The front-facing camera, or as we now call it, the “selfie” camera, is increasingly becoming the most important camera of them all. In the past, it was all about making the rear-facing camera as good as possible, but seeing as the trend of being able to take your own self portraits (or “selfies”) shows no sign of fading out anytime soon, it’s time for the tradition 2-3 megapixel front-facing shooters to take a hike in favor of more high-res replacements.
It’s a new trend with smartphones that’s been picking up recently. The HTC One (M8) opted for a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3-megapixel increase from the 2-megapixel shooter that the M7 featured. The Oppo N1 with its 13-megapixel swivel shooter is another example of just how important it is to make the front-facing shooter just as important as the rear. Tech giant Sony also realizes how narcissistic our generation can be and opted to include a 5-megapixel camera in the Xperia C3, a lower-end Android device with a big focus on taking optimized front-facing photos.
At first, I was pretty convinced that the move to work on better front-facing cameras was kind of gimmicky, like companies ran out of things to improve, and front-facing cameras were one of the last things that could be worked on; however, it didn’t take long to realize that this type of feature appeals specifically to me, and just about everybody I know. I don’t think I know more than a handful of people that would rather have their profile pictures, Instagram photos, or any other photos they post to social networks taken by somebody else. It’s all about how we see ourselves, and nobody knows our most flattering angles more than we do.
In all actuality, the importance of having a good front-facing camera is at an all-time high, and manufacturers could probably greatly benefit from making them better. Despite the Xperia C3’s lackluster specs in other aspects of the device (1GB of RAM for an Android phone is never usually a good sign) the fact of the matter is that a lot of people (especially young people) looking for a new smartphone are going to be drawn in by the fact that they’re able to take optimal selfies with that 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Sony chose a good time to throw a phone like this out there. There still aren’t a lot of phones to choose from when it comes to high quality front-facing cameras, and the otherwise lower specs will hopefully mean the price is reasonable as well.
It’s also important to remember that selfies aren’t the only big trend these days. Video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and Hangouts are also a very important part of smartphone ecosystems, all of which use the front-facing camera to have face-to-face chats with people - so it’s not all in the name of narcissism.
I think this is going to be a big focus from manufacturers pushing forward. Of course they’ll still be improving the quality of rear-facing cameras, but the heat is on now to also take the initiative on besting the front-facing camera. 5-megapixel seems to be the new high bar for the front-facing camera, but rumor has it that a new Nokia phone will surface with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera - which is right on par with a lot of rear-facing cameras still used on smartphones today. After that, I can only assume that it’s going to be one flagship besting the next in front-facing camera wars.
Readers, where do you think this trend is heading? Do you think that manufacturers are going to put a big focus on front-facing cameras from now on, or do you think that it’s a trend that will easily fizzle out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Images via Sony, Pinterest