How fast is your iPhone? Your Mac? Your iPad? Almost nobody knows and even fewer care. The same goes for the megapixels in your iPhone’s camera. How many pixels? Even I don’t know. I stopped caring about megapixels years ago, back when an iPhone camera produced photos that were about as good as my DSLR.
Speed? Pixels? Nobody cares and nobody cares that Apple killed them both. How so?
Way back in the day a computer’s worth and price tag often were based upon how fast the computer was, and that was measured in Megahertz. Computers these days are so fast that speed is measured in Gigahertz, but you’ll have to search to find a reference on the Mac, and Apple never displays Gigahertz for iPhone or iPad chips.
I bring this up because Samsung has a 108-megapixel camera sensor for some future Galaxy smartphone. 108-megapixels. iPhone XS and XS Max features a 12-megapixel camera. Sony has a 48-megapixel sensor in brands you’ve never heard of. Google’s Pixel 3 sports some of the best smartphone photos and it has a 12-megapixel camera, too.
Does Gigahertz matter? Not to most iPhone, iPad, or Mac customers. Do megapixels matter?
More megapixels don’t automatically mean better photos. In fact, a high megapixel count in the mobile industry is often a sign of marketing hype rather than genuine technological advantage.
The reason for that is visual.
iPhone photos compare favorably– to most of us with untrained eyes– with photos from a decent DSLR, and a camera with 108-megapixels may produce a fabulously detailed photo, but smartphone and PC displays being what they are, most of us would not notice the difference in a side-by-side comparison.
In short, Apple killed gigahertz and megapixels.
First, the gigahertz wars between Apple and Windows PCs was ended when Apple moved from the PowerPC chip architecture to Intel Inside. That flattened the playing field because Apple’s Mac used Intel’s more premium chips inside.
Second, the megapixel wars between camera makers died when Apple (and to a certain extent, Samsung and Google) pushed photo quality in iPhone cameras equipped with low megahertz sensors.
The mobile industry moves at a very fast pace, so it’s commendable and necessary that companies keep pushing the envelope. But you, the smartphone buying public, shouldn’t base your buying decision on the specs on the side of the box – particularly when it comes to megapixels.
Those days are gone.
If a photo looks as good as a photo can get on a smartphone display or a personal computer display, then the number of pixels in the sensors doesn’t matter.
Thank you, Apple.