Almost every smartphone shipped today has an embedded rear camera and one in three smartphones have a front-facing camera, according to the findings from the latest market study by ABI Research.
The number of media tablets with two cameras is even greater. People that buy these devices expect to be able to take reasonable quality photos with their smartphone or tablet -- and the popularity of video calling is driving the integration of front-facing cameras.
ABI Research believes that one billion cameras were shipped in smartphones and tablets in 2012.
Apart from Nokia’s PureView 808, the majority of smartphone releases in 2012 have kept camera resolution around 8 megapixels.
Instead, mobile OEMs have looked into new features such as autofocus, rapid capture mode, best picture, and better image captures for low light environments.
"Advancements in imaging technology are opening new doors for smartphones and media tablets," says Josh Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research.
Mobile device cameras are becoming more than just a digital camera for taking informal snapshots. New services like augmented reality and gesture recognition are now easily conceivable in mobile devices.
Furthermore, these new features in imaging technologies are driving new services for mobile device users. Additionally, the general advancements of imaging technologies or more specifically image processors are now enabling mobile devices to interpret gestures.
According to ABI Research's latest study on imaging technology in mobile devices, 2.7 billion cameras in mobile devices are predicted to ship in 2018. Smartphones account for the majority of camera shipments, at 80 percent of the volume.
More smartphones are anticipated to include front-facing cameras as video calling becomes more commonplace and the implementation of LTE network infrastructure in countries will further strengthen the demand of smartphones with these front-facing cameras.
"Two hundred and thirty million smartphones are projected to be shipped with gesture recognition in 2015," adds Flood.
Personally, I also anticipate some remaining pockets of growth within the mainstream camera market. I'm eager to review a digital compact interchangeable-lens system camera in 2013 -- something similar to the affordable Samsung NX Series.