Shall we call an end to the pop-up, rising, flip, or shark-fin selfie camera trend in 2020? If we do so, then what we have in store for us as replacements to these? We tried exploring this avenue.
Smartphone should be smart enough to qualify as a smartphone. With its features and functionalities that can enchant users to spend a good 15 to 18 hours of day with it and importantly, camera is one of them; a key ingredient without which much of the essence of a smartphone would not have been same for users and app developers.
Pop-up Selfie Camera
Primary consumer insights from have consistently highlighted the import of the smartphone camera as one of the most important specification in a smartphone, driving consumer considerations, quotes CMR.
“For Smartphone brands, innovations such as the pop-up, rising or shark-fin selfie camera enable them to allow for higher screen-to-body ratios, minus the thick bezels or a notch. In doing so, they are able to cater to different consumer cohorts, with a unique style and differentiation,” said Prabhu Ram, Head- Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR.
To make the users feel more confident, mobile makers came with an idea of introducing pop-up selfie camera some two years ago with vivo being credited to start the trend in India, replacing the traditional and cliché concept of forehead mounted selfie cameras. The mobile makers were quite successful in their attempt because users appreciated this new R&D challenge and advancement,because they got something unique and fun-some to enjoy and flaunt.The go-to mobile platforms such as Amazon and Netflix, online shopping portals such as Flipkart, and advancements in the field of mobile photography have also been a catalyst to this change/trend because users wanted much larger space on the display to enjoy the content to enhance their shopping experiences, overall.Thus, mobile makers wanted to reduce the screen-to-body ratio and hence played with the forehead notch to create an extra inch of space. The bezels were reduced to minimal so that cinematic viewing could make way to users, giving birth to pop-up, rising, flip or shark-fin selfie lenses, whatever you love to call them.
Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at techARC said, “I think users have not appreciated the attempt of brands to achieve full screen experience. It isn’t something that bothers users. As regards motorisedselfie camera systems (popup, sharkfin, flip, etc.) they have appeared as a fad and seems they have already lost the appeal in the market. It’s not something sustainable.”
The pop-up selfie camera is a trend that can be found in smartphones beyond 15k generally and never became a mass thing which we did not see in budget smartphones. On the R&D front, pop-up, rotating or shark-fin technology costs much higher to the makers due to the mechanism involved but, in order to provide the value for money to a user and beat the competition, smartphone vendors kept the cost to minimum, overtaking financial burden onto themselves and after all these efforts, buyers were still not very much convinced to the longevity, durability and ruggedness of it and thus, it remained a niche concept, something not very appreciated by rural buyers or where it rains the most. But, Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, IDC India disagrees and says, “Pop up camera will certainly remain in 2020 to very limited models and price segment.”
Till date this year, only Honor has launched a pop-up selfie smartphone 9X, interestingly its first pop-up selfie smartphone in India, to start the trend, at Rs 13,999.
Did It Make Sense?
The future of pop-up selfie camera would remain in a price bracket as mentioned by Upasana above but, I still question the use and essence of it, because it takes away the privacy of the user in the first place. My next co-passenger in metro or a cab will definitely notice me taking a selfie which I may don’t want but, with popping selfie camera the whole world would come to notice you taking photos. The cavity it has may allow the moisture to creep in damaging the internal hardware of your smartphone and if not that, the dust in the atmosphere will surely get into it making it dirty and over the time, sluggish.
“Personally, I feel users are okay with Notch, waterdrop works the best. That is minimal, and gives almost full screen experience. The punch hole camera is okay, but I would prefer that second to water drop notch,” says Faisal.
There are new technologies which are making its way like under display camera like what we normally see with under display fingerprint sensor, which we may not practically see but it will be there for you if you want to take a selfie.“Under display camera will be an innovation which 2020 will witness but limited to high end price segment,” told Upasana.
I spoke to Oppo asking them whether they would call it a day for pop-up selfie lens which they categorically denied saying their future launches in 2020 would definitely be having it. We would soon hear from them launching Reno3 on the similar lines of its predecessors having shark-fin selfie lens.“Going forward, all such innovations will continue to co-exist. Some brands may have decided to drop their pop-up camera to potentially seek an official IP rating for their new smartphones,” added Prabhu.
Meanwhile, Upasana points out, “Very low-end price segment will continue to use notch display and somewhere in between which is the mid-price segment will have Notch + punch hole as more and more devices adopt for OLED screens.”
Going by the leaks as what’s being planned for MWC 2020, OnePlus has reportedly ditched the pop-up selfie camera in OnePlus 8 and has incorporated a punch hole design to begin with.
In the year ahead, some smartphone OEMs may debut new smartphone camera innovations, such as the disappearing camera that debuted at CES. While such hardware innovations are commendable, and they will surely generate hype and command all the eye balls, their eventual success remains to be seen.
Prabhu concludes, “In the long run, the market acceptance will consistently favour software iterations that lead to substantial improvement and enhancement in the photo quality, rather than new, cool hardware iterations. There is a reason why the likes of Google and Apple have consistently been able to deliver top-notch performances with their smartphone camera.”
He’s actually correct in his thought as we still have to see these technologies being made into practicality by the likes of Apple and Google. With the full screen and wrap around screen coming into smartphone, we do see some changes coming to the selfie camera positioning and its appearance.
In the end, irrespective of hardware and or software iterations, what would essentially matter most for consumers is the quality of the finished product – the photo taken with the smartphone. That’s what, smartphone brands should vie for.
What I believe is that selfie lens and its designing has got evolved with the time and will continue to do so in 2020. The pop-up selfie camera trend is not dying anytime soon this year as the price of other advancements such as under display would be much higher, something that suits premium buyers. OEMs would be surely looking at using waterdrop and punch hole display more in their respective smartphone launches in 2020. Apple, still in 2020, conveniently selling huge notch screen phones and the world is applauding it, as what the sales say.