Can Your Smartphone Replace Your Camera?
In the aftermath of our recent Smartphone vs. GPS battle royale, we decided to find out if the latest breed of smartphones could replace a typical digital camera. We’re not talking about your high-dollar Digital SLR here. There’s no way a smartphone can replace one of those, but your average point-and-shoot is perfect prey for the ever-evolving, ever-talented smartphone. This showdown hinges on 4 main factors: image quality, portability, zoom capability, and extra features. Let's see which device takes the title.
Cameras Still Have the Edge on Image Quality
The surprise cell phone picture - we’ve all been a victim of it. These images are the stuff of nightmares; your skin tone is washed-out, your face flat and wide, imperfections are accentuated and your eyes show up glowing red. Cell phones are notorious for taking terrible pictures – or not at all as in low-light situations. While, the latest smartphones on the block, like the HTC EVO 4G and soon-to-be-released, Nokia N8 tout impressive megapixel counts but megapixels aren’t everything. To be versatile and adept, your picture-taking device of choice will need megapixels, as well as a high-quality lens, equally proficient image sensor, and a real flash. Image quality is the digital camera’s bread and butter, so each of these components performs at high levels. Most smartphones, with their cheaper lenses, cheaper image sensors, and unflattering LED flashes, simply cannot compete with reasonably price point and shoot cameras.
Pockets Are Only So Big
Digital cameras, and cell phones alike, run the gamut from bulky and heavy to slim and light. But, a digital camera requires extra considerations before being taken on the road, be it for size or safety. A cell phone, on the other hand, is designed to fit in a pocket and durable enough to be treated as such. For the professional photographer, portability is a non-topic. But, for the rest of us, lugging two devices of somewhat comparable functionality just isn’t feasible. Yes, there are many quality digital cameras similar in size to a smartphone, like Sony’s popular Cybershot line, but, if you only have space for one device on your person, chances are it’s going to be a cell phone.
Smartphones Don’t Zoom
Zoom, another advantage of the single-purpose camera over the multi-function phone. Digital cameras have the space to accommodate optical zoom lenses of astounding quality and precision. The Nikon CoolPix P100, for instance, boasts 26x optical zoom and pristine image quality. Most smartphones don’t even have a zoom feature. Those that do have zoom, might use a minimal optical zoom of around 3x, and often employ a software-based digital zoom that is pretty useless on the typical, low-detail cell phone snap.
All Those Extra Features
Smartphone cameras exploit the cell phone’s strength of connectivity with friends and the internet by utilizing, among other features, geo-tagging - adding GPS location data to your images, auto-uploading to media sources, and in-device editing. Following a different vein, the digital camera’s strong suit is photo-centric, comprised of features like smile and face detection, automatic red-eye reduction, dual screens for easy self-shots, and a plethora of image and quality adjustments. We are seeing crossover in functionality between the sets of devices increasing, especially with respect to HD video recording, and internet-connectivity, but the features that are best for you should be determined by how you plan to use the device. A digital point and shoot camera is built for those that take in new sights, or dabble in photography, for whom image quality and flexibility are crucial. The downsides of this are reduced portability and the necessity for greater skill in manipulating the images. The smartphone camera, however, serves a more casual purpose, capturing the random memory on a night-out with friends, for instance, but lacks all but a few core image adjustments.
And the Winner is…
The convenience and portability of the smartphone camera is outstripped by the superior image quality and rich feature-sets found on even mid-range digital cameras. Top-of-the-line cell phones might be a decent substitute for the low-cost digital camera for less demanding point-and-shoot image capture, but this value is lost as soon as you attempt to take a better than average photo in a less than ideal environment. In the end, the smartphone camera is just a selling point and serves that purpose well. Having said that, we wonder how long it will be before smartphones become capable enough cameras and HD camcorders to be serious contenders to replace the real devices.
Retrevo Covers Smartphones and Cameras
Whether you decide on one or the other or both, Retrevo can help you decide which gadget to get. Check out Retrevo for manual and reviews of all the latest gadgets and gear like HDTVs laptops, digital cameras and more.

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Thanks man.

Thanks man.

cameras v phones

since i bought my nokia n 95 with 5 megapixel,[well,i actually also had the nokia n91,with 2 megapixel],Ive found that having a cell ph in yr pocket all the time allows me to capture a lot of photos that i would have missed out on,by not having my camera with me.Many is the time on holiday,when weve gone somewhere,and thought what a amazing photo that would make,did you bring the camera?now,Ive always got a camera/video in my pocket.never be as good as a dedicated camera,but who cares.

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The Altek LEO cell phone

The Altek LEO cell phone has suddenly turned the tables...



Phone as camera

Convenience is decisive. A very old Nokia snatched a photo that our local paper was happy to print to a good size, and more recent phones are far sharper. What they still need though is a proper shutter button - not a menu rigmarole.

Honestly, was there ever any

Honestly, was there ever any real doubt about this? If I want to make a phone call, I'm hardly going to use a camera, am I? Similarly, if I'm going to take a photograph...?
'Nuff said!


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My phone replaced my camera 2 years ago

I have a digital SLR (SONY HS5). It's 7.?MP.

Then in late 2007 I bought a cheap little feature phone with the 1.3MP camera...and I have barely touched my camera since.

I have since bought better phones (HTC Magic - 3.2MP, Acer Liquid - 5MP, Google Nexus One - 5MP)

My phone is always with me. My phone is connected. My phone can zoom if I use a camera app that zooms ("Camera ZOOM FX"). My phone can make 3D pics on the fly ("AndCam3D" app). My pone can make panoramic pics ("Photostitch" app). I can edit and add many effects to any pics I take ("Picsay Editor Pro")...and I don't need to offload to PC with a USB cable. I can transfer them wirelessly via wifi or 3G mobile data - from anywhere.

My camera is almost dead as far as using it goes. It's an island. It only stores 2GB while my phone stores 8GB. The only use I now have for it better quality video for editing into long vids.

Some people will absolutely, no question, need more than I'm happy with. But I don't. I'm there already and it's only going to get better.


I recently purchased a smartphone with a camera and its so annoying and frustrating to get a steady aim and shoot, part of it being a touch screen .

i still got love for cameras. =)

No smartphone can replace a

No smartphone can replace a IPHONE, or camera

are you kidding?

I had a Blackberry storm that took better pics than any low-end P&S, and have you even seen the N98, N8, N900, Xperia X1, HTC Evo, Kin, storm, Iphone knock off from china? All of those devices have more features, useful "apps", and power than the "iphone". and to top it off, none of those devices are under rule by an evil uber-douche. did I mention they break easier than an old dude with osteoporosis? All Icrap is a disease on software lockdown. Live free, Live simple, Live Linux!

Camera makers trying to bridge the gap

Don't forget that Fuji just came out with a new digital camera (Finepix Z70) that lets the user post directly to Facebook and YouTube from the camera itself (albeit when tethered to a computer). Also the latest Eye-Fi cards will do it on the fly via wireless.


This still is naturally a problem for most outdoors locations, however, coupled with a 3G/4G wireless access point, and then it can be done!

(okay, way above the average user's head, right?)


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