What feels like many, many years ago now (but really isn't all that long ago), we were steeped in what was called the "megapixel race". We were watching as one smartphone manufacturer another tried to outdo the others in terms of megapixel count. It basically culminated with Nokia taking that crown, two different times, as it introduced two devices with 40-plus megapixel cameras.
Still to this day I miss the Nokia Lumia 1020. That phone was amazing. Sometimes I wish Microsoft hadn't fumbled that whole thing up as badly as it did.
In any event, it was around that time that the megapixel race was basically given up on. While the race to the "top" appeared to be the goal for most of the companies participating at the time, eventually they all just started doing their own thing. Instead of trying to capture Nokia's title we saw companies like Apple just ignore it altogether. And Samsung was more keen on competing with Apple in this regard, so the two went back-and-forth with "the best smartphone camera" in any particular year.
HTC tried things very differently with the One series of smartphones. Instead of going for a high number of pixels, that company went with fewer, launching a four-megapixel smartphone. Despite the low megapixel count the phone took admirable photographs, thanks to its "UltraPixel" technology.
And all of this was years ago. Since then it feels like things have evened out. I think it's safe to say that most smartphones these days, especially from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, and others are pretty great. Some are better than others and some of it comes down to subjective, personal tastes. But if you buy an expensive smartphone in 2019 you're probably getting a fantastic camera, too.
But it feels like we're about to be entering the megapixel race again.
Samsung recently showcased its 64-megapixel mobile sensor that can be equipped in smartphones, and then, soon after that, it showed off its collaboration with Xiaomi: a 108-megapixel mobile sensor. And six days ago Xiaomi actually unveiled its smartphone that comes equipped with that 108MP camera on board! That's over 100 million pixels in a smartphone, and maybe that's the dam breaking. Are we about to see smartphone manufacturers racing to the top when it comes to the number of megapixels in our smartphone cameras?
Maybe! Of course, it feels even more silly now than it did even back then. If we've been shown anything since that first megapixel race it's that the number of megapixels doesn't necessarily guarantee the best possible photo quality. Not that I'm not expecting to see some spectacular shots from a 108-megapixel camera, but the images captured by a 12-megapixel camera in 2019 are pretty outstanding already.
But what do you think? Is Samsung and Xiaomi ushering in a new megapixel race? Or will the other smartphone manufacturers out there just ignore the 108-megapixel smartphone and keep doing their own thing? Let me know!