Consumers are increasingly documenting their lives on social media platforms and the quality of the smartphone camera is central to this. Smartphone camera innovation is a core focus for manufacturers. In a market where differentiation is difficult to achieve, the camera function is a visible signal of the device’s sophistication. Even mid-range handsets now boast camera capability that surpasses that of flagship devices of only a few years ago. And the rate of innovation continues to escalate at a fast pace.
According to a Counterpoint Research Consumer Lens study, a better camera is among the top three most important features in determining future smartphone selection. Longer battery life and better processor are the other two most desired features. Moreover, people’s willingness to pay extra for more lenses in the primary camera justifies the growing importance of the smartphone camera.
Exhibit I: Feature preference in future smartphone purchases
The first smartphone quad-camera set up in India was launched by Samsung in 2018. It was further popularized by Realme, Xiaomi, and Oppo from mid-2019. Oppo was the leading quad-camera brand in the offline channel with a 45% shipment share in 2019. Oppo maximized its coverage in the mid-range price band with the A5 2020 series in Q4 2019. While the Oppo Reno 2Z, Reno 2F increased Oppo’s presence in the premium category. Strong festive season shipments helped Oppo to lead in the quad-camera segment with 34% shipment share in October 2019. Oppo’s quad-camera shipments grew almost 6x quarter-on-quarter in Q4 2019, the highest growth in this segment.
Additionally, a camera capable of achieving optical and hybrid zoom is another important feature for consumers. More than half of the survey respondents were positive about smartphone cameras with improved zoom capability. Furthermore, one in three consumers would be willing to pay extra for a better zoom camera.
In India, the popularization of hybrid zooms started with Oppo Reno 10X Zoom in 3Q 2019. It was the first smartphone to introduce a 6x optical zoom with a 10x hybrid zoom and a maximum zoom capability of 60x. Among all manufacturers, only Huawei and Oppo had products capable of 50x or greater zoom capability in 2019. Though the overall volume in this segment is small, Oppo led with a nine to one ratio in shipment volume share and about 97% share in the offline segment during 2019.
Camera innovations like multiple camera arrays and AI-based software optimization have made a significant impact on smartphone photography. The manufacturers are riding on this trend to bring power-packed camera features to India, which has now established itself as the second-largest smartphone market globally. Oppo has showcased its leadership in smartphone camera innovation, with the brand committed to launching new smart devices in India in the coming year.
Counterpoint Research conducted a Consumer Lens (sponsored study by a client), which highlights the importance of the camera in smartphone purchase decisions.