Towards the end of 2018 and early 2019, even smartphones in the affordable premium and mid-tier price bands featured three or more cameras
In 2018, more than half of the smartphones sold globally had two or more cameras. As per a latest Counterpoint Research report, almost six per cent of smartphones sold globally had three or more rear camera sensors in March 2018.
The report read, “In 2019, OEMs are taking the battle a step ahead with a triple camera setup now becoming popular. Almost 6 per cent of smartphones sold globally had three or more rear camera sensors in March 2018. This figure is likely to go up to 15 per cent by the end of 2019 and 35 per cent by the end of 2020. We expect that by the end of 2021, 50 per cent of the smartphones sold globally will have three or more camera sensors.”
Apple and Oneplus may join the three cameras bandwagon
More than 40 smartphones launched as of April 2019 had three or more cameras. Among these, 30 launches were in Q1 2019. The Huawei Mate & P series, the Samsung Galaxy A series, the new Galaxy flagships, and the Vivo V15/Pro are some of the existing models driving the triple (and more) camera sensor penetration. We expect other OEMs, including Apple and OnePlus, to join the bandwagon later this year.
Similar to dual camera adoption trend, the triple camera fixture initially featured in the higher priced smartphones. However, towards the end of 2018 and early 2019, even smartphones in the affordable premium and mid-tier price bands featured three or more cameras. The triple camera setup enables new camera intensive features such as 50X zoom, AI-based photo optimization, and depth effect. Features such as bokeh, telephoto zoom, portrait mode, wide-angle photos, have now become standard. Overall, the focus on camera as a differentiating factor is likely to enhance the cooperation among camera lens, module, and AP manufacturers to achieve higher optimizations.
Smartphones with 100MP cameras a possibility
Hanish Bhatia, senior analyst, devices and ecosystem saud, “Counterpoint expects that smartphone OEMs can launch models with 64MP and more in H2 2019. In 2020, smartphones with camera resolutions of 100MP and more might also be launched. Huawei and Samsung, as per the report, are leading the adoption. Samsung is a big adopter of the three or more camera setup, especially in its models in the affordable-premium price bands. Apple launches later this year are also expected to give a boost to the category.”
Triple camera penetration in mid-premium (US$600-US$799) and premium (>US$800) price band is also expected to grow rapidly with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 series and the Huawei P30 series. Google does not even have no dual cameras on its flagship Pixel phones and was relying on the stellar image quality through software. However, with the premium segment increasingly adopting dual camera sensors, Google will be under pressure to integrate this into their upcoming flagships.
The role of Sony
Sony is another key high-quality supplier for camera image sensors specializing in the 13MP camera setup, which is already going through capacity expansion in Japan. This is likely to suffice for the surging demand. 5MP camera image sensors (CIS) remain in tight supply as they’re essential for triple camera phones. This is likely to continue in case of 5MP and 8MP camera sensors.
SK Hynix is a key supplier likely to benefit from the adoption of three or more cameras. However, supply may remain a significant issue, creating room for other suppliers such as Samsung.