We recently read on Image Sensors World about the trends in China toward higher resolution front cameras in smartphones, and were inspired to do a bit more investigating into what we can expect to see in the U.S. Although the typical front-facing camera available here is less than 2MP (for reference, the iPhone 5 has a 1.2MP front camera), several Chinese manufacturers (MeituKiss, Oppo, and Zopo) are currently releasing phones with 5MP or 8MP front camera modules. Of course, we all know that megapixels are not the only factor in image quality, but giving the front-facing camera greater capabilities and higher precedence will change the way app developers think and how people use their smartphones.
Of the many uses of the front-facing camera, most of them have to do with popular communication tools and apps, such as FaceTime for Apple iOS systems, Skype, and Vine, the mobile video sharing app that recently added front-facing capabilities. There are also popular security apps (such as EyeVerify), mirror apps, and self-portrait photography (very popular with young, social media-savvy Millenials) that rely upon front-facing cameras.
The challenge with front cameras is the limited space for them within the smartphone casing. To overcome this challenge, Omnivision will be producing a new front-facing sensor this summer: the OV2724 sensor, which, while tiny (5mm x 5mm x 3.5mm), will allow for a front-facing 1080p HD camera that can record video at 60 frames per second. Given this advance in technology, consumers can probably expect to see significant changes in smartphone front cameras by next year – one of many exciting prospects on the horizon in the smartphone technology evolution taking place.