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« Are More Deaths Looming in Smartphone Bloodbath? Sony & Blackberry might be sold soon | Main | I Dream the iDream: my iFantasy is yes an iCamera. And isn’t it about time Apple did another iRevolution of a stagnant major global industry like cameras? (updated) »

January 26, 2015



You appear to know photography, is my conclusion after browsing through your post. Would have appreciated if you cold also with a critical point of view cut the text into a readable format.


One typo:
"least Nokia and Apple will focus on adding megapixels."

Probably you mean Microsoft and Apple or Samsung and Apple. Nokia does not make phones anymore.


Analysts estimate that Apple full year 2014 sales in China exceeded those in United States. Sounds right?



"Oh, and exactly why is Apple still pushing thinner iPhones?"

I think it is at least in part because they want to prepare for wearables. Making their phones thinner means they can sink R&D cost into smaller components, which they can then one day build wearable computers with.

If they would say "this is thin enough", eg "the 5s is thin enough", there wouldn't be an internal pressure to make the components smaller, and the work towards other goals might be compromised.



Hi Tomi,

What you called the "cross-shaped sensor", before Nokia's PureView models, had been used in cameras from Panasonic, Fujifilm, and since April 2014, in one model from Canon.
This concept/technology, known as "multi aspect ratio", was not invented by any of these companies, as you can see from this international patent application:



This has been an education...great post


Tomi, what about image processing software and speed? Undoubtedly there are phones with better hardware specs than the iPhone, but many people - including pro photographers - say that the iPhone is faster and has better software in shooting good pictures quickly. It may not be the best if you have time and can adjust settings so the Pureview or K Zoom will be better then, but the iPhone apparently works better and faster and has better software to help make pictures better (not to mention just better camera apps which is another story), and generally is at the top (or very near it) of the list when it comes to the phone that takes the best pictures. This isn't just me saying this.

Any thoughts on software as it relates to camera phones?

I'm not arguing that the K Zoom will not take better pictures than an iPhone due to raw spec advantages in the package that it is in, but that outside of an expert like yourself, won't iPhones generally be ahead for most people in many situations due to the software that powers it?

Having said that, I am in the market for an Android phone (shocker I know) and I was going to look at the new Xperia but you may have convinced me to try to locate a K Zoom. I don't think that it is generally available out here but after reading your post I will seriously look for one.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Anon

Thanks! I didn't know that. I will have to go adjust the story yes, I thought it was invented for/by Nokia but clearly has been used before. Still, its a pretty clever way to increase final digital image size while keeping the rest of the optics as small as possible.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

abdul muis


I wasn't expecting a good photography/camera article from you, but this is a surprisingly good article that I really enjoy. Congratulation & Thank you.


Hi Tomi,

Yes, the "multi aspect ratio" feature is a very clever one, and one wonders why it took so long to be invented and used.
Please note that, as described in the aforementioned patent, it is also applicable to all types of display methods/technologies, and it is especially well suited for projection systems, such as the micro-projectors that have been talked about that one day will be incorporated in cell phones.

Crun Kykd

Great article on cameraphones. I sat in on a talk on lightfield photography (Lytro and Pelican). They were saying a way to get high resolution with thinness was to use an 10 x 10 array of multiple small sensors (1MP?) side by side, each with their own small lens. And use software to stitch a high resolution photo together. I didn't understand any of it, but I wonder if it true.


Writing style:


you should drop the "Haha"s -- or at least reduce them to one or two per article. It reads as unprofessional childish writing.


Great article, Tomi. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane - I also took my first photos with the family Kodak Instamatic 300 and then went on to fully manual (used) SLRs - first a Praktika then a Minolta SRT-101b. I even had a Hanimex zoom lens! (It was rubbish)

You are basically presenting the opposite view that Vlad Savov states in his Verge article "To beat the iPhone, you have to beat the iPhone's camera". In Vlad's article he wishes that his Android phone could shoot good photos as quickly and as easily as an iPhone does.

Different people want different things from their cameras and value different qualities as "best".

I have an iPhone 4S and the biggest improvement I wish for when taking photos with it is a zoom lens. Otherwise it is fine, at least in good light.

Tomi T Ahonen

A few comments

AndThis - the US/China numbers don't smell right. Apple's market share is so strong in US market, and if you remember most market analysis of China (like Kantar) are only of the big cities not nationally. I would be surprised if total China 2014 iPhone unit sales exceeded that of total US. But China should be 2nd biggest market for Apple.

Maggan - ok, makes some sense but not if it then hurts functionality. I do think the pursuit of 'credit card thin' smartphones is silly. A bigger screen yes, a better battery life yes, a better camera yes, but thinner phone - at some point it got ridiculous...

Anon - I credited you for the change to that part of the text, thanks.

Vikram - good point but with a bit of caution. I believe - and I have NOT attempted a comprehensive survey - I believe those who think that (that its faster to take pics on an iPhone) weren't comparing to Lumia 1020 (or 808 Pureview) or Xperia Z2/Z3 or Galaxy K Zoom. I think they were comparing to older iPhones and the typical rivals in the flagship class like Galaxies, HTC's, LGs, etc. But to your point, yes, the speed of how quickly you can take a picture, from camera in pocket in locked mode - that is a legitimate issue. For that however, we have to have a test of the actual cameraphones as there are no specs on this. I do hope we get some serious camera specialist magazines and websites that do proper 'thorough' comparisons and that issue - speed of taking pics - is included. I'd be very interested to know and with some past phones its been a pain. The 808 Pureview gets fast to camera mode from sleep by pressing the camera shutter. The K Zoom does require to do the touch-screen swipe which I think is a bit silly and time-consuming, it should go directly to picture-taking from pressing the shutter long enough (in my mind). The zoom lens extending from hidden mode to shooting mode is reasonably rapid for that type of construction. Partly the iPhone of course can utilize its simplicity haha, has less to worry about to be ready to shoot. But yes, especially as a pocket camera for random sudden photography situations, yes speed is a factor.

Crun - yeah, good point. Its the same principle they use for example in very large radio telescopes and the new phased array type radars. I know there is research into that direction but haven't seen commercial cameras yet using it. Am sure we'll see it coming and a cameraphone would be particularly well suited for that solution. Thanks for mentioning it.

Whoever - nah. This is a blog and I'm totally not serious about what I write about here or Tweet about. If you can't take a bit of sillyness every now and then, you certainly don't want to come back to my writing.

nerd6 - haha no way! Even a Hanimex? And yeah the Verge took a typical US centric view, ignoring the better products out there and haha, some of the complaints are indeed valid. The speed and convenience of the Nokia 808 Pureview on that 'obsolete' Symbian OS and its camera functions are fast and smart and many complained that the Windows version was a step down in that aspect. I can't say, I never used the Lumia 1020 but I never felt the 808 PV was anything less than fast and intuitive and easy, plus obviously obliterates the iPhone 6 Plus in almost every conceivable way on its camera haha... But yes, in the USA, probably true that the iPhone has that 'automatic transmission' type of convenience that Americans particularly love even when it means performance penalties haha... As to what consumers want, yes totally agree, different people value different things. As you and I happen to value an optical zoom, but most definitely most cameraphone buyers will not value an optical zoom enough to pay a premium for that functionality. That would be always only a minority of all cameraphone buyers...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

wolf 6

It looks like you have an error on your blog post. It's possible to take at least that good or even better photos of close objects if you use iPhone 6. I tested it and iPhone 6 was able to take very good pictures of a similar setting to the one you had with memory cards and a battery.

wolf 6

Here is a replica of the same setup Tomi was using. It took me 2 minutes to find similar looking items and set it up. These were taken with no extra light and it was shot with a free hand.

Same image setup. It's further away compared to what iPhone 6 can produce but gives us idea about what iPhone 6 can do in comparison to Nokia 808.

Another image. Now iPhone 6 is closer to the object. Nokia 808 can't come this close. if a full crop from Tomi's image was available we could compare those. It's unlikely that 808 could come this close.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi wolf 6

Thanks! I wasn't aware of it and the sites I checked when researching this blog didn't include macro. I've now seen not just your pictures but on further digging that yes there is macro ability to a bit closer even on nearest focus (where then the megapixels will fight it out for for whose magnified close-ups would be biggest). Thanks. I've updated the entry to give the iPhone 6 Plus a well-deserved shared gold for this ability. PS I especially appreciate replicating my photo haha... good job. I of course credit you for the correction.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


You are focusing completely on the wrong thing. Reason why Iphone camera is the best and trashes everything android has even windows. It's because people don't care about getting a clear picture of someone far far away.
What they care about is getting a great picture within 0.5 second in every kind of environment, whether it's in a snowstorm, 200 people running around, there kids running at full speed, pitch dark room or whatever situation. Android phones are just complete trash and can't even thouch iphone.
Deal with it.


On the Apple China sales: Now Canalys says Apple is leading smartphone vendor by unit sales in China:

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