Apple’s iPhone is killing the standalone camera

“If you have been a regular reader, then you know my hobbyhorse: the iPhone is killing the standalone camera,” Om Malik writes for Om. “And the latest data released by Camera & Imaging Products Association only reinforces my thesis from a few years ago.”

“Even though we are taking more photos all the time, we are not taking them with standalone cameras,” Malik writes. “Instead, we are using our smartphones for every kind of photography.”

“For selfies, casual photos with friends, snapshots when traveling, and even when taking food photos, I rarely use any camera other than my iPhone. And I am what you might call a camera guy… (For my landscape photography, I use a Leica SL, which I love),” Malik writes. “The camera industry is doing its best to paper over its looming doomsday scenario by releasing high-end interchangeable lens cameras that cost as much as a second-hand car. But you can see where this is going.”

Total Worldwide Digital Camera Unit Sales, 2003-2018

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Camera app’s Portrait mode (and the inevitable parade of knockoffs out of The Land of Fragmentation) was a big nail in traditional camera makers’ collective coffin.

Apple’s iPhone revolutionized photography – June 27, 2017
Photography shootout: Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus vs. $3,000 DSLR camera – December 28, 2016
iPhone 7 photo samples: Seriously, how does a phone have a camera this good? – September 21, 2016
Apple’s iPhone cameras not only destroyed the compact digital camera market, they completely changed society – September 21, 2016
Professional photographer Benjamin Lowy puts Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus cutting-edge camera to the test – September 20, 2016
Apple iPhone now most-used camera on Flickr – August 18, 2009
Apple’s iPhone 3G dominates camera phones in use on Flickr – December 23, 2008


  1. It should read the iphone is killing the point and shot camera with blurry FB photos.
    The iphone can not and will never compare to a DSLR.
    IT’s can’t even compare to Point and shoots, but most people just want a photo for their FB or instagram.

    Quality doesn’t matter to this new generation

      1. Who remembers the slide rule of 1971? Of 1979? By 1979, hand held calculators rendered the slide rule to the museum. Digital cameras ruled over analog cameras just a few years ago…. the very high quality camera technology being developed right now for our cell phones, will render all stand-alone digital cameras to the museum by 2030… in just ten years.

        1. In a word, bullshit.

          The pixel size and thus the image quality of a cell phone camera will never rival the image quality of a mid range to high range DSLR. (In fact neither will ever rival the quality of a mid to high range film camera, but that’s a different argument.)

          If you expect a cell phone camera with 3.6 square micron pixels to rival a DSLR with 29.2 square micron pixels, you’re delusional. That more than eight times pixel area difference means greater sensitivity (typically leading to faster shutter speeds), better signal to noise ratio, better Q factor, etc. All of these lead to better image quality, by far. While the difference is not as dramatic when discussing mid range DSLRs the difference is still very significant.

          And, as an aside, yes, I remember using slide rules from the late 60s to the late 70s. They were extremely efficient if you only needed 3 or so significant digits in your calculation. Even RPN calculators were not more efficient in those cases. (And, RPN calculators are indisputably more efficient than algebraic calculators.)

          Yes, the iPhone (and other, similar cell phones) will kill off the point and shoot digital cameras. I would not be surprised if by 2030 no point and shoot digital cameras are being made. But mid to high end DSLRs will be around for several more decades just like you can still buy decent film cameras.

          1. OMG, like Apple is the tech god, and like, aspirational.
            You, like, roll out facts. Hard to play make believe with facts.

            Anyway, if physics were so important, why doesn’t Kim Kardashian flaunt it… Huh!

        2. On occasion I make pens, fine writing fountain pens, rollerball and ball points. Some of my friends make them in prices ranging in price from $100 to $2000+. Lately many have ventured into this hobby and these new guys don’t think twice of taking and posting photos from cell phone cameras, including the iPhone.

          You can tell the close up difference of DSLRs vs cell phones of all types. No comparison. The glossy shine of light reflection along the length of the pen shows so much better with DSLRs than with cell phone cameras. The pens, regardless of the angle is straight with DSLRS, but hints of curve of the close up photos of cell phones are noticeable, unless they are so far away that you can’t see the grain of the wood or the design in the cast resin, or the shine in polished steel, aluminum brass, silver or gold.

          Plus the DSLRs show the cellular structure on some course gain wood or the ultra fine scratches from wiping with a cloth that even old eyes rarely notice. Most of the DSLRs are not with “close up macro lens either.

          With every new review that I read about the latest iPhone camera from a professional photographer I get disappointed. Apple and other cell phone camera makers have a long way to go to match even the standard lens of the DSLR. I have a 15 year old Japanese version of the original Digital Rebel (Canon) and that 8MB pixel takes better photos than todays best cell phone camera.

    1. Yes, exactly. I do side by side comparisons with every new phone, and they still can’t touch a higher end DSLR and its lenses. iPhones are awesome cameras, though, and we can probably kiss the point and shoots goodbye, non-pros will be very well served by even the newest single lens phones, they rock.

  2. Same here. The iPhone is great for taking pictures to document something. To show something to friends and family. But when I need something better I pull out the DSLR. In my case that is a Canon 80D. No question, the bag with camera, lenses and accessories weighs over ten pounds, but the results are much better.

    On the other hand, I can see where simple point and shoot cameras are going away. They may take slightly better pictures than an iPhone, but the pictures are lifelessly stuck on the camera and they can’t be computationally improved as can iPhone pictures.

  3. Smartphones are putting a huge dent in sales of compact point and shoot cameras. That is only likely to continue with the addition of multiple lenses and more sophisticated computational image enhancement technology.

    While we welcome the ever-increasing possibilities of capturing interesting images of acceptable quality with our phones, some types of use cases make it impossible to capture the images that we want without using sensor sizes and lenses that are considerably larger. I love my iPhone XS and use it for a wide range of casual photography, but it is not about to replace my full-format DSLR and range of lenses.

  4. I certainly use my DLSR a lot less but for Family photos, special vacations or events I always use my Sony A7 over my iPhone.
    If Apple created a new top of the line iPhone “Studio” model which had a larger sensor and interchangeable lenses then Apple would definitely have a chance at killing off the standalone camera.
    I would be quite happy to pay $2000+ for a true Apple camera phone as it wouldn’t be any different to buying a DLSR camera body except I would get an iPhone as well. I would definitely prefer this over a foldable phone.
    (May be I could have both, a foldable camera phone! Depending on how the screens were laid out it could work a lot like the tilt screen on my Sony A7. It’s unlikely to ever happen but I can dream.)

  5. The iPhone may be taking some hand-held camera market share percentage, but killing the standalone camera seems a bit exaggerated. If that’s the case, then the Android smartphone is truly killing the iPhone because the overall market share percentage is hugely in the Android smartphone’s favor.

    It’s just that it’s more convenient for most people to carry a smartphone than a single purpose standalone camera and I think that’s the major factor why smartphones are replacing most standalone cameras. DSLR cameras are simply too bulky to carry around for the average consumer on a daily basis.

  6. I was at a bird wild life rehab center a couple of weeks ago. My wife had a telephoto lens attached to her iPhone and took a great picture of a bald eagle staring down a staff member. A person holding a dSLR with a big lens, stepped up behind my wife and watched as my wife composed the picture and took the shot. It was a great picture. Not publishing quality, but great for the photo album and to share with friends. A great camera does not make a great photographer. But a good photographer can take great pictures with even a not so great camera. He complimented my wife on the great shot and walked away.

  7. Form factor, light traveling and freedom have always been more important than megapixel and technical marketing crap.

    Im glad i sold all my expensive dslrs before the drop. I had a canon mark 2, d300s, d700 etc.. expensive lenses , alienbees and all.. sold everything 6-8 years ago..

    Now i just walk around with an iphone 6s .. sure i can’t do wedding or strobing thing anymore..but what do i care… with my iphone i put it in my pocket.. make phone calls, take snapshots and use the photos Right away on the web on the go without the need to download/upload to a pc.

    I don’t care bokeh shots anymore…it was just art anyway. I can live just fine without.

    I still use the same light and framing techniques with the iphone.. if i need to i can always photoshop the hell out ..

    I still have a Sony rx100 II that i havent used in years ..that sony can do better than my iphone but i still prefer the iphone for its simplicity.

    My sony rx100 ii is for sale btw, asking 200 usd..

    I havent visited any dslr store lately.. place like b&h must be in trouble.

    My iphone and ipad have replaced many devices.. i rarely use my pc and laptop anymore.

    Technology change, people should adapt.. next big thing is probably electric cars…

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