For a few years, nearly every new cheap phone had a 48MP main camera, with phone makers hoping that a high-res snapper would convince would-be buyers that this was a good camera phone (high megapixel counts don’t mean good). quality, but brands probably hoped you didn’t know that).
However, in 2022 that has changed as we have seen many budget handsets offering 50MP snappers, and a new Samsung phone shows that the trend is here to stay.
This is the Samsung Galaxy A04, which has just been announced on the company’s website web site (opens in new tab), although no pricing or sales information has yet been provided. Judging by last year’s Galaxy A03, this is likely to be the company’s cheapest phone in most regions, as the A03 is just $160/£140 (it hasn’t officially gone on sale in Australia).
In most areas, the phone’s specs scream ‘cheap mobile’ – it has a 6.5-inch HD screen, no fingerprint scanner, and an unnamed but likely weak chipset. The battery is big at 5,000mAh, a spec we see on most affordable phones, but no charging speeds have been detailed.
The memory is surprisingly decent, as while there are versions with 32GB or 64GB of storage, you can also get a 128GB model. Likewise, the RAM goes up to 8GB, with 4GB and 6GB options as well.
But on cameras, the main focus of this article – there’s a 5MP sensor on the front, while on the back there’s a 50MP camera, joined by a 2MP depth sensor.
Analysis: Why 50
We saw a lot of budget phones in 2022 with 50MP cameras, especially those from OnePlus, Realme and Motorola, with brands opting to use this above 48MP on most phones.
It’s worth noting that different phones use different 50MP cameras – both Samsung and Sony make smartphone sensors at this resolution that we’ve seen loads used.
One is Sony’s IMX766 sensor, which we saw earlier this year on phones like the Realme 9 Pro Plus, but since then high-end phones like the OnePlus 10T have adopted it as well. This sensor is impressive because it’s quite large, which makes it great for picking up color, especially in low-light environments – but its use in budget cellphones suggests the component is quite affordable.
We’re glad that phone brands are adopting 50MP instead of 48MP – while the actual pixel boost is limited, from a purely experimental point of view we’ve found these cameras to perform better than the older ones with less than 2MP.
That’s particularly the case for night photography, which has long been a soft spot for cell phones (not that real cameras do too well).
These 50MP cameras are filling the void between budget phones and the best phones available, making mobile photography that little bit more accessible. And while we can’t say the Samsung Galaxy A04 will compete with the Galaxy S22 Ultra or join our list of the best camera phones, it seems very likely that it will surpass the Galaxy A03, and that’s good enough.