Mo' Camera Mo' Better? For the iPhone, Maybe Not...

iPhone Camera

Long and loud have been the voices berating, bemoaning... begging even for some little extra bit of camera love from the iPhone. We're not even talking video here (though conflicting rumors coming out of WWDC, via TWiM, suggested Apple either thinks no one wants video, or were working on it for a future release...). We're talking about plain old, plainly old, still photography.

Nokia N95 has a Karl Zeiss 5.0 megapixel auto-focusing lens, right? Sure, it's built like a Soviet tank, but Apple could at least bump the pixel count on the measly iPhone camera, right?


At least according to an interesting new article from Ars Technica, which provocatively suggests more iPhone camera megapixels would be worse, not better.

Their arguments make the kind of sense that does, at least to a certain extent. Carving up the same sensor into more megapixels just results in less surface area per pixel, and given the fixed-focus lens necessary in a uber-thin device like the iPhone, it's possible Apple's really looked into this and come up with the best engineering compromise they could.

Or they might just be saving a 3 or 4 megapixel auto-focus bump, along with video, to get people to upgrade to the iPhone 3.5G this holiday season. @#$%^&!

Even odds, really...

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Mo' Camera Mo' Better? For the iPhone, Maybe Not...


More importantly, WHY do you need the extra megapixels in your phone? How often do you make prints from your cell phone photos? 2.0 megapixels is enough for 200 line per inch photos (which is all most print shops can handle) at 6"x8" and can produce totally reasonable 8x10's.
I'd rather keep 2mp and get a better lens or lower noise from the camera.

I don't want more MP, just better quality images. The iPhone is such a great device for viewing and sharing photos (esp. with new MobileMe support for online photo albums) that it is a shame that it can't take better pictures.

I have always found that it takes fine pictures when outdoors, or indoors in ample lighting. The only reason I even use my phone as a camera is snap photos of my 8 month old son when we are out and about because he does new things all the time and is growing too fast. For that purpose, and considering it is usually outside, or in a well lit place, I have no problem with the iPhone camera.
If I am in my "not so well lit" house, I just grab my real digital camera and take the picture.
Win-win for me. I will not pretend that the iPhone camera is perfect, and I won't claim that I wouldn't like them to at least improve its software, but all things aside, it does its job plenty well for me.

I too have had decent results with the iPhone camera. Enough so that on a recent vacation I was taking pictures with both my iPhone and my digital camera and then culling the best of them all afterwards.
I'm not going to say it will replace my CyberShot anytime soon, but it works better than any phone I had previously (XV6600, Treo 650) and it works very well in a pinch.

the iphone's camera is way better than the one on my HTC Hermes was, despite both being about the same resolution (the iphone may be higher!)
We don't need more MP, we need more quality.

I have to agree with all the comments so far. I've taken some great pictures with the iPhone, better than I would have thought possible given the amount of criticism (unjustified, in the main) that the iPhone has received for its camera.

This has been an issue that is bothering me. If i go out and purchase the iphone like i want to, the first day. I am going to be missing out because likely they will do an update for the holidays and ill get teh short end of the stick and be missing out on a new feature. Whatever this update may be.

The update most likely won't change anything to the external hardware, or internal hardware. If it does come, my guess would be that it is just for memory, like last year.
I could be wrong though.