What is a Cell Phone Camera?

wiseGEEK Writer

The cell phone camera is another attractive feature of many modern cell phones that combines the convenience of cell phone technology with the ability to take photographs, which can then be sent to others in a few seconds. These first began to grow in popularity in the late 1990s in Japan. By the mid 2000s, lots of companies were creating their own version of the cell phone camera, and popularity had certainly gone global.

A smartphone with a camera.
A smartphone with a camera.

It’s hard to discuss the cell phone camera as just one item, because each camera design and make may have many different features. For instance, some cameras only take still photographs, which is certainly very useful and might be employed to upload pics from trips, take pictures at a job site, catch the kids in a cute moment, or get a shot of the license of a car that is racing away from the scene of an accident.

Cell phone cameras exist so that users can snap photos on-the-go.
Cell phone cameras exist so that users can snap photos on-the-go.

In contrast, the cell phone camera may take video and fully moving images, and people may prefer this more recent feature. What was initially an attractive extra gadget on a phone has begun to have considerable relevance in certain parts of the world. In the late 2000s, protests against the results of Iran’s election were captured on the cell phone camera with video by many citizens, thus allowing the world more of a picture of what was truly happening in that country. This capacity for people to suddenly turn citizen journalist is an interesting one, changing the way many parts of the world will view its actions in public.

When people are choosing one of these phones, prices and features may range from model to model. First, some people might get their phones for free if they sign contracts with their cell phone company. Otherwise, a cell phone camera usually costs over $100 US Dollars (USD) and possibly more if video footage can be taken. Higher quality still or video images are likely to result in greater price.

Other features may raise price too. For instance, cameras that have personal organizers or PDA elements, full keyboards, and other elements may be more expensive. A person might expect to pay more for a cell phone camera that takes video and still shots.

There are so many companies that now make the cell phone camera, it may be wise to do some research before deciding on the best one. Moreover, shots taken or video filmed aren’t likely to be as high quality as those that come from standard or video cameras, though there may be exceptions. Technology continues to improve in this area, hoping to create the best cameras accompanied by all the convenience of a cell phone.

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Discussion Comments


Cell phone cameras are by far the most common kind in the world, and with the right apps, you can do so much with them. It's pretty amazing.

The only thing I wish they were better at is the digital zoom. As with using the digital zoom on a camera, the photo tends to be grainy. I'm not sure how to overcome that obstacle, either, or if it's just part of the tradeoff for the convenience of having a camera in one's phone.

Cell phone cameras now even have a flash -- an innovation that's been on the market for a couple of years, but is still a great thing to have, for the most part.

Digital cameras, with their interchangeable lenses and other features, will certainly continue to be the camera of choice for professionals, but it seems now that the cell phone camera is the "Brownie" of the 21st century.

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