2017 has undoubtedly been a landmark year for smartphone design and function. We saw the mainstream debut and adoption of several new standards in smartphone design language and functionality such as bezel-less displays, OLED technology, iris scanning and more. However, perhaps the most widespread and the most desirable new smartphone standard has been the dual-camera trend.
While some companies had tentatively dipped their toes into dual camera tech as early as 2016, 2017 is when its popularity truly exploded. In fact, dual-camera was a mainstay in practically every flagship of 2017, and in several mid-range devices as well. Recently, CMR released a report which outlines the exploding popularity of dual cameras in the second largest, yet fastest growing smartphone market in the world, India. The growing popularity of the dual-camera in India could be well understood with the fact that it constitutes >1% of the overall smartphone shipment in India.
In Q1 2017, the dual camera trend gained steam in India, primarily due to Huawei’s efforts. As a result, shipments of dual-camera equipped smartphones in Q1 were limited to 63,000 units. However, in Q2, the trend truly exploded into the public consciousness due to an influx of new models by Chinese OEMs such as ZTE, OnePlus, Gionee and more. We have previously outlined the dominance of Chinese OEMs in India, and their support truly helped the dual camera trend going mainstream. As a consequence, shipments of dual camera smartphones jumped to 119,000 units in Q2 2017. This represents a growth of almost 89%. Overall, from January – June 2017, shipments of dual-camera smartphones rose around 123%.
Growth has not slowed down since then either. Though the overall smartphones shipments in India had declined in Q2 2017, shipments of dual-camera smartphones witnessed a further 107% jump, thanks in large part due to the launch of the new OnePlus 5. All these statistics are hardly surprising, especially considering the Indian smartphone buyer’s obsession with better cameras.
So, where do we go from here? On the basis of current evidence, we can safely expect dual cameras to continue growing in popularity. Of course, it’s not prudent to clump all dual camera technologies into the same bracket, especially as every OEM has its own way of implementing this particular feature. Some like Apple and Samsung have opted for a second wide-angle lens, whereas Huawei has opted for a second monochrome lens instead.
However, CMR believes that the rat race for better cameras and pixels will no longer be the focus in 2018. Just as the industry moved beyond pure specs and hardware comparisons, CMR expects the smartphone camera to follow a similar trajectory. Instead, the new focus will be on entirely new use cases and functions, which may or may not involve the camera. For example, with the introduction of Face ID, we can expect several next-generation flagships to offer similar functionality. Other camera based innovations may include Augmented Reality and integrated 360 cameras.