your Instagram timeline, it can never be better than doing so on a huge display screen, but is this the only reason you own a smartphone?

As noted at the beginning, smartphones have become one of man’s best companions and they never remain behind, unless forgotten. But how often do smartphone OEMs consider how manageable the devices they make are in the consumer’s daily life? While it’s cool to view images and videos on a huge screen, does this size affect other daily uses of the phone? These are the things that can be addressed, but it seems none of them is a concern to many users as long as the camera is okay.

Oppo, which shares the same blood with OnePlus, has a smartphone family known as Oppo F series. According to the Chinese OEM, these phones are Selfie Experts, which means that the software and hardware is optimized for taking great selfies. While the end product is not bad at all, this heavy focus on the selfie camera comes at an expense – or perhaps more.

While boasting about giving you a top-notch selfie camera, you’ll only be getting software updates in your dreams. The Oppo F3, for instance, came with a dual 16MP+8MP selfie camera, which is good, but this was paired with a mediocre MediaTek MT6750T processor and slammed a price tag of about 380 euros. Despite its release taking place in May 2017, nearly a year since Android Nougat was released, the F3 still gives you Android Marshmallow out of the box and as noted, good luck getting an update to Nougat.

Oppo F3

While flagship phones are naturally expected to have good cameras, most budget and midrange smartphones are using the cameras as their selling point, overlooking the fact that it’s still the processor and RAM that play a huge role in image post-processing. It’s working for a good number of them, mostly because a significant population of the world only wants a smartphone that takes high-quality photos and has a long-lasting battery. But for those of us who really care about the processors, RAM, bezels, LTE bands, accessories and other stuff that really matter about phones, well, it sucks!

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