Qualcomm Offers Chips to Allow 6-Megapixel Cameras

Qualcomm unveiled their MSM7000 line of chips for CDMA phones yesterday. The newest Qualcomm chip is said to enable photo resolution of up to 6-Megapixels. The Reuters account goes on to say that 6-MP “would make cameraphones based on Qualcomm chips competitive with the most advanced digital cameras being sold in consumer markets worldwide.” But that’s not really true. Just because the chip supports 6MP, doesn’t mean that the rest of the camera-phone will be competitive with a stand alone camera. What about optical zoom, what about lens quality, what about sensitivity to light, focusing, image enhancement, storage options, flash, rapid fire speed, CCD or CMOS quality, etc? It’s ridiculous to boil down camera quality to megapixels, but reporters do it because that’s the easiest single number to compare – despite the fact that any untrained eye can spot the quality gap between a standard 1.3MP cameraphone photo and a 1.3MP photo from a dedicated camera. And even though cameraphones are bound to become adequate as snapshot devices, ultimately, costs will keep their quality at a lower level than pure cameras. That’s because stand-alone cameras dedicate all their size and all their cost to the imaging function. For $200, you get $200 worth of imaging equipment. Cameraphone makers must always make bigger compromises and sacrifices for cost and size, will not dedicate the internal space, and will not include as expensive or versatile components as a camera. Doing otherwise would double the cost of the (now huge) phone, and vendors would sell 0 units.

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