Changing Trends in Camera & Display Resolutions in Smartphones

Tracking key component trends has become very important for every stakeholder in the smartphone value chain right from OEM product management folks to component suppliers to app developers looking to optimize their apps. Our research team has been tracking these granular component level trends across global smartphone sales across brands, price points, regions, countries and so forth every month.

As per the latest “features and specs” research from our monthly in-depth view of the smartphone market published in July, camera and smartphone resolutions are growing rapidly across key price bands in fast-growing mid-($100-$300) and high-value premium- ($500+) wholesale price bands. Some key trends highlighted below:

Primary Camera Resolution Trends:

The following graphic shows the distribution of global sales of smartphones by different primary camera resolution bands within different wholesale price bands over time period. Analyzing this trend is very important as the ‘camera megapixel race’ is kickstarting in sub-premium segments, whereas premium segments have moved on.  The premium segments are now competing by integrating multiple camera sensors.

  • One interesting trend which is being seen is 16MP+ sensors are being adopted faster in $300-$500 price bands (55% of the total sales volumes).  This is mainly driven by Chinese brands’ flagships and Samsung’s high-tier portfolio.   In the premium $500+ segment, key brands such as Huawei, Samsung, Apple are actually incorporating 12MP/13MP sensors and focusing more on other aspects such as wide angle improvements, laser assisted autofocus, dual cameras, OIS, as well as simply thinning the overall camera stack. Almost 90% of the smartphone sales volumes in premium segment sport a 12MP or higher camera.
  • In high volume, lower price bands ($100-$300), basic but higher resolution 13MP+ is becoming a go-to camera resolution to invigorate sales and position the models on par with flagships. Three in Four smartphones sold in this high growth $100-$300 segment sports a 13MP or higher camera.
  • In the lower-tier sub $100 segment, 8MP+ sensors are beginning to proliferate especially in $50-$100 band driven by local brands in Asia and lower cost SKUs from Chinese brands.

Camera Resolutions Growing Pulse Premium July 2016

Display Resolution Trends 

As the smartphone display sizes get bigger and most smartphone users increasingly prefer more real estate, the need for sharper resolutions is becoming imperative. This need for higher quality resolution stems from the consumption spike of higher resolution videos, graphic intensive gaming, rich text and image driven websites, and more intricate on-device app usage.  The following graphics show the proliferation of higher resolution displays in smartphones in critical price-bands such as $100-$300 and $500+.

FHD (1920×1080) display resolution is rapidly being adopted in the mid-tier price band though 720p (HD) resolution displays are still prevalent in the $100-$150 price band.  However, a quick uptake to FHD is expected with aggressive specs from the likes of LeEco, Xiaomi and others.

Smartphone Display Resolution $100-300 July 2016 Pulse Premium

In the high-value premium segment, which has been dominated by Apple, Samsung is leading the shift with adoption of 2K displays in its latest generation of flagships.  This has been the main driver of 2K displays climbing to 28% of the total volumes in the $500+ price band in June 2016.  Apple is still driving its Retina (750 x 1334) resolution in the premium segment.  But, with the adoption of OLED displays expected next year, the company could move to higher (FHD) resolutions.

Smartphone Display Resolution $500 July 2016 Pulse Premium

For more details about our Monthly Market Pulse research and further granularity of trends at both brand and regional levels, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]