by James A. Martin

How Smartphones Could Save Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Aug 22, 20123 mins

Smartphones appear to be doing away with compact point-and-shoot digital cameras. But recent news and rumors suggest smartphone operating systems may actually help revive the traditional point-and-shoot camera. Here's why.

UPDATE: Nikon just announced its Android-powered COOLPIX s800c digital camera. (See image below) You can find more information and technical specification for the Nikon s800c on the company’s website.


When digital cameras really started taking off, we as a consumer culture got all worked up. Lately, however, we’ve grown bored with our point-and-shoots. The newness wore off, and the excitement is no more. Think about it: When was the last time you stared into the lens of an actual camera?

Android devices, iPhones and other smartphones are slowly but surely killing the compact point-and-shoot digital camera.

In fact, Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones are the most popular digital camera models among Flickr users, ahead of traditional Canon and Nikon cameras. And shipments of compact point-and-shoot cameras declined in 2011, according to research firm IDC, as more people opted for the convenience of smartphone cameras.

But not so fast. The digital camera industry is starting to fight back. Instead of folding to the threat of camera phones, some camera makers are building phone cameras. It’s a twist worthy of O. Henry.

At CES this past January, Polaroid showed off its SC1630 Android camera. The camera runs the Android OS, comes with the Google Play store pre-installed, and it has Bluetooth connectivity to share with external devices (including printers) and Wi-Fi for easy sharing via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Polaroid could release SC1630 models with cellular connectivity, too. The camera also offers features that many smartphones lack, such as a 3X optical-zoom lens and 16 megapixels. (The camera is supposed to ship sometime this year for about $300.)

Polaroid Android camera screen shot

(Image courtesy Polaroid)

Nikon Rumors this week leaked images of an Android-based Nikon Coolpix digital point-and-shoot camera. Nikon hasn’t officially announced the camera, but it will supposedly run Android 2.3 and all Google Play apps, as well as have built-in GPS and Wi-Fi.

There have even been rumors that Apple is working on a point-and-shoot digital camera, though I’m a bit skeptical of those reports.

At any rate, I’m hoping this trend takes off, and the sooner the better. Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time. But you still forfeit a certain level of image and flash quality, aperture and other manual controls, multiple optical zoom levels, and many other features that are standard issue with digicams.

On the flip side, standard digital cameras would be much more compelling if you could, for instance, apply Instagram and a wealth of other effects and filters to your pictures and videos as you record them, with all the goodies a digital camera offers and a smartphone doesn’t. Then you could easily share your pics on your preferred social networks, which smartphones excel at but cameras don’t. Imagine also having 64GB or more of built-in storage, a wider display like the Samsung Galaxy Note’s 5.3 screen and a 4G radio for sharing images wherever you are.

Now that would be a digital camera to get excited about. Again.