Korean Handset Vendors Aim For 3 Megapixels
By Carlo Longino, Mon Jun 14 20:45:00 GMT 2004

LG, Pantech and Samsung all plan to release 3-megapixel cameraphones by the end of the year.

The rate at which quality of cameraphones is improving is pretty stunning -- this month will see the release of the first 3-megapixel cameraphone, a model by Casio, by KDDI in Japan, and now three South Korean vendors are saying they'll have devices capable of 3 megapixels by the end of the year. Samsung will roll out 2-megapixel phones this month (perhaps giving more details at its press conference at Communicasia in Singapore this week, where it's expected to announce 20 new models), LG's 2-megapixel came out last month, and Pantech will release a similarly equipped handset this month as well.

If the three companies can deliver 3-megapixel devices to CDMA markets -- particularly outside South Korea -- it could force other manufacturers to speed up their implementations, particularly in the GSM world, where no phone has been announced with a camera resolution greater than 1.3 megapixels.

More and more digital camera manufacturers are ceding the low end of the market to mobile phones, and that trend should continue, so long as handset vendors don't make megapixels their only points of innovation and improvement. The transition from fixed- to auto-focus cameras will help, but for handsets to wipe out low-end digital cameras, flash technology will have to improve, along with lens technology, both in terms of lens size and quality and zoom capabilities.

But most digital cameras still lead cameraphones in ease of use, particularly for anything other than snapping a simple picture. Cameraphone software needs to evolve as well to better deal with advanced capabilities and also to make sure that integration with the phone itself isn't made more difficult -- automatically scaling down images to be sent in messages or blogged, for example.

While undoubtedly going from a VGA camera to a 3-megapixel one will improve picture quality, there's more to the, ahem, picture than just pixel count.